How can technology coaches collaborate with educators and use digital tools to develop personalized learning environments for their students?
As I navigate through the current teaching environment of remote learning, and as I begin to reflect on the beginning of a new school year in the fall, I am thinking about how educators can use digital tools to develop personalized learning environments for students. I am also working to adjust my frame of thinking to a coaching perspective, and think intentionally about how a learning coach might collaborate with educators on how to continue to improve learning spaces for their students, especially with the uncertainty of what learning could look like next fall. In exploring my inquiry question for module 5, I have focused my investigation on the third indicator from ISTE Coaching Standard 4:
4c. Collaborate with educators to design accessible and active digital learning environments that accommodate learner variability.
In investigating a solution to my inquiry question, I wanted to research digital tools that technology coaches can collaborate with teachers on to use with their students. Furthermore, I was motivated to explore how these digital tools can promote personalized learning environments for students and support educators to effectively engage students in their learning. Stepping into the role of coaching is a new space for me to enter education, and developing a solution to my inquiry question proved to be quite challenging. I began my research by digging into what app smashing is and why it’s an incredible way for educators to engage their students and how it offers wonderful opportunities to personalize learning environments. I then explored how Flipgrid is an excellent digital tool for educators to begin experimenting with app smashing, including how to empower students to take ownership in this practice as well.
Why App Smash?
Digital tools provide educators incredible opportunities to enhance the learning experience for their students, make global connections, build 21st-century skills, and so much more. App smashing involves the partnership of two or more applications to help users improve a task. So, why should educators consider app smashing with their students? With app smashing, students are encouraged to think creatively, build autonomy in their learning, and strengthen their critical thinking. As George Couros (2014) explains in Technology and the Basics, “We all need options, and if we are to truly empower our learners, we have to ensure that we help them find what works for them, not us” (n.p.). Through app smashing, students can have the opportunity for their learning to be personalized, creating space for them to drive their learning. When used purposefully and intentionally, I believe educators can find immense value in using app smashing with their students. One of the digital tools that I feel is a great starting place for educators who are new to exploring app smashing, is with the digital tool Flipgrid.
Digital Tools to App Smash with Flipgrid
Flipgrid + Wakelet
With the app smashing of Flipgrid and Wakelet, educators can compile Flipgrid videos into collections on Wakelet. Wakelet is a free digital curation tool, that allows students and educators to collaborate by posting links, videos, images, and other digital media sources. In addition, Wakelet is an incredible digital tool to app smash Flipgrid with. Wakelet allows users to access collections without needing an account and makes it very user-friendly to upload a post. For example, students might be working on researching a common topic and create a Flipgrid video to share out some of the knowledge they gained from their research. Students could then connect their Flipgrid posts to their Wakelet collection to allow group members to watch their videos and connect it to the context of their learning, building a deeper understanding of concepts and skills.
Flipgrid + Google Slides
Through Flipgrid’s most recent update in April, users now have the ability to screen record directly through Flipgrid. This new feature gives students the creativity and flexibility to app smash Flipgrid and Google Slides. I think educators and students will find a lot of value in how the app smashing of these digital tools promotes personalized learning, especially in remote learning. Students could share a Google Slide presentation via Flipgrid or embed links to Flipgrid topics as a way to connect their audience to their work. This also gives students the opportunity to narrate the information they have presented and demonstrate their understanding in creative ways.
Flipgrid + Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark offers users endless creative opportunities to make graphics, web pages, and videos. Through the platform, users can interact with a wide variety of features and tools to design their projects. In Adobe Spark students can collaborate with partners or work independently. This would allow students to collaborate as a group to work on a project on Adobe Spark and demonstrate their understanding, and then share their final product with peers via Flipgrid. As students become more comfortable using a digital tool like Adobe Spark, the opportunities for personalized learning and creativity to be on display only continue to expand.
Flipgrid + Newsela
Partnering Newsela with Flipgrid is a great way for educators to differentiate learning environments for students. Through Flipgrid, educators can connect Newsela current event articles at the appropriate reading level for each of their students, and then create a Flipgrid video topic discussion board for students to collaborate and hear responses from their peers. This helps to strengthen speaking and listening skills, as well as provides an alternative to written responses for students to demonstrate their understanding. In addition, with Flipgrid’s new casting feature, students have the ability to screen record while on a web page like Newsela. Through this app smashing, students could have a current event article open, discussing their learning from the reading and highlight sections from the text for their viewers to see what parts they are referring to in their responses. This could be an especially useful app smash for educators looking to personalize learning for their students and have students collaborate online during remote learning.
Flipgrid + Book Creator
Flipgrid and Book Creator are another powerful pair of digital tools to app smash. There are many different ways students can utilize their pairing to personalize their learning, but one of those ways is by first using Flipgrid to create videos. In Flipgrid students can use stickers, filters, and text. Once students have finished their Flipgrid videos, they can then download them and upload them into Book Creator. This allows students to insert those videos into any section of their digital book. Another option for app smashing Flipgrid with Book Creator is for students to create their Book Creator books and then use Flipgrid as a publishing platform to share out with their peers. This can be a powerful way for students to demonstrate their understanding in creative ways and then get feedback from their peers via comments and video replies on Flipgrid.
Putting App Smashing in the Hands of Students
One of the most effective, meaningful ways educators can use app smashing to personalize learning, is by empowering students to take ownership in exploring its potential. Scaffolding for students the many abilities that digital tools have to offer, including partnering them with other digital tools, helps students to recognize their potential and explore creative uses. As Dave Guymon (2014) emphasizes, “…the focus of App Smashing should be on engagement with content learning through leveraging compatible digital tools…The key is allowing students to explore and experiment with what works and what doesn’t” (n.p.). Helping students to navigate through various uses of digital tools and to reflect their successes and challenges with them, helps students continue to form an understanding and have ownership of their own learning. Through the use of app smashing students can feel empowered to drive their own learning, allowing them to partner with teachers to collaborate throughout the learning process and demonstrate their knowledge of concepts in ways that feel authentic to them.
There are so many innovative ways to use Flipgrid in partnership with other applications. What are some creative ways you’re app smashing Flipgrid with other digital tools to personalize learning? Please share them, as well as any feedback or questions you have, in the comment section below.
Couros, G. (2014, April 08). Search Results for “technology and the basics”. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://georgecouros.ca/blog/?s=technology+and+the+basics
Denson, J. (2020, April 23). [Ask a Teacher] Taking on Remote Teaching: Teamwork. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://newsela.com/about/blog/ask-a-teacher-taking-on-remote-teaching-teamwork/
Goldberg, A. (2019, March 04). March Newsletter. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://blog.flipgrid.com/news/march2019?rq=appsmash
Guymon, D. (2014, April 15). Educators Continue Innovating with App Smashing. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://www.gettingsmart.com/2014/04/educators-continue-innovating-app-smashing/
ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Kozma, A. (2018, October 09). #GridTip: A Dynamic Duo, Flipgrid & Book Creator. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://blog.flipgrid.com/news/bookcreator?rq=appsmash
Kulowiec, G. (2013, February 27). App Smashing – from Greg. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://edtechteacher.org/app-smashing-from-greg/
Kulowiec, G. (2018, July 26). So I’ve been thinking…AppSmashing needs a reboot. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://medium.com/@gkulowiec/so-ive-been-thinking-appsmashing-needs-a-reboot-e13dbbedef40