JClic (http://clic.xtec.net/en) is a free (under a GPL license) software application released by the Ministry of Education of the Government of Catalunya. It is written in Java, and allows us to create the following seven types of interactive activities:
- Association games – to identify the relationship between two groups of data
- Memory games – to discover hidden pairs of elements
- Exploring, Identifying, and Information games – to start with initial information and choose paths to the answer
- Puzzles – to order graphics, text, and audio, or to combine graphics and audio
- Written answers – to write text, a word, or a sentence
- Text activities – to solve exercises based on words, sentences, letters, and paragraphs (these can be completed, corrected, or ordered)
- Wordsearches and crosswords – to find hidden words or solve crossword puzzles
JClic exercises can be more visually appealing than Hot Potatoes, as we will see, and can be particularly useful for younger students. But, as they require Java, this should be checked with the ICT coordinator as Java must be installed on the schools’ PCs.
In the software download area (http://clic.edu365.cat/en/jclic/download.htm), we can download JClic author, the application that allows us to create these activities. The file will use WebStart, and will run from a single file, named jclic.jnlp. When we run it for the first time, in Microsoft Vista at least, we will need to give permission for the application to Run (selecting the Always trust content from this publisher option will avoid having to perform this step every time we start JClic):
Then JClic will start loading:
The interface of JClic author is as shown in the following screenshot:
As it can be seen, there are four available tabs:
- Project – the default tab, which allows us to define some details of the project.
- Media library – where pictures and other multimedia are managed.
- Activities – where the project activities are created or modified. This tab further contains four tabs.
- Sequences – where we can sequence several activities in the same project.
The options inside these tabs will be available only after we create a new project.
Start a new project
The first step in building interactive JClic activities is to start a new project (via menu option File | New project):
We should then define:
- The name of the project
- The name of the file in which the project will be saved (having a double extension of .jclic.zip)
- The default folder for saving the files to is:
C:/Programme Files/JClic/projects/name of project (in Windows)
$home/JClic/projects/name of project (in other OSs)
We can change this and, if we are using multimedia files, again we should keep everything organized inside this folder.
Creating a puzzle activity
We are now ready to start creating our first activity, a puzzle. In Module 2 – A world of music—we can pick some of the pictures of instruments that our students gathered in the Instrument Mappers activities and create a jigsaw puzzle as part of a final game for the module. We will perform the following steps:
- Provide details of the project in the Project tab.
- Import a picture to the Media library.
- Add an activity called Exchangeable puzzle.
- Create a sequence.
Note that we are starting from the tab on the left and moving to the right as we configure the activity.
As an example, I created a project called Instruments:
Next, I added a description of the activity and specified myself as an author by clicking on the plus (+) button. We can specify in more details, but for now this much information is enough as an example.
Now, let’s import a picture into our Media library by clicking on the icon on the far left on the toolbar:
If we pick a picture from any folder on our computer, JClic will recommend that this be copied to the project folder (we should accept this recommendation, especially if we want to upload our activity to Moodle).
Note that the Media library accepts different kinds of multimedia files, from MP3 to Flash and video. This can be useful in other types of activities.
We now have a picture of a lamelaphone that will make a difficult jigsaw for our students.
Lamelaphone image source: Weeks, Alex (2006). Mbira dzavadzimu 1.jpg. Retrieved October 12, 2008,
The next step is to add the puzzle activity, on the Activities tab, by clicking on the icon on the far left of the toolbar:
A dialog box is displayed, and in this menu we should select the Exchange puzzle option, entering a name for our puzzle, in the input field at the bottom of the dialog box:
We can then add a description of the activity, and if needed, we can define a timer countdown (in the Counters section), among other options:
Reports are mentioned in this dialog box. JClic provides a way to gather students’ responses, but due to the complexity of this functionality, we will not deal with it in this book.
In the Window tab, on the the Activities tab, we can also define some color options, as shown in the screenshot below:
In the Messages tab, we can add an initial message, which for example, gives the context of the activity, and a final message, as feedback for the exercise by clicking on the dark gray areas:
Finally, in the Panel tab, we should insert the lamelaphone picture from our Media library and define the kind of jigsaw that we want. In the following screenshot, I have done the following three things:
- Selected a jigsaw with curved unions.
- Defined 5×5 pieces.
- Selected the image from the Media library.
Our puzzle activity is now ready, and we can now add a finding pairs activity to the same project, in a sequence.