Apr 14 2010

Comics and Comic Life in the Classroom

Filed under Uncategorized

I’ve just responded to a question about the value of using Comic Life on student outcomes to the ICT English mailing list and I thought I’d put my thoughts here too so that others can join the discussion in this blog.

Karen Mulhuish asked the question:
Why use Comic Life over pen and pencil? What kinds of learning (or ‘affordances’) does it offer students?
For example, does it help students understand sequencing because of the ease with which you can manipulate images? I guess what I’m driving at is, how do we know that, by choosing Comic Life (or any software, for that matter) we will add value to the learning experience?

This was my response.

For me, presenting information through a tool like Comic Life comes down to what the value is of comics and graphic novels within education.Comic Life egs There are a number of sites that believe that information presented graphically helps to motivate students but there are plenty more advantages than just motivation. Personally, I think one of the biggest advantages is that students have to reprocess information in order to change it from a text platform to a visual platform. This removes the ‘cut and paste’ option for presenting work and requires higher order thinking to be able to represent something graphically with minimal text while representing the key information. Obviously, for visual learners, graphical representation of the work may be more effective for learning and retention than straight text.

In terms of why a software application is better than comics with pen and paper, for me the benefit is that it takes away some of the time required to manipulate the images and information so students can focus instead on the learning behind the task.

Here is the page of Comic Life in Education examples I’ve put together:

Check out some of these other links.
Read, Write, Think – has a number of comic based activities and has an article discussing the benefits of the comic form (if you haven’t explored Read Write Think yet this is an amazing resource)
Eek! Comics in the Classroom! – an article from Education World
Comics in the classroom: 100 Tips, Tools and Resources for Teachers – a very useful blog post
Cartoons and Comic Life- a blog post containing video interviews with teachers about how they are using comics effectively (and Comic Life) at secondary level.

So how would you answer the question Karen posed?

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Comics and Comic Life in the Classroom”

  1.   Allanah Kingon 14 Apr 2010 at 1:59 pm     1

    As a classroom teacher without the aid of a tool of Comic Life I think a really big thing is the saving of TIME. If you are going to look at visual responses to sequencing, for example, a group might each take an episode to illustrate and put it all together when/if they all finish.

    If an individual has a go at the entire sequence they may well take a lifetime and then run out of energy and inspiration before the job gets finished.

    With a tool like Comic Life children can approach the activity in a different light and get the job done quickly and efficiently, get a professional looking product and get the learning done.

    Hand drawing sequences and displaying them freehand is a time filler- best to move on to better things.

    Plus all the other great things that Comic Life can record (display).

  2.   cronegeekon 23 May 2010 at 9:31 am     2

    These comic making web tools – I use Toondoo.com – are useful at the University level also. Asking students to render key ideas, summarize articles, etc. in visual format encourages them to focus on main ideas. You can see an example at http://ws445.wetpaint.com/page/Tina%27s+cartoon+about+financial+aid of a student’s cartoon rendering of the obstacles low income high school students face when trying to cope with online financial aid applications.

    I first got motivated to focus on visual renderings when I read the instructions for an international women’s conference which would be attended by women who only spoke their local language and might not be literate in any language. Workshop leaders were told they had to prepare visual posters (not text summaries) so attendees could make informed choices about which sessions to attend.