Skitch Touch in Education – articulating thoughts through image annotation


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This is a guest post from Hélène Fyffe, an undergraduate starting her final year at Edinburgh Napier University, having spent a year on placement with Microsoft UK Education as part of her course.

Expressing arguments with Skitch Touch

A vital skill that high school, college and even university students sometimes struggle with is expressing their opinions and arguments in an academic context. Not everyone has a supple handling of words and so for some students, having the tool to express their arguments visually could be really effective.

Skitch Touch is an app developed for touch devices that enables students to annotate photos, screen grabs and maps and to create their own illustrations. It can even be used by students to visually illustrate their understanding of academic processes by recording their annotations! You can choose different pen colours and sizes to draw squiggles and rough sketches and there are also inbuilt fonts and shapes to annotate content.

There are a number of ways this could be used academically:

University

For modules where students have to analyse theoretical frameworks, such as Maths, Philosophy or Psychology, Skitch Note would give students a simple environment to screen-grab a framework and then annotate it with arrows and text. From a marking perspective, the interpreted framework would make it clearer for the professor to make sense of the students’ written argument if their English or grammar weren’t brilliant, which would give the student a better chance at getting a higher mark. I could see this being particularly attractive to international students who are less apt with their written English.

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College

For those vocational college courses such as engineering, sports science or cooking, students would also have the tools to be able to make their own edits on diagrams or recipes from online sources, through effortlessly screen-grabbing the source in Skitch Touch. On another level, if they had to design proto-types and models in a subject like engineering or fashion, the opportunity would be there for them to digitally integrate sketches into submissions or proposals by taking a photo of that illustration through Skitch Touch and adding diagrammatical measurements with the arrow tools. Of course, they could include measurements in the sketch, but the advantage of annotating with Skitch Touch is that it gives work a more polished, professional finish

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School

For final year students at primary school, Skitch Touch would provide a fun environment to develop their abilities of expressing themselves, with the novelty of annotating work in a touch-enabled environment. Whether it be a science or geography lesson, it would simplify the challenge of analysing and interpreting content in purely written words, and add a visual learning experience. To illustrate this idea in a geography lesson, a picture of the map of the world could be annotated to show for example which countries of the world have the highest populations and what the populations are, using the text and annotate features.

At high school level, subjects which involve a lot of memory-work such as Biology can be daunting to students who don’t naturally find it easy to recall lots of content. Skitch Touch can provide an interactive environment for students to learn about a subject area, such as the heart in the image below, and help melt the perceived difficulty of the challenge at hand, making it more fun. The beauty of the app is that when learning complex processes such as the circulation system, students can record their visual interpretation of how the heart and circulation system works, and then save the video and share it with their teacher to get feedback of their interpretation.

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To learn more about the features and functions of Skitch Touch in a learning environment, look at the videos below, and download Skitch Touch for free. You can find out about more Windows 8.1 apps for education here.


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