Thursday, March 17, 2011

Digital storytelling with StoryRobe

StoryRobe is another way for kids to create digital stories using photos or digital copies of their own artwork. Once they've selected the images they want to use and put them in the right order, they can record the text to go with the images. They can talk for a total of up to 3 minutes, and synchronize the images with what they are saying by tapping the screen as they talk to advance to the next picture. StoryRobe creates a single video file that can then be shared.

Unlike StoryKit, there is no option to add text to the finished product, as  the model is more video-like than book-like. There are ways to add it it to the pictures however. Students could handwrite text on their original artwork before it is digitized, or use an app like Comic Touch ($2.99) or Comic Touch Lite (free, reduced feature set & watermark on output) to add captions or speech bubbles to the images and then save them to their photo album before adding them to the StoryRobe project.

I initially thought that one drawback to working with StoryRobe is that once you start the process of adding pictures to your story, you really have to complete the story (including adding audio) in one sitting. There did not seem to be a way to save works in progress. I later found that Storyrobe does sometimes save works in progress.

I have not always been successful in creating StoryRobe stories - the process seems to fail at the point of creating the finished video. Because I have managed to get short projects to work, I think this may be because I have included too many photos, even though the audio recording was within the 3 minutes allowed. Because of this, I have not yet had students try to use it. For my purposes - working on writing and speaking - I already have a workable product in StoryKit. Once I figure out what makes StoryRobe fail I will be more likely to use it with students, but I'm not going to have them work on a project knowing that it may well never reach completion!

Here is a very short video I threw together using StoryRobe and Comic Touch Lite while sitting in the car one afternoon waiting to pick my kids up. (The Comic Touch Lite logo does not show up on the first image because of the way I cropped it.)
video 
I'd given up trying to get longer videos to save properly! I thought this one hadn't either , but when I checked my photo album later it was in there!

The following video gives a good overview of how StoryRobe works. There are also directions on the StoryRobe website that you could print out if needed.**  The video creator mentions that Story Robe costs $0.99 - it is in fact free at the time of this posting. StoryRobe does not yet come in an HD version for iPad, but will work on one.




**Addendum: Less than 2 days after I originally wrote this post, the Storyrobe website disappeared for several days . . . It did reappear again, but given that and the tendency of the app to crash (Wes Fryer also commented on this), I think Sonic Pics will be less frustrating to use in school.

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