Bitstrips for Schools makes us want to go back to the third grade.
Bitstrips is an online tool for quickly and simply creating web comics, and the company has just launched a new product custom-tailored for the classroom. Kids get to be creative; teachers get a new, interactive tool to reinforce learning; and everyone goes home smarter and happier.
A year and a half ago, Bitstrips launched at SxSW. At the time, we wrote that it was the "YouTube of web comics" and speculated on whether the app could become the breakout app of the show.
While the service has remained relatively under-the-radar, Bitstrips has managed to suss out their revenue streams and remains 100 percent bootstrapped, according to an email we received from co-founder Jesse Brown today. With Bitstrips for Schools, the company is offering a subscription-based service, adding even more revenue to their budget.
"We sold a license to the Ontario Ministry of Education," he wrote. "It just launched six days ago, and over 15,000 students have already signed up. They've been making over 1,000 comic strips a day."
Basic accounts give users (a.k.a. teachers) one private and secure virtual classroom; space for up to 40 students in each class; unlimited saved activities, comic strips, and characters; and unlimited use of the Shared Activities Library. They're also remarkably affordable at a $.9.95 monthly subscription rate. For $29.95 a month, users (a.k.a. schools) can purchase a package that includes up to six classrooms with space for 40 students each.
Now for the fun part: the comics! Check out this promo/demo video showing the software hard at work in a real classroom environment:
Students, individually or as collaborators, create characters and choose from a variety of scenes and props to create comic strips, which they can then share, print, and comment on. Teachers can review comics as they are created.
We can see kids having a ton of fun with this tool and learning a lot about design, content creation, and media while they're at it. The site also points out that comics could be an especially good tool for students of foreign languages.
Finally, we had to take the app for a test drive. We had a lot of fun - the interface is extremely intuitive and works well for kids of all ages. We'll be showing it to the kids in our lives, and we recommend that teachers give the 14-day free trial a shot, as well!
For those of you who are not teachers, we suggest taking a look at classic Bitstrips, where you can create your very own tech scene-themed versions of Family Circus. Or something less nerdy/ironic, if you prefer.