Collaboration, Conferencing, discussion, Research

#OneNewThing: Conducting Interviews Using FlipGrid

There are times when you or your students want to conduct an interview with someone but it’s very difficult to get together due to time zone issues, busy schedules, or some other reason.  Well, Michael Overholt, former instructional technologist with LCWA came up with a great remedy for these issues…


Flipgrid is a video discussion tool from Microsoft…The idea behind this education tool is to use video to create an open platform of discussion and learning that doesn’t require a physical classroom to get everyone involved.  (Tech Learning) But why not expand its uses to interviews.

The concept behind FlipGrid is that someone (the instructor or another student) creates an initial audio/video recording then others respond to it also using audio and/or video.  Because it’s not synchronous, the students can respond at any time that is convenient to them.   Each FlipGrid “class” can have multiple FlipGrid “discussions.”

Now let’s apply this to an interview…


  1. You create either one FlipGrid discussion containing all of the questions or one FlipGrid discussion for each question.
  2. Send the link to your interviewee(s).
  3. The interviewee, at their convenience, listens to your recording containing the questions then they will create a video of themselves answering the question.  It’s all done online so it’s incredibly easy for them.
  4. Multiple people can answer the questions if you need to interview multiple people.  In the settings you can select to not allow users to see other users’ responses.
  5. Now you can go back in and listen to all the of the responses. You can even download the videos and edit them together.

This saves you and your interviewees the headache of scheduling a time to meet.

This can be used in your research or by your students for class assignments.  Makes it easy for them to interact with experts in the field in different timezones and countries.

Give it a try!


[button link=”” newwindow=”yes”] Access the tutorials for you and your students[/button]

online teaching tips
Best Practices, discussion

Online Teaching Tip: Determine how your students can comment in VoiceThread

Did you know that you can direct the students to comment in a certain medium in VoiceThread (VT)?  Say, for instance, you only want them to do video comments, but inevitably you have those students who ignore in the instructions and only type their comments.  Well, here’s how to prevent that.

  1. In VoiceThread, go to either Create (to create a new VT from scratch) or Edit (to change an existing VT).
  2. Click on the Options Gear icon in the upper right corner and choose Playback Settings.
  3. From the three tabs at the top, choose Playback Options.
  4. On the right you will see Allowed Comment Methods.
  5. From here, check ONLY the options you want to be available to your students when they comment.
  6. Click Save.
    Screenshot of the Comment options with all options checked






Now when you or your students comment in your VoiceThread, they only see what you allowed in these settings.

Screenshot of a VT with only the video recording option showing


people discussing
Collaboration, discussion

Online Discussion Guides for Instructor & Student Success

As you’ve probably figured out by now, online discussions are not the same as discussions in your face-to-face class.  They don’t happen as organically and do require a bit of planning and work to be successful.  Below are two guides to help you, and your students, be more successful in this arena.

The Guide to Engaging Instructions in a Face-to-Face and Online Course offers professors tips and strategies to hold deeper discussions and to promote student response.

The Guide to Successful Student-Led Discussion Boards offers students tips on how to create an initial discussion prompt and manage the discussion board, encouraging deeper discussion.

Hopefully these two guides can help you get more out of your students in the discussion tool.

Don’t forget to browse or search the TLT Tutorials site to find even more resources to help you teach!

Activity feed Icon with a + a pencil and Post
Collaboration, discussion

Tech Tip Tuesday: Communicate in a New Way in OAKS

In our OAKS (D2L/Brightspace) classes there are often two types of communication: detailed and thoughtful discussions and class questions and answers.  While the Discussion tool is great for the first type of communication, it’s less effective for the Q&A type.

Now, however, OAKS has a new tool called the Activity Feed.  This is a tool that you can add to your Course Home and allows you and your students to communicate quickly and easily.

The Activity Feed functions more like a chat feed. Check it out.

screenshot of the activity feed

You, as the instructor, can set it up so that students can only comment on your posts or can create their own.  This interaction is what sets it apart from News which is a more static means of communication.  However, like the News tool, it can take advantage of Notifications, so the students can make sure they won’t miss a message AND it’s the first thing they see on the Course Home when they enter the class.

Activity Feed:

  • On the Course Home
  • More interactive
  • Allows Notifications
  • Great for quick communication



Add it to your course home

  1. In OAKS, go to your course
  2. Select Management > Edit Course > Homepages
  3. Next to CofC Default Course Homepage choose the dropdown arrow and choose Copy.
  4. Now click on the copy to open it.
  5. Rename your homepage to something you can easily identify (ex. My course home with activity feed).
  6. Now scroll down to the Widgets area and click Add Widget in the area where you want to see the Activity Feed.
  7. Select the Activity Feed box and then click Add.
  8. Move the feed to the proper location by dragging it.
  9. Click Save and Close.
  10. Now at the top, under Active Homepage, choose your new homepage from the dropdown menu and then choose Apply.
  11. Click on Course Home in the top left and you should see your new homepage with the Activity Feed.

Configure your Activity Feed

  1. On the Course Home click on the dropdown arrow next to Activity Feed and choose Manage commenting and posting.
  2. Determine who can post and who can comment.  I would recommend checking Enable comments on posts and Allow all learners to create posts.
  3. Click Save.

Use your Activity Feed

  1. Just type your message in the box and click the blue + to post it.
  2. I would also recommend that you not use the Assignment feature of this tool at this time as it can be confusing for the student.
Image of students sitting around a table talking with the words Structured In-Class Discussion Formats Small Teaching Tip #16
Best Practices, discussion, Pedagogy, Small Teaching Tip, Teaching Advice

Small Teaching Tip #16: Structured Discussion Formats

“I’m tired of looking out at a sea of blank faces.”

“There’s nothing but crickets when I try to get a discussion going.”

“It’s like talking to a brick wall!”

How many times have you lamented the quality of discussions in your classes? Facilitating engaging conversations is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching.  Even the most brilliant lecturer can be stymied by an unresponsive class.

Often, class discussions fall flat because we fail to remember that students are academic novices. They are not subject matter experts and they are unfamiliar with academic discourse. When it comes to in-class discussions, students benefit from clearly stated instructions, explicit expectations, and structure. Here are a few popular structured discussion formats to try:

After lecturing, ask students to jot down their responses to a prompt you provide on scrap pieces of paper or in a Google Doc. After a few minutes, ask them to turn to their neighbors and share their ideas. Finally, bring the entire class together and have the pairs report what they discussed and use what arises as a jumping off point for an entire class discussion. This simple exercise gives students the chance to think and talk through their ideas before being put “on the spot” in front of the entire group. This is essential for students who struggle to participate in discussions because of introversion, social anxiety, or learning disabilities.

In this exercise, instructors seat students in two concentric circles. The inner group of students discuss a topic while the outer group listens and take notes. Then, the groups switch roles and the outer group summarizes the inner group’s ideas and builds on them. This discussion format helps students practice active listening and argumentation. Another version of the fishbowl is problem-based, in which the central group is charged with solving a problem and the outer group listens and acts as researchers and advisors.

Gallery walk
Place large sheets of paper around the room each with a different prompt (e.g. question, problem, brainstorming task). Assign a few students to each sheet of paper.  Give the groups 5 minutes to respond to the prompt. The groups then rotate to a new sheet and build upon the previous group’s comments. After all the groups visit each sheet, everyone walks around the “gallery” to read all the responses. This can then serve as a springboard for a larger class discussion about conclusions and questions that arose.

Stand where you stand
This exercise works for discussions about questions that don’t have a single answer and, thus, can be debated. Assign a different theoretical or analytical perspective to each corner of the classroom. Ask students to stand in the corner of the room that represents their position on the issue.  As a small group, they should formulate evidence-based arguments to support their position that they think will convince others to agree with them. Each group then presents their arguments and students are given the opportunity to move to a different corner if they were convinced to change their mind. Students can articulate why the arguments did or did not change their opinion on the topic, which can lead to a discussion of effective argumentation and persuasion.

This exercise is a great use of peer teaching. In preparation for class, each member of a small group completes a different reading on a particular topic (that they find themselves or that the instructor assigns). In class, each student shares a summary of their reading and his/her analysis with their team. During this “reporting out” and subsequent discussion, students become budding “experts” on a specific topic. After a period of time, each student then moves to a new group to teach their speciality to their classmates.

Instructors can also incorporate other sources of knowledge, such as student’s own experiences. For example, students could analyze how a recent experience aligns with or deviates from the theoretical perspective they examined or the results of the research they read.  Students could also complete a “webquest” by seeking examples online (e.g. memes, cartoons, quotes, video clips) and using them to supplement their small group discussion.

Collaborative autoethnography
Based on the qualitative research method designed by Heewon Chang, this exercise privileges students’ lived experiences and encourages significant self-reflection. Students use both their own stories and scholarly sources to analyze a larger societal context. This exercise could take multiple class periods, or could even become the overarching structure of a course. It involves 6 stages:

  1. Students collectively explore a particular phenomenon, problem, or question as a small research team. Based on research and their personal stories related to the phenomenon, students generate an initial set of questions to explore further.
  2. Students then individually reflect on these questions and write their own responses.
  3. They then share their reflections with their team, which collectively identifies commonalities, differences, and remaining questions.
  4. Those themes and questions are discussed in class, benefiting from the insights of classmates and instructor. What arises from those conversations becomes the next set of prompts for further research by the team.  
  5. This cycle of researching, reflecting, and sharing is repeated until no new discoveries occur (or the time allotted for the exercise runs out)
  6. The team then writes about their overall findings, often building models to explain the phenomenon explored.

These ideas are great for face-to-face classes and, with the help of technology and some creative thinking, a few could also be adapted for online courses. I also recommend the book Creating Engaging Discussions: Strategies for Avoiding Crickets in Any Size Classroom and Online by Jennifer Herman and Linda Nilson. And for more help improving discussions, check out these posts:

Do you have other suggestions for facilitating engaging class discussions?  Please share!

Screenshot of FlipGrid video grid
Collaboration, discussion, Video

#OneNewThing: FlipGrid – lots of new features and totally FREE!

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.101″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” border_width_all=”1px” border_color_all=”#c60027″ custom_margin=”|||” custom_padding=”|4px||10px” padding_left_1=”10px” box_shadow_style=”preset4″][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ padding_left=”10px” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.101″]FlipGrid is a video discussion platform that allows the professor or teacher to create a topic and the students to respond to that topic via video.  It can be used to:

  • hold online discussions,
  • practice languages or public speaking,
  • hold online debates,
  • create class community,
  • student introductions,
  • student reflection,
  • elevator pitches, and so much more.

You are just limited by your imagination!  It’s a wonderful way for students to verbalize their learning and share.

If you’ve tried FlipGrid in the past then now’s the time to try it again.  They have partnered with Microsoft so all the Premium features are now available for FREE!
[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”” _builder_version=”3.0.101″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image src=”” _builder_version=”3.0.101″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”2_3″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.101″]


  • The Recorder/Camera – allows the user to switch between horizontal and vertical while recording on a phone or tablet.
  • Works on a computer, phone, or tablet.
  • Can trim the beginning and/or end of a video recording.  Can also append to your recording.
  • Can add “Vibes” which are tags that you put on top of the video.
  • Can add an attachment (external link) to your video.  The teacher can use this to make a lesson in their initial prompt to give the students resources to inform their response.
  • GridPals – Link with other classrooms across the country or the world.  Great for cultural and language learning.
  • Emoji support in Topics and Grids.  This can help with blending images and text and for voting or giving a feeling about the grid.
  • Replies – when a student leaves a reply, other students can now reply back, making the grid a “threaded” video discussion.
  • Collaborative storytelling where Student 1 starts the story, then Student 2 adds a piece of the story via a reply, and it keeps going with all the students.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_button button_url=”” url_new_window=”on” button_text=”Learn more on Twitter #flipgridfever” _builder_version=”3.0.101″][/et_pb_button][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_button button_url=”” url_new_window=”on” button_text=”Try out this FlipGrid – password is: FlipGridCofC” _builder_version=”3.0.101″][/et_pb_button][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Blind Kahoot
Assessment, discussion, Innovative Instruction, instructional technology, Pedagogy

New Way To Introduce Course Content In Your Classes

Everyone who has ever tried Kahoot loves it.  We love it because it is fun, exciting, and a great way to review material.  However, have you ever tried to use it to introduce new material?  If you haven’t, you may want to take a look at Blind Kahooting.  A Biology teacher names Steph Castle appears to be credited with creating the Blind Kahoot! and it’s actually a pretty genius idea.  It’s using Kahoot! to introduce an entirely new subject, one for which they have little to no knowledge.   

How Does It Work?

The gist is that you follow a template to create your Kahoot! that flows like this:

Q1 – Introductory Question – this question sets the scene and brings the students on board with the topic and/or the main goal.

Q2 – Toughest Question – ask the toughest question you can think of about this topic or goal.  This question, if answered correctly, should demonstrate that the student understood the topic and could move on.   Note: is not just okay that they get the question wrong, it’s expected.  

  • Now, you explain the question and the answer to your students.  This gets you going on the topic or goal.

Q3-? – Reinforcing Questions – Ask a series of questions that will take the students through the topic.  The goal is for them to practice what they’ve just learned.  You will also explain each answer after the question is finished.  Basically you are using these questions to deliver your content and checking for understanding all at the same time.  You may even want to ask the same question several different ways to ensure they are understanding the topic.

Last question – Ask your Toughest Question again. Can also be an application question.  Should combine all the items learned in the Kahoot!

Wash, rinse, repeat – To introduce another topic or part of the topic, start the process all over.

When completely finished, be sure to leave enough time for the students to try to beat their score using Kahoot!’s Ghost Mode.


There are a ton of great resources and videos to help you through this process.  Here are just a few:


#onenewthing Padlet
Collaboration, discussion, instructional technology, iPad, Mobile, Portfolio, Presentation, Research

#OneNewThing – Padlet

padlet screenshot“Padlet is a virtual wall that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily. It works like an online sheet of paper where people can put any content (e.g. images, videos, documents, text) anywhere on the page, together with anyone, from any device.” (Mrs. Treichler)

Platforms:  Web, iOS, Android, also has plugins for Chrome and WordPress


How It Works


Uses for Faculty & Students


  • Create a blank board and share it (either with specific people via their Padlet account, or via a general link.
  • Double-click on the board to add a new “sticky” note.
  • You can add:
    • Text
    • Audio
    • Video
    • Images
    • Files
  • Drag the notes around to organize and sort them.

Works on a computer or almost any mobile device.

  • Discussion and collaboration
  • Constructing a classroom code of conduct or an assessment rubric with your students
  • Backchannel where students can write questions during or before class
  • Exit ticket
  • Brainstorming
  • Planning
  • Student-to-Student image sharing
  • Writing prompts and collaborative writing
  • Student introductions
  • KWL Charts
  • Curation
  • Flow maps
  • Opinion forums
  • Inspiration wall
  • Portfolios
  • Website bookmarking tool
  • More…
  • Even more…

Get your padlet account today


Collaboration, Conferencing, discussion, Mobile, social networking, TLT, Web 2.0

App of the week: Blab

What is Blab?

From Blab’s site “a platform for publicly broadcasting live video conversations or talk shows.” Blab allows for live video conversations. In addition to a host you can have 3 other people talking live at once on a split screen.  All Blabs are public so an unlimited number of people could also just watch.

Use it for debates, discussions, or a podcast which you as the host have the option to record.  The recording can then be accessed via a url, but as host you will also be emailed a copy ( an MP3 & MP4). A Recording  or “Replays”cannot be deleted, but  as the host you can make your “Replay” public or hidden.

There is also a screen share and co-host option .

If you did not want to host a Blab then watch other live video conversations on topics or specific content that you are interested in.  Search by a keyword then choose a Blab that interest you by clicking the “Watch” button.

Things to be aware of:

You need a Twitter account in order to log in

Although you can choose which callers to let into your Blab and they are the ones then that can ask questions and you can screen share with, “Blabs” are always public.  I suggest you review the Privacy policy before you host a Blab:

Price: Free
App –

Desktop –

Platform: Desktop ( using Chrome browser) or iPhone. On Android devices the Chrome browser works

More Information:

Getting started with Blab at  and

Blab tutorial at

Blab Daily Digest at