Xtranormal is now operating on a paid premium business model. As another option for an Asian Studies project, a teacher offered Animoto and this service remains free to educators and students. Which tool will benefit more from the Xtranormal shift to paid only?
Will the future be free?
Some say that it is only a matter of time before many of the Web 2.0 tools that we have grown to love suddenly lose their generosity and deliver paid only options. One of the biggest services to abandon free accounts in 2010 was Ning. However, users quickly found ways to either keep their Nings alive through sponsors or funding, or they found the next best free alternative as a replacement.
You can thank the iPhone 4.
With Xtranormal, the company experienced a huge lift when a clever video showcasing the iPhone vs. the HTC Evo went viral. Xtranormal saw an opportunity to make money and took it, and who could blame them? Educators should note that the company is still offering a free account for teachers, but you will need to request it directly through their help support system. They are very specific in that they will not be accommodating requests for classroom codes or free group accounts, so your students will be stuck with a limited number of options. One of those options is to still complete the video and only use the preview function which is free. Publishing the video will cost you 100 credits (not to mention the cost of the actors, sets, and other items), so you're looking at a quickly rising cost of production with 1,200 credits setting you back $10.
There is such a thing as a free video.
At Animoto, things work a little differently. If anything, I've had better successes with setting up free educator accounts for our teachers. Response times have been shortened, as the Animoto team has recently confirmed our all-access passes within a few hours or less. Also, if students forget to enter the promo code when creating accounts, or if they already have an existing account with Animoto, the account settings now allow for the code to be added. I didn't recall having this ability before. Codes are good for 50 students, so two or three (using multiple email addresses) should be enough for a full class load.
Thus, we reach an interesting point. Will Xtranormal still be a go-to choice for teachers and students? As with many technologies in this day and age, alternatives such as GoAnimate seemed poised to take the place of a tool that may quickly fall out of favor of educators. This will be an interesting case to keep track of in 2011.
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