Are you looking for a useful tool to facilitate collaborative work for your students? For the past year, I have been exploring the use of Padlet, a free online application that serves as a ‘multi-media friendly, free-form, real-time wiki’ (according to Padlet.com). This easy to use tool allows you to easily provide content for your students online and customize it in many creative ways.
In a nutshell, Padlet works like a digital bulletin board or canvas. Once you have created your free account at https//:padlet.com, you can create individual ‘walls’ or padlets on which you can place content. An unlimited number of users can contribute to a padlet at the same time, making collaborative work very easy. By double-clicking anywhere on the screen, you can insert text, video, documents, images, or other padlets. Your padlet with all of its content can then be shared with your students via email, link, or on social media.
Features that I like best about this tool:
• User-friendly – I am not really a ‘high tech’ person but I was able to start using it almost immediately.
• No account necessary to collaborate – Your students don’t need to create accounts to collaborate on padlets you have created. They can jump right in.
• Unlimited users and content – This makes it an ideal tool for student collaboration.
• Easily customized – Post can appear in free-form, stream or grid modes.
• Easy to access – Padlets can be viewed and used on any device with internet access – computer, phone, laptop, tablet, iPad.
• Content added and auto-saved in real time – You never need to reload the page.
• Adaptable privacy settings – you can control and decide who can write, edit or change your padlets. Padlets can be public or private. You have the option to moderate the posts that your students add before they are visible to all users.
• Auto-save and content archiving – Within your Padlet account, everything you post on any of your padlets is saved and archived within your account, which makes it easy to find and re-use useful resources.
• Fun!! – My students enjoy writing on screen in pairs or groups using this app
• Free!! – As with many other apps like this, Padlet.com also offers various levels of paid upgrades that come with extra bells and whistles. I haven’t needed more than the free version so far.
How I’ve used this tool with my students:
Most often, I’ve used padlets to provide my students with a collection of activities and resources to use outside of class. One example is to complete homework for their grammar class by adding example sentences to a shared class padlet using the target language from the day’s lesson. Later in class, we take up the homework as a whole-class error correction. You can also choose to be notified by email whenever someone posts on your padlet.
Padlet is great for several students to work together on group projects as it can act as a shared repository for work in progress and a presentation tool once the work is completed.
My students also access my padlets during self-access lab hours. I fill those padlets up with a variety of learning materials including photos, YouTube videos, quizzes, worksheets and step-by-step instructions.
If I am in a classroom that is equipped with computers, I often ask students to use a padlet to collaborate on written work, which I display on a large screen at the front of the room. Phones and tablets can also be used provided they have internet access.
This post describes the most basic elements of Padlet (the ones I use regularly). As with any application, it has some refinements and features that are best learned by going in and playing with it. I hope you find this to be a fun and useful tool.
Below is a link to some YouTube videos to help get you started on using Padlet:
If you have used Padlet in a creative way and would like to share your ideas, please post in the comments below. Thanks!