Yesterday, the Ministry of Education announced a very exciting opportunity for Ontario students. At OSAPAC’s recommendation, the Ministry has licensed Bitstrips for Schools for all publically funded schools, first nations schools using the Ontario Curriculum, OISE and Faculties of Education at Ontario universities.
This is one of those moments that I’m so proud to be a member of the OSAPAC Committee. This licensing has the potential to change many student’s attitudes towards reading, writing, and media literacy. Bitstrips has been around for a long time. It’s an online cartoon / graphic novel creator. It’s a place where you can design and draw stories and post them online. The problem with open publishing is that people tend to create anything (literally anything) and share it. It’s not always appropriate for classroom use.
So, for the company, it was back to grindstone to try and develop a product that would be appropriate for the K-12 classroom. Hence, the creation of Bitstrips for Schools. Imagine the power of one of the premiere comic authoring tools using the power of Bitstrips controlled at the classroom level through a management system. That’s what every teacher in the province has now. With the management system, you create your class, create your students, put the students in your class, assign a specific task for the students, students use their creativity to express themselves, and then, students submit the completed comic to the teacher for assessment.
(in my days of polyester pants, I think I posed for this picture!)
Because of the management system, teachers are able to create and more importantly, share their ideas and concepts with anyone who cares to take a look. It’s all there.
In Greater Essex County, we had two of our schools as part of the Beta team and they really liked what they had. The ability to create and assign tasks for the students was crucial to the success of this product.
If you’re an Ontario teacher, you can get started right now. Visit the website http://www.bitstripsforschools.com and click on the link that invites you to activate your account. All of the District School boards are preloaded and ready to go. Pick your school district and from there, pick your school. All that’s required to formally register you is your district email address.
Then it’s time to create your class and enroll your students. Literally, you can be up and running in a few minutes. The tools for authoring provide a enormous amount of flexibility and you’ll only be limited by imagination. But, that goes away very quickly once the students get the tools! Since Bitstrips for Schools is a web service, students and teachers can access it from both at home and at school. Look to the OSAPAC website for resources and links to Curriculum Expectations for Bitstrips for Schools and all of the Ministry of Education software titles.
Bitstrips for Schools complements the licensing of Comic Life Deluxe that was announced last spring. The two titles should serve to inspire authoring and creation throughout all Ontario classrooms.
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