Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Triptico: a "must have" app for teachers?

Interactive whiteboards (or IWBs, for short) have been introduced into a number of classroom environments now. Other classrooms may not yet feature this sort of hardware, but nevertheless do have a PC and projector available for teachers to use.

Either way, teachers may sense this provides an opportunity to engage learners more deeply. However, without adequate teacher training there is a danger that lessons may become more, and not less, teacher-centred, as critics are prone to pointing out. Meanwhile, plenty of teachers are only too aware that they need advice on how to get the most out of the technology.

Fortunately, there are some extremely easy-to-use resources available free of charge online which have the potential to foster the sort of interactivity, creativity and learner engagement language committed teachers want to see in their classrooms. So today I'll be reviewing a particular favourite: Triptico, which can be downloaded for free (in its basic form; additional features can be purchased with individual or school subscriptions from http://www.triptico.co.uk/download).

If you're new to Triptico, the following short YouTube video is an excellent introduction:

Getting going with Triptico is relatively easy: you simply require Adobe Air and an Internet connection (for the initial download). You can store the application on a computer, pen drive or on the cloud using applications such as Dropbox.

Triptico advertises itself as "a simple desktop app, packed full of innovative resources to enable you quickly to create engaging interactive learning". These resources include 12 apps which are free, and classified/colour-coded into four groups: tools, timers, selectors and quizzes.

A detailed list of apps can be found on the Triptico website at http://www.triptico.co.uk. However, based on the evidence of last week's seminar, the following features were especially popular with the teachers taking the ICT & Multimedia option at Warwick University this year!

1) Word Magnets - a really flexible resource, offering teachers a huge range of options. You can choose from a wide range of possible backgrounds, then either upload or key in text, colour it, move it around the whiteboard/screen or even delete it. Teachers can use this particular app to highlight language or get students to practise error correction in a myriad of ways.

If you'd like to know more, Russell Stannard provides a nice demonstration:

2) Order Sorter - this allows users to order words or sentences by dragging and dropping, and can support the development of productive skills (both writing and speaking).

3) Student Group - this quickly (and randomly) assigns students to colour-coded groups, in really rather a playful way.

4) Flip Selector - this creates swipe cards, which can be set flipping randomly until one is chosen (the settings allow you to decide whether duplicates are possible). This can be used to nominate students for tasks, or to pose questions randomly from a selection.

There's a lot more to Triptico, of course, but these features on their own are pretty good!

Relevance and rationale
Triptico is interactive, as well as visual. These affordances ought to benefit visual and kinesthetic learners. It may also promote collaborative group work by making learning playful and fun, for younger learners especially.

Propensity to foster language learning
Triptico is colourful and engaging in a relaxed, "game show" kind of way. It can liven up "standard" classroom procedures like getting students to work in groups, or nominating students to speak. Features such as the Word Magnets app are also very good, as they give students a good reason to engage with and interact with content. The timers can also add a competitive dimension to activities, although of course Triptico doesn't have a monopoly on this type of feature online!

David Riley, Triptico's inventor keeps a blog on his website, where he announces new product features and also posts videos demonstrating the tool and making suggestions for classroom use. He elicits feedback from teachers (via a contact form or Twitter) and appears to respond to it, too!

So it's likely the product will improve further in future in response to feedback from teachers - surely a good thing.

Triptico may not yet work on iPad. However, I am led to understand that David Riley has promised to repackage the resources for tablet devices if his new commercial venture ("Triptico Plus") is successful.

From a pedagogical perspective, the only serious drawback I can see isn't really specific to the tool so much as the medium. Large classes can't all interact with objects on a screen at once, although teachers can still get the class to give instructions to a student "robot" in such situations. Beyond a certain point, the pedagogical affordances may be subject to diminishing returns as the class size grows.

Overall, though, I am convinced Triptico is something of a hit and well worth using in small or medium-sized classes. I'd love to demonstrate it to teachers back home in Hungary given the chance! What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this review Philip - I really hope that the resources will prove to be helpful to you.

    If you ever have any questions or if there is ever anything that I can do to help then please get in touch.

    I am currently working on a new and improved design for the website - and am also reworking (and hopefully improving) the existing resources.

    For example, my work so far with a new version of 'Word Magnets':


    Thank you again for taking the time to write about Triptico,