My experience with Snapguide: Thoughts, implications, and a wishlist

It was one of those “Just in Time” moments for learning. I had been sharing some photos of a trip into Toronto through Instagr.am and cross-posting them to Facebook. A grad school classmate asked me how I achieved the effects. After listing the tools I used, she jokingly asked when I’d have the e-learning course ready for her to teach her how to do it all. Undaunted, I figured this was a good opportunity to try out Snapguide.

For those who don’t know, Snapguide is (currently) an iOS app that lets people incorporate text, photos and videos to create step-by-step guides for almost anything, and share them with the community at large.  In some respects it follows a similar approach to “Instructables” but seems to be geared to the smartphone segment, with the obligatory sharing functions for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

(The curious can find my first guide right here.)

What I like

It’s very simple to create guides. If you know how to take a picture or even a screen shot with your iPhone, you’re off to the races.  It’s also ideal for things that are really step-by-step. If you browse the site you’ll note there are lots of recipes, etc., on there; things that are truly linear in creation.

It’s social. You can see what other people are sharing, and there’s a great potential for a collective body of knowledge about, well, just about anything.

It’s free.  Free is a good thing.

What I don’t like

It’s linear.  Completely and utterly linear. While you have a rapid development tool at your immediate disposal, it’s really not much more than a slideshow. Clickware. e-Boring.  Until this tool – or tools like it – allow for branching, decision-making, and query-based learning, it will remain limited in use.

It’s flat. There’s no way (that I’ve seen) to add hyperlinks or other interactive features to the guides.

Guides are not downloadable.  When I first learned about the tool from Aaron Silvers (a.k.a. “The Beard”) I thought that it might be a simple m-learning development app “for the rest of us”, but it’s definitely not that.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but if I’m working with a tablet. I want to know I have guides and resources at my disposal without having to access an external site. I should be able to search, and access, a list of guides and pull them up when needed.

No control over interface. You get whatever Snapguide provides.  Orange is a nice fruit, but I’m not sure I’d want to see that colour all. the. time.

Image handling. At this stage, I don’t see an in-app way of editing images once I add them to the guide. I know that on the phone, any text captioning will disappear if I tap on an image, but it seems couter-productive to edit a screen cap or photo outside of Snapguide and then pull it in.  Simple resize/crop functions would go a long way.

Image mark-up. Give the user the ability to add simple highlights (arrows, etc.) when specific visual emphasis is required.

Implications for Learning

The very concept of user-generated learning content isn’t new, but this community seems to have the right kind of idea. e.g. if you know how to do something, or perhaps just learned how to do something, why not document it?  It also uses familiar tools and services on the iPhone/iPad/iPodTouch.  The community and repository both allow you to create and manage a list of guides that you like or find useful and you can engage the creators of those guides by providing feedback or even corrections.

I like the idea of having a simple tool that allows people to help document and manage corporate intelligence, procedures, and other information.  For example, wouldn’t it be awesome to have your corporate on-boarding information uploaded to your BYOD when you begin a new role?

The social aspect is huge, and could enable collaboration among device users across all sorts of boundaries (assuming tool functionality supports it down the road) but it could also work like a Wiki of sorts and allow for on-demand, on-the-fly updates and corrections to key materials.

Snapguide is still new, and who knows what the future holds for the app itself. What I do see is the possibility of very simple m-learning app/resource creation with appropriate social linkages and a real shift towards genuine user-created content for the mobile sector.

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About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on May 14, 2012, in Apps, blog, commentary, Instructional Design, opinion, rapid development, reflection, Social Learning, Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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