Jennifer Garcia is an instructor and learning resources coordinator at Academia Britanica Cuscatleca (ABC) in El Salvador. An accomplished instructor, Jennifer has been involved with ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) for the past six years and has even claimed two awards for her efforts! ISTE is a nonprofit organization for educators and education professionals who are committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world. As stated on ISTE’s website, its mission is “to empower learners to flourish in a connected world by cultivating a passionate professional learning community, linking educators and partners, leveraging knowledge and expertise, advocating for strategic policies and continually improving learning and teaching.”
As education moves forward, an emphasis on the convergence of technology and academia becomes commonplace, making ISTE’s efforts more relevant than ever. As noted by Jennifer, “Technology empowers students to develop and produce exciting, relevant work, with greater ease, in a relatively short amount of time, while focusing on learning and applying important skills.”
Animation technology serves as an important learning tool for Jennifer’s students, as she has used animation as a story telling device with her seventh graders for the past eight years as part of a team of three instructors teaching the unit. Her projects run over the course of the school year and are based off of the school’s values of “Responsibility, Outstanding and Citizenship.” She describes the past technique of stopmotion animation before the advent of convenient, accessible software such as iStopMotion: “The setup was an iMac with a large cardboard box perched in front of it, often on a pile of books, which served as a stage. We used PhotoBooth on the iMacs to take the shots and then imported the sequences into iMovie. It was clunky, the shots were shaky and often got mixed up, but served its purpose.”
Technology such as iStopMotion removes the clutter and confusion that can accompany producing such media, allowing students to focus more on the planning and creative aspects of their projects. Features such as the onion skinning tool and the addition of an audio recording option have streamlined the animation process for Jennifer and her students. She explains, “iStopMotion has allowed us to bring our animation work forward in leaps and bounds in comparison. I couldn't imagine running the animation unit without it.”
This year, Jennifer says that ABC’s animation station furniture has been made to order, including a green screen for students to add in special effects after taking their shots in iStopMotion! Quite a far cry from their days of PhotoBooth animation, we’d say.
We can’t wait to see how the green screen enhances her student’s animations. Until then, you can check out last year’s student work above.