Flipgrid

What Is it?

Flipgrid is an online, asynchronous video discussion tool. To get started with Flipgrid, visit their site and sign up for an educator account (it’s free). This is what your screen will look like once you do that:

Screenshot of Flipgrid

I started by creating a new grid for our online pedagogy class to practice using the tool. Think of the “grid” like the classroom; from there, you can create new topics within the grid (a “topic” is like a video discussion prompt). I created one new topic, which I titled, “What do you think of Flipgrid?” Within the topic, here’s what I did:

  • I added a topic description (discussion questions)
  • I set the maximum video response time to 1 minute 30 seconds (your options range from 15 seconds to 5 minutes)
  • You can also choose to “moderate” the videos if you’d like (so that you, as the educator, have to approve the video before it is visible to others)
  • You can add a “resource” to engage your students – so maybe a gif or an image or a short video clip
  • You can add an attachment via a link (like Dropbox or YouTube)
  • You can choose to allow likes, display number of views on a video, and allow student-student replies

I also created a sample post. Since this a collaborative tool, you should try it out to see how it works! You can use this link to access the Flipgrid (you’ll need to sign in with your alaska.edu email address), and then click on the big green + sign to create your own response to my Flipgrid prompt. You can also try contributing to the Flipgrid through the app by using the code ed655.

Strengths, Limitations, and Applications

I struggled a little bit to figure out how to use Flipgrid, but I think it wouldn’t be too hard to get the hang of it with practice. It’s kind of cute-sy for me (for use in higher ed anyway), but the aesthetics of it might appeal to and feel familiar to younger students / college students.

As far as applications go, obviously it has a lot of potential for class discussions. Video can be a very powerful way to encourage student-student and student-instructor connections. As I discussed in this article review, students express greater satisfaction with a course when they have that element of “seeing,” so instructors should carefully consider whether or not to include video components in discussions.

The maximum length of a reply of a Flipgrid is 5 minutes, although I can’t imagine any instructor wanting to sit through 5 minute responses when there’s a class of 20 or more, and students might start to lose interest as well. For some students, a tool like Flipgrid would be a major time saver as compared to a Canvas-style discussion board. This is the type of student who loves to talk and has no problem seeing themselves on video. For others, though, this format of discussion could cause anxiety and take up more time than a written discussion board. They might re-record multiple times before being satisfied with their response. (For me, it is just hard to find a quiet space/time to record, so that may also be a greater barrier to participation). You also don’t have the ability to link or refer to readings/academic sources, which is a limitation as well.

Consequently, Flipgrid may be more useful for “brainstorming”/informal/social-type discussions. However, I didn’t realize this before doing this review, but you can do student responses to student videos. This kind of threading allows for more natural discussions, in my opinion. You can also easily re-record your video response, so students could potentially craft carefully worded responses, respond to one another directly, and thus engage in deeper levels of conversation.

Trello

What Is it?

Trello is an online productivity tool. It lets you create and share boards, lists, and cards, which helps you prioritize tasks. I created a few Trello boards that capture all we have left to do in this course. (The boards are Module 11 Tasks, Module 12 Tasks, etc., and the cards are each of the items below that, like “Emerging Tool Review #2). Visit this link to view. Feel free to add cards, comments, etc.! Here is a screenshot of what it looks like:

Screenshot of Trello boards

Strengths, Limitations, and Applications

Trello seems like a great tool for people who like list-making. It makes it easy to color code lists, add due dates, drag and drop tasks from one list to another, create checklists (with a handy progress bar that shows you what % you have left to complete), etc. This could be especially useful for managing group or team projects, since you can easily add people to specific Trello boards or share boards with a link (as I did above). I like that it highlights upcoming due dates so you can see at a glance what you need to do soon.

As for educational applications, I think instructors could encourage students to use Trello to independently manage their to-do lists. Or, teachers could create a Trello board that walks students through each step of an assignment, and share it with students. You can add attachments, links, etc. to your boards, so that would be an easy way for teachers to provide explanation. Since this is really more of a productivity tool than an educational tool, I’m having a hard time coming up with other educational applications… I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!

This video demonstrates Trello in use, if you want more information:

Logomakr

What Is It?

Logomakr does just what its name implies: it helps you quickly and easily make logos or other types of simple graphics. I made this tag for Christmas cookie gifts:

Wishing you a sweet Christmas, from Valerie's kitchen

This is another example of a logo created by Logomakr (this is the example from the website itself):

Leaf with a green leaf

How Does it Work?

Logomakr has a very simple interface. You can search for clip art (“logos”) by keyword, or by Logomakr’s pre-set categories (decorative, abstract, nature, etc.). This is the canvas you work on:

Screenshot of Logomakr canvas

Very simple! When you are done, you click on the “save” icon in the top right to download your file as a PNG. For high-resolution, you have to pay $19 to upgrade. The low-resolution isn’t great (especially after seeing your logo crisp and clear on your screen as you’re working on it), but it’s probably good enough for educational use.

Strengths, Applications, and Limitations

I loved how easy it was to use – it’s clearly targeted towards people who don’t have a design background. For example, all the fonts are categorized by their “feel,” which could be very helpful for someone who doesn’t have an instinct for what messages different fonts convey.

Screenshot of Logomakr's font categories
Font categories in Logomakr

Everything seemed to be designed for expediency, too, which I appreciate. For example, rather than having to change the font by typing in the size, you can just drag the text box to resize it. In my case, the project creation was still not that quick at all because I went down too many rabbit holes looking at different colors, pictures of cookies, etc. The only technical glitch I encountered was when I went to select the perfect little clip art, and for some reason, Logomakr wouldn’t transfer it into my project. Everything else seemed to work just as intended.

Unlike a lot of these web-based tools, you don’t create a Logomakr account. On one hand, this is nice because it’s one less username/password to manage, but on the other hand, this means there’s no way to save your progress. This may actually not be that big of an issue because you aren’t going to use Logomakr to create complicated designs. In other words, if you lost your project, it probably wouldn’t take you that long to quickly rebuild it. The “thinking up the logo” takes a lot longer than actually building it.

Logomakr has a variety of educational applications:

  • Teachers could use Logomakr to create badges for their courses. (Logomakr has a specific section of clip art called “badges”). Students could earn badges for accomplishing certain tasks or achieving certain levels of mastery. (Or, along the same lines, instructional designers could use badges to indicate the same kinds of things).
  • Students could use Logomakr to complete assignments that require them to represent information visually. In a marketing class, for example, students could use it to create a logo for a business proposal scenario.
  • Teachers could use Logomakr to design a banner or “course” logo or buttons, in order to add visual interest and aesthetic appeal to an online course.

For more examples of how Logomakr can be used, you can go to Logomakr’s website and watch the video that pops up the first time you visit the site.

Scribblar

What is it?

Scribblar is like an online whiteboard. To me, it is a less powerful version of Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect. The basic (free) plan lets you have up to 3 “rooms,” with up to 3 users per room for a 14 day trial. You would have to upgrade to another plan to get more users and more rooms (for example, the premium plan gives you 25 users per room and 25 rooms, and costs $39/month).

How does it work?

You sign up for an account with your email address and create a password. Once you have an account, you “create a room.” Then, you can share a link to your room or embed it in your website, and then students join that room to participate in a session in real-time. Students and teachers can write on the whiteboard, upload PowerPoint presentations or other files, add text or pictures, etc. Like Blackboard Collaborate, it has a text chat box for all participants in the room, or you can use your microphone/video to speak. Users can take a snapshot of the whiteboard or export it to a PDF, so they can easily review what was covered in the session at a later time. This video show some of the basic features in Scribblar, and also lets you see what a Scribblar board looks like:

Strengths, Limitations, and Applications

I personally wasn’t a fan of the “look” of Scribblar – to me, it felt too institutional and Blackboard-ish. In other words, I think it could’ve been designed to be more eye-catching and more user-friendly. Its technology just felt kind of out-of-date (for example, the icons remind me of old Microsoft Word, and I had to login almost every time I navigated away from the website, which was a pain). With so many options for ed tech out there, these characteristics alone would probably push me to look for different tool instead of using Scribblar.

I could see Scribblar being useful under these (limited) conditions: (1) an instructor doesn’t have access to other collaboration tools, like Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect, and (2) an instructor needs to be able to virtually collaborate with only a handful of students (i.e., likeĀ online office hours, individual tutoring sessions, etc.).