Ed Tech #2: Padlet

What is it?

Padlet describes itself as somewhere between a doc and a website builder that can be used for things like a bulletin board, a blog, or a portfolio. It reminds me somewhat of a collaborative Pinterest board. It gives you a simple, intuitive platform to share content with others. The basic account is free, but you gain access to even more features if you are willing to pay for an account (such as the “Padlet Backpack” education account). It has iOS, Android, and Kindle apps.

Creating a Padlet

To create your padlet, you choose a title, theme, and layout. You can also choose your “reaction options.” People can like, vote up/down, give 1-5 stars, or grade (which assigns a numeric score to a post within a padlet).

Here’s what some of the layouts look like:

Screen shot of the 5 different Padlet layouts available

And here is a screenshot that lists the type of content you can add to your padlet:

List of options to add to Padlet, including links, video and photos, drawings, and more.

 

I particularly like padlet’s robust privacy options: you can make your padlet private, password protected, access with link/QR code only, or public. You have even more privacy/security features if you upgrade to padlet backpack. Padlet also has exporting options (CSV, PDF, image, Excel spreadsheet, etc.) that could come in handy.

Sample Padlets

I think one of the best ways to get a feel for all the different things you can do with padlet is to just click through their gallery. I also found this particular padlet useful- it’s a padlet that compiles various educational padlets. I also created a sample padlet, which I embedded below. You can also access my sample padlet through this link, or if you were to download the padlet app, you could scan a QR code that I provide. Check it out and feel free to try out the collaboration features! I used a variety of images, videos, links, and a few gifs so you can see how padlet displays the different types of content.

Made with Padlet

 

Limitations, Strengths, and Applications

I think Padlet has a variety of applications both in online and in-person classes. For instance, I could see it being used for individual or group presentations or projects. Groups could be assigned a topic, and then work to create a padlet that represents that topic. Students could then view and comment on each post within the padlet. You could also use padlet to organize a classroom survey or contest (kind of like I did with my sample padlet), create a flow chart with the “canvas” layout, or tell a story using the “stream” layout. I think padlet is the type of tool that would work well for open-ended assignments- I bet students could come up with some creative ways to use padlet that we wouldn’t even have considered. I also like that padlet makes it easy to share and link to other padlets, which encourages collaborative learning. Padlet addresses accessibility as padlets can be read with most screen readers. However, keyboard access is only available for logging in and navigating the dashboard (it’s not possible to create/edit posts with keyboard only). As for other limitations, a few times, my padlet wouldn’t load a gif or a particular image, which was a little annoying. I also wish more of the features were available in the free version.

I’m looking forward to hearing other ideas on how you think padlet could be incorporated in both in-person and online courses in the comments!

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Ed Tech #1: Quizlet

What is it?

Quizlet is a website that allows you to create “study sets,” and then gives you various options for practicing and mastering those study sets. Simply speaking, it’s an online flashcard creator (although you can do quite a bit more with it). Anyone can set up a free account, but you can get an annual membership for $19.99/year if you want more features.

How does it work?

Quizlet offers video tutorials, although it is intuitive enough that mastering the basics without viewing tutorials is definitely possible. I created a sample set, using cooking terms. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like when you enter terms:

Screen shot that shows Quizlet interface with terms on the left, and definitions/images of those terms on the right.
Creating sets in Quizlet

 

You can see that Quizlet lets you create a title, and change visibility settings. You can also import your list of terms from Word, Excel, Google Docs, and other sources. You can easily rearrange the terms, flip terms and definitions, use languages other than English (helpful for foreign language courses), or add pictures or audio to the definition column (you can see the small thumbnail of my images to the right). Quizlet made it particularly easy to add images to my set, since it will search CC-licensed images for you. As you can see at the top, Quizlet also has a “diagram” feature so that you can learn terms associated with a diagram. Another feature I like is that you can search for sets people have already created. No need to re-invent the wheel if Creative Commons resources are available!

Once I’ve created my set, Quizlet gives a number of ways to practice and master those terms:

Screen Shot of Quizlet study options

The “Learn” study option combines the flashcards, write (which is fill-in-the-blank), spell, and test (multiple choice) options. “Match” and “Gravity” are simple games that also help students practice the terms. They can be used collaboratively through Quizlet live or a Google classroom integration. Students compete with one another with a classroom leaderboard.

Check it Out

You can share your Quizlet set via Facebook, Twitter, email, or through a link. You can also embed your set directly within a website, as I’ve done here with my sample set (click “Choose a Study Mode” to see what some of the other study modes are like):

Limitations, Strengths, and Applications

Quizlet is designed to help students master and practice terms. As such, it will never move up past the “remember” and “understand” levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and it would not be my choice for helping students learn difficult content. But, what it does, it does well. I also like that this a tool students can easily use for their own studying; it doesn’t have to be teacher-directed or integrated into a course for students to take advantage of it.

If instructors do wish to use Quizlet in online learning, Quizlet can be integrated directly into Canvas (the LMS that my institution uses). Since the Quizlet app in Canvas doesn’t link up to a Quizlet login, you have to make your set publicly available and then search for that specific set. In Canvas forums, some instructors complained that they couldn’t find their sets because of this limitation. Consequently, if I had a faculty member who wanted to use Quizlet in their online course, I’d probably recommend bypassing the Canvas integration and just embedding their Quizlet set directly into a page in Canvas or sharing the link with students.

As for its practical use, obviously, instructors could simply create and offer Quizlet sets for students to use, ungraded, as they study for an exam or review content. Actually assigning assessment value for Quizlet activities could be more challenging. A few ideas: instructors could ask students to create and share their own sets, or take advantage of the classroom leaderboard feature.

Overall, I think this is a great tool for online instructors who want to give students a more interactive option for independent review of terms or diagrams. Too, Quizlet would be particularly useful in online learning modules that depend heavily on terms or vocabulary. For example, nursing faculty could use it for a medical terminology course or Spanish instructors could use it for vocab practice. Otherwise, its application is more limited to individual student study and review.

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