A Flipgrid for Everyone

In this post, Nate Edwards, VP of Mobile, and Paul Conlin, Front-end Development, share their insights on accessibility and championing student voice.

At Flipgrid, we strive to provide our users a voice in their learning community. We work to create an inclusive environment where learners actively engage in compelling and collaborative discussions with their peers. To achieve these goals we have been implementing a series of new accessibility features and services to make participation easier for all of our users.

When we first explored making Flipgrid accessible, the requirements were daunting. The resources available were often outdated and posed challenges when applied to our environment. To aid in our development we began by asking which core features of Flipgrid should be reexamined to best serve our users. We concluded that improvements were needed to better support those with motor, vision, and hearing impairments.

Motor Function Impairments
One of our strongest improvements was making Flipgrid entirely navigable by keyboard. Now, by using tab, enter, spacebar, etc. users are able watch, record, and like videos.

We also made improvements to ensure users are able to properly navigate to the appropriate element when opening modals or changing pages via their keyboard. This allows users to efficiently navigate Flipgrid without relying on a mouse. To learn more about the motiviation behind this implementation, read Simply Accessible’s take on Focus Management.

Vision Impairments
To help our users with vision impairments, we now allow full control over font size without negatively affecting the display of the content. Users can increase or decrease their font size via their browser or system settings while maintaining the same style and functionality. We set a goal to meet the WCAG AA standards for contrast ratios, which ensures users with vision impairment can properly distinguish between all elements on a page.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing
As Flipgrid is a video platform, one of our key improvement goals was to be able to provide a supplement for the deaf and hard of hearing community in the form of video transcripts. Our beta release of this service has been great success with over 60,000 videos transcribed and nearly 250,000 keywords extracted.

For our team, providing accessible content is more than checking a box and following compliance documentation. It is a guiding force in how we plan, develop and improve our product.

International Studies Elementary School uses Flipgrid to Reflect on Reading

After reading the story The Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews, Karen Liebert, the library media specialist at International Studies Elementary Charter School in Albany, Georgia, had her students record their analyses of the main character, Eva. Read about the experience on her blog or jump right to her students' amazing responses here.

Wonderful use of Flipgrid, Karen, we love watching your students confidently share their voices.

Flipgrid is an Education Technology finalist in the 17th Annual Tekne Awards

September 16, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) has named Flipgrid as a finalist in the Education Technology category for the 2016 Tekne Awards, which will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Wednesday, Nov. 16. The Tekne Awards honor Minnesota companies and individuals who have shown superior technology innovation and leadership. A full list of finalists is available online at http://www.tekneawards.org.

The Tekne Awards Education Technology category honors innovations that measurably improve student learning and academic performance in the classroom. This includes the development of educational games, learning apps for mobile devices, innovative approaches to distance learning, or student project assignments that engage students with core curriculum via technology.

Flipgrid, a stimulus-driven video discussion platform, fuels active, social learning in more than 30,000 preK-20 classroom and enterprise communities around the world. Flipgrid helps learners of all ages present and share their viewpoints in a manner conducive to others’ consideration, appreciate and understand the perspectives of their peers, and enter into respectful, authentic, and challenging conversation. By engaging students in stimulus- and peer-driven discussions, educators are empowered to see firsthand the contributions of all students and to provide more robust and accurate qualitative feedback.

Flipgrid was cofounded by Dr. Charlie Miller, the company’s Chief Design Officer and an Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. Miller shared, “The entire Flipgrid team is incredibly honored to be an educational technology finalist in the esteemed Tekne Awards. Since we created Flipgrid for a single UMN PhD course in 2012, the stream of inspiring impact stories from our K12, higher education, and enterprise users is the motivation that fuels our work each and every day. To have our users and their stories recognized by the MHTA is simply a dream!”

Jim Leslie, CEO of Flipgrid, added, “From all of us on the Flipgrid team, we would like to thank the MHTA for recognizing the transformative power of student voice and shared community knowledge.”

Each year, MHTA seeks out companies and people leading the way in innovation in Minnesota,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president and CEO of MHTA. “These advancements are changing the way people all over the world live and work, and the Tekne Awards recognize those achievements.”

The 17th annual Tekne Awards program will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a VIP registration and reception, followed by general registration and cocktails at 5 p.m. The awards ceremony will commence at 7 p.m., with a post-event reception at 8:30 p.m. The event will be emceed by Paul Douglas, author, entrepreneur and meteorologist. For additional information, or to register for the 2016 Tekne Awards program, visit http://www.tekneawards.org or contact Claire Ayling at 952-230-4553 or cayling@mhta.org

ABOUT FLIPGRID
Flipgrid is a stimulus-driven video discussion platform that promotes active, social learning in more than 30,000 classrooms, organizations, and enterprises across 130 countries on six continents. To learn more about Flipgrid and the power of social learning communities, please visit http://flipgrid.com

ABOUT TEKNE
Each year the Tekne Awards shine a spotlight on Minnesota's science and technology industry. The gala affair draws nearly 1,000 attendees from across the state and from technology areas ranging from advanced manufacturing and information technology to healthcare and agricultural technology. The technology community comes together on this very special evening to celebrate Minnesota innovation and recognize Tekne Award finalists and recipients - the best and brightest of Minnesota’s diverse science and tech-based economy. The Tekne Awards began in 2000, and are presented by the Minnesota High Tech Association. Find out more online at http://www.tekneawards.org or follow MHTA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MHTA #TekneAwards

ABOUT MHTA
MHTA is an innovation and technology association united in fueling Minnesota’s prosperity. We help bring together the people of Minnesota’s technology ecosystem and lead the charge in directing technology issues to Minnesota’s state capitol. MHTA is the only membership organization that represents Minnesota’s entire technology-based economy. MHTA members include organizations of every size − involved in virtually every aspect of technology creation, production, application and education in Minnesota. Find out more online at http://www.mhta.org or follow MHTA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MHTA.

Flipgrid Heroes Fellowship Program

Apply for a $500 Flipgrid Fellowship

We are excited to announce our first annual Flipgrid Heroes of Student Voice Fellowship Program. Flipgrid’s mission is to empower active, social learning communities in classrooms around the world. We know this is a shared mission with our Flipgrid educators, so we want to add a little rocket fuel to your inspiring work.

The objective is simple: Support and amplify the critical role of student voice in your classroom, community, and/or research through a creative and impactful initiative using Flipgrid during the fall 2016 semester.

We will be awarding a total of ten (10) fellowships: Five (5) $500 fellowships to PreK-12 educators and five (5) $500 fellowships to Higher Ed educators. Flipgrid Heroes and their initiatives will be showcased on Flipgrid.com. In addition, Flipgrid Heroes will receive a one-year Flipgrid license/extension, a Flipgrid Heroes hooded sweatshirt, and a Flipgrid pack of fun goods.

Application Process

Flipgrid is focused on the power of shared ideas through voice, spoken or signed. Therefore, our application is simple. Click the ‘Apply Today’ button below and record up to a 90-second video introducing yourself, your institution, and your idea for a Flipgrid Heroes initiative.

Video applications due: 5:00pm (CDT) September 30, 2016
Heroes announced: October 10, 2016

 
 

Winners will be judged by an independent panel of educators. All educators are encouraged to apply. If you want to share your video idea on social media, please use #FlipgridHeroes

We can’t wait to see your creative ideas!

Team Flipgrid

Flipgrid Story: Nicole LaFave

Nicole is a 9th and 10th grade English teacher in Fort Mill, South Carolina. When we reached out to alert her that her account was nearing expiration, she quickly and jubilantly responded and explained “my students and I absolutely LOVE Flipgrid! It's a great way for my shy students to participate in class discussions... and for my not shy students to show off their personalities in those same discussions. I can't wait to use Flipgrid with my new group of energetic 9th grade kiddos!” We were thrilled to hear how Nicole empowers all of her students with Flipgrid, so we followed up to find out more.

In which courses do you use Flipgrid and among how many students?  

I use it in all of my 9th and 10th grade English courses. I teach all levels of students, from Inclusion to Honors classes. Depending on the course, class size ranges from 10-30 students. 

Describe when you first implemented Flipgrid into your classroom. How did you get your students on board? What discussions did you spur? 

I first used Flipgrid in March 2015. One of the wonderful things about English classes is that literary discussions can go in many different directions in different classes on a daily basis. However, sometimes my students don't take it in the direction I'm trying to go. Instead of the teacher getting them there, however, I realized it might be more beneficial for their peers to point them in that direction. I decided to create a Flipgrid for my Honors English 2 students in which they compared the character of Cassius from Julius Caesar to a modern day real-life person or fictional character. The conversation ended up being so great that I tried it again the next week with my lower level English 1 students and a discussion about Romeo & Juliet. In the back of my mind, I thought that Flipgrid might be best for my students who were academically upper-level, but I couldn't have been more wrong!
By the way, I don't know how I got my students on board... I sort of made it mysterious in that I didn't tell them what we were doing; I just pulled them out into the hall to record their responses. When all was said and done, they were excited to see themselves and their peers on the big screen.

How often do you use Flipgrid with your students?

In the past, I've used it a few times a semester, but this year, I'm committing myself to doing some sort of Flipgrid activity every other week in class.

How do you generate topics to discuss on Flipgrid?

The topics mostly come from topics we would have discussed in a Socrative Seminar setting. While these seminars are great and beneficial in a lot of ways, they often take 1-3 class periods to complete. Flipgrid has allowed me to open up more in-class time for other activities.

What’s an example of a topic you’ve sparked on Flipgrid?

The Shakespearean Insults grid has to be my favorite (below). This was meant to be something simple and fun and it turned into a grid that was viewed more than 3,000 times in less than a week. Students recorded the insults in private (I thought it might make them more willing to get really insulting -- we've done this live in a class before and few students are willing to really get into it). They turned out so well (some of my silent students shocked me with their sass!), that I decided to turn it into a competition of sorts where the videos with the most views/likes would receive a prize. I feel pretty convinced that every 9th grade student at my school saw the video and voted.

How do you plan on using Flipgrid this year? Do you have any new ideas?

I tried a new idea last week: I printed out 20 random questions (like "If your house was on fire and you could only save three items, what would they be?" and "If you could time travel only once, where would you go and why?"). Students selected one question and had the night to think about their answers. The next day, we recorded the questions and answers on Flipgrid.  I then shared the grid with students and parents (and we even watched it all the way through in class). While there was not necessarily any academic merit to this activity, I enjoyed getting to know a little about my students and I think they enjoyed getting to know a little about each other.
I'd like to continue using Flipgrid in the way that I have -- to spark discussion and for students to see and hear the responses of their classmates, but I'm constantly looking for new ways to use it. 

What is your favorite aspect of Flipgrid?

Just one? I love everything about Flipgrid. It gives my students a voice. In my 9 years as an educator, I've never been able to say that about any other product.

In what ways have Flipgrid influenced the way you educate? 

I'm an English teacher, so I make my students write. Lots. Because of this, I'm always aware of their literary thoughts. But some of my most brilliant students over the years have been the quiet ones. I used to beg them to contribute to class discussions to no avail. I even got to a point of desperation where some of our class discussions were graded (this was not a proud moment as a teacher, I'll admit). With Flipgrid, I no longer have to worry about my quiet students. They can simply take an iPad in the hall or record in the privacy of their own home and VIOLA! -- they are instantly a part of the group.

Your students are fortunate to have you, Nicole! Your story is inspiring and we’re thrilled to have you in our Flipgrid family. We look forward to hearing about your continued success and promotion of student voice!

Conquering Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards

We’re grateful to be among a community of educators who go above and beyond to ensure they’re inspiring their students in innovative ways. When challenged with the Next Generation Science or Common Core Standards, Flipgrid teachers exceed “standard” and stimulate active, engaged learning.

We've identified a series of ways in which your students can achieve these objectives with Flipgrid. For additional standards-aligned integration docs, visit our new Flipgrid Integration Center.

Build a community of young pioneers in Scientific investigation.

  • Conjure a range of radical questions by creating a topic for students to inquire about the natural or designed word (K-2-ETS1-1).
  • Pass out the goggles and lab coats, task students with designing an experiment, and then ask them to reflect on results (MS-PS1-2).
  • Create a Flipgrid topic for scientific inquiry and revelation by having students identify connections between seemingly unconnected findings (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.9).
  • Have students explain variations of various traits in the human population (HS-LS3-3).

Use peer-to-peer learning to grow and develop English Language Arts skills.

Stimulate another level of cognitive thinking by having students verbalize their Mathematical problem solving.

  • Instead of simply jotting down the result, ask that students walk you through how they derived the answer (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1).
  • Have them explain their reasoning or critique their peer's reasoning (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3).

Spur debate and exploration in Social Studies.

  • Have students interpret graphical information (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.7).
  • After studying a historical event, conduct a debate wherein students "pick a side" on a historical decision, defend their arguments, and respond to their opponents (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8).

Continue making your classroom a hub of powerful, active learning by implementing these Flipgrid strategies and, in doing so, create an enthusiastic, empowered community.