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Pros: Students can work together on projects in an effective, visual way, in class or remotely.
Cons: Project boards can get overcrowded; students require access to a device, which they may not have at home.
Bottom Line: MURAL facilitates lesson presentation and group project collaboration from anywhere by making idea sharing a simple, visual process.
Teachers can use MURAL as a dynamic way to present material, encourage class participation and interaction, and get students making their own murals for brainstorming, solo or group project organization, and presentation. MURAL is really flexible, and you can make your own templates for things you do often. It can also be integrated into Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Calendar, and other programs.
Since MURAL for Education provides a free starter account for teachers and students in the public school system, it's an easy option for delivering lessons, promoting collaboration, and assigning visually oriented activities (it's also ideal for distance education or a flipped classroom). Use MURAL to present information to your students, and then later have them collaborate on their own murals. Use it as your digital workspace for organizing lessons behind the scenes, and then share murals with your class when ready. Students can use MURAL in class or on their own time, from any device. Students can also build private murals for their own school projects, or create open ones to be critiqued by their teachers and peers.
MURAL is a virtual collaborative whiteboard that's useful to teachers and students as either a reference tool or an interactive workspace, with everything stored securely in the cloud. All users have space for both private and open "rooms" in which to create murals; private rooms contain murals accessible only to the user, while open rooms include murals that others are collaborating on.
When creating a new mural, students choose from one of many stock templates, one of their own created templates, or a blank slate. They can then start adding and modifying content including text and links on stickies, shapes and connectors, icons, frameworks, images, and writing/drawing. Students can customize element sizes, colors, and more. Elements can be commented upon, and the interface includes an activity timeline, chat window, and comments window. Students can also turn mural elements into outline items simply by right-clicking and choosing the option; then, left-clicking in the outline zooms in on that part of the mural. Students can access all their murals and rooms from the dashboard. Murals can be saved as new templates, exported or downloaded, or set as favorites. Notifications can be customized for user needs.
For those new to MURAL and those needing inspiration, some of the templates and a series of included guides provide ideas for use, including some that are geared toward learning and teaching.
MURAL's structure can be used to facilitate classroom or small group projects. Teachers can create rooms, which essentially function like folders, to house murals. They can invite students to a room and give them access to all murals in it to collaborate on projects. Two or more students can access boards and collaborate in real time, and teachers can monitor content and manage access to rooms to keep them as a secure space. Students can also create murals in their own private room when working on individual projects.
Students who tend to think in a very linear way may find the design frustrating; similarly, boards with many users can get crowded, fast. However, this can be seen as an opportunity to exercise different ways of thinking and organizing ideas, expressing everything in a visual environment (with the option of including text as needed). The site provides an effective method for sharing ideas and can be especially helpful to contemplative or shy students who are reluctant to speak up in class. Designed to accommodate multiple users, MURAL can give students a chance to contribute and build off of other students' posts in their own way, and to design their own murals and get feedback.