Padlet – digital walls for sharing, learning and teaching.
Several staff at the University of Sussex are using the free Padlet tool in their teaching. This post focuses on two examples. Padlet is an online board or ‘wall’ where multiple users can post text, documents, images, videos, music, and weblinks in one of several visually appealing formats. You can read more about Padlet and how to use it in this blog post by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher).
No specific hardware or software download is required. Padlet can be used in any web browser, with the iOS app or one of a range of apps and plug-ins.
Brief description of project scenarios:
Dr Lucy Robinson (History, University of Sussex) used Padlet as part of an innovation project, ‘DIY Digital: Doing Punk Online’. Students on the Special Subject module ‘Post-Punk Britain’ developed their own open educational resources on a topic related to the module. These were then shared with students on related courses at Sussex, nationally and internationally. Read more about Lucy’s project on her ‘Now That’s What I Call History’ blog.
Dr Rebecca Webb (Education, University of Sussex) used Padlet as a ‘Sharing Wall’ for postgraduate students of International Teacher Education. All the students were from Kazakhstan, ‘high achieving’ in maths and science subjects and fluent in both Russian and Kazakh but with limited academic and social English (especially at the start of the course). Padlet provided ways to actively engage them in teaching sessions in order to record interactions, thoughts, outcomes and to find ways to expand understandings of ‘learning’ to more informal contexts beyond the classroom too.
Skill sets required and developed by learner:
Padlet takes pretty much no training and helped students to develop their skills in online curation, collaboration and reflection.
Artefacts created as a result:
The versatility of Padlet is evidenced by the range of walls created by the students:
One group used colour coding and numbered titles on the different objects to guide the user through them in order. The second group provided a very simple guide based on one of our original sources. It told the users to pick one each from a variety of different types of object (podcasts, Powerpoints and media sources) to come up with their own individual combination. One of the groups also set up a Padlet as a public space where users could leave their feedback on the OER.
Kazakhstan Sharing Wall
With a little encouragement, students began to post their own materials: photos, video clips, short extracts of text, post-it notes; and messages which became arranged in chronological order. One student put together an animation towards the end of the first term by way of a review.
What did the technology enable that could not be accomplished without it? What were the outcomes and aims realised?
With the Sharing Wall students could see – at a glance – the way in which their cumulative experiences of ‘learning’ were expanding all the time. Rebecca also found the Padlet tool invaluable as a source of course evaluation: when she spoke to the students at different points on the course, she used the ‘Sharing Wall’ as an aide memoire. Rebecca felt that it seemed to ease discussion to have something – other than themselves – to direct their gaze towards and it gave space for greater reflection and thought.
For DIY Digital, Padlet was a great space to share and store possible links and resources. Its lack of imposed structure or order helped us find surprising and unexpected relationships between different sources, documents and digital objects.
Underpinning learning theory or pedagogy applied:
The key elements to punk pedagogy are: make it open, make it fast and Do It Yourself. Padlet was perfect for this.
For the Kazakh students it was about seeking high challenge, inclusive pedagogies to support and scaffold teaching and learning.
Main positives and negatives about the technology:
Because it is easy to use and allows have multiple posters and editors Padlet is a democratic platform which visually gives different types of links and sources the same significance or value.
After Padlet was used to collate the DIY Digital resources, staff and students spent some time deciding whether to continue with Padlet as a way of presenting the online seminar, (OER). But each challenge Padlet threw up brought its own intellectual pay-offs. The aim was to produce resources that didn’t close down the possibilities of being used in totally different ways by students from different institutions and resources. How then could we guide our users through our resources without imposing our conclusions on them? The unstructured form of Padlet helped us to communicate this tension. Different groups of students came up with different ways of guiding users through their OERs.
Dr Lucy Robinson, University of Sussex, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Rebecca Webb, University of Sussex, email@example.com
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