There is little doubt that technology has exponentially increased our ability to share information and collaborate with a global audience. One of the challenges for teachers, however, often lies in finding tools that make this process authentic, user-friendly, and efficient while providing an “environment” that offers the security needed to ensure the privacy and safety of students. One tool I’ve found with the capacity to address many of the aforementioned criteria is Padlet, a free, web-based board where teachers and students can easily communicate, collaborate, express ideas, and share information.
In simplest terms, Padlet is a digital wall where users can post content of their choice, including text, images, documents, and videos. Users can even add their own digital drawings. The use of Padlet is fairly intuitive (see Padlet tutorial video or Padlet Junction) and the interface is very user-friendly. Sharing content is easy as walls can be imbedded into websites, distributed using a link, or posted on multiple social media outlets. One of the unique capabilities of Padlet is that it can be utilized on a variety of devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. As a result, students can create a wall on a computer at school and can even update content on the wall on the way to soccer practice using a web-enabled phone. Google Chrome users can also access an extension called Padlet Mini. This extension allows users to share content directly with an existing wall or add it to a new one created from the browser without direct use of Padlet. Finally, a Padlet wall can be exported and saved in multiple file formats, including .pdf, Excel, and image (e.g. .jpg), meaning if internet access is not available, there are additional options for users to examine content.
The opportunity for collaboration is enhanced by the fact that there is no limit to the number of people that can simultaneously edit a wall and changes are visible instantly. To ensure privacy, teachers have several options in the settings associated with a wall as well as the ability to provide oversight after content has been published. For example, the visibility of the wall can be customized to the extent that the wall is hidden from Google searches. Access can also be set to various levels, from public to password protected. Finally, comments on walls can be filtered as the administrator of the wall has ability to moderate posts.
Padlet has a variety of uses in the classroom for both teachers and students. Teachers could create a wall with information or resources for parents and students to view at home. Within instruction, a wall could be used as a point of origin to direct students to examine specific resources around a particular topic, including files, links, and multimedia. There are several examples of teachers using Padlet to collect responses and information from students. For students, Padlet walls could be used to showcase digital work, as a digital notebook, as a collaborative space to brainstorm about a topic, or to share resources with each other on a topic. Further promoting collaboration among students, Padlet walls could be used as “location” for students to engage in group discussions as well as for sharing reflections about learning.
Padlet is certainly a tool with a variety of potential uses for both teachers and students. I would encourage you to access the Padlet gallery to see the many examples of how others have utilized it. Afterwards, I am sure you’ll be inspired to try Padlet in your own classroom!
S. Michael Putman, PhD, is an associate professor and interim chair within the Reading and Elementary Education Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His areas of research include the impact of teacher preparation and professional development on teacher self-efficacy, including efficacy for classroom management; middle school student dispositions toward online inquiry; and the effective use of technology within teaching practices and for improvement of student outcomes.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).