Top Web Tools of 2008 – Number 1

toondoo-logoToondoo always gets a rave whenever I demonstrate it at workshops and conferences. According to the company, “ToonDoo was the happy result of brainstorming session that was aimed at creating a new way of expression for those who do not have the talent to draw. You can now just drag-drop or click to create comic strips that express your views, opinions, angst or to just have fun, loads of it!”

There seems to be a bit of momentum in the use of comic strips as an outlet for student creativity. I encourage faculty to at least once a semester give their students the option of creating a comic strip or comic book as a means of expressing themselves rather than the same old tired term paper or other same-old, same-old project.

The ToonDoo site is a bit of a social network; sort of a YouTube for comic strips. You can comment on the comic creations of other people and also rate them. You can save your own comics and those of others that you have marked as as favorites and collect them into galleries. From the home page you’ll find links to the Most Viewed, Editor’s Picks, Latest Doos, etc. If a creator is so inclined, they can make their comics “Re-doo-able,” which means that others can remix or improve upon them. This is another example of where students can publish their creative works publically and receive feedback and evaluation of their work.

Here’s an example of a simple 3-panel Toondoo that I created. (link to strip at Toondoo site)

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In addition to the single strip as shown above, you can also create a book of comics, called a ToonBook. Due to restrictions in this WordPress-powered blog, I can’t embed a ToonBook to show you the full array of features. I’ll try to embed one below, but you’ll probably have to click this link to open the ToonBook in a new window at the Toondoo site.

barrydahl LSC toondoo for students in the non-degree-seeking status for enrollment.

This ToonBook is a prototype for a project I hope to complete at LSC this year. I want to have various employees and student workers help create ToonBooks and Toondoos for us to use in place of some of our standard FAQs on the website. I’m hoping that they will be entertaining as well as informative (and better than the quickly thrown-together prototype shown above).

Toondoo provides a selection of characters, backgrounds, props, clip art, and text boxes to choose from; or you can upload your own pictures into a personal image gallery and use them. It is very easy to resize, rotate, flip, or position the objects in the comic strip panel wherever you like. When satisfied with your creation, you can publish (either publis to the world or private to invited guests) with a single click of the mouse. You still have the option of re-opening the comic strip and editing further even after it has been published.
Students I have worked with find these projects to be both enjoyable and engaging. It is one of the easiest ways of having students engage in digital storytelling. It also can be a great way of having them introduce themselves at the beginning of an online class, or for an online instructor to provide some of the basic information about the class. The only real limit appears to be your own imagination.
One final note. I have found the Toondoo staff to be surprisingly communcative and engaged. They care about their service and are always striving to make it better.
That’s all for 2008. Happy New Year to all, and to all warm wishes for a great 2009.
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5 Responses

  1. Barry – many thanks for such a useful Top10 series. I look forward to seeing your Toondoo Book – currently (11th Jan) showing as not ready.

    Also, thank you for the Jan 9th slideshare which (toward the end) served as a useful check against something I am putting together for a specific group intro. I must look up something as dreadfully named as ‘Plurk’. Am not too keen on Twitter but Plurk?????

  2. Hi Gillian, and thanks for the comment. Something was borked at Toondoo which is why the Toonbook wasn’t showing. I re-made the book using their new tool (they no longer use the “Toonbag”) and it appears to be working now. Still, the embed isn’t working properly but that is probably a WordPress thing since they don’t like embedded things. Just click the text link to open the book in a new window.

    Still some issues at Toondoo, since my phot wasn;t showing up. I tried to change to a new photo and that didnt show up either. They’ll probably get things fixed quickly, at least they usually do.

  3. Gillian, I forgot to mention. I like Plurk. Similar to (but different from) Twitter. The main reason I use Twitter and not Plurk is that I already have a network of people built up in Twitter. For me it’s very loinely in Plurk.

  4. Barry,

    As an avid cartoonist and working in elearning, ToonDoo is a really fun and fast and effective way to communicate a message and transfer knowledge.

    You introduced me to ToonBoo last Summer in Memphis, Tn at the Web 2.0 Summer Institute hosted by TBR (TN Board of Regions). I immediately began playing with it that day!

    If falls directly in line with a talk I’m giving at this year’s eLearning Guild’s Annual Gathering in Orlando titled “The 5th Language.” I’ll be presenting the idea that we communicate graphically everyday already so why not use what we already know in eLearning. Part of the presentation is a quick reference (time permitting a demo) to ToonDoo.

    Thanks for putting this on your top 10 list and of course for introducing it to me last year.

    Kevin Thorn

  5. Wow Kevin, that is most excellent. Please let know how your session goes at the Guild. I wish I was attending, but can’t make it this year.

    The TBR summer session was such a blast. I really enjoyed it and met so many great people. Cheers. Barry

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