Thank you to Simon Haughton,for this guest post on our blog. Simon is a teacher at Parkfiield Primary in Manchester. Simon is a regular contributor to ICTopus magazine and the 2DIY Archive. He now blogs at http://simonhaughton.typepad.com/.
Earlier on this week I was privileged to be allowed to try out an early beta of the program (set to be launched at BETT), and just thought I’d share some of my initial thoughts about it with you.
Building on what had already been established in 2Create a Story a few years back, Superstory now makes it even easier for children and teachers alike to create their own animated and interactive storybooks for uploading online – perhaps onto a school website or class blog page, for instance.
On loading up Superstory for the first time, you a greeted with this colourful menu screen clearly showing the now wide range of layouts that are available for presenting your work in:
Each of these thus provides a wide range of writing opportunities for users:
- the square book could be used to type up a traditional story;
- the reference book could be used to introduce children to non-linear writing since the pages can be flipped over in any order by clicking on the tabs at the side;
- the aged and scroll books could be used to display writing with a historical setting;
- the activity book could be used to create stories which include a simple drag-and-drop element for readers;
- the full screen book could be used make a virtual lift-the-flap book.
I’m just going to concentrate on the simple book for this review now, but all of the features I’m about to describe can be applied to any of the layouts.
Sticking to the philosophy that if you can use one 2Simple program you can easily learn how to use another, the simple book layout contains three main sections in the template which can be edited using the familiar tools:
As well as using the painting tools to draw a picture, you can also choose to import your own image file too (perhaps a photograph taken with a digital camera or downloaded from the Internet). Once it has been selected, a nice selection of image enhancement tools then appear for you to edit it with – thus encouraging children to think for themselves by making them tweak the original settings.
Once a page is finished, you can then add objects on top of you picture to animate. There are a number of exemplar objects available and these are all grouped into categories at the side of the screen (e.g. animals, humans and vehicles). Unlike other 2Simple programs however, non of these objects contain any pre-drawn pictures – the idea now is that users design their own characters or things using the dotted lines provided as boundaries. This puts the emphasis on creativity and again encourages children to think more for themselves when drawing items to insert into their story illustrations.
To make an object animate, all you need to do is drag your desired animation from the list at the side down into the timeline below, conveniently labelled for each of the 10 seconds of available animation time – the more copies of an animation in a box, the faster the object will then animate. You can also drag sounds into this timeline as well – either from the gallery collection or your own recording (e.g. using a microphone).
Having pressed ‘OK’, the object is then placed on top of your picture – it can be repositioned by simply moving it around and resized by moving the unobtrusive small green circle.
Objects can also be instructed to move around the picture by using the magic green pen to draw a motion path for it to travel along. This can help to add that extra sense of realism and action to your stories.
By clicking on the ‘Whole Pic’ icon at the top, you can then finally add a few animations to the whole picture – such as to shake it or to zoom in and then follow/track an object as it moves along a motion path – useful for emphasising particular details in a scene.
To test your story during development, you can simply press the green triangle ‘play’ button at the top to see how the book appears and how all the different elements within it are looking.
You can continue adding however many pages you want by just pressing the green arrow in the corner of the screen to go to the next page (and you’ve no need to worry about waiting ink/paper since it won’t be being printed).
At the moment I’ve only been using a beta version and haven’t had the chance to try out the augmented reality and 2DIY activity import functions, but I certainly think that from what I have seen, 2Create a Superstory looks like its going to be a super(!) addition to the 2Simple collection. Its intuitive interface will make it easily accessible for younger children yet at the same time its open-ended, flexible nature will make it a powerful tool for older children and adults alike to create their own dazzling interactive books to publish online. I expect to see lots of Superstory projects on school websites across the country in the near future!
Oh, and why is the icon for Superstory a dog? Apparently it’s because Max likes dogs (and it also just happens to be first object in the list which you can choose to animate)!
Here are some example stories I’ve made using 2Create a Superstory: