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Cartoons Compete: PowToon vs. GoAnimate

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Sometimes in eLearning you need to create a quick animated short, either to insert into a longer course or to stand on its own. Storyline 2 actually makes this pretty simple, but there are some platforms that exist that make it even easier by providing built-in graphics; we all know that creating or finding images can take forever!

Two of the leaders in this area are PowToon and GoAnimate. As I mentioned last week, our team recently switched from PowToon to GoAnimate. In the process of switching, I was looking for a comparison of the two but not much was out there. So, if you are thinking about purchasing or switching to one of these platforms, you’re in luck!

 

Pros

PowToon is simple to use.  Creating and timing objects is easy. I like the way that PowToon uses a timeline even though you can only view and adjust one object a time on it. It has the basics and the free plan has some good features and options.

Cons

AUDIO. You can only import 1 audio file into the entire project so both creating the audio and timing it to your slides can be really tricky.

You also don’t have much control over the props and characters. They are set in stone. So, if the prop you need doesn’t really fit into your color scheme, too bad.

Pricing

The free plan offers a decent selection of styles and can be a good way to get started with PowToon. It will only let you share your video through YouTube or with a direct link, so if you want to download videos this isn’t a workable option. However, you can pay per export. The thing that I really don’t like about the free version is that it has both a watermark and an annoying outro slide at the end that has a little “created using PowToon” jingle.

For $228 a year you can get a pretty good business plan that allows you to download videos, get rid of the watermark and outro, and has a lot more included styles though not all of the styles. The only downside to this plan is that you are only allowed to use the videos for your own business; they can not be sold.

If you want the whole shebang, it’ll cost you $684 a year, though they sometimes run specials that will allow you to get the best plan for the price of $228 a year.

Why we switched

GoAnimate offers superb control over both audio and visual elements. You can even create your own custom characters in several of the styles and sync their talking to your audio narration.  It’s impressive! In addition, you can make characters actually hold objects (and they move with the objects in hand) and there are several more options for exits and entrances in addition to motion paths.

Also, you can search for a particular prop among all styles which is super handy and something I was often wished for with PowToon.

GoAnimate also has lots of features I didn’t know I was missing like a Ken Burns effect, great built-in “scenes” that can be modified as needed, and cool infographic animations.

What’s missing

I think my only let down with GoAnimate is that timing objects is a definitely trickier. There is a timeline but it only shows the scenes and audio, not the individual elements in each scene. You have to time objects relative to each other which can be tricky and makes time the full scene difficult. I think the best workaround for this is to create several short scenes with a couple of things happening as opposed to one longer scene with several actions.

GoAnimate does make this a little smoother than PowToon, including the fact that handwritten text matches up exactly with non-handwritten text, an issue I battled in PowToon more than once. I also just realized the other day that you can fit the scene duration to the content so that helps as well.

Pricing

The free plan for GoAnimate doesn’t allow exporting either, however you can copy embed code for the video or share a link. Also, the branding is a little less intrusive than that of PowToons in that there is only a small logo and not a jarring outro. However, you can only create videos that are less than 30 seconds long.

The mid level plan is $299 a year, about the same a PowToon and with basically the same additional features.You do get access to ALL the styles with this plan which is nice but you still have a watermark and can only use the videos internally.

The high level plan is $599 a year, considerably less than PowToon and, in my opinion, with a great deal more to offer.

In addition, GoAnimate offers a team subscription. It’s pricey, starting at $2000 a year for 3 subscribers, but allows separate accounts to collaborate on videos which is pretty handy.

So which one is better for me?

Glad you asked! Overall, I think GoAnimate is a better tool with more bang for your buck.  If they would add slide elements to the timeline, I would even call it close to perfect! However, if you are looking for a great tool to create some (longer than 30 second) free videos, PowToon definitely has the upper hand. Either way, these tools are easy to use and can really up your animation game!

Do you use either of these? Or another tool that you like?  Please share your experience in the comments!

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Meet the Storytellers – Free Template

The Articulate challenge this week was to create an interactive org chart. Since I am writing a series on storytelling with several guest bloggers, I created a “Meet the Storytellers” interaction.

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It’s a fairly simple interaction with one little frill – when you click on a person to view more, the information slides in, and then slides out when you are done.  Also, the person’s image stays in front of the sliding information the entire time.  Click the image below to try it out.

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This effect can be accomplished pretty easily using slide layers.  Below is a quick explanation, then a download of a template you can use to create a similar interaction.

  1. Create the layers that will appear for each option – these are your entrance layers.
  2. Give the objects in this layer the appropriate entrance animations.
  3. Duplicate these layers – the duplicates become your exit layers.
  4. Give the objects in the exit layers the appropriate exit animations and delete the entrance animations.
  5. Create an exit button on each entrance layer that navigates to the corresponding exit layer when clicked.
  6. Shorten the timeline for the exit layers to .75 seconds.
  7. Trigger the exit layers to hide when the timeline ends.

That’s it!

If you want an image, like the faces in this example, to stay in front of the information that slides in and out, just copy the image to each applicable slide layer and make sure it has no associated entrance or exit animations on those layers.

You can download the template by clicking on the image below.

2014-07-24_12-35-57Use the comment box to let me know if this template is helpful or if you have any questions on how to personalize it.

Tell Me a Story – Part 1

As a kid, I hated history class. I loved to read, I loved to solve problems, I hated to memorize. And, while I know I had some great history teachers, I always felt like I had to memorize too much.

Except in the 7th grade when Ms. Gautier (Go-chay) was my history teacher.

28045daca56e4caca3451f5bf642e2e8Ms. Gautier recently passed away, still teaching history to lucky kids in my home town. When I heard the news, I spent some time reflecting on why I enjoyed her so much as a teacher and why I was so sad that she was gone.  I realized that it was because she made history come alive.  We weren’t focused on memorizing dates and figures, but on learning and telling stories.

File:Ivy Mike H Bomb.jpgAlmost every student who had her class remembers one assignment in particular – we were each assigned a “year” from We Didn’t Start the Fire and had to learn about and tell the stories of the headlines for that year.  I was given 1951 – Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom, Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”. I still remember the H-bomb pinata I made for the class. Most of us who had her class still know all of those lyrics.  But most importantly, we all know the stories behind the lyrics.

I know now, as an adult, that history is full of really great and amazing stories. But I think my experience is not uncommon. Often we, as learning professionals, focus on what facts are needed to pass tests and move to the next level. We forget that storytelling can be an extremely powerful way to help learners remember facts within context, or to infuse emotion into a classroom, or to help the audience understand another person’s point of view.

Over the next few weeks, I ‘ll be writing a series on storytelling, with a little help from some friends. I’ll write another short post this week on the types of stories we can use for learning. Then, you get to read some really great writing from two good friends of mine who are amazing storytellers, Melissa F. Miller and Jake Hinkson. I’ll write a final post with some tips on storytelling for learning.

A little about my future guest bloggers:

Melissa is in another profession where storytelling is important – she and her husband practice law at their firm in PA. She, naturally, writes a series of nail-biting legal thrillers that center around some kick @$$ women… I can’t wait for her next novel set to be released at the end of the month. Melissa’s debut novel won the 2012 National Fiction Writing Competition for Physicians and Lawyers and she is a USA Today bestselling author.

Jake is a storyteller of the southern variety. He hails from Arkansas and I could listen to Jake tell stories all day long. Jake knows more about film noir than anyone I have ever met – he’s literally a scholar on the stuff – and writes in that style of noir/pulp fiction. He has published a book and 2 novellas and is a prolific blogger/essayist/short story writer. Jake also holds private writing workshops online if you are interested in honing your storytelling skills.

I may also have some additional surprise guest bloggers so stay tuned!

Guest Blogger for ATD

Hey everyone,

I am now officially a guest blogger for ATD (the Association for Talent Development, formerly ASTD).  My first post, about my path to starting my Master’s program, was just published.

logo_block-FINEnjoy!

-Allison

 

…And it’s Ikea for the gold!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really bad at sitting.  When I sit too long my knees start to hurt.  I slouch and my back starts to hurt. I fidget and fall out of my chair.  Really.

So a little less than a year ago I jumped on the standing desk bandwagon. I couldn’t afford a real standing desk so I made a nice hack from Ikea odds and ends. It was a gold medal solution…  until I changed jobs within my company and moved to a new office.

But this week I finally got my standing desk back in its rightful place!  In honor of that, I thought I would take a little time to talk about my office set up.

image of my desk set up


An
Ikea hack you may have seen floating around the internet is a great starting point and inspired the design of my DIY standing desk.  I used 2 Ikea end tables, as I have 2 monitors. And since I wanted the shelf that holds the keyboard and mouse to be a little offset, I brought in the big guns – velcro strips – to attach it to the brackets. Otherwise, I followed the model pretty closely.

If you’re worried about it holding up, one of the most frequent comments I get is about how sturdy the whole thing is.  I also lean on it way more than I should but it has held up nicely.  It’s a great value considering the entire set up cost just about $30.

So, what ergonomic considerations are important for a standing desk?

Well luckily, you don’t have to worry about a chair since that can get quite costly. But it’s important to make sure your gear fits. Take some measurements and figure out how high to put the shelf that will hold your keyboard and mouse. You can also use a handy dandy internet calculator to figure out where everything should be placed. My stuff is all a little higher than I would like, but I’m short and it couldn’t get any lower with the elements I was using.

Good monitor placement, wrist rests for my keyboard and mouse, and a nice anti-fatigue mat are all part of the set up as well. (The mat still hasn’t made it to the office but it will soon!)

Notice that little lamp on the right hand side of the picture.

I’m lucky enough to have an office mate who hates the fluorescents as much as I do.  We each brought in a few lamps and voila!  Our office has lovely soft lighting that keeps us alert but minimizes strain on the eyes.

One thing to note about lighting – it is important to make sure you don’t have glare on your monitor and that your brightest light source is to the side.  Lamps can help you accomplish this nicely.

The best part of it all? Dual monitors.

Really, I can’t emphasize enough how much easier these make my life.  They are almost crucial for anyone working on elearning or a similar pursuit where you have several programs running at the same time. And certainly useful for anyone else who likes to watch cat videos (or the Olympics!) while responding to email.

What do you find particularly useful in your office set up?  What tweak, hack or item makes your life golden? Share your must haves, tips, and tricks for a great working environment in the comments below.

Welcome to eLearned

Welcome to the eLearned blog!

I will be using this space to write about new things I have learned or done.  Because I am doing a lot of eLearning currently, many posts will focus on learning technology. But I will also be writing about training, development, performance improvement, or other topics that I think might be fun or interesting. My goal is to post at least once a week…  we’ll see how that goes.

Please enjoy, comment, engage, and learn along with me.

-Allison

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