Chris Drage reviews 2Simple's 2Do It Yourself
I was introduced to 2Do It Yourself (2DiY) on the first day of the BETT 2009 educational technology show in London in January when its author Max Wainwright took me to one side and gave me a quick run through. I remember my last words to him: “If 2DIY is not a best seller this year, I will donate a crisp ‘Charles Darwin’ [£10 note] to the 2Simple staff comfort fund.” Max had come up trumps again.
What a breath of fresh air to find software that puts the creative steering wheel firmly back in children’s own hands. With 2DIY, children of all ages can create activities, games, puzzles and quizzes - totally cross-curricular and personal to each author.
Children (and teachers) can create interactive resources which can be saved as HTML (web format) and Flash (SWF) files. This means they can be shared with everyone via the interactive whiteboard (IWB), email, websites and even on a school’s virtual/managed learning environment (VLE/MLE). (Flash can even work on PDAs and mobile phones.)
In the 1980s to 1990s we used Dress Teddy, a MyWorld interactive feature from SEMERC. I think it was used on BBC computers in every reception class across the land. What 2DIY does so well today is to provide opportunities for meaningful learning as children plan, design, create, publish and play their own versions of Dress Teddy games. Actively creating your own interactive screens, sorting and grouping activities, picture quizzes and platform games is hugely more advantageous to learners than passively "doing" them. With 2DIY the process of even completing a classmate’s creation has more value as it brings in the whole area of peer assessment and feedback which can be used to take learning to new heights.
As with all 2Simple software titles, the interface is simple and intuitive. Children are confronted with a range of opportunities:
- activities which include drag, multi-drag, puzzles, shapes, sound drag, placing, pairs;
- quizzes - multi-choice, maths quiz, cloze, sequencing, grouping, labelling;
- games including catching, collecting, journey, snake, maze, levels.
The controls are as simple as you would expect from 2Simple. For example, animations and sounds within the game can be controlled by simply drawing a rectangular ‘hot-spot’. This means that children can bring in their own photo images and recorded sounds for each activity. Games can even be linked via levels, so having completed one activity you are able to commence a new challenge.
It is obvious from the choices offered that there are as many, if not more, opportunities here for pupils at key stages 2 and 3 than there are at 1. Completed games can be saved in a 2Simple Flash format (.swf files), so they can easily be embedded in V/MLEs or even blog posts. Most blog sites allow Flash files but, unfortunately, some restrict the ability to embed them. So you can upload the 2DIY .swf files to some of the free sites available and set a link back to your blog. It all depends on the capabilities of your blog site.
Due to its simplicity, even the youngest learners will achieve success with 2DIY as neither the ICT nor the reading age presents barriers. If disabled children have access to a pointing device, they can begin creating activities too. Access to a keyboard however, opens up more interesting opportunities. Although many examples show how 2DiY can be used at key stage 1, the software provides excellent opportunities for older students to create activities for the younger ones.
2DIY is very creative and motivating and sure to be a big hit with all learners. It is another winner from 2Simple Software and I am absolutely confident that my wager with Max is as safe as houses.
2Do It Yourself
Software tools for a wide range of classroom activities, from simple design and DTP to computer games. Single user £59; 5 users £99; 10 £199; 20 £299; site licence £399.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 5
Value for money 5
Year 6 and 2DIY
Graham Cooksey is Year 6 teacher and ICT co-ordinator at Featherstone Primary and Nursery School, Ealing
"When I first saw 2Simple’s demo of 2DIY at BETT 2009 I was totally impressed; a title that not only allows for users to create activities, but with the usual ease of use and instant attraction that the company is renowned for. As a teacher, I could immediately see the benefits to using this – 'Catch the Ancient Greek gods', quizzes, matching healthy foods, instant cloze procedures etc. Assessments need no longer be observing discussion or a worksheet-based task. It will be 'Create a game', eg where other pupils must find common multiples of 7 and 4, make a quiz, eg to test other children on their 2 times table... or their 13! 'Design a puzzle'.
"All activities are saved as a Flash file, making them easy to upload to a website or MLE, and without being too cumbersome in terms of bandwidth or file size. Installation was seamless and simple.
"I was demonstrating to staff within minutes of initially putting the CD in. The usual range of comprehensive teacher support is offered as both an easy to read instruction booklet and videos offering a step by step guide holding your hand through each activity and the stages of development were so helpful… and quick!
"Within 10 minutes, my ICT club and I had watched a video, created a totally individualised set of catching games and had shared the work across the network, ready for anyone to play. Rarely will we have to buy any other resources when our pupils can create them for us! The activities offer a good range of clipart and sounds in addition to importing sounds from other sources, from a webcam for instance. But its real strength lies in the ways individuals can tailor their creations.
"The tools are the same as those seen in other 2Simple titles and have been placed intuitively so that even beginners to the 2Simple range can pick them up and go within a few minutes of playing. It really is as good as its name.
"2DIY is a title that limited only by its user’s imagination. It has the potential to be used across the curriculum, in any key stage, by pupils and adults alike and is well placed for the recent developments in the creative curriculum."