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Online Learning Tools: Miro - A Quick Start Guide (Part I)

In this article an experienced teacher, Guy Jobling, takes us through the best way to get up to speed with a new and innovative learning platform, Miro.




Guy has been using skype for online teaching since 2018, so lockdown did not pose much of a problem. Instead it provided the opportunity to improve his online teaching through the use of alternative resources, namely Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Bitpaper and Miro.

He found there are pros and cons with all of the online platforms, but students often prefer to use the platform with which they are most familiar. Therefore he feels that teachers need to be knowledgeable regarding all these well-known programs in order to accommodate students’ or parents’ wishes.

Having undergone training on the ‘add on’ whiteboard solution Miro, used by many online professionals in different walks of life, Guy now likes to use this with students where possible. He has written the first of a two part blog on Miro, which he hopes will encourage and help people to use this cutting-edge technology, and then enjoy the advantages it provides over the other whiteboard options on offer. Over to you, Guy.



Miro is an online whiteboard which can be used in conjunction with Zoom, Skype etc. I’ve used it on my smartphone, tablet and laptops, and found it to be extremely interactive and versatile.

There are many more features than on any of the whiteboards currently available on Zoom, Google Teams or Skype, and both students and teachers are able to store, amend (with the teacher’s permission) and add to the content from the class.

Student & Teacher:


Firstly, a student and teacher will need to sign up for a (free) account, giving a username, email address and password. This should be done before the first lesson. Ignore all the setup options and when it asks ‘What do you want to do?’ click ‘start from scratch’ and then close the suggested templates and the ‘Hey, let’s explore Miro’, unless you have the time and desire to investigate further at this stage.

Student:


On your ‘home screen’, accessed by clicking ‘miro’ in big letters at the top left of the screen, you will see that your teacher’s whiteboard has appeared, and he or she will have named it appropriately. Just click on it, and you are viewing the interactive whiteboard. If you cannot see it, go to the black column on the left side of the screen, click the icon with your name and it will appear.

If you wish to experiment with Miro’s features before the lesson, click on ‘blank board’ and you can create your own board to try out (see below).

Teacher:


Before the class, a teacher should open Miro, and he or she will find the screen entitled ‘all boards’. Click on ‘blank board’. A user with a free account can create up to 3 blank boards. When the blank board has opened, you will want to name it appropriately. At the top left, you will see it is named ‘untitled’. Click on this and choose a name. Then click on the large blue button at the top right ‘share’, and invite your student(s) by email. You will be asked to ‘set the board’s start view for newly invited members’. Leave it as it is, and click ‘don’t show again’. If you do not want students to be able to edit the board, click on ‘share’ and then ‘manage access’, and you will be given this option (it is not the default). You may also wish to look through the settings available – I tick the option ‘enable collaborators’ cursors’, for example, which is really useful if you want to see where your student’s cursor is. The three vertical lines with small circles in them is the icon for this (top right hand side).

Student & Teacher:


When you have clicked on ‘blank board’, you will see a blank ‘whiteboard’ screen, and a small box in the bottom right corner. This is a map of the entire board, which, you will find out, can contain many things situated in different places. The active part of the board is enlarged and in the centre of the screen, but the whole layout can be seen in the small box at the bottom. The Miro whiteboard can be expanded and extended in many directions, so it’s a good idea to be organised when you start to fill it up!


Now you should start to try out the toolbar features on the left hand side. Hover your mouse over an icon and you will see what it does. Don’t be worried about experimenting, you can easily delete things, normally by clicking on the 3 dots at the top right of the shape or frame you have used.


I haven’t needed to use any of the suggested templates, denoted by the icon with two rectangles, but I’ve found the three dots at the bottom of the left hand toolbar useful. There is a button ‘google image search’, and, through simply typing what you are looking for and then selecting Google’s choice, the image will pop up onto the whiteboard. It can then be resized or moved around at will. This is really useful if you want to show or include a YouTube (for example) clip during your lesson, go to the three dots at the bottom of the right hand toolbar, and you will see ‘embed i-Frame code’. Just paste the YouTube web link into the box, and your YouTube clip will appear on the whiteboard. Note that it always appears in the centre, so it is worth positioning the other material on the whiteboard accordingly before you click ‘select’ and the clip is pasted. It can, however, be moved to any desired place on the board afterwards.


You can move around your whiteboard, which you will discover to be very large, by a left click with the mouse, and then moving the cursor. If you want the whiteboard to become smaller or larger, the scrolling wheel in the mouse sorts this out for you. When you start using Miro, this is useful to see what is where!




Student & Teacher - finishing the lesson and continuing next time:


At the end of the lesson, simply close the window. Your lesson will be saved and is retrievable at any stage. If the teacher (or student, if given permission) wants to amend the whiteboard after the lesson, he or she can do so, and the amended version will appear on both the teacher’s and student’s whiteboard next time it is opened. I found this really handy to ‘tidy up’ the whiteboard after the lesson, so it remains a useable resource, to which more information is added each lesson.

We hope you have found this quick-start guide useful. Guy is available for online and face-to-face (West/South-West London) for English (school entrance, GCSE etc)

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