In 2006 Microsoft released the latest version of PhotoStory3 (version 3.1). If you’re looking for a simple tool for creating digital stories with images and voice, and you’re a Windows user, this still remains an excellent choice.
It’s 2014. Why am I writing about Windows software that hasn’t been updated in 8 years? Because it still works. And by “works” I mean it still works for student projects better than most, if not all, other storytelling telling tools out there. Believe me, I’ve looked at dozens of other web 2.0 tools and apps and still have not found one that has convinced me to switch away from PhotoStory because I’ve not yet found one that meets all these requirements:
- No student login required
- Gives student a place to write narration notes right in the app
- Record student voice right in the app
- Give student control over image pan & zoom
- Create or Add background music
- Export as a video file
As my school transitions away from Windows machines toward Chromebooks, iPads, and BYOD I miss the straightforward, step-by-step approach PhotoStory uses for building a story. iMovie for iPad is an excellent tool and is almost as easy for students to use as PhotoStory, but unless you’re buying a new iPad, it’s not free. 30 Hands has greater simplicity and ease of use, but falls short if I want to control image pan and zoom.
In the Chromebook world, I’ve searched the Chrome Web Store for a PhotoStory replacement, but everything I’ve looked at seems to come up short. So far, Narrable and Movenote are the ones that come the closest, but I still long for a tool that gives me pan and zoom control for my images and can export as a video file. Oh sure, there are some amazingly powerful video editing tools like WeVideo, that allow a myriad of transitions, effects, and audio/video channels, but I’m not sure I want my second & third graders logging in with a Google ID and working with all the embedded distractions provided by something this sophisticated.
For now I’ll keep bringing my students to the computer lab to work on PhotoStory 3 projects and continue recommending it to elementary teachers until something better comes along.