With the exam period now at an end, many academic colleagues are now turning their attention to augmenting their course materials and content to move to online and / or blended provision for the autumn term 2020-21 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the major concerns is how to initially engage students in a world of online lectures, and, perhaps more importantly, keep them engaged by facilitating and nurturing a vibrant and inclusive academic community. In part 1 of a two-part blog, we take a look at one possible solution to this quandry – Flipgrid.
There are many tools that can and have been used to engage students such as collaborative wikis and discussion forums, but here we are going to take a closer look at Flipgrid which works much in the same way as the latter with tutors setting a topic for students to discuss. However, instead of seeing perhaps now somewhat dated text-based responses Flipgrid takes things to the next level!
Students can record their responses on their device (be it online via internet browser or via Flipgrid IOS and Android apps) and upload videos and selfies (complete with fun social media derived filters) to the discussion! Not only does this foster a more inclusive academic community between learners by facilitating the important social interactions they will be missing through having to work more in isolation, but also develops familiarity with remote learning and video conferencing techniques (21st century skills) which are becoming increasingly important in the workplace.
In the following example I am going to set up a Flipgrid as an icebreaker activity that could be used as part of student induction activities where students can record a 90 second introduction and also reveal an interesting, unique fact about themselves. In this part 1of the blog I will be setting up the grid and in part 2 will go through adding a topic and the experience from the student perspective.
To get started go to Flipgrid.com and click Educator Signup.
On the resulting screen you will be asked to either sign up with either Google or Microsoft account. As the University has Microsoft Office 365 I used my University details to sign up.
Building and managing your grid
You have now reached the My Grids page where you create and manage your grids. In order to create a new grid, click Add New Grid.
On the resulting screen you will need to give your grid a name and select which type of grid you want to create in order to make joining as simple as possible. In this example I have chose the School Email option so that anyone with a ‘@kent.ac.uk‘ email address can join the grid. The last thing to do is create a flipcode which users will use in order to access your grid. These are automatically generated but you can edit them to something more suitable for your purposes.
Once your grid is created you will see the various sharing options from embed codes that can be used within the HTML area of the text editor when creating labels in Moodle to embedding in Moodle MS Teams chats including those in channels (breakout rooms) used for seminar group work.
Once you have created your grid, you can return to your My Grids page where you will see it listed. In order to edit the features of the grid, click the pencil icon. Here you will be able to tailor things including: notifications to users about new topics, adding captions to videos for accessibility, and personalising the group with a suitable image either from the stock available or one you sourced yourself being mindful of any copyright restrictions.
Well, having created and customised a grid that’s it for part 1! In part 2 we will go through adding topics to your grid and moderating responses from students, while also going through the experience from the student perspective.