Review of MightyBell
I encourage Notre Dame faculty to think of Sakai, our course management system, as the glue that holds together the tools and resources they choose to use in a course. Online discussion is one activity where many instructors consider tools outside of Sakai, hoping for better functionality and visual appeal. The other day a professor asked me to recommend a tool to use for an online book discussion project she is planning for a spring course. After looking around and talking with colleagues, I found a new service that looks like it might fit the bill – MightBell. Founder Gina Bianchini describes it as “a visual chat room with more collaboration features.” The former CEO of Ning, Bianchini says MightyBell’s mission is “to bring people together in small, intimate communities around their interests, passions and goals.”
MightyBell helps you go deeper into the things you love with friends, old and new. Say goodbye to boring group and project management software and hello to a new kind of small community.
You’re right if you have the impression that MightyBell is not aimed primarily at education. It’s a social space where groups of people can plan an activity, talk about a movie, or just chat.
I set up my own book discussion space to test out MightyBell. I was able to quickly and easily add a video, image, link, document, event, question and post. There’s a bookmarklet for adding content to a MightyBell space from a browser. I don’t use Pinterest but MightBell is often compared to it, with the added advantage of being able to create private spaces.
Launched in late 2011, MightyBell was re-launched with a very different focus a year later. Anything written about MightyBell before mid-2012 is talking about a product that has been rebranded as Steps. The product is still evolving; I hope they add a voting/polling option. The layout needs to be more flexible; each item appears as a square with a fixed size, shape, and location. The squares are also large enough that you have to start scrolling after you have 6-8 of them.
In terms of mobile access, with Safari on an iPad I could create items and view the canvas, but I wasn’t able to view items without opening them in a new tab. It’s not optimized for smartphones and there are no standalone apps.
In spite of its limitations, MightyBell could be used very nicely by educators. I am partial to tools that provide an open slate and are open to a wide variety of applications. This is one of them.
- Mightybell FAQ
- Gina Bianchini’s Mightybell Evolves Into A Collaborative Online Space For Creative Projects (TechCrunch)
- Mightybell Is Just Another Social Network Inspired By AOL Chat Rooms. Wait, What? (Fast Company)
- Mightybell Review & Rating (PCMag.com)
Tip o’ the hat to Tawnya Means.