For my exploration of a Web 2.0 tool, I wanted to find something related to my content (art), that was also game based. Technology, entertainment, and content together have been the triple play goal of my teaching lately. Looking through some of the options, I decided to try a tool called Shidonni. What caught my eye was drawing with online tools, and that the user was creating a virtual world. Remembering how much I enjoyed anything to do with personalization and ownership of design growing up, I decided to give it a try. After a brief download, I was ready to start. The site led me right into a blank section with tools to create my first animal. I really liked the creative aspect, as there were no real restrictions on what can be created—hey, my first animal was transparent! I could see it being especially meaningful to students if I had reviewed character design and the principles of animation previous to this activity.
The color palette and tools are somewhat limited with the free version, but lines of various diameters, fill, erase, and undo are all available—with a surprising variety of results that are possible. I created my first animal: Dinolope.
I then was dropped into a blank environment, where more options are available for custom designing. One may create an outdoor landscape or an interior. I could definitely see some interior designing lessons being incorporated at this point, if somewhat limited to introductory material by the span of manipulatives. Some topics that could be covered would be perspective (horizon line, overlapping, orthogonal lines, etc), color balance/theory, and proportion. The user’s animal owns different rooms such as a bathroom, bedroom, and a kitchen that can also be customized, right down to the food in the fridge. Other animals can also be created and added to the same environment, which could offer peer collaboration options on a design project. Friends can also be asked to join in the environment from other computers and participate in activities together. How fun would it be to dip in and out of your peers’ personally designed worlds as we all sat together in the classroom? Giving feedback and even joint editing would be a great way for students’ to collaborate.
There are different floating islands that represent various worlds in Shidonni, each containing different games and activities. Drawing more characters or objects fulfills missions, unlocking more activities. Some of my favorites, played with your animals as the participants, were shoots and ladders, pong, checkers, and matching. Although the formatting was simple, that made it easy to use and understand. Shidonni would be popular with a variety of grade levels, because it is left up to the user how basic or advanced the designs are, and even at what skill level the games are played. Overall, I thought Shidonni was a clever and engaging 2.0 tool that kids (and me) could be excited about using. I picture it as a way to have some directed reward time in the classroom or as a guided design assignment with specific goals and criteria to accomplish.