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Online collaboration using Miro

by Dana Mustata, Media Studies
Dana Mustata
Dana Mustata

Infinite canvas

Looking for a way to organize synchronous and asynchronous work with students in seminars, Dana Mustata came across Miro, a tool for online collaboration. In Miro students and lecturers work together on a whiteboard, on which various types of files (word documents, power point slides, PDFs, spreadsheets, video, audio files, web links, etc.) and interactive objects (text, mindmaps, storyboards, timelines) can be placed. One can zoom in and out of different parts of the whiteboard, which makes Miro an infinite canvas. Students can be invited onto a Miro board via a direct link. On the board students can add their own ideas, comments, questions, complete in-class assignments and exercises, view and comment on each other’s work. Students can also create their own private boards, which they use while working on individual assignments or projects. Miro has a myriad of different functionalities: from templates that help structure the workflow of different types of activities in a seminar, to presentation mode and share screen, to setting a timer for specific activities, commenting, chatting, voting, highlighting all activity on a board, exporting, downloading or embedding the board onto other platforms.

Below a number of screenshots taken from Dana's courses are presented.

Online and offline possibilities

Dana Mustata has been using Miro in two of her courses, Story Lab in the MA Media Studies and the Research Seminar in Audiovisual Culture in the BA Media Studies. Students could work on the boards synchronously and asynchronously and there were weekly 'live sessions' where she and her students would all work together on the board. Outside the 'live sessions', students could still work on their assignments on the board and then tag Dana if they had questions or they wanted her to check on their work in progress. The board can be expanded 'infinitely', which means you can create different spaces for different activities in one session and then students can 'move around' the different spaces to complete their class assignments. They have worked on both shared boards (with the entire class together, and then it's visible at all moments what everyone is working on and where on board everyone is at) and for the students' individual assignments, they moved onto private boards, where it was only Dana and the student on one board.

Miro has a videoconferencing tool, but that is not available in the free educational version. During synchronous sessions, Dana and her students used a combination of video/audio conferencing on Google Meet and working hands-on in Miro. Most students could adapt to the platform fairly easily.

Time Saver

According to Dana, Miro can be a time saver for giving feedback on students’work when compared to other forms of written or oral feedback. The functionalities in Miro require students to identify problems and questions about their own work in a very precise and concrete manner, while the commenting function for answering their questions requires the same level of conciseness and precision. This has lowered the time usually spent on providing feedback in classroom teaching, while increasing the quality of students’ work.

She has noticed that this helped students to set up and carry out their projects in a more effective way, while enabling them to show progress from one week to another. She could follow the student’s progress throughout the course and monitor how they participated in the course, during or outside the ‘live Miro sessions’. This allowed to tackle the challenge of being able to assess the student’s participation in an online course, which is sometimes seen as a problem during online lectures. Dana expects to keep using Miro after the current Coronacrisis.

In brief

Possible use cases: doing individual and group work during or outside class, presentations, giving feedback on assignments, Q&A sessions, planning and structuring individual work.

Advantages: Highly interactive tool for collaboration that can be used with the same degree of efficienty both synchroniously and asynchroniously. It is a time saver for giving feedback and monitoring students’ work in a course. Helps students structure their work process and improve the quality of their own work. It has a timer so students need to finish a task in a specified amount of time. Many ready-made templates available that help structure the workflow of a seminar and different types of course activities.

Disadvantages: Free educational license does not have the video meeting tool.

Keywords: online collaboration, active learning, digital workspace

Costs: free for educational users. To get an educational account you are asked to prove you are a staff member of an educational institution. Approval can take 10 working days. An education account can be requested here: https://miro.com/education/

Available via UWP: no

Learning curve: 1 hour to learn the basics of Miro, 30 minutes to prepare and design a board before the start of each session, 10 minutes to get students acquainted with how to use the board.

More explanatory videos on how to use Miro.

Last modified:18 December 2020 5.09 p.m.
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