Author’s Note: I have been compensated by Figma to write this post but it reflects my actual views about FigJam.
At The Anywhere School event in June 2022, Google for Education announced a partnership with Figma. This partnership includes making Figma’s tools, Figma (described as “Google Docs for Design”), and FigJam, a collaborative whiteboard app, free for all education users.
As someone who loves collaborative whiteboarding and all it does to empower student creativity and collaboration, I was stunned when I dove into FigJam. This app is a must-have for any collaborative group, especially in middle and high school classrooms.
Give FigJam a try with your students if you are a middle or high school teacher who:
- Has used collaborative whiteboard apps but wants advanced features such as templates, moveable ink, comments, hyperlinks, YouTube videos, and embedding in websites as well as “If you can dream it, you can do it” features such as audio recording and virtual high fives.
- Wants a collaborative whiteboard app that supports whole-group collaboration with large groups of students. I have witnessed FigJam hold up with hundreds of simultaneous collaborators. FigJam won’t skip a beat with your class of 32 students simultaneously editing.
- Needs a collaborative whiteboard app that is simple to use, but with exciting features that engage students while adding fun to academic collaborations.
Here are 12 tips for successfully getting started with FigJam in the classroom.
Tip 1: Get Verified for a free EDU Account NOW.
Go to Figma’s Education page to get verified to unlock professional features and create teams for each class you teach. Alternatively, you can ask your district IT to enroll in Figma’s Chromebook/Workspace Beta to have class rostering completed for you.
Tip 2: Create FigJams in Projects.
Each team has projects which are similar to Google Drive folders. Create projects for each instructional unit. Create new FigJams in projects to stay organized.
Tip 3: Keep an Untouched Original Copy of Your FigJam.
Once students edit FigJams, they will get messy. Always make copies for student use and keep an untouched original. Duplicate a FigJam by right-clicking it in a project and selecting “Duplicate” or by clicking its title in the FigJam editor and selecting “Duplicate.”
Tip 4: The First FigJam Task is Independent.
Introduce FigJam to students with an independent task. Let students get familiar with the many FigJam features before they collaborate. One ready-to-go independent activity for students is FigJam’s Essay Planner template.
Tip 5: Use a Force Copy Link to Create a FigJam for Individual Students in Your LMS
FigJams have a Force Copy link, just like Google Drive files do. Use the Share button to set a FigJam to “Anyone with the link can view.” Delete everything from the “?” at the end of the FigJam URL. Replace it with “/duplicate” to generate a force copy link. Drop the link in your LMS. Students can then attach their FigJam to the assignment.
Tip 6: Be Explicit About CTRL + Z.
One of the best features of digital tools is perfect erasure. In the case of FigJam, press CTRL + Z to undo the last action. When students collaborate, they often need to fix mistakes. When demoing FigJam features, purposefully make mistakes and address them with CTRL + Z so students know what to do when they inevitably happen.
Tip 7: The First Student Collaboration is in Pairs.
The next step is collaboration in pairs. Give pairs a task in a FigJam. Starting collaboration in pairs sets students up for success in larger collaborations. Create a list of paired students with an A Partner and a B Partner. The A Partner can create and use the Share button to invite the B Parter as an editor. Later, have the pairs do a second task where the B Partner starts the process.
Tip 8: Let Figma Do the Work for You: Templates.
The essay planning template mentioned earlier is just one of many ready-to-go FigJam templates teachers can use with students. Figma prompts adding templates when users first create FigJams. You can also use the button on the right of the toolbar to add templates while editing an existing FigJam.
Go to the Figma Community or Figma Education Community to browse templates. Some of my favorite templates for education include:
- Pros and Cons
- Venn Diagram
- K-W-L Chart
- Process map
- Mood board
- Infographic example
- Photosynthesis map
- Jeopardy template
- Story map
- Vision Board
- SMART goals
- Research plan
- Research paper outline
- Periodic table
Tip 9: Whole Class Collaboration.
Use the Share button to set a FigJam to “anyone with the link can edit” or open the FigJam to editing for 24 hours with “Open Sessions”.
Either way, drop the link in your LMS for whole class collaboration. Students can use sticky notes to share ideas or answer each other’s questions in a backchannel, sort themselves into preferences using Stamps (such as a 4-corners activity), vote on different options, and much more.
Tip 10: Focus Energy and Attention With the Timer.
FigJam has a built-in timer in the upper right corner of the editor. Use this to give students a set amount of time to add their contribution to a FigJam.
Tip 11: Give Your Students Feedback.
Use comments, cursor chat, and audio conversation features to give students lasting or instantaneous real-time feedback.
Tip 12: Have Fun!
FigJam has so much potential to engage students because of its many fun features. Take advantage of features such as Bitmoji and GIPHY widgets, the PhotoBooth widget, and Stickers to make FigJams a fun creative experience for students.
For more help getting started with FigJam, please watch this YouTube playlist.
What do you think? What activities will you create for students using FigJam? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.
Does your school need remote professional development to make the most of FigJam? Peruse my professional development offerings and connect with me on Twitter.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.