Teaching Hub

Using Flipgrid for Class Discussions: Tips and Precautions

by Nathan Loewen, A&S Faculty Technology Liaison

Melissa Green recently hosted a Blackboard RoundTable where she remarked that Flipgrid is now among the UA-licensed platforms. Anyone can use their UA email (username@ua.edu or username@crimson.ua.edu) on the Flipgrid Sign Up page to “Sign up with Microsoft.” My colleague Jennifer Roth-Burnette suggested I contact members of the Instructional Design Team at the College of Continuing Studies. Here are some excellent tips and precautions for successfully using Flipgrid from Miranda Webster, Alison Lewis, Crystal Butler, and Robyn Hammontree.

Skip to the end to read Crystal Butler’s steps to set up your Flipgrid!

Uses for Flipgrid – Miranda Webster

Flipgrid is a very popular video-based discussion platform among faculty who teach online. Faculty have deployed the tool in various ways, such as small group discussions, short presentations or elevator speech assignments, and introduction discussions among students and their instructor. Students love it because they can use the Flipgrid app on their phones to record and upload their videos.

One of the best uses of Flipgrid I’ve ever seen was a faculty member who created a “WILT,” or “What I Learned Today” activity, and students posted videos sharing what they had learned after completing each learning unit in the course.

Logistically, there are two issues with Flipgrid — especially for A&S courses with multiple sections and/or multiple instructors: each super-section/section must create its own “grid.” The tool does not integrate with the Blackboard Grade Center automatically, so faculty must manually track student activity and input grades/completion.

Tech Issues – Alison Lewis

I have knowledge of Flipgrid’s tech support doing an outstanding job with troubleshooting with students. It is nice to know that their internal support team is responsive, helpful, and timely!

One of my instructors who was teaching two separate courses was having to log in for each course each time she opened Flipgrid. Frustration had set in. Once she started consistently using different browsers for login for each course, it alleviated the having to login in for each use for Flipgrid’s cookies to function properly. All of this sounds very simple to tech people but not so for the non-tech people!

Practical Notes – Crystal Butler

The instructors I have worked with have almost all loved Flipgrid, but there are exceptions!

Here are some things to note:

  • There is a 10-minute limit on the videos students can post, but instructors can set a shorter time limit if desired.
  • Flipgrid works best for non-graded assignments, but it is possible to include a rubric in Flipgrid and have the grade that you assign automatically emailed to the student at their Crimson email address. (Miranda already mentioned that you have to manually transfer grades to the BBL Grade Center though.)
  • Students became comfortable with Flipgrid in courses where the tool was used repeatedly. I have interviewed students in courses that use Flipgrid and some (the older, less tech-savvy, camera-shy) students say that they did not like the tool at all initially. Flipgrid can create a sense of community among students, particularly in online courses.
  • Panopto does almost everything Flipgrid can do, but it’s just not as pretty.
  • Flipgrid changes its interface in minor ways fairly often. You have to keep up with the changes or your instructions to students may not make sense.

Flipgrid Maintenance – Robyn Hammontree

Flipgrid helps student-to-student engagement. I believe it helps students to feel less isolated in online environments. It’s a very user-friendly system on the student side. Many students are now fairly comfortable with recording quick videos like FlipGrid requires because they’ve done it on other platforms.

However, Flipgrid requires instructor commitment to maintenance. We instructional designers often help our instructors with the initial setup, but they will be responsible for maintaining the sections (e.g., making copies where appropriate or downloading and preserving student data, making sure links remain active, clearing out the previous semester’s videos before the new semester begins.)

I think the best place to use FlipGrid is in a course with one section or only a few sections. It gets very messy to have one development shell in Blackboard to create multiple Flipgrid sections.

I also think instructors should use it mainly for ungraded activities. Otherwise, there is a heavy burden on instructors for grading/maintaining the grids.

I really like using it for an ungraded/participation points Introduction Discussion. That way, students see their classmates at the beginning of the course and can begin to develop those relationships.

Flipgrid Startup Guide

  1. Create an account with your UA email (username@ua.edu or username@crimson.ua.edu) on the Flipgrid Sign Up page to “Sign up with Microsoft.” Do not include a phone number because that number will receive authentication requests.
  2. If you plan to use Flipgrid across multiple terms or if you plan to use Flipgrid with multiple instructors across several sections, then create a Google account specific to that course. Use the UA convention of naming courses (e.g., 202140_EN101@gmail.com). Create an Educator Account with Flipgrid, so all instructors in all sections can use it.
  3. Add a “Group” for the course section and name the group according to the UA convention of naming courses by term, discipline, and section (i.e. 202140-EN101-920). This will keep all the groups sorted in order and easy to locate.
  4. In the group, require students to log in using their UA email addresses: crimson.ua.edu. Tell students to click on “Sign up with Microsoft.” They must use their Crimson email address to access the group.
  5. Create all discussion topics in your group using the “create a topic” button. For any additional sections, you can copy all the topics in your group without the student: find the “actions” menu and select “Duplicate Group” and rename the new group with the UA naming convention.
  6. Provide students the link to their section’s group and let them scroll through the Topics to find the discussion they need. For each section, you will have only one link to update (the group link) in the info given to students.
  7. Flipgrid frequently changes its interface. Check in with your students regularly!