One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is that when I’m not in the office, I spend a good chunk of my spare time exploring and evaluating new apps and websites and try to imagine how they could be used for online education.
While exploring the App store last night, I discovered Narr8. At first glance, it simply looked like a cool way to deliver a story, kind of like an interactive comic book. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good comic book as much as anyone else, but it’s hard to envision using comics as an effective teaching tool because the medium, while exciting, isn’t taken very seriously in academic circles as it is traditionally associated with entertainment, not education. So I played around with Narr8 for a few minutes, and went through the somewhat perplexing account setup procedures before I started checking out the various titles available in the platform. Most of them were designed for pure entertainment, and I’m sure I’ll be exploring them soon enough, but I AM working here, right? Then I stumbled across a series called “Chronographics“, which offers history lessons on Narr8. I was impressed.
The episodes are interactive, engaging, and exciting. They’re brief enough to be used as content in an online course without having to worry about students walking away and not completing the content. Also, they’re entertaining enough to keep learners interest throughout the episode. Each episode contains a number of interactive elements and hyperlinked words which can be opened to reveal even more information or graphics. The only drawback is that there are no assessments embedded in the presentation, but remember, this isn’t designed to be an educational medium. It’s designed for entertainment.
But the overall design of the episodes provides an exceptional template for course content development. It’s similar to SoftChalk in that there are pop-up definitions or interactive activities, but is more graphically appealing. It should be noted, however, that the intention behind Narr8 is entirely different than that of SoftChalk, so this isn’t a criticism of SoftChalk, just an observation about Narr8’s potential.
The ideas are percolating in my mind about how this type of delivery could work in an online course…. More to come.
Oh, here’s a video about the Chronographics series which gives you a little taste of what it’s like….