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App Smashing for Virtual Presentations

Online Teaching and Learning Teaching with Technology

App Smashing for Virtual Presentations

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With the pandemic came a flurry of faculty quickly moving their courses online. The question I heard most during this time was, How can I move my students’ presentations online? Most faculty chose to have students do live video presentations with a system such as Zoom. But videoconferencing comes with drawbacks. The biggest is that all students must be present at once, which can be a problem in online courses that some students chose because their schedules make it hard to meet at regularly scheduled class times. Also, technical problems with bandwidth and the like often intrude on these video conferences.

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With the pandemic came a flurry of faculty quickly moving their courses online. The question I heard most during this time was, "How can I move my students’ presentations online?" Most faculty chose to have students do live video presentations with a system such as Zoom. But videoconferencing comes with drawbacks. The biggest is that all students must be present at once, which can be a problem in online courses that some students chose because their schedules make it hard to meet at regularly scheduled class times. Also, technical problems with bandwidth and the like often intrude on these video conferences.

An alternative format is asynchronous presentations. Students create the presentation, add their voice narration, record it, and post it online for other students to watch and comment on. An advantage is that students can watch the presentation whenever they have the time. Plus, they can post comments and questions on the presentation after thinking about it—an improvement on live presentations, during which they may not think of questions in time to ask them. There is also not as big of a bandwidth issue, because not everyone is online at once.

Asynchronous presentations require two things: a system for recording the presentation and a system for hosting the result online. While students tend to default to PowerPoint for making presentations, I prefer Buncee, an online presentation tool. When using Buncee, students can choose from 2,000 existing templates, or they can start with a blank page and add features such as text, shapes, animations, stickers, messages, emoji, web images, 360 images, YouTube videos, and uploads of your own documents, videos, or images. In addition, Buncee has a drawing feature and users can add free response questions and multiple-choice questions to a page for engagement. The other distinguishing feature is the ability to record up to three minutes of video on each page. Buncee offers both a free and paid option so students can create without buying an account.

Although there are many ways to have students present online, I suggest app smashing Buncee and Flipgrid. In the simplest terms, app smashing means to combine more than one technology. The combination of Buncee and Flipgrid was perfect for my teacher candidates. Flipgrid, at its most basic level, is a video discussion tool. I have my students use Buncee to create and record their presentations and then use Flipgrid to share and comment on each other’s. It is a somewhat simple app smash that works well to not only engage students in the course content but also assess their learning. This app smash is based on effective elements of an educational experience: social, cognitive, and teaching presence (Garrison et al., 1999). Including opportunities for interactions between faculty and students, students and content, and students and other students is accomplished in this virtual presentation method.

First, I ask students to create a presentation using Buncee. Presentations could be created in a more typical presentation tool, such as Google Slides or PowerPoint, and this app smash would work similarly. I like Buncee because I teach future teachers, and Buncee is a dynamic creation tool that includes a wide variety of templates my students might use in future lesson plans. For my assignment, students had to tell the story of their research project using all the features in Buncee, including animations, stickers, backgrounds, uploads (video and images), and text. I  then directed them to record themselves presenting the content. Buncee has a built-in recording function, so students open their webcams and record themselves presenting each slide. If you decide to use Google Slides or PowerPoint, students can use the built-in recording features available in these tools. Students could screen record using Screencast-O-Matic, which provides up to 15 minutes of free screen recording.

Once students created and recorded their presentations, it was time for a learning exchange using Flipgrid. I directed students to a designated discussion in Flipgrid to record a video of themselves introducing their research topic and asking their classmates a question about their presentation. I integrate Flipgrid into my school’s learning management system, Canvas, to make the grading easier, but you could also provide a link or join code and direct students to flipgrid.com. At the end of the recording, just before they submit their video to the discussion, Flipgrid gives students the option to add a link. Once each student added their video and link to the Flipgrid discussion, their classmates were able to hear their video introduction and the question they needed to answer in their response. Then they viewed their classmates’ recorded presentations by clicking the link posted just below that video in Flipgrid. Lastly, each student replied in their own recorded video, answering their classmate’s question about the presentation. I encouraged all students to go back to the discussion, watch my reply and their classmates’ replies, and reflect on the answers and feedback.

Students really seemed to like using Buncee’s features to tell the story of their research projects. During the isolated time of COVID-19, they felt more connected by being able to watch each other present their topics and share their thoughts and feedback through Flipgrid videos. I wrote each step of this process out for students in Canvas, and I provided detailed video instructions using Flipgrid shorts videos embedded in the Canvas assignment. So what did students think of this app smash last semester? Here are some comments from my self-initiated, end-of semester Google Form:

STEPS FOR APP SMASHING:
Recorded presentation + Flipgrid video discussion = student learning and engagement
1. Create presentation.
2. Narrate presentation.
3. Record presentation using Buncee or another video-recording app.
4. Record a Flipgrid video introduction to your topic with a question to your classmates, and be sure to add the presentation link to your video submission in Flipgrid.
5. Watch your classmates’ video introductions and their recorded presentations by clicking the link in their Flipgrid video.
6. Reply in a Flipgrid video to your classmates’ questions.
7. Return to Flipgrid to watch your classmates’ and instructor’s responses to the question you posed about your topic.

Reference

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2–3), 87–105. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00016-6


Madeline Craig, EdD, is an assistant professor of education at Molloy College.