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Try out inklewriter – win an iTunes card!

Okay. I’ll be honest. I just found out about inklewriter but haven’t learned much about it yet. This week will be another busy conference week and I probably won’t have much time to play around with it.

So. You have homework. Go to inklewriter. Explore a bit. And report back here what you find out.

Some background. inklewriter is an online tool that lets you and your kids create interactive stories. You remember these, right? A story starts and after a few paragraphs, you are provided with two choices. You select a choice and the story branches off in that direction. A few paragraphs later, the story offers two new choices. The story continues to branch based on your choices.

inklewriter lets you create these types of stories.

It’s a free tool designed to allow anyone to write and publish interactive stories. It’s perfect for writers who want to try out interactivity, but also for teachers and students looking to mix computer skills and creative writing.

It lets you write as you play, branching the story with choices, and then linking those stories back together again. It keeps track of which paths you’ve finished, and which still need to be written. There’s no set-up, no programming, no drawing diagrams. Just start writing and see where it takes you. Oh, and it’s free to use. And once written, you can share your stories with whomever you like.

It looks like a great way to encourage high levels of thinking and creation by students. But like I said, I don’t have time to mess with it this week.

So it’s on you. Do some exploring and let the rest of us know what you find out. And to encourage you a bit, I’ll give away a $15 iTunes card to the best review. Just post what you find outbelow in the comments – and don’t forget to let us know how you might use it as part of classroom instruction.

Have fun!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mr. S #

    It was on my “check out” list as well, and since your putting up $15 to iTunes, I found some time to do some exploring.

    First thing I look at with a web tool like this is how much setup is involved in implementing it into the classroom. For inklewriter, it’s very easy. For exploration, users can click the “Start Writing” button and set right to work. The only thing you lack this way is the ability to save. This is great for teachers wishing to just take a quick look at how it all works. Account creation is flexible though. The default asks for an email address, however accounts can be easily be created without an email address as well. Inklewriter only cautions that you can’t retrieve lost passwords this way. Yet, if a teacher created the accounts for the students, they could easily assign passwords and keep record of them.

    As for usability, Inklewriter is very user friendly. The tool works fine with Internet Explorer 8 for schools still without an HTML5 friendly browser. Creating a story is fairly simple. Type it out and add options at appropriate parts of the story. There is a “Map” utility that allows the user to visually see how the story breaks down with all the options. There is also a “Contents” section that shows the entire story.

    Inklewriter also offers some neat options for more complex interactivity. For example, you can assign “Conditions” to parts of the story. “If” they’ve reached a certain point, “then” other options are available. The text can be formatted simply (bold, italics, underline) and images can be added to illustrate the story.

    When you are signed in, you can save and return to stories later. When finished, inklewriter provides a unique URL that can be used to share the story with others. They also offer the ability to submit stories to open competitions at “Future Voices.” It doesn’t offer the ability to search for stories, so it appears the stories are fairly private unless you share the link.

    While it’s pretty easy to use, there was one potential pitfall for students. When writing in the editor mode, it is not as simple as I’d like to move back and forth between options. When an option is incomplete, it provides a red link to edit that path, but once started it’s more difficult to switch back and forth. Using the “Map” or “Contents” resource was the quickest way to move around within the story to revisit sections.

    Overall, I think this would be a great resource for most grade levels for writing stories. It’s easy enough that elementary students could create simple stories, yet offers enough that more proficient students could really make it “sing.” Some ways I could envision it used are:
    -It would make a great way for students to write a “Choose your own adventure” kind of story.
    -You could create a tutorial for a variety of things. For example, a tech specialist could write out a story for various scenarios with options about how to proceed.
    -I could also for writing out simple stories for math word problems. The first “chapter” could present the problem and then the options could be used for possible answers. The best part would be that the options could explain what they student did incorrectly to come to that answer.

    November 28, 2012
    • glennw #

      Sweet! Thanks for doing some great legwork for the rest of us.

      I’m trying to envision how a history student could use this instead of a traditional research paper. Also some great “What if?” type of stories possible here.


      November 28, 2012
      • Mr. S #

        Replacing a research paper would be hard as once you select a decision in the “Read” mode, you can’t revisit the other options without starting over. After further thought though, it would be a great tool for students to write about historical events. The “options” that inklewriter allows for would allow an opportunity for students to illustrate what decisions people/leaders/nations were facing during the event. Using the facts, students could speculate what might have happened if different decisions were made. It certainly wouldn’t be a “traditional” research paper, but that’s kind of the point anyway, taking a new approach. Just doing the same “traditional” projects on a computer instead of paper doesn’t effectively utilize the technology…

        December 3, 2012
      • glennw #

        Mr. S,

        I like the idea of “What if” history! And you’re right, the sort of thinking and writing that you suggest does move tech use past the automate stage and more into the info / inno vate stage.

        Thanks for sharing!


        December 3, 2012

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