Thursday, 26 January 2017 16:16

Tech Tools: Mural

Written by Kyle Snowdon

Mural is a web-based collaboration tool that allows users on multiple devices to share and build their ideas together. Whether users are in the same room or at a distance from one another, Mural allows them to see what their partners are contributing, interact with them, and build off one another’s ideas in a highly visual virtual workspace. Also, paired with a large touchscreen (pictured below), participants can actively engage by moving ideas around.

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For educators and students, Mural offers a very unique and flexible platform for real time collaboration. Imagine a BYOD classroom with a Mural canvas projected onto a screen while students on their devices share their ideas about the course content for all to see. Group projects can also be revolutionized under this platform with student learning going beyond the classroom walls, building collaborative projects together anytime and anywhere. Mural also provides a number of helpful templates and frameworks. In the example below, the ‘Feedback’ template was used to capture audience responses to group presentations. In this case, participants used their devices to make comments during presentations and expanded on them with presenters in a quick debrief following. Murals can then be saved and exported as either image files or PDFs. There are many things that Mural does very well. Firstly, it is very much a program that is ‘real time.’ Much to my astonishment there is absolutely no lag from users entering information into the Mural canvas. Mural also is a great visual tool, with a number of options (sketches, images, icons & video links) allowing users to create aesthetically pleasing work. Finally, Mural’s simplicity takes away a lot of the intimidation that often comes with online collaborative tools. There need be no nerves when sending a Mural link to collaborative partners, as you can be assured they will be able to contribute without tech support.

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Mural’s limitations are not in its interface, usability, or options. Its limitations, like many online platforms are in navigating the subscription structure, including costs, membership management and guest access. At the time of writing, we’re just in the process of exploring pricing for education institutions. Overall Mural has proven itself to be a very useful tool for educators and students to create successful projects together. There are no shortage of collaborative online tools, but what sets Mural apart is its simplicity, real time capabilities, and focus on the visual aspects of collaboration. It’s also good for the environment – no more sticky notes! Check out Mural here

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