Introduction forums are a common practice in online courses. Students present themselves personally and professionally through the written word. The written word can lack intonation, emotion, and personality which are key elements in a live introduction. I explored the multiple methods of audio/video presentations and tried VoiceThread a few times. Too often the VoiceThread technology was challenging for the student and became the focus of the task. I sought to find a simple method that required minimal technology experience but provided a video that could be used in lieu of a written introduction in the course. Since most students are comfortable using their smart devices for videotaping, FaceTime, and other video-related applications, it seemed feasible to seek a tool that could be used from their phone or another device.
Flipgrid is a video discussion platform that is simple to use and can be accessed through any smartphone, tablet, or computer. It gives students a voice and educators a means of creating a communicative learning environment. Students are able to respond to the videos posted by the instructor or peers by reacting, responding, and sharing their own videos. Flipgrid has many features which students are familiar with thus leveraging the elements of social media to engage students in the classroom and promote communication.
This video method of introduction should be more effective in humanizing the online class. Students can connect on a more personal level which is usually lacking in the written introduction. This personal introduction could enhance their interactions in weekly activities like discussion forums and encourage richer dialogue.
For my project, I incorporated Flipgrid into online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) courses I taught in the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters. I also used the Flipgrid introduction approach with first-year undergraduate Pathways to Nursing (PTN) students in Summer 2018 prior to the students meeting in person at the orientation.
The initial step in planning this process was a literature search to determine current best practices. Also, using Bloom’s Digital Integration Model, I determined the focus should be at the highest level—creating. The written introductions are at a lower order of thinking and creating and viewing introductory videos should be a more effective modality through utilizing higher level thinking. After this initial investigation, I sought to find a technology tool that would be most effective.
With support from the Instructional Technology team, I narrowed my search and focused on technology applications which were simple, functional, and compatible with Moodle. Flipgrid seemed to be the best choice. I embraced the tool and sought to master it prior to implementation. Microsoft recently purchased Flipgrid and improved the already successful tool. Flipgrid has excellent learning materials for both students and teachers. I took advantage of all that was offered and became certified as a Flipgrid instructor. Through this process I mastered the use of the tool and planned to incorporate it into the classes I taught last fall.
Retrieved from https://flipgrid.com/
The implementation process was bifurcated. I produced a Flipgrid introductory forum for two online courses in the RN-BSN and MSN programs. Then I created a Flipgrid forum for the incoming first-year on ground students.
First, I created an introductory Flipgrid forum for my online students. Students in the RN-BSN and MSN courses had experience with written introductory forums. I prompted them to introduce themselves both personally and professionally and discuss their intended outcomes for the class. The students created videos that were personable and demonstrated their true personality. Their peers were able to add comments or videos in response to the introduction. As the instructor, I found the introduction more personal and emotional. It provided the opportunity to meet them virtually, respond, and appreciate their intended outcomes for the class.
Secondly, I sent a Flipgrid link to all incoming first-year students to create a video and meet each other virtually. The first-year nursing student orientation is limited to two hours and the personal introduction of each of the 32 students would have left little time for the presentation of pertinent information. PTN is an undergraduate program where nursing students spend their first year on the Chatham Shadyside campus. The second and third years they attend UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing (SSON) and complete their degree with the online RN-BSN program their senior year. Success in nursing school requires collaboration with peers through mentoring and study groups. It is imperative that students know who their peers are and develop friendships with an academic partnership as soon as possible.
Several weeks prior to starting at Chatham, the PTN students were sent a link and asked to create an introductory Flipgrid video. They were prompted to introduce themselves personally and share why they want to become a nurse. Most students embraced this opportunity and videos were created all over the United States. One was created in Finland where the student was visiting prior to starting college.
Example of a PTN Flipgrid introduction provided with permission from the student.
Summative assessments were conducted using Qualtrics surveys a few months after students engaged in the Flipgrid introductory activity. Both the online RN-BSN and MSN students and the undergraduate PTN students found value in the activity. As indicated formally through the Qualtrics survey and personal discussion, the project provided the students a means to actively engage in introductory forums that were personal and enhanced communication.
RN-BSN and MSN Application
For the online RN-BSN and MSN courses, students were surveyed and asked to compare their Flipgrid introduction experience with the usual introductory forum using the written word. Qualtrics software was used to survey the students who participated in the Flipgrid introductions. Since some of the students might not be technologically savvy, they were asked if Flipgrid was easy to use and helped personalize the course.
The students found the videos more personal than the written introductions. They indicated the technology tool was simple to use and found it more impactful than the written introductions. They were able to know their peers on a more personal level, which many found an asset to class activities like discussion forums.
Question: Did you find Flipgrid easy to use?
Question: Do you feel a video introduction personalizes this course?
Pathways to Nursing (PTN) Application
Flipgrid was employed with the first-year nursing students who had never met before. They created the videos prior to the live orientation the first week on campus. The students posted videos that truly demonstrated their personality. They were prompted to discuss why they chose nursing as a career and the responses were passionate and varied. When the students entered the orientation room, they recognized each other and remembered key elements of each other’s videos. In many cases, it was as if they already knew each other. This made the orientation flow more easily and the presented information was better received.
Students were surveyed a few months after the Flipgrid introductory activity using Qualtrics. Two questions addressed the ease of use and the effect on increasing their comfort in starting college. The students found Flipgrid easy to use and indicated it helped reduce the anxiety with starting their college career. They found things in common with their peers and several of the students continued friendships and academic relationships. These relationships were the start of activities like study partners and groups and peer mentoring.
Question: Did you find Flipgrid easy to use?
Question: Did Flipgrid videos increase your comfort level for starting your college career?
Project Reflections and Next Steps
I plan to continue using Flipgrid in my course introductory forums. The personal introductions promoted a sense of community amongst online students who never meet in person and on ground students prior to meeting in person. Students found the tool easy to use and effective in personalizing peer interactions.
Moving forward I want to use Flipgrid as a type of formative assessment. Formative assessment is a common application for Flipgrid that has been used by teachers in various levels of education. This pedagogical approach allows educators to assess student learning in a unique and personal manner. Additionally, the tool is commonly used to gauge how students are feeling about the class and where they want to progress. They can connect class content with their own experiences. Since words are often misconstrued, video assessment provides an opportunity to provide feedback that is genuine and presented with the positive attributes of the spoken word. There are many uses for Flipgrid in the assessment process, both formative and summative. Educators are privy to a website, webinars, and personal support that afford them the opportunity to use Flipgrid in their classrooms in a multitude of ways. Ultimately, I hope to inspire other educators to use Flipgrid or another form of video technology to create a sense of personalization and community in their courses.