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Easily Creating Explainer Videos

by Lori Gracey

Having students (or teachers in professional development learning opportunities) create short videos that explain a key concept can be very powerful in terms of content mastery and retention. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get lost in the video creation process with much less time and thought spent on the learning being showcased. MySimpleShow can change that.

What is MySimpleShow?

MySimpleShow is a free website that builds a simple slideshow of three minutes or less for you. You begin by answering a few questions so that a Storyline template can be found for you. Then you create your script. Next, the Explainer Engine automatically generates a storyboard for you to fine tune, along with recommended illustrations. (During this phase, you can also import a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation instead of writing, making it the perfect tool for flipped lessons.) And finally, you select your video speed and then publish to YouTube or download the video as an MP4. It’s just four simple steps, with the first three of them focusing on the content and not on the video itself.

MySimpleShowThe video is done primarily in black and white with hundreds of simple cartoon-ish illustrations provided. But you also have the option of uploading  your own image, logo, or text, if you wish. When it’s time for the voice over, you can upload a recording of you talking that is then automatically synchronized with the story or use the very sophisticated text-to-speech function that provides a voice over in seconds. This is a great resource for students with speech disabilities.

The finished product will have audio narration and some light background music, and your images will be timed exactly to the script, brought onto the screen by a pair of hands. In between slides, the hands will come back to sweep everything away and clear the screen for the next slide.

There are several examples available on their website. Here’s one introducing carbon dioxide. To use the site, a free registration is required, which means students will need to have an email address or a Facebook or Google account. And did I mention that MySimpleShow works on any device with Internet access?

How can MySimpleShow be used?

The possibilities for the use of explainer videos in school are almost unlimited:

  • Use them as part of a blended learning or flipped classroom strategy.
  • Introduce a new unit and grab students’ attention.
  • Encourage students to create them about things they’ve learned in a makerspace or during Genius Hour.
  • Have pairs of students create very short (one minute or less) videos as formative assessment to demonstrate what they already know about a topic.
  • At the end of a unit of study, learners can demonstrate their mastery through a video of key concepts, adding it to their portfolio.
  • Do a book review or character analysis with video.
  • Create a short video outlining common classroom procedures, such as using standard lab equipment or how to select a center activity.
  • Introduce students new to the school to what they need to know by having other students create videos that they can watch anytime.
  • When doing a book study or mastering a new technology skill, teachers in learning communities can create videos showcasing what they’ve learned. These can then become part of their portfolio.

What will you do with MySimpleShow? I’d love to hear from you!


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