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In our fourth ICT session, we were asked to look at a piece of software and evaluate its use in school. We looked at 'Comic Life'. Below is a 'word cloud' I created with some adjectives linked to software, followed by our evaluation of 'Comic Life'.

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Evaluation of Comic Life
Installability:
The program is installed onto the computer desktop and can be used without the use of a disk.

Usability:

Is documentation clear and accurate?
The documentation is very clear, giving demonstrations and a step-by-step break down of how to use the program. However, it is also easy to navigate around the program and learn how to use it through exploration.

Are required computer skills grade-level appropriate?
This program is suitable for and accessible to both key stages. Key stage one would need some initial support in use of Comic Life but it would be easy to let key stage two work independently

Is content error-free?
Yes, the content is error free and safe for children to use as they do not need to access the internet but the program is already loaded and ready to use on the computer.

Are screens well designed and easy to read?
Yes, exploration of the program is initially needed but it only takes a short time to get the hang of. Children could either teach themselves how to use it through their own explorations or use the step by step help guide that is linked on the program under in the ‘Help’ drop-down menu.

Does the program require few or no additional plug-ins?
There are no additional plug-ins needed.

Performance:

Is the program bug- and error-free?
Yes, as the program is installed on the computer, it would be very unlikely to pick up a program bug. However, if a problem did occur, the software could be easily re-installed to try and overcome any bug.

Does media load correctly and in reasonable time?
Yes, the program loaded quickly and images already saved on the computer are automatically uploaded and accessible to the program. Teachers would need to be aware of this as children could access any files on the computer. If you wanted to use pictures from the internet, they would need to be saved before the can be used.

Are video and sound clear and accurate?
There isn’t the option to use sound and video but the video demonstration of how to use the program is very clear and useful.

Are hyperlinks accurate and reliable?
As far as we have found, there are not hyperlinks in the program.

Is navigation intuitive?
Yes, the program is very easy to pick up after just a short while of using it, although there is also the option of using help guidance if necessary.

Usefulness:

Does the program meet educational objective or reliably perform required tasks?
Yes, it could be used reliably for a range of different subjects to create comic strips but it would be useful to have a bank of images saved into a folder beforehand so children don’t have to spend time searching for images.

Are content and/or tasks performed grade-level appropriate?
Comic Life could be used in many different ways for different subjects. There is a wiki that a teacher has created which shows examples of pupils’ work across different subjects.

Does the program maintain user interest?
Yes, there are a range of different texts and templates that can be used and effective comic strips can be achieved quickly and easily.

Does the program extend student learning and/or save time?
Yes, it improves ICT skills and helps consolidate learning on the given topic. Children can quickly produce really eye-catching, effective work, adding pictures and captions to a blank comic strip.

Support:

Is a comprehensive Help tool available?
Yes, it’s very comprehensive and informative in using the program.

Here's the video we made on how to use Comic Life, created on screencast-o-matic.com. This shows the work Amaris created in the session, mine is below. We really liked the fact that something that looked so professional could be created so easily.







We also found a useful wiki, created by a teacher that shows examples of children's work using Comic Life in all different areas of the curriculum: http://comic-life.wikispaces.com/Schools

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