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Using comic strips

This is the 8th entry in a series on ‘putting the fun back into fundamental learning’.

Although some people may not take the medium of the comic strip seriously, comics are a very powerful medium of communication, and are used by people of all ages for political, satirical and explanatory reasons, as well as for simple humor.

We as educators can use comic strips, to explain or highlight an issue, or better still, we can get the learners to create their own. I have seen examples in Modern Foreign Languages where the learners get to grips with different grammatical elements by creating comic strips. In history we can recreate significant events through creating comics, or even create higher order thinking activities by asking the students to imagine a meeting between people from different eras e.g. what if Napoleon and Hitler had met? – how may a conversation have followed?

There are many free comic creating options available. 2 free examples are:-

ToonDoo, which has a really good clipart gallery and is really easy to manipulate the images. You can then export the result, or embed the output into a VLE, blog or similar e.g.

Plagiarism

Another option is Stripcreator has less options than ToonDoo so is simpler to learn and use, but has less output options. An example (not created by me) can be viewed at http://www.stripcreator.com/comics/wirthling/37299

Or we can simply use the basic features of something like PowerPoint (with its array of clipart and the ability to easily import other images) to create comic strips, the advantage of this is that the students can then use some simple animations to get the speech bubbles to appear in sequence, or for characters to move around, get bigger, blow up etc. To make live easier you could create a Comic template within PowerPoint – which is something that Champagne Design have done on their blog, including a template that you can download and use.

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More training on plagiarism deterrence

Tomorrow I am off to Gloucestershire College to run training for them on plagiarism deterrence, one of my ‘pet’ topics. We will be using the excellent TurnItIn software which can be integrated into Moodle to create a very powerful tool, that doesn’t only check the submitted work for matches to the Internet, but also matches to other work submitted to other UK based institutions.

And as well as this, it has a very sophisticated online marking system, which reduces the need to download students work, then mark it, then re-upload it, which when you have lots of assignment to deal with, becomes a chore in itself.

\Toon\

Creating comic strips

There is a free web-based tool allowing people to create simple comic strips on the computer. It is called ‘stripcreator‘ which I am sure lots of educational filtering systems will blockjust based on the name.

It is very quick to learn how to use, and to create simple comic strips, for example here is one I prepared in about 5 minutes highlighting an actual issue that I have faced in the past.

http://www.stripcreator.com/comics/davefoord/435103

Tools like this I think are great, as if you get students to create comic strips, you are tapping into the more creative and artistic characteristics that many other teaching and learning methods ignore.