Using apple clips in research and public engagement

From animated selfies to research stories.

Stephan Caspar
4 min readDec 22, 2017


Photo by Koby Kelsey on Unsplash

During the launch of the new iPhone, X apple snuck in details of an update to an app that had been around for a little while but became supercharged by facial recognition software and fun new features.

Apple Clips helps you put together image, text, video, emojis, transitions, audio, and music so that you can make a little film to add to your social media channel or share with friends through instant messaging.

As with all these new apps, it’s fun to explore and play around, on the face of it, there’s little you can do outside messing around with friends, but it shouldn’t be dismissed so easily. As usual, educators are downloading this app and finding ways to use it in their teaching and learning.

The brilliant Mark Anderson as always is straight in there and has already been talking to teachers about how to use clips in their work, from simple instructional videos to ways to provide feedback and comment on student work.

Modern Foreign Languages and Technology guru Joe Dale is encouraging the use of clips in language learning, demonstrating its versatility as a way to work on vocab and grammar activities. The brilliance of both these educators is their ability to see the potential use of common technology to enhance learning, and whilst not everyone has access to iPad or iPhone, the creation of short digital pieces for the classroom and the process of using mobile devices in this way is something every teacher can be inspired to try.

Joe Dale talks through some great apps including apple clips to show how they can be used in the classroom.

Why research needs clips.

I’ve always maintained that the skills and tools that teacher use need to be adopted by researchers and as an example, Apple Clips is a great way to communicate and engage with audiences.

Apple Clips stands out precisely because of its immediacy, clips can be created quickly using images and video about your research. You can add text, voice-over, and animation. The use of transitions between segments and music can add polish to your finished film and it can be shared quickly to Twitter or YouTube (although you have to remember it’s a square format).

This year we’ve been working with a number of researchers to create video abstracts, which we know is hugely beneficial in terms of increasing readership of articles and other publications. Many publishers now support video and the addition of a digital piece will draw in more readers and enable wider sharing of your work.

Creating content

The best clips benefit from forethought and planning; you might write a short list of elements you want to add and a short script for your voice over. Think of the pace of the clips, the order, and sequence, and the best way to show or demonstrate an idea. Often concepts and theories can be visualized with objects, such as fruit, marbles, toys, lego, almost anything. Additional images might be drawn and sketched up on paper or created using one of many drawings or animation apps. Remember, you can add almost anything that you can share to your camera-roll.

Get started

So, what are you waiting for? Start small and go from there. Here are a few ideas and challenges for you.

  1. What did you work on today?
  2. Can you explain your work in ten shots?
  3. Take a photo and explain what’s going at an event and comment using a voice over.
  4. Use the text on the photo function to show details of an experiment.
  5. Identify a statistical anomaly or outlier and try and explain why that occurs.
  6. Interview a colleague and intersperse text questions with their answers.
  7. Talk in the jargon as you would to a colleague and add subtitles so that a broader audience can understand.
  8. Create an animation in Explain Everything or Sketches and add to your video.
  9. Only explain your research in gifs, you can download them from Imgur or giphy.
  10. Tell us a joke related to your research. What is a physicist’s favorite food? Fission chips.

Apple Clips is just one of many ways to share your work or even just capture your own reflections and build up an account of your process. Don’t just try it once, like everything you’ll get better with each mini-project, better at telling stories, choosing images, and adding effects.



Stephan Caspar

Rides bikes, speaks French, designs things, thrashes axe, paints shed, films, teaches and learns.