As the Fall Quarter began, I found that Week One was getting everything set up, and Week Two was fixing everything that was broken! Both of these necessary tasks will certainly continue indefinitely, but I’ve been working on adding collaboration and new ideas to my workload as I get deeper into some of the most compelling work I do here at Kalamazoo College.
During casual conversations with faculty, I’ve had a strong positive response to a particular tool I’ve been talking about. Have you seen Padlet? If you’re familiar with Google Docs, Slack, Dropbox, etc., this is another tool in that family tree of applications. These applications serve as centralized, online locations for people to post information and work together in a commonly shared space. What I like about Padlet, and maybe its point of emphasis, is its loose, multimedia, visual orientation. The goal of Padlet is to let multiple users post text, audio, files, videos, etc., in a common digital whiteboard space relying on nothing more complicated than a web browser. It’s very user-friendly and efficient in what it can do.
Here is a 2-minute tutorial from their YouTube page.
Another advantage is that students/users don’t have register an account or download any special software. You only have to provide them with the web address to use the Padlet whiteboard. The set up is virtually nil. I showed this to one instructor and she was using it the next day in class. The Padlet creator has lots of flexibility with access, from requiring a password just to view the page to expanding its availability to anyone. You can set posts up to be moderated as well, then resize and move content to add organization and emphasis. There is an App that makes interaction with the page easier, but it isn’t essential. Nor is the $$ version; the freebie appears to work rather well.
What are the drawbacks? The visual display itself is unrefined. If you want an easy, dynamic collaborative workspace, Padlet works great. If you want a professional looking screen organization to share as a finished “product,” that’s not a strong suit.
To me, an ideal application would be individuals or groups working on a project who want to share comments, files, readings, and media. If everyone is watching a common display and working in real-time, the instructor can act as a moderator, board admin, and highlight salient content posted to the Padlet. I envision a busy, conversation-filled classroom problem solving and engaging in multiple streams of communication. The Padlet whiteboard is both an organizer of that dialogue and a tool to prompt thoughts in different directions. In another scenario, students could use Padlet as an asynchronous work space to document material relevant to class or make decisions about class activities and projects.
Alexandra Briggs has some ideas on using Padlet in Higher Education which I am linking in part because it is itself a Padlet.
Of course, if you’re interested in using Padlet at K, I’d be happy to collaborate with you and help you get oriented to the tech. There are already instructors who have tried it here so you’re far from alone!