Paddling with Padlet

I completed a course over the summer by Colin Gray on podcasting. As well as tackling the technical techniques (don’t you just love alliteration) it had a module on thinking about marketing strategies and your audience. The tagline for my blog has always been teaching, tech and twaddle, and I think this represents how my mind works when thinking about topics to waffle about. This week I want to return to teaching and how I use the application Padlet.



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Last week, I was concerned about publishing my waffle about technology and anti-bullying but it seemed to get a good response which I was pleased about. This week, in the style of ‘Monty Python’ it is time for something completely different! Last week I delivered a staff development session on Padlet. I wanted to focus more on how I actually used the application, rather than the technical side of things. The session appeared to go well so I thought I would share the rough content this week in a waffle.

  • Positive Post-itsPadlet advertises itself as ‘…possibly the easiest way to create and collaborate in the world’. You have probably used post-its a lot within sessions to collect the opinions and comments from individuals or groups. Padlet is the virtual version of this allowing learners to engage in what I call the ‘post-it process’ virtually and electronically. One of the points that we discussed within the session was when to actually use Padlet. Technology, like any other teaching technique, needs to be used when appropriate and also, in my opinion, sparingly. Although I really like Padlet, I actually only use it when it is the best option for the learning task. I wouldn’t use it in each and every session, but I would use it in situations when I would usually use post-its to collect information. I would recommend allowing the learners to first explore Padlet before actually engaging with the learning activity. I’ve learnt this from experience since the first time I used it, learners started to engage with Padlet as I explained how to use it and, on the Smartboard behind me, messages such as ‘hello Ian’ and ‘Give us a wave Ian’ appeared.

  • Virtual Engagement – Although using post-its to collect comments can be very effective, Padlet has the advantage that it is virtual and so learners can engage with it when completing asynchronous learning tasks, as well as within the sessions. Because of this, I often use Padlet to collect thoughts and opinions from SOL (Supported Open Learning – homework) tasks. Although the comments are usually anonymous when posted, it is possible to ask the learners to add their names within the titles so, as a tutor, I can see who has actually engaged within the activity. The team based learning approach, asks the learners to answer multiple choice questions after they have read the ‘pre-lesson material’. Padlet I think has an advantage here, since you can ask more open questions which allow the learners to express a greater depth of learning and understanding, rather than just a closed question response.

  • Activities I have used it for- I couldn’t think of a catchy title for the last bullet point, so I thought I would just use my usual subtlety and just say what I was thinking. In order to give you some ideas to get going, I think it is always beneficial to hear how other people have used an application within their sessions. So here goes!

    What_do_you_think_

  • Responses to asynchronous learning – As mentioned above I have used Padlet as a way of gathering responses both prior to the sessions and within the sessions. While using Padlet within sessions, it is often beneficial to ‘blank’ the board if the projector is on, since the post-its do appear in real time. After the responses have been collected, Padlet also allows the learners to engage with other people’s responses rather than going around the tables asking for feedback. I have asked for responses from articles, quotes and even videos. Always remember to focus the learning before hand, asking for a specific response – e.g. What were three key points from this video for you.

  • What do you want to learn in this module? – This question I pose at the start of the module – about two weeks into it actually. I keep this Padlet live throughout the module and add my own comments to the post-its as the module progresses. Although Padlet isn’t the best application for dealing with comments, it does work and is possible.

  • Communual Constructivism – Learning from previous learners is something which I value and keeping padlets going from year to year is very interesting, especially if you are looking at what participants have learnt within sessions/modules. As well as this, I have used Padlet at the start of the year to ask the second and third years to provide advice for the first years. You, as the administrator, do have the permission to delete and/or moderate what is posted – although for me, I encouraged the first year’s to engage critically with what the previous learners had posted. This could be seen as their first steps into their reflective and critical academic programme.

  • I didn’t want this waffle to be a technical explanation of how to use Padlet. I wanted to focus on how and what it can be used for, so that these initial ideas can be replicated into other people’s teaching – whether this be in higher education or in primary schools. If you have used Padlet before or would like some more information then I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas. Please add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.

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    Have fun and I’ll catch you later