The latest fad, according to my Facebook timeline, seems to be Bitstrips, an app for Android, iOS and Windows devices. The premise of Bitstrips is that you can make a comic strip and add yourself and your friends to the story. My sister is addicted to it and everyday she posts up something that’s she does with her friends. It got me thinking about how it could be used very easily in an educational setting.
Making comic strips isn’t new in primary education but sometimes you need to strike at the right time. While BitStrips is considered cool, I guess we should embrace it. I decided to set up an account on my phone for a few minutes to see what the potential could be.
I found the process very simple once I had installed it on to my phone. I created my avatar in a matter of a minute and then I hit my first obstacle: I had to link to my Facebook account. This almost automatically ends a school‘s chance to use the app. However, it appears that there will be a Facebook-free version soon. For the purposes of researching the future, I hooked up to Facebook and automatically could choose a ready-made cartoon featuring my avatar. I could change my avatar’s clothes but I decided to go straight into the comics.
There’s a huge choice of scenarios and I chose ones appropriate to school. There were several examples of these types of cartoons and I could edit the caption and add speech bubbles, etc. If I wanted, I could add friends from Facebook. Thankfully, for the sake of my friends on Facebook, I ventured no further than this. However, I could see how children could be given a comic image, featuring themselves, and they could come up with the caption and some speech bubbles. I can see how this would support literacy in a simple but effective way.
It seemed unusual for something child-friendly like this that there wasn’t an educational version of the app and a Google search indeed showed me that BitStrips for Schools does exist. The only problem is that one has to pay for it – starting at $9.95 per month per classroom – which makes it completely unaffordable for what it does. A whole school package starts from around $300 per year!
While I can see how BitStrips could be useful in primary education, it seems one is stifled at each turn for schools. For personal use, I can see how people can enjoy playing around with comic strips. While I can see the value of BitStrips in education, I can’t see BitStrips being good value for the money.