One thing I miss about being a learning technologies coordinator is the time spent looking at new pieces of software, testing them out and then eventually piloting them with a classroom to see if they would be a good addition to our software library. I first came across Brian Aspinall's name about a year ago on Twitter from a #ff recommendation from @dougpete. After giving him a follow I quickly realized from his Twitter feed that we had many of the same interests but he had one amazing skill that I wanted and sadly still don't have...but I'm working on it! He has coding skills. Using those skills he has developed a number of web-based applications, one of which I am going to review for you here today called Scrawlar. You can read more about Brian and his web applications here and follow him on Twitter @mraspinall
A platfrom agnostic app, designed with HTML 5, Scrawlar is a cloud based word processing tool that students and teachers can use with the knowledge that their data is safe and secure. Student email addresses are not needed and there are no plugins required. From the home page Brian has provided users with a 10 page printable pdf tutorial to get you started, as well as a demo to give you a glimpse of Scrawlar in action.
After creating an account and logging in you will quickly notice the slimpicity in the Scrawlar interface. It is lightweight and very fast, especially if you are using it with Chrome. For me this is great for students who are easily distracted by a busy interface, particularly Special Education students.
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When you create a document, again you are presented with a clean interface with a toolbar that includes the ability to toggle to the HTML code, and if you are using Chrome, the ability to use voice-to-text. I tested it on a number of documents and it worked flawlessly. An awesome feature for sure!
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Beyond the simplicity of the interface in creating documents, teachers can create student accounts which generates a password, or the teacher can change the generated password to anything they would like. Students are then able to log in, create their own documents and share them with the teacher or other students and allow them to either view or edit the document. The Class Feed section is an area where both the teacher and students can create messages for other users to see. An excellent way for teachers to notify students and for students to seek support from others.
If you are looking for a safe, private, cloud-based app to use with your students to share and create documents Scrawlar is an awesome option. Give it a whirl, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. A job well done by Brian. Check out his other apps on his website as they may be of interest to you.
Let me know your thoughts on Scrawlar. What do you like about it? Is there anything you think it could use to enhance the app, without taking away from the simplicity of it.