Procedure (let's see how things have progressed for Pek!)
- Firstly, each school created its own script, based on a flea that arrives in the city where the school is and once there, something funny happens to him. We had five imaginative scriptwriters that started this project.
- Then, our five great cartoonists converted the scripts into comic pages, drawn with black ink in a template. We didn't care about different drawing styles (we love differences and diversity). At this point, sometimes we faced a problem, because some balloons were small and the text to put into too big.
- Next step was scanning the comic page. We had some problems because of the low resolution of some scanned files. In order to get the best quality, a resolution of 300dpi or more is needed.
- Scanned pages, instructions, pictures and text files, in both native language and English, were uploaded to Twinspace.
- Then painters and translators started to work. All of them used Twinspace Forums to solve doubts. Among teachers we used external email too, but it's better to promote Forums communication.
- Five students at Vocational Training in Computer Science painted the comic pages using The Gimp software, doing a real practice and learning techniques such as gradients, patterns and transparencies.
- All the pages were translated by each school team-members from English to all the native languages.
- At the same time, we did a cover contest with five contestants. Two drawings where used for cover and back cover, and other three as illustrations into the magazine. They all did a good work, proving their imaginative and creative talent.
- The project manager team composed the comic using Scribus, and published it in PDF, web and paper. Copies are already sent to project's members, school's libraries and NSSs, etc. The final result in paper fulfills our aims.
- Finally, we thank every school, person, institution that collaborated with us, and we start to find new partners for Pek #2.
Difficulties (things were not always easy!)
- eTwinning Twinspace: We can't find the way to change the home page text in public Twinspace, and RSS subscriptions doesn't work.
- eTwinning Twinspace: Trying to upload big files, like PDFs in "Final results" activity page, we realized that classic uploader works fine, but new one (browse) doesn't accept a 16MB file (when the limit is 20MB). We also checked that if filename already exists, doesn't upload the new file. In both situations, the flash animation shows the process, and finally shows the OK notification, but the file wasn't uploaded. We have to say that 20MB is insufficient for our project.
- eTwinning Project Diary: There are several important errors in this application. Blue header doesn't accept the character #, so we had to rename our project called "Pek, the Traveller Flea #1", to "Pek, the Traveller Flea 1". In a post, if character ? is written, after saving it, this character disappears. We solved it by writing ??, and application converts it on a single ?. But the worst bug is that we can't write ampersand character, it's always converted into "amp;". So, we couldn't link files or images published in our Twinspace, because they have ampersand character in their address.
- eTwinning Desktop: It's a hard work to find partners, so it would be helpful if eTwinning members had an option on receiving external emails whenever an invitation appeared, or internal emails, etc.
- Scribus: When we try to manage a big file, Scribus can't convert it into PDF. We had to convert cover into a PDF document, and the comic pages into another PDF. Then, we joined them with pdftk, a command line application.
Pek, the Traveller Flea #1 ended up achieving the initial project aims:
- To know about European places and languages: We virtually visited 5 cities and used 7 languages.
- To learn to create stories and how to convert them into comics: We had countless ideas that ended up in creating 5 different stories, 5 covers and a comic magazine design.
- To learn about software tools such as: Web browser, Twinspace tools (Web content display, File archive, Image gallery, Forum and Chat), Text editor (MS Word and Open Office Writer), Image edition software (The Gimp and MS Paint), Desktop publishing (Scribus), Specific comic creation software (Comic Life) and Scan software.
- To form a team involved in making a bigger comic during the next school year: All 6 teachers remain in the team, and nowadays there are 7 more teachers that joined Pek, the Traveller Flea #2.
The students got involved in all the procedures required in order to create a real comic magazine. They invested their imagination, their creativity, their collaborating skills and their knowledge acquired in the classroom in a virtual partnership that led to a real final product: The expected result of a real magazine motivates students very much.
Teaching and learning became more enjoyable. Team working was effective and creating something real, on their own, gave self-confidence to students.
The Pek #1 project combines a creative activity in a European frame, team working in small (school) and wide (European partnership) scale. It embodies development of skills (collaboration, socializing, development of ideas into practice, ICT skills) mostly needed nowadays.
Having the real magazine in their hands, it's a reward mostly appreciated. The school proves that knowledge and skills have practical value.
Finally, we will apply for a eTwinning Quality Label, that is concrete recognition to teachers and schools of the high level of their eTwinning activities. For pupils, this offers a boost to their work efforts, and for the school in general, a public affirmation of their commitment to quality and openness in European collaborative work.
To grant the Quality Label, a project has to broadly achieve excellence in the following areas: Pedagogical Innovation and Creativity, Curricular Integration, Collaboration between partner schools, Creative use of ICT, Sustainability and Transferability, and Results and Benefits.
We believe that our project fulfills all these requirements.
Posted by: Marcos Vence Ruibal and Maria Sourgiadaki