|Sticky notes have never been so versatile!
Before I talk about how I might leverage this in the classroom, I'd like to outline reasons why I think Stormboard is the best-in-show for brainstorming software.
- It's simple. The guiding philosophy behind Stormboard ensures that it is clean and intuitive.
- It doesn't use Flash. So iOS users can partake in Stormboarding! In fact, the interface on the iPad is really slick (the zooming gestures are quite helpful).
- The designers did a great job of understanding their customer's needs. I say this for two reasons. First, there is a public forum where beta testers could list ideas for product features. Many of those features have been realized. Second, they really limited the tools to make the product more streamlined. You can't change fonts, draw connecting lines, or do anything that will detract from the intent of the product. At first I felt limited, but after kicking the tires, I realized just how clean and effective the product is because of this.
I've outlined a few examples of how I might use Stormboard in my classroom. At the bottom of this post, look for information to access my Storm (Stormboard lingo for where all the action happens!). You'll need to setup an account - but it's free. In the screenshot below, I created four different Stacks of Stickies. Each one has a different flavor of how it could be used.
In the book What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, we are regaled of a tale when Mark Zuckerberg was trying to cram for an exam in an Art History class at Harvard. With only a few precious hours left, he downloaded all the art he knew would be on the exam. He made a webpage that displayed each piece of art, and a box underneath it that could be typed in. He then emailed his classmates and told them he made a study guide - they should write down all the relevant information in each box. Pretty soon, students were correcting other students and the information became more accurate. Needless to say, Zuckerberg aced the exam. The funny thing is that the class performed - on average - better than on most other assignments. Crowd-sourcing rules!
So for this example, I wanted to tap into the crowd-sourcing mentality in a classroom. I created a Stack called "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and in it I have a few more Stacks (yes, you can nest Stacks infinitely):
- Characters and their symbolism
In this Stack, I have several categories, and I could assign each student reading the book to create a Sticky with their analysis of their character and put it in the appropriate category. The work is distributed among everyone, and the one document is a graphical, interactive venue where students can go to bone up on all the characters.
Nurse Ratched: Worst nemesis. Ever.
In the history of the world.
In the spirit of discussion forums, I posted several quotes from the book. Students can comment on each quote and have a dialogue as a class. While some might argue that an actual discussion forum in an LMS is a better solution, I would counter with two points. Some schools don't have a learning management system, and no discussion board that I'm aware of in an LMS allows the graphical organization that Stormboard does (in other words, the quotes can be grouped geographically by theme, by who said the quote, or any other way).
Adding comments to a sticky is hard to do in real life.
|Thank goodness 24 returns this Spring.
|All of a sudden, Jack Bauer doesn't seem like that good of a guy...
Consider a braindump for a mathematics department at a school:
|Mathematicians are always trying to quantify everything.
Because it is possible to create a Sticky that houses a document, conceivably Stormboard could be the first graphical content management system (at least that I'm aware of). While there are still some kinks to work out (currently documents cannot be embedded - only uploaded or downloaded - although I suspect enhanced functionality would come later), the notion of being able to visually structure the content is pretty appealing. I'm not proposing that Stormboard could replace Moodle or Blackboard - they are two completely different products. But I do think that if educators just need a lightweight, customizable framework for housing content (as well as using Stickies for brainstorming, commenting, videos, etc.), then Stormboard is an elegant solution.
When giving students the rights to fully manipulate Stickies, you are also giving them a voice. I think it would be an interesting experiment to get feedback (on a lesson, on an assignment, on a test) using Stormboard. One of the trending topics (check out my blog on the Horizon Report) is analytics. The ability to gain insight on the efficacy of what we, as educators, are doing is huge. It could help us shape our lessons better. We could identify weaknesses in our assessments and pinpoint places where students struggle.
While that conversation is for another day, let's examine how Stormboard could act as a sounding board for our students.
I could host a Storm that hast Stacks for each assignment or lesson I want feedback on. Students can place their Stickies accordingly, and someone might even be appointed to curate them into common themes. Not only is this a benefit to me, as the instructor, but it also instills a sense of ownership to the students. To say nothing of the fact that if thoughts were collected over the course of a day or two, there is even a lesson in categorizing the comments. Heck, this whole exercise might even be a good springboard for a civilized, responsible conversation on the temperature of the class.
Well, if you've made it this far, I suspect you are excited to use Stormboard. To see the Storm I curated as I was crafting this blog, head over to Stormboard and create an account. Once that is done, you can join my board by using the following credentials in the "Join a Storm" box on your dashboard:
|Join the party!
All in all, I'm very pleased with the product. I think that it has a lot of potential in the educational realm. There is only one feature that I wish Stormboard had - the ability to share a Storm so that you don't need to login to view it. As a classroom teacher, I would love to be able to create a board and make it openly available so that my students could see it without logging in (and better yet, their parents could see it). I don't think not having one is a deal-breaker - I just think it would be a useful feature.
Go check out Stormboard. Experiment with their templates. Get a feel for how the product works. Check out all the cool things (like reports, activity, PDF exports and all sorts of cool things I didn't even mention) that you can do with it.
If you have suggestions on how you might use Stormboard in your classroom, leave them below.
It's noteworthy to mention that as I write this, a legitimate storm is a-brewin' in Rochester, New York. Most schools are closed as we anticipate up to two feet of lake effect snow. This means that I won't be going to work today - I'll be playing with Stormboard!