Flipgrid: Everything You Need To Know

Using Flipgrid isn’t about recording videos…it’s about learning. Learning that is social, personal, can happen anywhere and anytime, about making connections.  It’s deep exploration, and promotes that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner. – Flipgrid Educator’s Guide

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“Flipgrid is the leading video discussion platform for millions of PreK to PhD educators, students, and families around the world. Flipgrid promotes fun and social learning by giving every student an equal and amplified voice on the Topics you define!” – Flipgrid.com

Flipgrid is owned by Microsoft and is a FREE app available to use on all platforms: iOS, Android and web.

What is the purpose of the app? Intended audience?

Flipgrid is simple – the leader (usually a teacher) shares a topic question or idea and students reply to the topic through a short video response. Then the teacher and students can watch each other’s video responses and reply with a video.  The main idea is that all students have an equal platform to share their voice and interact with their peers. A social and emotional learning experience for all!

How to use the app

Instead of providing a step-by-step guide of how to use the app, I will provide you with links to all the resources you will need.  The first place to stop is the ‘Getting Started‘ page, which will give you simple steps to sign up and start creating. A simple description:

  • Step 1: Create a Grid (for your class or learning community)
  • Step 2: Add Topics (to the grid)
  • Step 3: Share your Grid (with your students) and collect videos (Responses) from your students. Students can view and Reply to each other’s Responses

Throughout the process there are many prompts and suggested links if you need assistance.  Flipgrid does an excellent job of anticipating trouble areas and will lead you in the right direction. A great by-product of Flipgrid is the engaged and supportive educator community on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  The Flipgrid team has created a culture of educators that are excited to share their experiences and classroom use and are encouraged by three Flipgrid Educator Innovation Leads.  If you have any questions or are looking for suggestions for using the app, Twitter is a great place to get immediate feedback.

Information to support app use is available on an easy-to-use resource page with links to the Flipgrid Help Centre, a Flipgrid Educator Guide E-Book, the Flipgrid Help Centre, Live Flipgrid PD, Resource Centre, and #StudentVoiceAmbassadors.

Flipgrid is a family of passionate educators sharing ideas and inspiration and having a whole lot of fun along the way. Take a moment and meet some of the educators in this vibrant community! – Flipgrid.com

Some cool features:

  • Spark – if a student provides a really great response to a topic, Grid Owners (teachers) can ‘spark’ the response to create a new topic for students to pivot.
  • Vibes – teachers can provide custom feedback that will be visible for all to see.
  • Feedback – teachers can provide private written or video feedback.
  • Feature responses – teacher can click a ‘star’ icon to bring a student response to the top of the list.
  • Disco Library – nearly 10,000 Flipgrid topic ideas to add to your Grids (including the #FlipgridWeekly30 as the currently trending topics). Teachers can also add their own topics to the Disco Library.
  • Sharing  – share Grids using a specific flip code or QR code.
  • Immersive Reader – Flipgrid uses Microsoft’s Immersive Reader tool (reading text aloud, change text size, font, colour, visual focus tool, break down words into syllables, picture dictionary).
  • GridPals – connect with classrooms around the world.
  • Mixtapes – compile student responses into one compilation video
  • Guest Mode – share certain topics with families, experts and others.  The topic responses can be view-only or allow recorded responses

Terms of Use, Privacy, Safety and Data Collection

In my research, I came across a very comprehensive review of Flipgrid.  Please head over to the the Flipgrid Common Sense Education Review for everything need to know about the app. Additionally, Common Sense provides a Flipgrid Privacy Report.

Through my own research, I will highlight a few areas of importance and concern with the app.

Safety – The privacy policy explains that “Grid Owners” control content, not Flipgrid. Grid Owners have the option of password-protecting and moderating their Grid. The Grid Owner controls what is public and moderates content and interactions. Potential red flag – users (or parents of users) put their trust in the Grid Owner to use the content appropriately and maintain privacy.

Privacy – Grid Owner (usually a teacher) information is collected when an account is created (first name, last name, email address, password, instruction type and country). Cookies are used on Flipgrid as well as any third parties sites that are visited by users.  Flipgrid does not sell user personal information to third parties or use personal information for advertising purposes.  Additionally, Flipgrid does not use personal information to track and target advertising for users on third party websites. Potential red flag – if students post personal information in their video responses, the information could be visible and stored on Flipgrid.  

Security – No discussion of encryption in the privacy policy. In the event of a security breach, Flipgrid will notify affected individuals as required by law.

Compliance – Grid Owners are responsible for monitoring content for other users (students). By enrolling students enrolled under 13 (in the USA) and 16 (everywhere else), the privacy policy explains that teachers must collect consent forms from parents (which is required by COPPA in the USA). Potential red flag – there is no collection of consent forms by Flipgrid, so teachers can easily use the app without parental consent.

Additional Red Flags

  • Changes to policies are effective immediately and continued use of the app means you have provided consent
  • Personally identifiable information is collected and personal information of children under 13 is collected online 13. It is unclear what type of date is excluded from the collection
  • Data is shared with third parties for analytics and product improvement
  • Links to third-party websites may not be school appropriate
  • Unclear is owners retain ownership of their data and videos
  • Two-factor authentication is not provided
  • Students could potentially interact with untrusted users
  • Personal information (like names) could be shared publicly
  • No ‘report’ feature in case of cyber bullying or abuse
  • Students can still use the app even if parental consent is not collected – there is no way to track the consent collection.

Potential Educational Value

Flipgrid is a very interactive and engaging app that gives students a chance to participate in networked learning opportunities.  The relatively simple interface allows students to provide quick responses to simple questions or more detailed and edited videos in reflection to a chosen topic.  The platform provides a space for all students to share their ideas and facilitates discussions through video responses.  With a committed teacher willing to learn how to use all the features of the app, a school division that supports use of the app and parents that provide consent, Flipgrid has the potential to be a fun learning experiences for students.

Overall

Pros

  • A very engaged educator community allows this app to thrive with networking opportunities.  It truly brings the “social” aspect to “social media”.
  • Extremely thorough help centre, resource guides and assistance available through a variety of tools (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
  • Students can be creative with videos by adding text, special effects, filters, stickers, and more.
  • The goal is to ‘amplify the student voice’  and there are many ways for students to be creative and empowered to share a message.  The ‘grid’ provides an even playing field for all students.
  • Grid Owners (usually a teacher) have control of the content (including hiding responses, downloading videos, compiling student responses into a ‘mix tape’, and deleting responses).
  • Grid Owners can provide student feedback (using a rubric with custom or basic feedback or a private video response).

Cons

  • Safety-wise, there is no way to make a grid completely private. This means that anyone who gets hold of the grid link can view student videos. (Example – if you enable Guest Mode, you will be provided with a link. Anyone with the link can view the videos in that topic without a password or other security feature).
  • There are so many features and possibilities with the app, it is overwhelming. It takes a lot of digging and learning to use the app to it’s full capacity. It would be most beneficial after consistent app use with students
  • Grid Pals allow student videos to be shared with potentially untrusted users.
  • The ‘fun’ aspects of the app can sometimes distract students away from the topic or purpose of a particular grid.
  • Students can use the app even without parental consent (which is a requirement in the terms of use).

If you are curious about using Flipgrid with your students, I have a few suggestions. First, check with your school division to see if it is an approved app, join the educator communities , participate in Live Flipgrid PD and read the Flipgrid Educator Guide E-Book.  I think Flipgrid can be a really fun and engaging tool with students, but it is best used if educators know how to take full advantage of the app.  The Flipgrid team is continuously improving the app, open to feedback and always available for questions through the three Flipgrid Educator Innovation Leads.  Even if you do not end up using the app with your students, take advantage of the vibrant educator community.  The positivity and excitement is contagious!

Week 8 – How to Play Jazz Piano (Improv Attempts)

One of my biggest challenges in learning how to play jazz music has been figuring out how to practice.  With classical music, my practice has always been very “prescribed” – technical warm ups and practice, followed by working on specific pieces. This might include hands separate practice, slow metronome work and focusing on small sections.  In fact, it was very rare that I would do a full run through of a piece because it was not an efficient use of my practice time.  With my jazz learning project, I feel like I am always jumping to the “full run through” phase without taking the time to build a solid foundation.  Looks like I need to take my own advice! This week I tried slowing down and focusing on some of the fundamental aspects of crafting a solo.  My recap this week highlights that I have a long way to go!

What I worked on:

  • Started practicing how to solo (improvise) over “Autumn Leaves”.
  • Scales, scales and more scales!
soloing over autumn leaves A section
Example of different scale patterns

Wins:

  • I found a few great resources that help me understand why you choose particular scales to create your solos. It was a nice connection to my previous scale practice from studying classical music.

Fails:

  • I underestimated the amount of practice needed to incorporate these news scales in my soloing – I need more time.
  • I felt very “stiff” – afraid of playing the “wrong note”. I need to loosen up!

Resources used:

Next week will be my final learning project post. I plan to reflect on my progress over the last two months and make a plan for future practice.  This is only the beginning of my jazz journey!

A review of Anchor – “The best way to make a podcast”

This week in EC&1 831, we were tasked to find a tool or app that we haven’t used before that could be used to make learning visible.  After a few discussions in class and Twitter about podcasts, I am eager to look at the podcasting tool Anchor. I really liked how my classmate Jessica set up her review, so I will be borrowing her format. Thanks Jessica!

Why I chose Anchor:

First, a(n unnecessary) preamble:

I have been a lover of podcasts since 2012. I was obsessed with Season 1 of  “Serial”  and loved this new distraction tool during long drives, while doing laundry or going for a run.  I dabbled in serious and educational podcasts, thinking it was important to use the time to learn something new. Then on an all-inclusive vacation in 2013, my best friend introduced me to The Pretty Good Podcast – a daily nonsense podcast that was mostly fluff.  This mindless listening was so relaxing that now my preferred podcasts are comedy and pop culture.  I enjoyed connecting with the podcasters through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  I then moved into the world of Adam Carolla and eventually Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend.  This information is probably not important, but I think that a podcast listening list says a lot about a person.  (So I should probably say I like to listen to This American Life or Revisionist History to sound more interesting.)

I always wondered how I could use podcasts in the classroom.  As a personal project, my sister, niece and I decided to start a podcast two years ago. We created an opening theme song, branded logo for Twitter and Instagram, bought a domain and even recorded a few episodes using Audacity.  But we ran into trouble when we couldn’t figure out how to easily host and distribute our podcast, especially for free.  So we gave up.

SO, why Anchor? Because:

Anchor is an all-in-one platform where you can createdistribute, and monetize your podcast from any device, for free.

  • easy to use (and nice to look at!)
  • free
  • mobile and web options

Overview of the app:

After downloading from the App store on my iPhone, I created an account with my personal e-mail and was given a quick tour about podcasting with Anchor:

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**Login options require an email, Google, Facebook or Twitter login. In my division we would use our Google (G Suite) logins, but I’m not sure how this would work with other divisions.

 

 

The app is very intuitive and user friendly and does not require a lot of explanation – it has a “start and go” layout.  After playing around with it for about 20 minutes, I was able to record a few sections, add some musical interludes, “drops” or sound effects and transitions.  There is an option to add music if you link an Apple Music or Spotify account, but the music is only available if you listen to the podcast within the Anchor app.

The audio editing function is very straightforward and allows you to split tracks and trim the beginning and ending of each clip.  There are not a lot of audio editing options (compared to a program like Audacity – no fading, adjusting speed, pitch, etc), but the simplicity would be perfect for students.  You can also import existing audio (like from a Voice Memo, or a pre-recorded theme song) easily through the mobile app or web page.

Review:

Pros:

  • simple, easy-to-use interface
  • basic editing functions that would suit the needs of students
  • Mobile and web platforms are similar (ex. mobile app has all the same functions as web)
  • Record many clips over a long period of time before putting together an episode
  • Easy podcast distribution (and options to monetize) – step-by-step prompts that are quick to follow

Cons:

  • The ‘Discover’ option on the app allows you to explore different podcasts. This might be hard to monitor with students to make sure the use is appropriate
  • basic (limited) audio editing functions
  • everyone involved in the recording need to be in the same location (unless you use Skype or another type of audio conference, which would compromise quality). There is a ‘Record with Friends’ option, but it is only available on the mobile app.

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Overall, Anchor is appealing because of it’s clean and simple interface.  There are easy functions (but limited options) with editing that would make it ideal for use in a classroom setting.  Also, once you set up an account, you can access your work from the mobile app or on a computer via the web page. The hosting, distribution and monetization options are great, but probably not necessary for working with students.

Using the tool personally:

Since creating a podcast with my sister and niece as a little “passion-project” a couple years ago, we might revisit our work and try uploading the existing audio files to Anchor and distribute our podcast. One of the requirements for distribution is that you have a podcast name and cover art, which we already have…so maybe we will try it out!

Using the tool in instruction situations:

I think there are lots of cross-curricular options with podcasting.  As an arts education teacher, maybe my focus would be more on the overall design of the podcast (cover art, theme song, use of sound effects and musical interludes). You could use podcasts in every subject, maybe with inquiry projects, interviews, book reviews… the list goes on.  The simplicity of Anchor means the focus stays on content rather than trying to figure out how to use the app.

Using the tool to document learning and growth:

Podcasts can be used as e-portfolios for students and allow for opportunities to document personal reflections.  Since you can record many clips over an extended period before putting together an ‘episode’, it allows students to keep a running documentation of their learning or projects.

Overall, I am very impressed with Anchor. It is easy to use with a simple interface, basic set up and functions.  I am excited to use it personally so I have a very strong understanding of the functions before rolling it out with students.

Does anyone have experience using Anchor with students? Did you require any division approval before using the app?