Despite being editors--or maybe because of it, we aren't sure--the ReadWriteThink team enjoys making up words, especially if the word makes our lives easier and is easily understood in context, which to me are the two best reasons to make up a new word in the first place. Some examples:
- Revenate: v. to generate revenue. Example: "This is a good idea, but can it revenate?"
- Interapptive: n. a digital resource that is both an online interactive and a mobile app. Example: "We are building a new Haiku interapptive. It will be released in iTunes, Android, and we'll have the online version!"
Quick and easy to understand. Both are totally cromulent words that embiggen the vocabulary.
Yeah, I just referenced the Simpsons on this blog. I feel this clip teaches the use of context clues to understand unknown words wonderfully.
This brings us to "to their peril." I mentioned elsewhere that I am all for putting students in peril. Not a lot of peril, mind you, as that is too perilous, but a little peril can be a good thing.
I first made this statement while we were working on the new Venn Diagram interapptive. In fact, if I remember correctly, I even wrote in the specs something like "The Venn diagram should open with two circles, but students can add as many circles as they want to their peril." This statement got some laughs from my coworkers, Bridget and Becky.
A thing to note: the released version of Venn Diagram only allows two or three circles.
When designing interapptives, I come at them with the idea that user should not be insulated from failure, how-so-ever failure might be defined in the context of the activity at hand. Students can learn from failure, and sometimes even learn more from failure. In the case of the Venn interapptive, a student can fail by placing items in the wrong section of the circle (and thus being incorrect), or--in the case of unlimited circles--a student can fail when the Venn diagram no longer makes information easier to read and understand, which is the entire point of using one in the first place.
Why did we ultimate limit the circles to three and thus take away the peril? It was decided that for the grade range for which the interappitve was designed, two- and three-circle Venns were most appropriate and that having the option to create more could end up being a distraction rather than a teachable moment. Also, understanding that more circles does not mean better Venn diagram goes beyond self-regulation to outside regulation from a teacher, guardian, or peer. Without someone explaining that the multiple circles can be confusing, the user might never see that on their own. We felt that the interapptive was not the best vehicle for the lesson.
One lesson we do feel the interapptives are good for teaching is editing and economy of words. We very purposefully character limit things. Sure, part of the decision is layout/visual appeal. However, many of our resources, like the Venn, Essay Map, and Persuasion Map, are graphic organizers. The entire point is to not write a draft, but to teach users to refine their thought processes and write concise, brief statements.
We don't always remove all the peril. Many users have asked for spell checkers in our interapptives, something we consider every time and ultimate decide not to add. This really came front and center with Resume Generator. On the one hand, we were making an advanced, complex interactive (not interapptive; there is no app version yet) for upper-level students to use to create a professional resume. As such it is the only interactive (that I know of) that has no branding on the printout: We wanted users to be able to use the final printout as an official resume.
That's a nice looking resume!
One of the most important aspects of a resume is accuracy--no grammar mistakes, no spelling mistakes, not layout mistakes. The Resume Generator handles the layout, but we felt the editing and proofreading steps were too important for users to learn for us to have the interactive do that for you. Furthermore, we didn't want users relying on a grammar checker and spell checker, which are not 100% accurate. Users must edit and proofread themselves, to their peril!