I first discovered GoAnimate about 3 years ago and started using it in geography lessons as a different way for pupils to demonstrate their knowledge. I mention in the chapter on Web 2.0 tools in my book Moodle 1.9 For Teaching 7-14 Year olds. Typically, pupils would make an animation and paste its URL into a Moodle forum to share it with others. For a while, our Local Education authority banned GoAnimate but it was reinstated when they decided its appeal was more important than its occasional dodgy content.
Then a few months ago, I saw there was an educational version available- GoAnimate4schools - no commercials, devoid of dodgy content and with a free and paid for version. I then forgot about it until MFL teacher Helena Butterfield highlighted it in her Langwitch blog. I got myself a free account. With the free account,, one person is admin with the ability to add up to 100 pupils and you can have one teacher – in my case; I am both admin and teacher.
I was just curious to know what it would do and how well it would work. Aside of the sometimes unsuitable content (which to be honest, our pupils tended to ignore) the other concern I have had with using GoAnimate in class is it speed and the fact that it sometimes freezes.
Last week I was due a visit by Year 5 of a local primary school who were coming for another “taster” Moodle lesson. Unfortunately there were too may of them for the minibus so they had to come in two waves – with half an hour in between. A perfect chance, I thought, of using them as testers for GoAnimate4schools.
I made their accounts in advance – discovering one slightly irksome thing: if you have a fair number of pupils to add, there is no way in the free version to do a CSV upload or similar – there is a message “email us and we’ll help” but I couldn’t be bothered with that, so I just added them one at a time.
We decided to put a shortcut icon on the desktop of the computers so the 9 year olds didn’t have to remember the URL Goanimate4schools/school/ourladys – and then once they were in Moodle, I added a “click here” link to the site there also for future use. I made a rather poor animation myself as an example.On their first visit to me, we had done a geography lesson using Google Earth and I had based it around the Where The Hell is Matt? video. I played that to them again and suggested they try to make a similar video of Matt, dancing with various different backdrops
As far as I can tell, when you first log in you are forced to undergo the tutorial – which for me, an explorer, not a tutorial follower, was a real pain. However I felt for the children this was a distinct boon -as it took them much faster through the learning process – and saved me having to demonstrate
Within five minutes, the children were happily creating their own animations. Making an animation of Matt dancing around the world meant they had to explore the character action settings and add different backgrounds. They coped with this easily, although I personally was disappointed they don’t have the ability to upload their own images, only sound. Presumably with the paid School Plus version you get this option. They had great fun using the text to speech feature – and learning along the way that not only will your words get pronounced wrong if you spell them wrong – but also that spelling things correctly doesn’t always mean they will say it how you want!!
One thing they struggled on – but only for a short while -was adding music. They were delighted to find backing tracks and worked out how to drag them in, but had to be shown how to right click and limit the sound to one scene so they could have different music for different backgrounds. A couple found that in their eagerness to click when selecting, sound they ended up with four soundtracks instead of one -again, a lesson in patience and a gentle touch.
Saving and publishing was simple – and we all appreciated being able to go to the “students” link and watch each others’ videos. It was at this point that several children discovered one boy had worked out how to change his avatar image -so he then got promoted to Expert for the next five minutes, demonstrating to the others how to change theirs.
Realistically in the half an hour we had before the minibus returned, the pupils only managed animations of a handful of scenes and less than a minute. But I think it inspired them to carry on at home, via the link in our Moodle, and I am enjoying seeing their second, self-chosen animations. Unlike when we added the original Goanimate lnks to a Moodle forum, the only connection with Moodle now is the link to GoAnimate, but I don’t think that matters; it’s an extra bit of educational add-on fun and if Moodle houses it rather than runs it, so be it!
As for my concern about speed and crashing – we had no problems; in fact the animations loaded remarkably quicker. I hope that is the case in future and not just my good luck on the day.
One final word – the free account with 100 pupils isn’t going to work for me. We have nearer 200 pupils in our feeder primary schools so either some of them will have to miss out – or I am going to see if any department with a bit of spare money in their budget will fund a paid account. Similarly I presume that if, say our MFL department wants to use GoAnimate4schools for free, they won’t be allowed to, as I have bagged the Our Lady’s account? Hmmm..