Monday, February 2, 2015

SMART amp In The Classroom

I recently had a trial for SMART' amp. Here are some thoughts on how it went with my students over the course of a few months.

What is it?

Here is a short video that explains amp.

Amp is a cloud based collaboration tool that works with Google Drive. At first, I was not sure how amp was going to fit into my ecosystem of technology, but it turned out to be a crucial tool for many of my students. 

How I Used amp

After getting all of my students signed up and joined into my class, I created Workspaces. Each Workspace is blank slate where I can place anything I want.

Students were taken to a Workspace that I had shared with them. This workspace was already set up with a Notebook file I had created and wanted all of the students to see.

The students had access to the the entire notebook file in the cloud. Students can look ahead if they wanted or I can control the page from my device. The best part is that students can leave comments or answer questions right on the document. I will show that in a moment. One of the issues with Notebook that some parents and students have said is that putting the software on their computer was not easy for them. With amp, that is no longer a problem. Since this is cloud based, all students have access to the same file without having to download anything. They can access it from their desktop, laptop, or their mobile devices.

What Can It Do?

Amp can do many things. Here are some of the ones that stood out to me over the past few months.

Add Web Based Content

Being able to add web content is huge. It's a web based and cloud based tool, so it might seem like common sense, but there are plenty of collaborative tools out there that do not all embedding of web based content. With this feature, I was able to embed a video and have students watch it at their own pace and leave comments on the document or the messaging system. I could respond to students and others could collaborate based on the video they watched. By allowing students to move at their own speed, there was less pressure for students to pretend they understood just to keep up with the class. Collaborating together over one video in a shares space became much easier with amp.


This might not be a major feature for some, but for others this could be a big plus for amp. Instead of thinking of assessments as a big standardized exam, think of it as a simple way to check for understanding. Assessment questions can be created and used an exit ticket for students. The information is only shared to the teacher who will receive instant feedback. Practice exams could be created on workspaces and shared with students to use at home to prepare them for class. It is important for teachers to know where students are and this is a great tool to do that.


Messaging is a great way to have a backchannel while using amp in the classroom. Questions can be asked and answered by other students while the larger class discussion is going on. Teachers can have students watch a video on amp and then post questions in the messaging area that can be addressed the next day in class. It would be a wonderful tool for flipping the classroom. It is important that students feel like they can reach out when they are stuck and the messaging feature is very helpful in keeping that communication open. 


I've got this image off because it has all of my students' names and I did not want to share that. Since amp is connected to Google Drive, all of my students' information is dropped into amp and they are ready to go. When I am ready to share a workpsace with my students, it is dropped into a folder that is already shared with them so they can find it and use it when they come to class or get home. I also love the Hand Out Copies feature as well. It allows me to send a copy of everything we have done on the workspace to any or all of the students. Just like Google Drive, sharing is important for amp as it makes collaboration much easier than ever before. 


You can zoom in and out as much as you need for amp and that is a nice way to organize information on the workspace. Things can be zoomed in our out depending on the lesson created by the teacher on the workspace. Other students could work on different parts of the workspace at different times and this feature allows the users to freely move around the workspace to see the different things people are working on and who is working on it. 

Here is a screen shot of an uploaded Notebook file and a template for note-taking. With multiple students able to access the page, note-taking can be a collaborative effort. 

Other Cool Features

Follow Me

Follow me allows the teacher to take control of the workspace and all of the screens viewing the space. This is great for my guided lessons. 

Pass Control

This allows the teacher to pass control to a specific student who can now control the workspace. This control can be given to one or multiple students. Small groups could be created and each group could have a turn addressing different questions on the workspace and then the teacher can pass control to the next group when they are ready. 

Device Neutral

I love that amp is device neutral. I have used it on a PC, Mac Desktop, Macbook, iPad 2, iPad mini, and a Chromebook with a single problem. I know that students have used it on their android devices without issues as well. 

Overall Impression:

I loved using SMART amp in my classroom with my students. It is a cloud based tool that allows for more collaboration. This is something that I am always striving to bring to my students. There is a bit of learning curve on figuring out how best to use it in the classroom though. I think that is true for any tool and I know that I need to spend more time with amp to get the most out of it. Again, that has been true for any great tool I use in my classroom. 

SMART amp is a subscription based service and it does offer free 90 Day Trials that are worth exploring if you want to create a large collaborative environment for your students that uses Google Drive. I highly recommend trying amp out and seeing where it fits into your classroom model. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please post your thoughts here. Thanks!