Dan Armstrong
Professional Educator

Entry level animation for K-12

I have a course I'm starting for high school freshman. My goal is to teach them a very new modern way. Here is the plan:

Week 1-2 Mac OS X

Weeks 3-4 Graphic Design

Weeks 5-7 Video in Photoshop

Weeks 8-11 Web Design with Muse 

Weeks 12-14 Animation.....

Weeks 15-16 Final Project

This is the big question, week 12-14 animation. I want to use a simple tool just so they can get a taste. It has nothing to do with best practices at this point I just want them to have a successful experience where there is no right or wrong answer. I think Flash may be a little heavy and intricate. So I am leaning to Edge Animate. Has anyone tried Edge Animate with High School Students? Is it right for first timers? What's the learning curve? 

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Brian Dawson

Posted on 8/17/13 9:52:32 AM Permalink

Hi Dan,

I've taught Flash to middle school science students (9-12 year olds) and they did quite well with it:

But, I have started using Edge Animate with elementary students and have seen a quick acceptance from them. I anticipate great things as they move through this year. Edge's learning curve is quick and can get as deep as you want, including adding audio to the html5 animations (Tom Green).

Happy to help in any way I can...good luck.

Aaron Roberts

Posted on 8/9/13 9:45:02 AM Permalink

For beginning animation, I recently had an animation professor at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit suggest Monkey Jam. He swore by its simplicity and quick relationship between hand drawn images and digital animating. He loved it as an intro tool that was easy to grasp and allowed students to hurdle the technical overhead of learning software and actually getting into making some animation. It's obviously outside of the Adobe box... but I thought you might like to hear about it anyway.

Dan Armstrong

Posted on 8/9/13 3:25:29 PM Permalink

Thanks for the new ideas.

Nancy Parker

Posted on 9/15/13 11:13:37 PM Permalink

Aaron, did you ever try this Monkey Jam? What program did you finally decide to use? How is it working out? I am working with some middle school age students in a club and want to give them something that they can afford to use at home.

Anonymous Coward

Posted on 8/8/13 1:15:18 AM Permalink

What is the purpose of teaching them animation ?

Is it to design & build a small game ? If so Microsoft Kodu or MIT's Scratch may be better - both teach logical thinking as well as very simple programming

Is it just how to animate ? Then I have no problem using Flash - In the first 3 weeks of my course I teach motion tweening, shape tweening and the Bone tool (they learn about the timeline/keyframes as part of that). The final task I set is to replicate Galileo's Tower of Pisa experiment (motion tweens), just that gets them a "C" , for a "B" they somehow include one of the other techniques (ie the bone tool showing Galilieo throwing the balls rather than dropping them, or the balls deforming/smashing when they hit the ground(shape tween) and an "A" for all 3 techniques. - Motion tweens - just bounce a ball, when teaching shape tweens depending on the class I do lifecycle of a frog, or morph Tony Stark into Iron Man or morph their own face into an animal that they think represents them. The IK /Bone tool is a crane or walking animation, or just a snake.

Once we have mastered these we go onto deeper character animation, multiple scenes, scrolling backgrounds, programming actionscript etc etc (where we go depends very much on the class some classes have a strong programmer cohort, others are more "arty" and hate programming ).

Patricia KougarMelton

Posted on 8/6/13 6:44:31 PM Permalink

Photoshop's Timeline Panel is easy to use and thus allows for more creative thoughts rather then technical steps. Frame by frame animation can all be done in Ps layers, loaded to frames, timed and played.

Joseph Labrecque

Posted on 8/6/13 1:27:46 PM Permalink

I'm teaching Animate to college students right now (for the second year) and the animation model is simpler for them to grasp than the one in Flash Professional. I'd imagine this would be the same for any age group and if you are just looking to give them a taste - then Animate is probably what I'd choose.

Ben Forta

Posted on 7/30/13 4:52:59 PM Permalink

I've not used Edge Animate in a classroom setting yet, but have indeed done so at home with my 14 and 17 year old sons, and both found the tool intuitive and accessible. (The 17 year old had some prior Flash Proi experience, the 14 year did not). And the fact that results can be displayed in any browser, including mobile browsers (iPad and Android phones in their cases), provided the instant gratification that made the exercise more fun and compelling.

To get started, you may want to take a look at this Getting Started experience.

--- Ben

Dan Armstrong

Posted on 7/30/13 5:17:45 PM Permalink

Awesome! Thanks this is just what I was looking for a relevant use of Edge that can get students thinking.

Eric Dumas

Posted on 7/30/13 11:12:44 AM Permalink

It has less options than Flash Pro, it is then less overwhelming.

You can build simple and effective to have fun with animation in a short period of time

The point I usually make to learners is that keyframe animation is a standard technique, what they will learn will apply to other apps like Premiere or After Effects as well as Flash Pro