Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do You Use Animoto With Students Under 13 Years Old?

Photo Courtesy of MorgueFile User mzacha
There is no doubt that multimedia creation is an engaging activity for students who have grown up in a world saturated with video games, MP3 players, and videos and music everywhere they turn on the Internet. I am researching a few Web 2.0 tools that teachers in my district want to use with students. One of them is Animoto, a multimedia video creation tool. I've read a great deal about Animoto in the past couple of years and even seen presentations on its use at education conferences. I must admit, I've never used it myself, but the videos created with it are pretty snazzy.

Part of my research into Animoto included looking at the site's Terms of Service. I could not get past this glaring detail as I thought about using the site with K-5 students (generally ages 5 - 11 in the US):
You must be 13 years of age or older to be a User of the Site. By continuing to use the Site, you are warranting that you are at least 13 years old and you have the authority to enter into these Terms of Service. If you do not agree with these Terms of Service, immediately stop using the Site.
There is not even a "with parental permission or consent" clause in Animoto's Terms of Service.

Since Animoto has an Animoto for Education site and I've seen the site recommended regularly at conferences and on edtech blogs and websites I read, I thought surely there might be an exception for the education focused branch of the service. But, when I searched the help forums, I found out quite the opposite was true. You can read for yourself the answers to these two questions from the Animoto forums, which confirm that Animoto's policy applies even to education use:

So, what are your school's or district's policies on the use of Animoto, or really any web tool, that according to the site's Terms of Service should not be used with children under 13 years old? 

And if you do allow students under 13 to use such sites, how do you reconcile that decision with the fact that you expect students and teachers to follow your own district policies, whether they be technology acceptable use policies or general school/district rules and policies? 

Please post your answers in the comments. I look forward to the conversation!

NOTE: You can post a comment anonymously if you have used Animoto with students under 13 and want to share your thoughts on it but don't want to identify yourself.