Sunday, March 13, 2016

Google Domics



Comics!

Comics in the classroom are awesome. Students (and teachers) can utilize comics to explain about any learning concept. There are also a ton of great tools for creating comics online! One of my personal favorites is Pixton. In fact, it is the tool I used to make some pretty cool comics promoting digital citizenship with a character I created by the name of Mr. Noble.  I had won a free one-year membership and took advantage of it. :)

Tools like Pixton are very cool, but what if you wanted to make comics out of real objects? With the combination of Google Drawings and Webcam Toy, users can create comics with any real object! Webcam Toy has a great comic book image filter. After taking a picture with webcam toy, the user can upload the image to Google Drawings and add speech bubbles and captions. Instant comic!

Google domics! 

In my first video, I demonstrate how you can take pictures from your webcam using Webcam Toy and import them into a comic template that I created in Google Docs (available for download). Creating comics in this manner would be a great way for students to share their thinking about a learning topic. They can take their selfies and add speech/thought bubbles to reflect on just about any learning that takes place. Please also notice that I'm using Google Drawings within Google Docs. By placing a table within Google Docs and using Drawings inside the table, the students will have less formatting issues. The table feature doesn't seem to keep items as organized within the stand alone Google Drawings. 


Document cameras rock!

If you have a document camera in your classroom, let your students take advantage of it! Many teachers have the amazingly affordable HD Ziggi from iPevo. The major advantage is the fact that the camera is much more flexible in motion than a Chromebook's webcam. Users can use a document camera to zoom directly on objects. In fact, one time I had students making a stop-motion movie with an iPevo camera. It worked beautifully since the camera was on a stand and could be easily moved from scene to scene. My only regret is that I didn't upload that video to YouTube and it is now lost. 

So what does this mean for comic making? Students can make comics from any object they like. I grabbed a few of my son's Lego figures in my demonstration below. Students could easily utilize action figures, characters from books, or pictures of historical characters to create a comic book version of them. How fun is that?



Looking for templates?


To simplify things, I created some templates in Google Docs that anyone is free to download. Having students utilize the table within a Google Doc and using the drawings makes it easier to keep consistent sizes for the students. I have the templates set that they are available to copy to your Google Drive account. Once you hit copy, it will be added into your drive so that you can manipulate/use them however you wish.
1x3 landscape template
2x2 portrait template
3x2 portrait template
2x3 landscape template

Great options for comics


If you are looking for a quick site for building comics with fewer features, Make Beliefs Comix is a great option. It works well on the web, but there is also an iPad app that users can download for free. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once your students know how to operate the site, they'll be making great comics in no time. 

If you want something a little more complex for free, I'd recommend Storyboard That. Users can create full blown comics with various backgrounds, characters, and customization. It is also fully functional on tablet devices so there is no need for an app. IPad and Android users can go straight to the site and start building. Just keep in mind that you'll want to create your account first. You may not be able to download your work if you attempt to create a comic without signing in first.