Tom Mullaney Figjam

Fantastic Figjam Makes Brainstorming and Collaboration in the Classroom Better

Figjam is a remarkable brainstorming, collaboration, and project coordination app for students to use in the classroom. Hear two teachers talk about the uses in their projects.

What is Figjam? Figjam is a cool, flexible, fun, collaborative space for student projects, presentations, and collaborations. Today's guest, Tom Mullaney, shares how he uses Figjam with students and teachers; he explains why it is useful and gives tips and tricks that will engage students in the collaborative skills they need to be creative collaborators in today's world. Figjam is part of the Adobe Figma suite of tools and is free for educators and their students.

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Are you looking for engaging NGSS-aligned science lessons designed to improve critical thinking in your middle school students? Now is the time to sign up for Research Quest from the Natural History Museum of Utah. Designed by teachers for teachers these online investigations are lead by museum scientists and use the museum’s incredible collections to create engaging learning experiences that are fun for your students and easy to implement! Check them out now!
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Episode 804 - 10 Minute Teacher Podcast

Fantastic Figjam Makes Brainstorming and Collaboration in the Classroom Better

What is Figjam? Tom Mullaney and Vicki Davis explain this cool tool and talk about how they use Figjam in the Classroom.

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Resources Mentioned in Episode 804 - Figjam App

Tom Mullaney - Bio as Submitted

Tom Mullaney

Tom Mullaney

Tom Mullaney is a teacher turned edtech professional development consultant. Tom’s public education experience includes Special Education, Social Studies, educational technology coaching, and digital design. He is a Google for Education Certified Innovator, Trainer, and Product Expert who has spoken at national conferences including SXSW EDU, the National Council for the Social Studies, and ISTE. Go to tommullaney.com/consulting to bring him to your school or professional development event.

Website: https://tommullaney.com/

Twitter: @TomEMullaney

Mastodon: https://mastodon.education/@TomMullaney

Instagram: @tomemullaney

Transcript - Episode 804 - Figjam

This transcript was generated by AI within Adobe Audition but edited and proofread by me, Vicki Davis. If you see something I missed, leave a comment or contact me. Some editing may have been done for clarity of written text. Thanks! 

Fantastic Figjam Makes Brainstorming and Collaboration in the Classroom Better

00;00;00;03 – 00;00;09;07
John Davis
This is the Ten Minute Teacher podcast with your host, Vicki Davis. This is episode 804. Figjam: How Do You Use Figjam in the Classroom Today.

Today's Sponsor: Research Quest

00;00;09;07 – 00;00;20;12
Vicki Davis
Today's sponsor is Research Quest from the Natural History Museum of Utah. Stay tuned at the end of the show to see how you can bring these free, awesome, inquiry-based science lessons to your classroom.

Introducing Tom Mullaney

00;00;20;22 – 00;00;31;14
Vicki Davis
So I am so excited to have Tom Mullaney with us. Tom has had some of the most popular episodes we've ever had including a fantastic episode on Google Jamboard, and I think we did that twice, didn't we, Tom?

00;00;32;06 – 00;00;32;20
Tom Mullaney
We did.

What is Figma? What is Fijam? How are they used?

00;00;32;20 – 00;00;53;18
Vicki Davis
Yes. Yeah. So now we've got a new stellar app called Figma. It's part of Figma as well as Fig Jam. So it's kind of two apps inside it. My students have used it and love it. Tom, You're using FigJam, so let's start at the beginning. What is a Figjam, and how would you use it in the classroom?

00;00;53;23 – 00;01;15;24
Tom Mullaney
Okay, thank you, Vicki. It's such a pleasure to be back when I've been here before. We've talked about Jamboard. When you think about Jamboard, I think of what-if questions. What if I could have hyperlinks? What if I could play a YouTube video in a Jamboard Jam? What if I could comment in a Google Jamboard Jam? FigJam is a web-based app from Figma.com that answers that question.

00;01;15;25 – 00;01;37;26
Tom Mullaney
It is a collaborative whiteboard that you would use any time you ever students whiteboarding or collaborative whiteboarding. And if they've used Jamboard, you know you want some more features and cool things. I like to say that Figjam is if we take the things that we love about Jamboard, Google Docs tablet, and even Prezi, we put those into a collaborative whiteboard.

00;01;38;05 – 00;01;38;27
Tom Mullaney
that's good.

How Do You Set Up an Education Account on Figma and Figjam?

00;01;38;28 – 00;01;56;28
Vicki Davis
You know, my students used FigJam to plan their app, which they then went and built the app in Figma. But when they spent some time talking to the folks at Adobe about what they liked, and they kept talking about Figjam. They have education accounts, right? So let's tell everybody how to get that, because if you go in there, you might go, Oh, well, I can't use this.

00;01;56;29 – 00;01;58;18
Vicki Davis
How do you set up that education account?

00;01;58;21 – 00;02;17;26
Tom Mullaney
So if you go to Figma dot com, I have a blog post 12 tips for getting started, and there you'll find two links; if you go to figma.com/education and it'll do the same thing. You get verified for a free education account. Do that when you're signed in to your education account. Figma has a sign-in with Google.

Rostering Figma and Figjam with Google Accounts

00;02;18;04 – 00;02;33;08
Tom Mullaney
They'll also be a link there. You might want to share this link with your district administrator because Figma has a partnership with Google. There's a link there where Figma will do your class rosters and create all that stuff in the background and do it for free.

00;02;33;12 – 00;02;41;19
Vicki Davis
I did not know that I had to do it manually and then get all my kids verified. So wow, that's great news. Thank you for telling me that.

00;02;42;00 – 00;02;59;00
Tom Mullaney
It's referred to as the Chromebook Beta, and actually on the website says Bring Figma to your Chromebooks. Now Figma is like that. You referenced Figma. It's like the Google Docs of design, or that's what it's been called. So it's, you know, prototyping. We could talk more about that. Figjam is the collaborative whiteboard piece and.

00;02;59;00 – 00;03;03;10
Vicki Davis
Easier to use, by the way, Much easier. Figma, definitely start with Figjam.

Figjam Has Amazing Collaborative Whiteboarding (with Revision History)

00;03;03;21 – 00;03;28;22
Tom Mullaney
So I will say that if your students, especially middle and high school, have done collaborative whiteboarding in a different app and are ready for the next challenge or to have way more features, that's when you go, and you get Figjam.

Start Beginners with Google JamBoard

I could see trying Figjam with elementary, but I want them to be very, very versed in collaborative whiteboarding first, and I would definitely start collaboratively posting with elementary in Jamboard.

00;03;28;22 – 00;03;45;07
Tom Mullaney
It's a little simpler. There are fewer features, and then I will work my way up to Figjam for sure. But the point I was trying to make is that with any web browser, this all works totally fine.

Figma and Figjam Work on Any Device

And so, any device you have, even though they call it the Chromebook beta, if your device has the World Wide Web on it, Figjam and Figma will work great.

The Important Features of Figjam

00;03;45;07 – 00;03;51;21
Vicki Davis
And so let's talk about some of the things that you can do. So kind of like a whiteboard, but it's so much more.

Built-in Timer with Song Suggestions

00;03;51;22 – 00;04;10;25
Tom Mullaney
It is so much more. It has a built-in timer with actual built-in song suggestions. So you can set a timer for a big collaboration, and everyone knows. All right, I have 3 minutes to get this done or to get my contribution in there.

Voting System

It has a voting mechanism so you can have kids vote on stuff, and then it will tally the votes for you.

Infinite Sized Canvas

00;04;11;10 – 00;04;26;02
Vicki Davis
I love it because it's like infinitely sized. So one group can go way over here, and one can right over there, and it's like kind of an infinite sizing. And my students did love the polling. Like that was how they came up with, okay, who will be in charge of this? And who's going to be in charge of that?

00;04;26;02 – 00;04;28;11
Vicki Davis
And they just threw those quick polls up, and it was awesome.

00;04;28;20 – 00;04;50;20
Tom Mullaney
The infinite canvas is very useful, and it's actually pretty easy to navigate. Even if you don't have a touch screen, it is still very easy to navigate. So Jamboard has the 20 frames. FigJam is an infinite canvas.

Cool Hack: Link Another Figjam in a Figjam

The one thing I would say is a little hack for that. If you want to build in other activities, hyperlink a Figjam in a Figjam and look at what happens.

Editor's Note: This just means that you make two Figjams and link from one to the other for simplicity so you can have different activities.

00;04;50;20 – 00;05;08;05
Tom Mullaney
It actually gives you a little preview of that Figjam. You can pop it out, but then you can see what it looks like afterward. So if you need to, okay, now we're going to do this activity, and now we're going to do that activity. If you want that, have that all in one, say Figjam, and then I paste to hyperlink in there, and you're good to go.

Protoyping Ideas

00;05;08;17 – 00;05;26;05
Vicki Davis
It's perfect for prototyping in terms of planning your idea, waiting before you prototype like you're coming up with your ideas, your planning, your project, your planning, and your presentation. What are some other things that you've told teachers are great for, for using this app?

Sticky Notes with Names of the Creator

00;05;26;19 – 00;05;43;29
Tom Mullaney
All right, so two things I said was it had some tablet features. To me, the big palette feature is when you put a sticky note in there; by default, it has your name on it. So, you know, you see who authored each sticky note. You can even do it in anonymous mode if you want, but you have that choice.

Plugins for Figma Add More Features

00;05;44;13 – 00;06;04;14
Tom Mullaney
It also has a plug-ins. So there's a button kind of in the middle of the toolbar for plug-ins, and there's an Unsplash plug-in. There's a Bitmoji plug-in; some are widgets, and some are plug-ins.

Use Flyover for Prezi-like Presentations

One is called Flyover, and flyover makes it like a Prezi. And so I've done this where I've actually, and I have a couple coming up where I'm saying, You know what?

00;06;04;14 – 00;06;11;09
Tom Mullaney
This might be my presentation tool, and I'll just keep going through Flyover, and it can go wherever I want in my Figjam, which is really nice.

00;06;12;09 – 00;06;25;12
Vicki Davis
So use it as presentations, use it for planning. You have ideas, you have sticky notes, you have conversations. I think you're getting ready to teach some teachers with it. How are you going to use it? You're going to use it as your presentation. How are you going to have them use it?

Using Figjam as an Essay Planner

00;06;25;24 – 00;06;45;08
Tom Mullaney
Okay, So a great place to share ideas or reflections. But here, we have an essay planner and all this cool stuff you can do. One of my ideas is putting our ideas on sticky notes, but then we can use the comment feature to comment and tag folks.

Tagging People to Promote Conversation

When you comment and tag a person, they get an email day two days after the fact.

00;06;45;08 – 00;06;54;12
Tom Mullaney
You see something you want to give a little feedback on at the person in the comment, and they get prompted to go back and revisit it. So really nice for sharing and collaborating.

00;06;54;12 – 00;07;07;26
Vicki Davis
We use a lot of what you see is a Trello-like kind of collaborative board is what it's called, where you have the Post-it notes, and you move stuff around. But really, you can use Figjam that way as sort of a Trello tasks task type board, in some ways.

Comparing Figjam and Trello

00;07;07;28 – 00;07;15;12
Tom Mullaney
I have used Trello a little while ago. I don't know if in Trello, can you, when you have one task, can you then just put one right next to it right below it?

00;07;15;12 – 00;07;33;14
Vicki Davis
So Trello, you have to have it in columns and you can still tag people and you can put dates and things, but to me, FigJam, you have more flexibility on where you can put those sticky notes because you could make groupings and a big square around them and say, okay, these are all on this topic and these are all on that topic.

00;07;33;14 – 00;07;36;19
Vicki Davis
So it's almost like a brainstorming board in some ways.

Working with Sticky Notes in Figjam

00;07;36;20 – 00;07;57;08
Tom Mullaney
Oh yeah. And I like that when you zoom in on a sticky note in Figjam; you get little plus buttons at the top, bottom, and sides. So you can start building sticky notes with just these; plus, they all stay together nicely and neatly. But if you have a bunch of sticky notes just kind of all slapped together, you can click and select all of them and then right-click.

00;07;57;08 – 00;08;16;24
Tom Mullaney
And there are a couple of great features. There's a tidy-up feature, so it just tidies everything up.

Locking Down Things You Don't Want People to Delete

But the other thing is whenever you collaborate with students or any group of people, there's always that person that, okay, I accidentally deleted this or I accidentally move this before you give it to kids, right-click on anything you don't want them to or touch.

00;08;17;06 – 00;08;33;12
Tom Mullaney
You can right-click and then lock. And then, if a student accidentally clicks on it, they can't do anything until they actually click the lock icon. They have to unlock it consciously. It is a nice way to protect your stuff and collaborate so that things don't get so messed up.

Why Should Teachers Use Figjam in the Classroom?

00;08;33;18 – 00;08;43;01
Vicki Davis
So you're getting ready to try some teachers on FigJam. What is going to be your elevator pitch for why they should consider using this in the classroom?

00;08;44;14 – 00;09;08;21
Tom Mullaney
I would say that one, we want students collaborating. Collaborative whiteboarding is a wonderful way to get started to practice digital citizenship and to do it where there's accountability in the sticky notes, where we can hyperlink out to other things, where we can put YouTube videos and watch them right there on the canvas and not have to worry about opening a new tab and getting lost.

00;09;08;23 – 00;09;26;07
Tom Mullaney
Even a widget where you can record your voice and then there's a play button. Every feature. If you can dream it, you can do it.

Let me just steal from Walt Disney. It's in Figjam. It's really hard to find things that I can't can't do in it. But we say student voice and we can actually have voting that voting two students get one vote.

00;09;26;07 – 00;09;30;19
Tom Mullaney
A person do they vote? It's a person. You have all those fantastic choices.

00;09;30;29 – 00;09;53;00
Vicki Davis
So the app is Figjam and Tom Mulaney. We will link to your 12 tips for getting started in the blog post. Show notes attached to this podcast. Figjam is awesome. It's a fantastic, really pretty new tool, but it's very, very powerful, and it just takes your collaboration to the next level, like you. Tom, I kind of agree.

00;09;53;00 – 00;10;02;15
Vicki Davis
You kind of start with your Google Docs, your Google Slides, things like that. But then, when you're ready to really put on the afterburners and do some incredible projects, there you go.

00;10;02;15 – 00;10;03;23
Tom Mullaney
There you go. Go right to figure.

00;10;03;23 – 00;10;07;03
Vicki Davis
That's right. So where can people follow your work?

00;10;07;03 – 00;10;23;09
Tom Mullaney
Tom, such a pleasure not only to be on your show but to share a tool that is so exciting in this day and age. It's like so great to get excited about something. You can go to my website. … (See bio for links.)

Check out Research Quest for Free NGSS Science Lessons for Middle School

00;10;23;26 – 00;11;05;12
Vicki Davis

Are you looking for engaging NGSS-aligned science lessons designed to improve critical thinking in your middle school students? Now is the time to sign up for Research Quest from the Natural History Museum of Utah. Designed by teachers for teachers, these online investigations are lead by museum scientists and use the museum’s incredible collections to create engaging learning experiences that are fun for your students and easy to implement! Check out Research Quest today at www.coolcatteacher.com/researchquest.

00;11;05;12 – 00;11;17;26
John Davis
You've been listening to the 10 Minute Teacher podcast. If you like this program you can find more at coolcatteacher.com. If you wish to see more content by Vicki Davis you can find her on Facebook and Twitter @coolcatteacher. Thank you for listening.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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1 comment

Xixi August 28, 2023 - 6:30 pm

This is incredibly helpful for me! I wasn’t aware of the existence of FigJam’s interactive whiteboard. I’ve been considering the potential of interactive whiteboards since using Google Jamboard, and FigJam seems like a fantastic solution. I’m excited to delve deeper into its plug-ins and add-ons!

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