This article contains sponsored content that helps keep The Educated By Design project running. Opinions and review are my own.
Any platform that empowers students to become authors and curators of content gets me excited. When Smore reached out to me to review their platform, I was excited to see two very powerful features.
So what is Smore?
Smore was is a platform designed for professionals, AND educators, to create beautiful high quality newsletters and more in a snap. What excites me the most about Smore, like many other platforms I feature and share is that it is also a professional platform. We do ourselves and our students an injustice by mastering and utilizing platforms that do not lead to professional real world use.
Smore makes it simple to communicate consistently with parents, faculty and community members. Smore allows you to send those newsletters anywhere and track them with detailed analytics and email reporting so that you can truly understand how your audience engages with your content. Smore provides the space to embed multimedia directly into the newsletters to make them even more dynamic. Smore works directly with educators to better understand how to bridge the gap between parent and teacher communication which in turn benefits the students. So what about Smore excites me the most? Let's dive in!
The second is the Classroom feature that allows teachers to create a classroom community where students can author content that can be easily accessed and organize.
Lee Araoz, who I follow on Twitter is a Smore master and a power user for over 5 years. Follow him and check out his content in the Smore Educator Hive!
So what are the top 3 reasons that have my interest peaked and my creative juices flowing?
1. It MUST be simple!
I have seen many platforms give students access to their own individual account to create and curate content, but not many that gives the teacher simple and clear access to students and their work.
As a student you receive a classroom group code to easily log in. For students in early elementary this is huge for workflow and productivity.
Next in the realm of simplicity, is how you can easily access student content. As you can see below, I have easy and quick access to individual student AND whole class content.
This might be the most important feature of ANY platform in education, and something I think is worth the premium level prices tag. If I cannot access student content or student's need to go through 3-5 steps to get it to me, then I am most likely not using it. When I worked in K-8, this would be a constant struggle. I had 3rd graders with no email addresses needing to download content to their device, upload it to google drive, and share it with their teacher making sure that either a single folder setting or individual files were shared properly. Unnecessary steps are one of the biggest reasons for technology not being adopted.
2. Students learn how to use a variety of content
Our students spend most of their days crafting text based content. When they do create multimedia presentations, their visuals are overshadowed by bullet point content that:
- Is boring and lacks engagement
- Is hard to read
- Results in no long term memory retention due to a cognitive conflict with verbally articulated information.
With the Smore platform, teachers and students can created incredible pieces of content that in addition to text, will let authors add audio, video, forms, embedded links, buttons, and more! This is important to note. In the age of social media and the internet, companies are valuing employees who have a creative lens in communicating information both internally and externally in a appealing and engaging visual manner. The ability to curate various types of content into a seamless multimedia experience is therefore desirable for us to imbue in our students. Just look at these established business and tech publications.
- Why Visual Communication Matters - Tech Smith
- Visual Communication Is Transforming Marketing -- Are You Up To Speed? - Forbes
- Why a Visual Is Worth A Thousand Words - Entrepreneur Magazine
Bottom Line? Teach your students to create a solid newsletter so they don't need to pay $400 for a course on how to do it when they're 25 and trying to start their own business.
3. Students can become facilitators of learning
How do you know how well you know something? One method (spoiler alert, its the most popular one!) is to engage in a curation of a series of questions to answer that will assess your knowledge on a given topic. Another method would be for someone to present their own curation of information to others, a method also known as a presentation. A third method would be when someone creates content that others learn from independently that can generate a dialogue around that information. Now this third method can be traditionally assessed, but the difference is that it puts the student in the position to explore, discover, and document their finds around a given topic with the goal to teach others something new. This is where Smore shines. To have students easily, quickly, and simply create an artifact of learning around a given topic to let others learn from is a huge asset in our students toolbox of skills and abilities.
The bottom line is that Smore is the perfect platform in a classroom if you:
- want to create engaging newsletters to share the learning in your classroom.
- want your students to create content on a platform that lets you easily access their work.
- want students to learn and develop strong visual communication skills (a life skill!).
At $80/per year this platform is affordable for most, and gives you a large set of features and tools to promote student content creation. The platform is simple to use and that is very important for adoption in education. Most importantly this isn't just another tool but a platform to create and curate many different types of content and easily share it with others.
Have you used Smore before? Let me know in the comments.