While the title of the site is Sparkol the actual application name is VideoScribe.
http://www.sparkol.com/ which links to http://www.videoscribe.co/home?utm_expid=32326862-6.v6po904TQjGqE1B9uwJHDA.1
I was attracted to this application because I've seen Robert Reich use something like this in his many videos on the economy and social justice. (Since "his hand" is not animated I can't be sure of this.)
VideoScribe allows users to have animations of images being draw, text and voice to all become synthesized onscreen in a narrative form.
I registered for the seven day trial version and it was a quick to download to my laptop.
A tutorial flashes on the screen at first run of the application. It can be shown at every launch of the program. It moves very quickly but not to worry, there are basically only three main icons to click on at the start page. The icons on this page and the actual construction page are all very simple and readily identifiable. The program froze on my screen a few times, quite possibly because the library of images needed to become accessible to me.
In the course of a minute or two after some initial freezing of the screen I easily added three elements to my first presentation. I could see the draft in progress with a handy playback feature that loaded very quickly.
It was fun to use and the playback feature as it made it clear exactly how the presentation would be and therefore it clued me into how I would want to adjust layout or voice timing.
I wanted to make a presentation on the nature of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, usually misnamed an apple. Or is it misnamed? The fruit referenced in Genesis was likely an etrog, a type of citrus. The etrog's name in certain countries is the Persian Apple. I thought I could use more terms than just an apple but could not find many complex terms after finding the apple. I looked for Middle East, Mesopotamia, Tigris River, and got no results. "Iraq" gave me a map of all of Asia or pretty much all of the Eastern Hemisphere to choose from. When I searched for Adam I got a two Michaelangelo stick figure images but they were premium images I would need to upgrade to use.
Removing items, such as voice-over was as easy inserting it into the project.
In light of what I've shared I give it at least an 8/10 for ease of use.
As for affordance, I think it could fit in well with David Lazear's lesson plan format that always begins with an awakening activity that creates a sense of wonder or interest in a student's mind. I also speculate that it could also be used by students to identify their own learning preferences and styles by the way they might construct a short presentation on their own. I think the tool has the has the capacity to adapt to the concrete-sequential, abstract sequential, concrete random and abstract random learning students exhibit. After viewing a number of their colleagues work they could be guided to see these styles at work and help them to play to their own strengths and to develop learning styles that are underutilized or undeveloped. I'd have to revisit the prices on the version page to discern if I'd like to invest in this tool.