Comics have their place in education for a number of reasons. For instance, I have found that comic creation is a valuable way for me to assess student understanding. By asking students to create comics, students must make both visual and textual decisions and consider how image and text might be used together to convey an idea.
One of last year’s ArtsEducator participants proposed a comic as a form of summative assessment for a unit she had written on the cultural conditions and traditions of cultures. I loved this idea. After having engaged her students in a number of activities about Colonial America, she gave her students the following prompt:
“Produce a comic strip showing a conversation between you and a person from the Colonial era to describe the traditions and conditions of the colonial period.”
I have also asked my students to create comics. Last semester, my undergraduates were engaged in discussion about how the current climate in education has been rather hostile to arts education. Following the discussion, I asked my undergraduates to create a comic using one of the various web-based comic strip generators to illustrate a concept from our discussion or their reading assignments. One of my students created the following:
Although I wasn’t using the comics as a means of formal assessment, the students appreciated the chance to further engage with some of the ideas that they had encountered. We all enjoyed getting to view the comics, and I found that students often referred to certain comics in later discussions throughout the semester.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how creating comics might aid in my efforts to document the learning in my classroom in more artistic ways. For instance, if two students in my classroom were having an important discussion and I wanted to capture what was happening, perhaps I could take a picture and then use that picture to create a comic to “archive” the important statement or conversation.
Today I found an app on the iPad that may help me. Strip Designer is available for both the iPhone and the iPad. The iPad app is $2.99, although I am also tempted to buy it for my iPhone because the iPhone has an internal camera that saves me a step.
Anyway, I remembered some fun photos I took of two of my fellow bloggers experimenting with a game on their new iPads and turned it into a comic in less than two minutes:
In addition to the speed at which I was able to learn the app, I was impressed with the number of export options – one of the characteristics I have come to appreciate from iPad apps. Here is a screenshot of the export options: