Merrily Mural.ly : Creating Online Collaborative Documents

Drum roll everyone, this is my last and final blog for my Computer Applications in ESL Teaching Class. As a final topic I chose Mural.ly. In essence, Mural.ly is a collaborative social network allowing many users to post things on a common online document. The idea is for a user to sign up to this site and then the user has two options : either work on the document alone or invite other people to join in so that they can work together. All of a sudden, all the people invited can freely work together on the same document.

Because of the freedom that it allows, Mural.ly reminds me of mindmaps. Mural.ly also allows you to create a path for your viewers, it that sense it reminds me a lot of a Prezi. In fact, this article describes Mural.ly as a cross-section between Prezi and a Mindmap. http://edudemic.com/2012/09/mural-ly-mind-mapping-tool-waiting/ how mural.ly works and most features. Described as a cross between prezi and a mindmap. This blog article also describes Mural.ly’s key features and aspects.

Though the comparison with Prezi is easy, it is not entirely accurate. I find (and the creator of Mural.ly, Mariano Suarez Battan, backs me up) that people use Prezi in order to add a narrative to the document. A user is interested in Prezi because he wants his viewers to follow a certain path. The Prezi user makes sure that the viewers see image a, then image b, then image c and finally image d. With Mural.ly, that is a secondary thought. The second main difference is that Mural.ly was created in order to gather information from the Internet such as maps, Pinterest content, Dropbox files, Wikipedia entries and more.

Mural.ly is very intuitive and easy to use. My classmate Marne and I made this Mural.ly document during our Wednesday evening class. This represents a half hour’s worth of work. I think it is important to point out, that though all the images, article and video that you see were found on the Internet (it was a simple drag and drop operation) Marne and I built our Mural.ly document without ever thinking about the narrative option.

As Marne and I were getting accustomed to Mural.ly, she realised one of the great applications of that software to an English as a second language class. You divide your class into teams, you give each team a current events topic they need to explore on the Internet and voilà. They are collaboratively building their own online document. I think it works better in small groups because even though the software allows for changes to happen simultaneously, if too many changes happen at once, the possibility of two (or more people) changing the same thing at the same time becomes greater. Which means that one user’s change might erase another user’s modification. Another possible application in class is for presentations : team members can choose a topic, build their Mural.ly together and then present it in front of the class. Had I known about Mural.ly, I would have used it for my WebQuest : it would have been perfect as my students’ information gathering and presentation tool. As one of the latest technological tools allowing for great creativity as you gather Webbased information, Mural.ly can also be used in a classroom context as a plan that the teacher will follow during his class. That is less interesting because it is not as interactive as it can be.

Mural.ly shows great promise and the best part of it is its collaborative aspect and the creative freedom that it offers. Any classroom activity using Mural.ly should focus on both. In this short blog, I did not begin to fathom all the possibilities that Mural.ly has to offer in an English as a Second Language class, but I will explore. Question is, did my blogpost made you want to explore as well?

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