For this technological exploration, I decided to explore the tool called Mural. This is a digital whiteboard or visual collaboration tool, which I have never used before. I wanted to see what the difference is between Mural and other tools that I have previously used like Jamboard by Google.
Since I have never used it before, I signed up for an account for free (because what’s one more tool or platform or subscription to sign up for?!) and started exploring the tool. Right away I learned several things about Mural: there are a million templates, it provides easy to understand tutorials for users, it is Microsoft based – so seemed familiar, but also allows content to be imported from many different mediums and platforms. This tool is definitely something that I am interested in exploring more.
In addition, I went to Tech & Learning to see what they had to say about using Mural within the classroom. Here it was recommended as a tool that could be multifaceted within the classroom, whether it be in f2f or multi-access or blended in context. Mural is outlined as a great tech tool for the classroom that is capable of presenting to students in video format, while allowing for feedback, or taking a poll during presentations to complete a knowledge check, and there is the option of having students participate in a live lesson as it is being taught with drawings, stickers, or visuals (more on this later).
Strengths of this tool are many. The many different templates allow you to efficiently create something for your classes, like trivia games, mind maps, brainstorming, or constructing writing projects with pre-set writing prompts and building activities. These templates can allow for multiple subject areas and multiple topics to be covered, I would say this leans toward the humanities for subject areas though. Templates like the Build-a-Metaphor pictured below as well as some brainstorming and prompt templates definitely are aligned with ELA courses.
The presentations look intriguing and interactive, as students can input feedback, contribute, collaborate, answer polls, and even have reactions to content. I would have to put it into practice to see if it is better than Quizzizz, which I really enjoy using for the ability to teach content and then throw in multiple choice or open-ended questions to see if students are comprehending, keeping up or just paying attention!
On the downside, Mural is definitely business focused and is geared to the corporate office in a lot of ways, as opposed to the classroom. There are so many templates, that you have to sift a bit to find the ones that are education friendly, but they are there!
The chat and commenting options could be positives or negatives. Students are so quick with these tools, that they often have things figured out pretty quickly, and I would not want to learn the hard way that I forgot to turn off the drawing feature! Comments can turn in a heartbeat, since everyone is brave behind the keyboard it seems these days. As always, there needs to be an emphasis on digital citizenship within the classroom.
With that being said, the idea of using this for an entire lesson is intriguing as it has so many options available. Murals can be downloaded, or share links can be sent to “visitors” who can engage in the lesson live, or it can be presented in a timed video format. A template can be set up for student groups to use it to develop a project or even to collaborate in brainstorming. This can be monitored by the facilitator, the teacher. Check out this Class Lecture Toolkit, which I saved as the template to see how in-depth the templates can be!
In conclusion, Mural is way more than just a digital whiteboard as it is loosely defined as on the internet. It can be used that way, but if all you wanted was the base whiteboard function, I would just use Jamboard or whiteboard.fi. Jamboard is very very simple to use, in that it requires almost zero learning curve, and Mural is on steroids in comparison and would take more learning and refining to be able to implement it seamlessly into the classroom setting. It is a tool worthy of exploration, however, with so many other incredibly useful and user friendly tools out there it would be tough to be willing to take the time to import all kinds of content from another tool into this one.
Have you ever used Mural in your classroom? I am curious to hear if you have.
This seems like a cool tool. I have never heard of it before. From what you have presented it seems like this would be a good tool for high school and beyond.
This looks like a tool that would be useful for post-secondary. I like that the Build-a-Metaphor, brainstorming, and prompt templates are aligned with ELA courses (and humanities), as you said. I’ll check those out features! Thank you for the share.
Thanks! Having never used it in the classroom, I would be curious to see how it works when actually implemented.