As a general rule of them, I don’t hop onto Facebook app bandwagons, or many Internet ones for that matter. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I’m a hipster at heart. I will not accept your CandyCrush or Clash of Clans invite, I’m not gonna play online poker with you, and I’m sure as hell not going to make BitStrips of myself doing my Independent Learning Project.

…Wait.

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1. The master and the student at work.
2. Tones aren’t Jeff’s strong suit.
3. Jeff studies.
4. and isn’t ready to graduate. 

Okay, so I’ve been wrong before. As part of this week’s Digital Literacy class, we were asked to take a look at several possible online tools for visual art making (comic strips, infographs, etc.) and after some digging, I found the most user-friendly and one of the most customizable to be *heavy sigh* BitStrips. I’m sure you’ve seen them on people’s Facebook walls. Usually I’m pretty annoyed with them. The art style is a bit too cartoony for my taste, and often they’re just nonsensical statuses about lunch or what was on American Horror Story last night with little point.

Though, as I’ve said before, technology = tool, tool = up to the user, and after a few classmates made blog posts illustrating their Independent Learning journeys via BitStrips, I thought I would give it a whirl. Ashamedly I admit, I actually had some fun tinkering with this tool. The settings / props / facial expressions are all customizable, limbs are movable, it’s actually really intuitive. What I suspected would be just a selection of pre-constructed images actually has a lot of different options. Characters have actually a lot of options as far as customization goes, with the exception of outfits (I don’t think I even own a blue shirt).

So now the question is, does this have applications outside of mindless meandering / time killing online?

Creative Control

The answer is, yes! Students are going to dick around on FB and the like. This is a proven fact of life in 2015. The fact is that comic generators, infograph makers, etc. flex students’ creative muscles while requiring them to think somewhat situationally. Someone making an infograph needs to have research and statistics done to put anything down in a coherent manner. Comics require (albeit very little) semblance of plot as well as dialogue; essentially, storytelling skills. Tools like this could be used as a fun alternative for traditional research projects or narrative exercises.

On top of the creative building going on, tools like this also teach general tech skills. Unsure how to use a tool properly? A Google or YouTube search can easily yield tutorials. These tools require a general knowledge of how to use either smartphone or computer technology, something that not entirely everyone has. If students can bolster creative thinking on top of learning how to use technology that will be most likely required in higher education as well as a workplace, I count that as a win-win.

Picturae

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