For this activity I have learned how to use to software Comic Life which allows users to create comics using photographs. I used this software to create a comic about how to use the Nintendo Wii for education. I have found this to be a fairly easy and fun system to use and I can see a number of ways in which it could be used for education including;
- Improve creative writing skills and photography skills by getting learners to write and produce their own comics ( Similar to the graphic novel produced by a secondary school in Yorkshire http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6029574 )
- Create photo casebook scenarios which can be used to initiate discussion in sensitive areas such as bullying, teenage pregnancy, depression, etc.
- Create fun guides for students on topics such as what’s available in the library, how to apply for EMA funding and what to do when they are ill.
- Get students to create comics which cover the points of traditionally boring topics such as health and safty.
- Use images and text to support Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) students and English as a foreign language (ESOL) students.
- Using comics for art students to learn about visual media (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/dec/04/link.link9)
I would say the main features of the software include;
- A wide range of templates and styles for page layout, speech bubbles, image filters and page backgrounds.
- An easy to use customizable menu system.
- Easy do add photos from the photo menu pane, drag from explorer or capture via web cam.
- Options to export as images, movie file or HTML file which can be embedded into a website or VLE.
- Very easy and fun to use and exciting output.
- Being able to extend speech bubbles gives a reader a path to follow around a busy page.
- Although it isn’t free, it is relatively cheap and can be used on macs as well as PCs.
- Free trial version available for practitioners to evaluate.
- Educational bulk license deals available.
Potential issues include;
- It can be fiddly and difficult to select and manipulate specific items, eg moving a fram but not the picture or visa versa.
- There is no built in spell check.
- Sometimes the text does not appear instantly on screen when typing, which can lead to errors.
- I noticed bugs when printing content on certain printers. Red blobs on certain parts of the page, only happened with one printer and one particular page but searching through the FAQ highlighted there were some printer specific issues.
- When not using the HTML or Movie output format, multiple page comics are produced as multiple image files (each page is a separate image). A combined comic in a format such as pdf would have been useful and can be achieved by adding the images into an application such as publisher.
- Although speech bubbles, text boxes and text are useful items to add to the comic, additional props and additions such as basic shapes, and drawing tools would have made it even better.
- Although the filters were fun to use, they may often hide important details of the image.
- Learners taking and publishing photos of each other, particularly those under 18, may cause issues for legal and safety reasons
Having said this I have found this to be a really useful piece of software which could be used for a wide number of tasks within a college.