New to blended learning? Start with Padlet!

At the halfway stage of the Blended Learning Essentials MOOC I am still feeling inspired and enjoying being an online student again.  The content already has provided me with various ideas that I can bring back to my day job as an educator in Higher Education and has reaffirmed my core beliefs about educational technology.

I felt particularly satisfied to see Padlet feature at the start of the course and again this week.  This is a tool that I have already experimented with and, having received positive feedback, I am optimistic for its future in blended and peer-assisted learning.  This view has been reinforced by the way participants have embraced it on this course and used it to share views, ideas and resources.

BLPadlet
Blended Learning Essentials Padlet

Padlet is an Internet-based application that can be used like a virtual pinboard, making it ideal for collaborating and sharing ideas and resources.  While there are numerous online tools that can be used for similar purposes, here are some of the reasons why I think that Padlet is ideal for anyone considering a tentative approach to blended learning.

1. Usability

Once you have created an account at padlet.com it only takes a few minutes to prepare your canvas.  Just click on the + sign to create a new Padlet and then select the Modify Padlet option to add a thumbnail, title and description.  You can easily change the wallpaper and choose between Freeform, Stream or Grid layouts and you’re good to go!

2. Simplicity

When adopting a new approach to any activity, keeping things simple is generally the best strategy.  Padlet’s uncomplicated design means it shouldn’t intimidate even the most staunch technophobe and everyone can participate, regardless of their level of digital literacy.  Users can simply double-click (or tap on a mobile device) to add a comment or hyperlink, or use the icons to upload a file or image.  Posts can quickly be rearranged by dragging them to a new position on a Freeform layout, making it easy to group or prioritise posts.

Padlet
Posting on a Padlet

3. Accessibility

Padlet can be accessed easily via a browser so you won’t need to download any software and it is perfect to use on mobile devices (there’s an a iPad app and they are planning to launch an Android version).  I also like how users don’t need to create an account or login to contribute to a Padlet, which may help reduce resistance from more timid learners.  You can edit the URL for your Padlet to make it easier to find or create a QR code to enable speedy access for mobile users.

4. Shareability

Padlet is an excellent collaboration tool as it is easily shared with others, who can contribute in real-time.  You can do this by email if you want to restrict access or you can share it publicly via social media or by embedding it in a website or blog.    Make your Padlet ‘view only’ if you don’t want others to edit it or you can invite contributions from everyone, with or without moderation.  Padlets can be exported as an image, PDF, Excel or CSV file or printed if a hard-copy is required.

The only downside to using Padlet as part of the Blended Learning Essentials MOOC is that it has almost been too successful!  With hundreds of posts, it would take too long to view them all and there is no way to ‘upvote’ posts like you can with other tools.  However, as most of us won’t be working with groups of 10,000 learners, don’t let that put you off!

Have you tried Padlet for blended learning?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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