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November 20, 2020

Have Students Engage with Guests in the Classroom via Video Discussions

Most of us are missing the normal student engagement we used to have in the classroom. Even I, who taught mostly online except for two hybrid courses, am missing those one day a week meetups in the classroom. What I miss most is seeing and hearing the enthusiasm and excitement about a topic or discussion from my students. You can’t really see or hear that in a regular asynchronous discussion. But you can bring a little of that back with a video discussion tool like FlipGrid. I’ve written about FlipGrid in the past, but today I want to share how I use it to bring guest speakers into the classroom as a way to have students engage with professionals in the field.

Luckily for me, I work in a wonderful district full of people passionate about teaching and helping students. One such person is the talented Sam Fraulino who works at PVCC as a Senior Software Developer. He works in the Center for Teaching & Learning helping faculty with their online courses, but his talents go far beyond that. Last semester I invited Sam to be a guest speaker in my JRN203 Writing for Online Media class. I thought he would have a lot to share with my students who are predominately Digital Media Arts students, and many are aspiring artists and very talented. We have a module on Citizen/Participatory Journalism where students learn how to capitalize on social media for their own benefits whether it be self-promotion or news dissemination. And Sam is a great example of someone who does that with his own artwork on Instagram.

After the pandemic hit and this hybrid course moved fully online, I didn’t want for students to miss out on this experience, so I invited Sam to visit the class virtually. But instead of making it a live webinar, I had Sam record a short video showing students his art studio and talking about his job, art, and experience using social media. Students were then asked to compose questions for Sam about his presentation and ask them in the discussion. To make all this flow, I used FlipGrid so both sides could see and hear each other. I hadn’t actually planned for Sam to respond to individual posts/questions, but he volunteered and it worked out better than expected.

Students were truly appreciative of his time and excited to engage with him online. And Sam had similar sentiments. He said,

All of them were so well-spoken, confident and so appreciative of my time; that was very nice and this was a very cool experience.

Sam Fraulino

Here’s a quick video showing how I set this up and how it works in Canvas and FlipGrid.

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