Colabs Project

Creative Writing tool

By Secundino Correia leader of CNO-PT

Further Portuguese projects

The co-design process

Creative Writing co-laboratory is the main output of Portuguese partner to CoLabs Project. This microworld has been translated to Portuguese, English, Hungarian and Slovak.

Creative Writing was developed on a process of co-design with children, teachers, trainees, educational researchers, designers and programmers.

We soon realized when testing it with children the great potential of self expressing not only by writing, but by drawing, by using characters, balloons, text speech synthesized, backgrounds, pre-recorded sounds and talks recorded on the way. Now a character can have associated not only text balloons, but also music composed by the children, text speech or recorded voice. We developed also a character editor instead of using only pre-made characters.

Picture 1 - Creative Writing interface - v030

We also realized that Maths are much about reading and understanding, setting up a visual schema of a problem as a path to find the solution, explaining how the solution was found, and justifying why a solution can be considered as a correct one.

Creative Writing can be used as a tool for maths activities, because it’s easy to have visual data representations of problems that can be handled to estimate possible solutions.

So we evolved from the initial idea of developing four microworlds to a stronger model of a collaborative platform, with different templates for different ages and learning contexts. This idea of templates seems to be much stronger than the original one of levels. Using this concept we can extend the microworld potential to eventually any subject.

For a deeper understand of these concepts, please read the following documents on the guidelines for learners section:

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The microworld

By the use of Creative Writing, children are able to create one page after the other. On every page they can locate characters and also other pre defined objects. If they want to, they can also create their own. It is similarly with the background. Some beautiful and challenging backgrounds are offered as starting points for creativity, but the user is able to modify or create their own pictures.

The writing will be more attractive by the use of some sounds, for example spoken words or other interesting sounds. To every page the user can create a special sound and also he can use it for every object on the page (like girl, dog, cat, fridge, etc). A collection of sounds is offered and a recording tool is providing in order to produce recorded sounds on the fly.

If you are happy only with writing and drawing you can use a bubble for every character on the page with some text in it. Even more, all these texts can be read by the program itself which is another way of transforming this microworld in a co-laboratory for creative writing.

Picture 2 - some pages of story written by Madalena R. e André C., of  Escola da Ponte, Porto


Picture 3 - Some more pages from children of Escola da Ponte

Picture 4 - Writing about a visit to the city park, from Escola da Vilarinha, Porto


Picture 5 - Some more pages from Escola da Vilarinha

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Collaboration through the use of Creative Writing

But what really captivates the user is the possibility of having a network connection with other users (not just one, but even more). So there is the possibility for children to work together from all over the world, which is really exciting. But this is true and challenging even when working together in the same room in different computers working in the same story at the same time.

Besides this synchronous kind of collaboration, Creative Writing allows you to upload your work to a server on the Internet so easy like Save command, allowing others children to download them and go on working.

These features encapsulate a very new potential that needs to be further researched in order to address the right ways of dealing with these new features on the classroom and non-formal learning situations.

More details about insights from evaluation process on schools and out schools can be found on:

Picture 6 - Family Group at Coimbra, trying the synchronous collaborative features


Creative Writing will be launched on Portuguese and Brazilian market during 2005 and may be also on English language market.

Before this some more research will be conducted on the collaborative features outside the umbrella of Colabs Project, in order to fine tune these collaborative mind tools.

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