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Flipgrid: Exciting updates from ISTE

Every 45 seconds of every minute of the 2018/2019 school year, a new educator signed up for Flipgrid. During the past school year, kids shared 24 billion seconds of Flipgrid video. The student voice and video discussion tool is currently used in 180 countries by millions of students, educators, and families.

Earlier this week at #ISTE19, one thousand or so educators gathered at Philadelphia’s Franklin Music Hall for the Flipgrid LIVE celebration. (Check out the event’s Wakelet collection, and Facebook Album.)

There was a lot to celebrate last week.

It has been a year since Microsoft acquired Flipgrid, with the following promise:

Fans of Flipgrid can rest assured the Flipgrid they know and love, in joining Microsoft, will continue to grow and thrive across the Microsoft, Google and partner ecosystems, all while retaining its distinct brand, culture and team.

With the move, Flipgrid’s Charlie Miller’s changed his title to Founder and Partner GM of Flipgrid at Microsoft. Charlie shared that, in addition to realizing a childhood dream, his goal in this move was not to change, but to extend Flipgrid’s initial mission “to empower every learning on the planet to share their voice and respect the diverse voices of others.”

Something is happening here. And it reaches well beyond the hoopla (or the #Flipgridfever) in the Music Hall.

While I understand that Microsoft is making serious moves to win the love of educators and the education market, what I also see is sincerity and opportunity. The room was filled with the spirit of community and collaboration–creative educators dedicated to sharing both their whys and their hows. It was also filled with partners who care, partners who have been carefully listening, partners who are invested in the success of educators. This market is a conversation.

After several powerful sixty-second shares by several truly inspiring educators, Charlie Miller shared his own whys.

Following the whys were announcements of new and improved features and the introduction of impressive partnerships.

Here’s a summary of my favorite takeaways:

The Shorts Camera: Launching on August 1, the Shorts Camera with its super-enhanced storytelling capability will be available as a stand-alone app and in the app that is already in Flipgrid. The initial goal was to build a simple, storytelling camera for school, the Shorts Camera is both simple and powerful, allowing users to flip from landscape to portrait, zoom, pause, and draw while recording. Students and teachers will be able to trim, add, remove, stitch together and rearrange an unlimited number of clips into one video, making Flipgrid an easy and informal movie editor. You will be able to include images as well as a handy white or blackboard for instruction or demonstration. And you’ll be able to record and embed Shorts videos in Teams, OneNote, Wakelet and other partner sites. While there are no goofy face filters, you can use Styles and change your video to black and white, warm and cool or a pixelated Minecraft mode. We can drag in text, a full set of emojis too. You’ll also be able to download videos before and after you submit.

GridPals: A while back, Bonnie McClelland created the concept of GridPals and manually facilitated matching with a growing spreadsheet.

Now, Bonnie’s generous vision is realized and scalable. Flipgrid users can search for users with common interests in their profiles and email a GridPal invitation. The #GridPals map has recently been supercharged to help you find your classroom’s next great adventure.

Accessibility/ Transcription and Closed Captioning: Every Flipgrid response video is now automatically transcribed by Microsoft Azure and offers the option of sharing an updated closed-captioning experience.

The new video player uses Microsoftโ€™s Immersive Reader to make full transcripts available in all response videos. You might use the Immersive Reader, the free tool to support reading and writing within Flipgrid to help emergent readers, struggling readers, and to support English language learners, for instance, to have the captions read to a child in Spanish. You might also choose to pause video and get right into the full Immersive Reader application.

Microsoft’s Mike Tholfsen announced that any partner in the world interested in including Immersive Reader in their application is invited to join the party. This image displays some of the existing Immersive Reader partners.

Big little things: Charlie announced just a few of more than 300 little behind-the-scene tweaks made in response to Flipgrid very active user feedback.

Here are just a few examples.

Users now have the ability to reorder/re-sort responses using a simple drag and drop approach. Responses may be viewed in random or slideshow mode. Likes are no longer on by default. Co-Pilots may now duplicate grids, a handy feature for creating course templates.

Student photos or images now fill the full screen, enhancing the impact of their voice.

Images span the whole screen.

Students will enjoy the many new options for enhancing their selfies!

You can now import a video on the browser when your deviceโ€™s cameras/microphones are not working.

It will be easier to accomplish a number of previously tedious administrative functions with the addition of checkboxes and the ability to choose or select all.

Drag & drop, MixTapes, and download videos!

The dashboard has been simplified and improved.

Simplified & improved dashboard

MixTapes, the feature that allows educators to hand-select and showcase videos from across any Grid or Topic, presenting a view-only showcase for those mic drop moments, will add a Co-Pilots function, in addition to the recently added ability to follow.

Over the past year, Flipgrid introduced its Explorer Series, a fun mixture of a career day, digital field trip, show and tell, ask-an-expert, and GridPals. Educators can create their own Explorer Series experience using Disco Library links and adding Topics to their own Grids.

We welcome scientists, engineers, creatives, and more to share their amazing work and challenge students on unique topics related to their field! Each Series is available on-demand and designed to be broad so that you can adapt the material to fit your lessons!

Badges/Certifications: Flipgrid has added new certifications as well as attractive badge images.

You may also earn badges for the numbers of videos you inspire.

Enhanced Flipgrid Disco Library: This past year the community-generated library where educators go to share their best topics and find inspiration for new topics inspired an additional 55 million topics.

A new MyFaves feature in the Disco Library will allow you to create curated lists to share. #FlipgridWeekly30 will soon live at the top of the Disco Library, featuring the top 30 trending topics of the week. Selected creators will receive an email notifying them that their topic has made the trending list.

Right under the trending topics, we will find Disco Library Featured Playlists which will feature both user Topics and partner Topics from Find Your Grind, MSN Kids, Flocabulary, Skype in the Classroom, MicrosoftEDU, BBC, Nearpod, Wonderopolis, Capstone Publishing, In addition to the MyFavs and Selects, you’ll find a Made for Me button offering topics connected to your grade level, subject and other elements connected to your profile. The area will also highlight two educators each month.

Topic Focus: You can now find a wealth of ready-to-go discussion prompts to engage students inside the Educator Admin in the Disco Library. Inspired by eight top things educators have embedded and contributed by both Flipgrid educators and partner sites, like Wonderopolis, Find Your Grind HackingSTEM, and more. Thousands of Topics are searchable by audience, subjects and goals. Topic creation has been simplified as well.

Topics from Wonderopolis

FlipgridAR:  Every QR code you’ve ever generated on Flipgrid can now be viewed as augmented reality when you upgrade the app and print the new FlipgridAR stickers. That means we can โ€œstickโ€ student voice anywhere. Think: book reviews on library books and talking student work on family nights. If it’s on the fridge, the student video lifts off on your phone and plays right there in the kitchen. And you can print FlipgridAR stickers for the whole class with one click.

Here’s where/when Charlie envisions we stick student voice:

And then there are those partnerships! For years we’ve played, and sometimes struggled, with the power of app smashing or combining the affordances individual apps to enhance our communication, creativity, and workflow.

The FlipgridLIVE! event demonstrated impressive emerging partnerships from so many of the applications we know and love–Thinglink, Wonderopolis, Buncee, Nearpod. It is now far easier to combine the individual superpowers of these tools from and within a wide variety of developers’ and publishers’ interfaces.

Just a few examples:

On the Microsoft side, in addition to the Immersive Reader connection, beginning in Fall 2019, Flipgrid will be the default video recording tool inside OneNote. You will also be able to paste FlipGrid Shorts directly into OneNote. And, you will have the ability to share content made on a variety of platforms to Microsoft Teams.

Wakelet, one of my personal favorite tools for curation, newsletters, portfolios and more, now makes it even easier to attractively gather and organize any type of content from across the Web. After seeing Wakelet and Flipgrid being mentioned in the same tweets and hearing teachers’ suggestions, the Wakelet team connected with the Flipgrid team, noting the power of the partnership: Flipgrid empowers student voice; Wakelet allows them to tell their stories.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2019-06-29-at-2.14.09-PM-500x233.png
The little + sign will make it easy to embed Flipgrid video in Wakelet

Remind, the app that helps bridge home-school connections and offers translation capabilities, has long partnered with Flipgrid. Now, when you open Remind, you will see your Flipgrid content and be able to send it right out. The video will play directly in the message thread. Parents will not need to leave the Remind app to enter Flipgrid.

Charlie also featured ThingLinkโ€™s new Flipgrid integration with the example Karalee Nakatsukaโ€™s virtual immigration museum.

Keep up with the changes, partnerships and the creativity of the Flipgrid community:

While it doesn’t yet include the August 1 updates, Karly Moura and Sean Fahey’s Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid is an essential tool for getting started and for powerful and creative use and app smashing with this flexible platform.

Charlie’s ending message for educators!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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