Engaging Students by involving them in your PowToon Presentation

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Have you ever sent an assignment home only to find out that your students never looked at it?  Are you afraid parents never see what does get home?  Is engaging your class a constant concern?

As hard as it is to get your students to look at what you’ve sent, you know they spend hours looking at selfies, Instagrams, and other random pictures.

Engaging students with material as catchy as selfies is the key
Engaging students with material as catchy as selfies is the key

And what’s the difference between what their friend sent them, and they will most certainly look at, and what you sent that they most certainly don’t want to look at?  The obvious answer is their friend didn’t send them work they have to do, but aside from that, their friend’s picture is more closely connected to them or something they care about.

Today’s quick tip is all about leveraging the desire your students have to see and hear themselves, with your desire to have them see and hear your directions.  Hopefully, this will result in your material engaging students on a whole nother level.

Many teachers have started using programs like PowToon and posting videos on YouTube to give their students directions and assignments.

I’m going to show you how to record and include audio from your students in a PowToon.  Of course, you don’t have to use PowToon, but it’s a good easy to use tool.  With this simple tool, you can find ways to include your students in your video assignments so their friends and family will clamor to see it.


How should you include your students?

One simple way to include your students is to allow them to read the script for the PowToon.  This is probably the easiest but has the smallest chance of increasing student engagement.  You’re also going to have to really play up the privilege of being on the PowToon.  You might make it a contest or reward so your students will want to participate.

When we think about engaging students, I encourage you to find ways to include something your students are passionate about.  Maybe a group of them could get together and sing one of their favorite songs that’s connected to the lesson or message you’re trying to get across.  Maybe some of your students like poetry, or short story writing.

This article is focused on including audio but it could just as easily be pictures and video from class as well.

I had the pleasure of taking both dance and workout classes where the teacher would record some small portion of the class with either photos or video, and when it comes to engaging students,  I can tell you with certainty that everyone who had access to the class page made an effort to see the pictures from each class.


Why Audio you ask?

Audio is certainly not superior to photos or video in any way, but there are some advantages.  People will generally be less self-conscious about audio than they are about video.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people duck and cover when the video camera comes out.

Another benefit is that audio quality is more consistent across devices, particularly phones.  If you have the new iPhone you can make breathtaking video and audio that professionals might envy, however, if you have a shoddy cheap phone like mine, your video will be closer to those videos of people robbing convenient stores and running red lights.  The ones where you can only tell it was a person but not who.

Video quality is already a concern, but a bad video is almost always accompanied by bad audio.  Low-quality audio and video combine to make the perfect 1-2 punch of shame that will keep your video from ever seeing the light of day, and will stop you from engaging students.

It turns out you can take relatively high-quality audio with both your computer or your phone.  In addition to the likely higher quality, there are things you can do to the audio after you’ve recorded it to make it sound clear and remove background sounds.  There may be ways to clean up video in a significant way, but it will likely require expensive software.

There are a few ways to go about recording audio so you can use it on PowToon.  You can record the audio directly onto PowToon or you can record the audio separately using your phone or computer and then upload it to PowToon.


Recording Audio Directly

When recording audio you’ll need some sort of microphone.  If you’re using a laptop you probably already have a microphone built into your computer.  If you don’t have a microphone for your computer than they are very cheap to pick up.  You can run out to the store (Walmart, Target, Best Buy) or order one online.  You can pay as little as $4, so it won’t set you back too far.

I’m going to assume that you already have a PowToon you want to add audio to.  If you don’t have a PowToon yet, then you can use one of the templates that already exist.  If you’re completely new to PowToon check out this article first.

Once you have your PowToon article open make sure you’re in CUSTOMIZE mode.  From there click the sound Icon on the right.


The sidebar will widen, and now you’ll see a record button.


We want to make sure we’re doing voiceover per slide so click the Icon that has a microphone next to a folder.  If the record button disappears click “voiceover per slide” again, and it should reappear.

Now we’re going to click the RECORD button, but if you’ve not done this before both the computer and the browser will ask for permission to access your video camera and microphone.  Go ahead and say yes to both when prompted.

You should now see a green box that says SLIDE VOICE OVER and a button under that which read “start recording”.  That’s the button you’re going to hit when you’re ready to record.


That’s pretty much it.  Great Work!  The track you record will be separate from the audio track you chose for your PowToon soundtrack, so you can delete and rerecord as many times as you like without needing to change anything else.


Using Audio you Recorded Separately

This is the more likely way to get interesting audio for your PowToon.

If you want to record using a desktop or laptop I recommend a program called Audacity.  It is fairly easy to use and capable of some amazing things.


If you’re using a mobile device I would use Smart Voice Recorder for android.  If you have an iPhone there are many good alternatives.

Once you have your audio recorded, all you have to do is upload it to your PowToon.  If you get stuck here you can leave me a comment or check out some of the many YouTube videos out there.  Especially if you’re using Audacity there is a very active community of users and tutorials.


Final tips for engaging students

Adding student audio to your PowToon instructions can help get more students excited about watching them.   While engaging students is our goal, it can even help parents be more involved when they know their children are a part of it.  The challenge will be in finding new and interesting ways to involve them so they’ll be excited about being a part of it.

Also, don’t forget using music in your PowToon will also make it more engaging and enjoyable to watch.  Take a look at my article here to find out how, and if you want to know where to get music that you don’t have to worry about Copyright infringement sign up to my email list and I’ll share my top five resources for free music for your PowToon.

I hope this article was useful.  Either way, leave me a comment below and let me know.  Remember..

Connect, Engage, and Enjoy


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