Digital Comics for Literacy

CTSIStorytelling is a key element of learning. We tell stories to explain the world not just for others, but for ourselves. Being able to explain relationships allows us to build on our knowledge, as is related in Paiget’s Theory of Learning: Each child builds on the previous stage of cognitive development, increasing the child’s ability to solve more complex problems.

For our effort at World Children’s Festival, we used the sequential, visual nature of the comic book to have students create simple stories, allowing them to combine text and imagery, both skills they already possesed. The intent up front was to make the process utterly approachable. For small children in particular (such as the precocious 9 year old named Jason) it became important to get on with the task, make it simple and streamlined; more about telling a story and less about mechanics (such as drawing recognizable objects). That can come later…

Using Digital Cameras and web cams, students could create static scenarios, which they could place into either a custom Flash application (where their background was removed through a chromakey) or straight into a comic book layout program, Comic Life. For the Computer Training Summer Institute (CTSI) students, one further step was to bring these pages into iMovie and animate them, giving the viewer the experience of reading through a comic book, even on a portable device such as an iPod.  By introducing students to the mechanics of storytelling in a hybrid text/visual medium, the expectation is that they can apply this knowledge to other instances, whether they be purely visual, textual, aural or a combination of all of these. The belief is in the transformative moment; where a student can quickly see results from their hard work, and be able to share that work with others. Students at the festival day walked away with a comic record of their work, and the student’s work for Computer Training Summer Institute (CTSI) was combined into a podcast feed.

Images from World Children’s Festival are available at:

A Podcast of student produced content for CTSI is available at:

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