As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. Working with Melissa Pickering and iCreate to Educate for the past two months has brought that idiom to life. For the past eight weeks, there has never been a dull moment, which has made it an extremely exciting work environment to be a part of. I think in part that energy stems from iCreate’s flagship product: SAM Animation, a stop-motion animation tool that is literally limitless.
When we traveled down to the International Society for Technology in Education conference (http://www.isteconference.org/ISTE/2011/) in Philadelphia earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to explain to many interested conference guests the features of the software. Seeing their eyes light up as they thought of applications for their own schools and classrooms validated what I already knew about the versatility of the program. I think the attribute that resonates most profoundly with potential consumers is that SAM doesn’t change any of the features of stop-motion animation with which they are familiar – it just makes animations exponentially easier to create. Using the analogy as SAM as a digital flip-book makes an immediate link to something simple to learn and understand as well as fun to create and use.
The ease of use of SAM is the foundation on which all the other features lie. Whether you are taking or editing the images, recording audio, or conducting a time lapse, the intuitive nature of the program is completely in synch with the needs of the K-12 classroom teacher. Not only does iCreate to Educate provide support for how to make the most of your software download, but also there are activity guides, sample student-generated animations, and prop kits available. Teachers can then focus on easily applying SAM to the content of their curriculum, rather than learning a sophisticated program or trying to find time for a stand-alone supplementary curricular unit. SAM Animation serves as the ultimate curriculum enhancer – a plug-and-play tool that can fit into any already existing unit or lesson plan.
For virtually any topic within any subject, SAM Animation can be used as formative assessment tool to see what the level of conceptual understanding exists in the classroom or play a more summative role at the end of an exploration of a concept. Not only can animations serve as meaningful discussion starters, but we’ve seen them used as review for final exams and replace written lab reports. Using animations as a predictive tool has proven to be extremely useful for understanding the requirements of a physical model or what will happen in “real life.” In a top-down world not governed by gravity, time, or space, anything is possible.
The passion and dedication Melissa Pickering and her co-founders have displayed for this company makes it easy to believe in iCreate’s product and mission. If you look past that conviction, the importance of SAM in the classroom speaks for itself. I can honestly say that it is one of the most accessible and rewarding educational tools I have ever worked with. I am so grateful I was able to get involved at this point in iCreate’s life as a start-up. As it moves full speed ahead I know I wouldn’t want to be in its way.