Title: Storymaker

Summary:
This package allows the child, or a small group of children to build a story. "Build" in the sense that they
can tell a story through constructing images and sounds (including text) on the screen as a page. A series
of pages can be linked together to produce an all-walking, all-talking story.

Overview of teaching with this title:
The strength of this package is that it offers images and sounds that reflect and enhance the experience
by being interactive. However, beyond this I have not come across any characteristic of it that achieves a
purpose beyond other teaching methods. In the classroom, the package was used by individuals or pairs.
Sometimes three might help to build the scene or story but any more than this and it can be anarchy. It is the
most popular piece of software and in high demand but I would have to say that it is not very effective as an
educational tool. It's value lies in being a reward for good work or behaviour. With more computers in the
classroom, then conceivably the class (eg. in pairs) could be set a task. By the nature of the package, it draws
on the individual's imagination and really isn't suitable for a large number of children as a group.

Content:
There is nothing in the content of the package that I have any problem with. The figures, images, sounds
and backgrounds are bright and stimulate the imagination; in themselves and in combination with each other.
A good feature is the use of text inside the text boxes. The program will read the typed text when clicked on.
I have not noticed anything that I would regard as biased towards or against any group. It is designed in such
a way as to be as easy or difficult as the individual (group) wants it to be; they create the scene and story to the
degree of complexity that they can manage. It does not include levels of difficulty and lends itself entirely to the
free play of the child's imagination. In this "open" framework, any child at primary level will enjoy using it.

Design and Navigation:
The on-screen help is available at all times and is easily accessible. In fact all the on-screen buttons are large
and user-friendly. But not all are obvious without reading help. Unfortunately the help is difficult to follow.
Learning to use the package was more through trial and error because the help is so obscure. This is the
package's main weakness. There are different on-screen buttons that allow a myriad of functions according
to which element of the story-building process you are at. For example, when trying to link a sound to a character,
the buttons change. This can be quite bewildering and takes a while to get used to. A good feature of the
package is that when the child is finished building a story, he/she can save the story (finished or unfinished) and
then pick up at the same stage that he/she left off. There are also some "pre-built" stories that can be accessed
for reference or example and children found these very helpful. The sounds are clear and amusing but the reading
back of the text can be a little difficult to understand without reading the text as well. The accent is English.

Installation and Use:
The program launches quickly and the child can immediately begin either a new story or open their previous story
at the stage at which it was saved.
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