Common Sense Review
Updated August 2015

Twine

Cool interactive story creator can both dazzle and baffle
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • Help students explore code
  • Simple interface makes storyboarding easy
  • Explore other people's creations
  • Zoom in and out for an overview of your story
Pros
The end result -- an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure type story -- is really neat.
Cons
Browser-based saving poses challenges to students sharing computers.
Bottom Line
Twine is a fascinating tool to build interactive stories, but the "function first" interface means it'll take patience and time.
Caryn Swark
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Students exploring coding will enjoy having a way to create a finished product, but may find the experience frustrating.

 

 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Students will think critically and use creative skills to apply coding practically. There are various difficulty levels to explore.

 

 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

There are some good tutorials, but you still have to search to find them, and some of the online tutorials are out of date. The best tips are out in the community at-large.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

In its simplest form, teachers can use Twine to create basic choose-your-own-adventure style stories. The interface is easy enough for fairly novice coders, but also has the potential for more experienced coders to add greater depth and interactivity. In these ways, Twine will be useful to both computer science teachers looking for a practical way to experiment with code and English teachers experimenting with different types of storytelling.

Twine could also be useful for other teachers -- for example, language learners could use it to write stories in the languge they are learning, or history teachers could use it to go through important dates or events.

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What's It Like?

Twine is an online program that allows students to practice the basics of coding while creating interactive fiction (or electronic choose-your-own-adventure type stories). Work is done in a visual interface, where you can see a map of your story and easily visualize connections between passages. With an integrated text editor for editing passages, Twine can be used for storyboarding, organizing a novel or story, or creating a choose-your-own-adventure tale. Once you finish a story, you can publish it online for other readers to experience the interactive journey created.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Twine is a combo platter of storytelling strategy mixed with beginning coding skills. It's an interesting mix, and patient, dedicated students who really want to create their own interactive stories can learn how. Using technology and imagination together, they'll spend a bunch of time brainstorming how best to move their tale forward, backwards, and sideways. Students can also discover that there are two sides to everything on the Internet, and how many lines of code translate to the sleek websites we see every day. While Twine can be challenging to use, its unique format gives students a rare opportunity to use both sides of their brain at once.

It's not really for beginners; although there are tutorials available, help is hard to find and often references the previous version of the program. The best help is available outside of the Twine site, directly from expert story creators. The new interface is much clearer than the previous, though, and students will probably find it easy to create basic programs. The only other thing to watch is the save system. There is no login or account, so all information is saved to a browser. This can be difficult for students using shared computers and seems like an unnecessary complication. To properly save projects, students will need to archive them.

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