Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Storytelling with SodaSnap and StoryMaker

Although their names don't make it obvious, Story Maker (iPad only) and SodaSnap Postcards (iPod and iPad) are very similar apps in that essentially they both create one page stories. Yes - Story Maker is perhaps a poorly chosen name for an app that does not let you create multiple page stories! One page is often the perfect length for a student piece of writing, especially in the early years of writing but, if it is not, multiple 'pages' from these apps could easily be combined to create a 'book'. You could print them and staple them together to create a traditional book. You could create a digital 'book' by using the image files (.jpg or .png) created in StoryMaker or SodaSnap into a slideshow, or a webpage. Alternatively, you could also use the image files in another app, such as SonicPics or Storyrobe, to create a narrated movie in an app that otherwise doesn't allow you to add text.

The basic point of SodaSnap Postcards 2.4 (free) and SodaSnap+ Postcards 1.4 ($2.99) is to take the digital photos you have taken on your iPhone or iPad and turn them into postcards that you can email right away to family and friends. With Internet access, you can see a gallery of the 50 most recent postcards that have been uploaded by other SodaSnap users all over the world. (FYI: my experience is that if you click on the gallery and you don't have internet access, the app stalls and stays stalled until it successfully connects to the net! Also, I don't know what policies they have in place to prevent inappropriate postcards being shared.) If you add scanned student art work to the photo album on your iPad/iPod, then students can use those images for their 'postcard'. Alternatively, you could use other apps that allow you to save images to the photo album as the source of your images. You do not have to share your finished postcards with the world - saving to the SodaSnap server, Facebook or Twitter is optional. You can simply save the finished card to the camera roll in the Photo Library on your iDevice and then choose how you want to use it from there.

The Story Maker (free) metaphor is different. You start by assembling a character (or characters) from the pieces provided in the app. There are many choices - 21 different heads to start with and 37 different faces! There are four additional sets of fairytale characters that you can buy as an in-app purchase for $0.99 per set of characters. Having created a character, you can choose different elements for the background and then add text. Each story (basically a single page with text) can be saved to camera roll, sent to Twitter or Facebook, or emailed. If you can print directly from your iPad, you can print from within StoryMaker.

Given that both of these apps allow you to create just one page at a time, I can see them being very usable in a school situation  - students can potentially easily complete and save a single page within the time frame of one class period.

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