A look back at the academic year

Written by 
Emma Schnee
May 5, 2022
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A look back at the academic year
Written by 
Emma Schnee
May 5, 2022

As part of Mural Member Month, we reached out to educators and students at campuses across North America to understand how they incorporated visual collaboration into their teaching, learning, and campus experience over the past academic year. Flexibility has been key, with everyone’s experience varying across virtual, hybrid, and in-person instruction, often switching modalities along the way.

Here, we share our community members’ examples spanning hybrid & remote instruction, student organization coordination, and cross-campus connection.

Online synchronous learning in large STEM classes

Jasmine Parent, M.E.T., M.Sc. — Teaching and Learning Services

McGill University 

Modality for academic year 21/22: Some classes are remote while others are in person

Those teaching large classes have expressed frustration with managing activities that require small group discussions and problem-solving using breakout rooms. Because it’s difficult to visit every breakout room, it can be almost impossible to ensure that students are staying on task and being productive during these activities. MURAL has been effective at managing some of these challenges.

 Dr. Laura Pavelka, a first year Chemistry professor, began using MURAL in student-led tutorial classes where students spent time in breakout rooms solving assigned problem sets. The feedback from the instructor and the students has been extremely positive. 

“It was really fun to watch live, as the students were presenting solutions inside Zoom breakout rooms, because you can’t be everywhere at once. This was my backdoor into the tutorials.” — Dr. Laura Pavelka

Mural for breakout groups in a tutorial session. Each group worked their own solutions and had access to see everyone’s unique ways of finding the solution. 

Students have expressed their appreciation for the user-friendly nature of Mural, which allows them to map their work visually and reference their classmates’ solutions. One student contacted Dr. Pavelka and said, “I really enjoyed my experience using Mural, as I was provided with 8 to 10 different explanations for how to answer the same question. This level of support almost guarantees that every participant fully and completely understands every tutorial question and answer, as you appeal to every type of learner and fill in almost all gaps of knowledge.”

Mural's ability to support diverse teaching strategies in online, synchronous learning has been a game changer for both teachers and students. 

An extension of the physical classroom

Geoffry Gertz - Assistant Professor of Fashion Communication 

The New School 

Modality for academic year 21/22: Started remote & moved to in-person

One of the challenges in delivering classes remotely is creating a shared space for collaboration. Mural has become an integral part of my design course experience that immediately immerses the students in a virtual design space. Now that we have (thankfully) returned to in-person learning, Mural continues to be an extension of the studio. We use Mural for collaborative class reviews and students curate their own murals for extended projects. The students’ murals are a snapshot of research, process, and final outcomes creating visual connections. While students generally don’t have the dedicated physical space outside a classroom to pin up their process, Mural has become the main repository. 

“Students have often remarked that leveraging Mural allows them to be inspired by each other in and out of the classroom with everyone’s murals in one space.” — Geoffry Gertz

Inspiring work by student Bonan Li 

Vision board by student Ivan Diogrik to be shared with peers for feedback

Student organizations & clubs 

Lauren Carter - Student and sorority chapter president

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Modality for academic year 21/22: Majority in-person learning with initial 2 weeks remote

My sorority on campus at UIUC started using Mural this past semester as a means of communication and information organization. We broke our Mural workspace into different rooms, such as committees, executive team, and networking. Before having a Mural workspace, we were using multiple platforms and were completely unorganized. With 100+ girls in our sorority, meeting in person with everyone is not always possible. Now, we have one place where all the girls in my sorority can see event dates, get contact information, post questions/suggestions, and access links to different surveys, documents, and photo sharing apps. It has also been a super interactive way to take notes during executive board meetings and be able to refer back to them. All feedback I’ve gotten from our girls has been super positive.

A lot of members found that Mural allowed them to “have a voice to share their ideas” with the sorority and that it “made it a lot easier to connect with girls in similar classes.” We are so glad to have come across Mural!

I would recommend that other Greek life organizations use Mural as a means for creating event calendars, having a platform for people to post feedback, comments, or ideas, and to connect with members in the same classes. Mural has worked better for us than basic group chat/social media platforms because it’s easily customizable and nothing we add to our murals gets lost in a stream of messages like in other communication platforms.

Cross-campus connection

Ellie Rill - Student & Club Leader Surfrider FSU

Florida State University 

Modality for academic year 21/22: Majority in-person learning

My student organization, Surfrider FSU, implemented MURAL heavily into our club this past year.  We also used Mural to meet remotely with other Surfrider Chapters throughout Florida. We created a “Master Mural,” which acted as a central hub for our members and contained all the important information, dates, and helpful links related to our organization. This was really useful, as we were able to bring all of our meeting presentations, Google Docs/Forms, and social media accounts into one readily available location.

This allowed us to collaborate with the University of Tampa Surfrider Chapter to brainstorm ways to increase outreach and implement Water Quality Testing in our areas, enabling over 40+ collaborators to share their ideas and provide input.

Mural used for alignment and prioritization of initiatives across club chapter locations

I noticed more people felt comfortable sharing their ideas and putting plans to actions when we had a visual collaboration space where members could freely contribute. 

“Mural gives us a space for members to leave comments/input regarding ideas for the club or any thoughts they may have! Some people aren’t necessarily comfortable speaking out in crowds and providing this space allows for their input to still be heard!” — Club Member, Surfrider FSU

End of year tips from Mural's Education Team

Congratulations on completing another academic year! We have been amazed by the creativity and hard work that this community has put into collaborative teaching and learning in these times. Here are some quick tips to help you close out your term and plan for the next in a way that will make workspace management easy and allow you to teach and learn with confidence, whether in person, hybrid, or remote. 

  1. If students have been collaborating in a professor's workspace, they should export their murals and create their own free workspace to continue their personal collaboration after the end of the class.
  2. Diving into planning? We suggest the following templates to make your course evaluation & planning with colleagues easy: 

About the authors

About the authors

Emma Schnee

Emma Schnee

Integrated Marketing Manager
Emma is a a marketing manager at MURAL where she champions the stories of educators, students, and nonprofits to highlight the creative and impactful ways they incorporate visual collaboration into their work. She is passionate about the intersection of social impact, business, and design.