December 2005

Cartoons for Learning

Humor is a catalyst for classroom "magic," when all the educational elements converge and teacher and student are both positive and excited about learning. Instructors can foster classroom "magic" through improved communication with students by possessing a playful attitude and a willingness to use appropriate humor (Duffy & Jones, 1995). From Using Humor In The College Classroom To Enhance Teaching Effectiveness In "Dread Courses" College Student Journal,  Sept, 1999  by Neelam Kher,  Susan Molstad,  Roberta Donahue

Ready to add more humor and laughter to your learning environment? Why not! Following are online resources with some ideas on how to apply them with adult learners. - The cartoon above was taken from this Australian site. Many cartoons do not apply in this country, but I like the Terms of Use: "PEOPLE ELIGIBLE TO USE INKCINCT CARTOONS FOR FREE: Members of the general public, students and non profit community groups are welcome to use these cartoons free of charge for personal use, in student assignments or for publication in non profit newspapers, magazines and websites (providing they comply with all other copyright requirements listed)." - I like their terms, also: "Teacher's are welcome to print these cartoons out for use in their classrooms --you don't have to ask for permission. We may give you permission to republish these cartoons in your publications also, contact" - Some of these may cost a little. You'll have to read the permission statements. There are lesson plans and lots of images to use with learners. - "Sick of runaround links and pop ups? Then you've come to the right place! We have many clip art pieces for you completely free to use with no strings attached, so browse around and have fun! Just make sure to read our Terms of Usage before downloading any of this site's clip art. Oh-- and if you really, really, really like this site, then please link back with a text link!  You can do whatever the heck you want with these pieces of clipart. You can place 'em on web pages, snort 'em, do whatever-- as long as you follow these rules: 

  1. Personal use- as imagery for your web site, for desktop publishing projects, greeting cards, school projects, home, etc
  2. Commercial use- web sites you are building for clients, t shirt business, mugs, graphic design projects, etc.. - MS has some of the most underused resources on the Web. You can learn most applications by just clicking on their tutorials (listed on the page). Many tutorials are interactive and accompanied by clear voice instructions. If you click on the Clipart link (left margin of the page), you'll find hundreds of listings for clipart of every kind. Insert the word and make your choices. The following quote is taken from the Terms of Use document that I finally ferreted for the site:

"The Software may include certain photographs, clip art, shapes, animations, sounds, music and video clips that are identified in the Software for your use (together "Media Elements"). You may copy and modify the Media Elements, and license, display and distribute them, along with your modifications as part of your software products and services, including your web sites, but you are not licensed to do any of the following:

  • You may not sell, license or distribute copies of the Media Elements by themselves or as part of any collection, product or service if the primary value of the product or service is in the Media Elements.
  • You may not grant customers of your product or service any rights to license or distribute the Media Elements.
  • You may not license or distribute any of the Media Elements that include representations of identifiable individuals, governments, logos, initials, emblems, trademarks, or entities for any commercial purposes or to express or imply any endorsement or association with any product, service, entity, or activity.
  • You may not create obscene or scandalous works, as defined by federal law at the time the work is created, using the Media Elements." - Vast number of political cartoons by wonderful artists, but there is a charge. Sign on and you can find out what they charge so that you can put it in next year's budget!

Washington Post Cartoon and Video Section -  Just one newspaper site. You'll have to explore this and others when you want to have some fun. Think out of the box. How can you use the images you see? is copyrighted by the Washington Post. You'll get wonderful current events images and cartoons here. I have looked everywhere for a Terms of Use policy for using images. I don't know what their policy is. Maybe you need to subscribe. However, IF I had permission, I would have lots of uses for the comics and cartoons in this and other sites.

Examples of possible use of cartoon humor in adult education:

  • Download or print the images. Blank out the dialogue. Let students fill in the bubbles.
  • Download or print the images. Blank out some of the dialogue. Let students fill in the blanks. (Cloze exercise)
  • Let students download different images (right click the image -> save picture as) and create their own dialogues. (Especially fun for ESL students)
  • Discuss the messages in the media.
  • Redraw the figures and add new messages that have local significance. Scan the images that are made offline and create a flyer with local political cartoons.
  • Discuss humor - what it is; how it changes in different cultures; why political cartoons are so regionally specific; why a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Your turn!

The resources listed here are just a tiny fraction of what's out there. There are plenty of political cartoons that are public domain that go back to the 1800's. If you like the idea and want more resources, do a search with these or other terms: public domain cartoons; political cartoons; free online clipart; teaching with cartoons; political science cartoons; public domain clipart; and more. If you or your students want to learn how to draw and animate cartoons, your search might include different terms: drawing with cartoons; free cartoon tutorials; learning to cartoon; cartooning resources; and more. Many adult learners who dropped out of school love visual communication. Let them loose on what they love and laugh together!

Free Computer Training for Colorado Adult Educators

You are invited to enjoy one or two days of professional training designed to help your apply computer skills with your adult learners or market your program. The training is being sponsored and encouraged by your CDE, Adult Education and Family Literacy program.

What you need: four to six people with a hunger to learn and the commitment to teach what they learn; ideas you may want to implement in ESL, ABE, Family Literacy, GED or marketing, whether they are listed or not; space to set six laptops and a projector; a screen if possible. I'll bring the computers and other equipment along with my commitment to help you learn what you want for your folks.

One day with follow up teaching applications offer 1 graduate credit hour from Adams State. Two days offers 2 graduate credit hours.

To apply, go to and submit the form as soon as possible.