The Stage 3 students – four boys – in our school’s hearing unit made this short animation with me today:

We used Xtra Normal with very minimal knowledge of online animation programs, and created the above clip in about thirty minutes. The ability to edit and re-edit over and over, and so quickly, kept the students very engaged. Despite their hearing losses, which required them to split their attention between the IWB and the teacher’s aide signing them the dialogue, the boys were getting such a lot out of this program. We were going to do some interactive Antarctica activities this afternoon, but the lesson took a dramatic tangent into the lesser-known world of Web 2.0.

A few words of caution: I think it is best used with the teacher registering and small groups of students collaborating with it, under careful teacher supervision. That way all the productions are stored together, under the teacher’s log-in name. I did notice that some of the “demo” animation samples on the site are very inappropriate for use with students. For example, the Tiger Woods parody!