By Meredith Critchfield, PhD
Associate Professor, College of Education
Most of us know how important it is to use groups in the classroom. Some of us have even tried creative grouping and collaboration strategies like those by Kagan. The world is shrinking more and more every day thanks to technology, making communication and collaboration more important than ever before. Rather than letting technology intimidate us, though, we should embrace tech tools to help improve communication and collaboration in the classroom.
One of my favorite tech tools that I recently discovered is FlipGrid. It’s a video discussion platform for students of all ages. Essentially, a teacher posts a video topic related to the content and students get to respond by recording a video on their phone and posting it in the grid. Imagine it as a souped-up online discussion forum. It’s quick and easy to use, and there’s even a free version. I made one for a recent class, and it only took me 10 minutes to figure out the program and post my first FlipGrid video. Students love getting to respond to one another through video, rather than solely through text. Check it out at flipgrid.com
Another tech tool I love to use is Zoom. Zoom is a free video platform that allows you to host synchronous video conferences with students, parents, other teachers or even guest speakers. I’ve found it can be awfully tough to get certain people to come to the classroom. Busy schedules and distances often get in the way, but Zoom allows you to have an online “face-to-face” meeting with anyone, anywhere in the world! All you need to set up a Zoom video meeting is a webcam, which is built into most newer computers and tablets, a quiet place and a desire to collaborate. Get Zooming away! Visit zoom.us for more info.
We want to teach our students to be the best communicators and collaborators they can be. If our students can work well with other students and the adults around them, they’re more likely to get jobs and other opportunities. Rather than running away from technology, we should run to it with open arms and an open mind.
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More about Dr. Critchfield:
Meredith Critchfield, PhD, is a former public school teacher and current faculty member, researcher and writer at Grand Canyon University. Her work focuses on literacy education, teaching English as a second language and educational equity in urban, multicultural contexts. She has written more than 12 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and has a co-authored a book with Columbia University’s Teachers College Press, titled “Real World Writing for Secondary Students.” Dr. Critchfield’s most recent award for her work is the Grand Canyon University Leadership in Research and Scholarly Activity Award.
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