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:
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.