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If you are a teacher and haven’t heard of Padlet, you’re probably not alone, but you’ll be kicking yourself that you haven’t already started using it to revolutionize the way you plan your lessons and have students collaborate and plan their presentations and projects. It’s really just that amazing.
Padlet is an online resource, free to anyone, that allows you to create “walls” where you can gather content. You can customize the background of the walls you create and onto which you drag and drop (or upload) files, images, and multimedia content so that, at a glance, you can see everything that you have collected. Each item can be annotated or labeled for easy reference and, when you want to scroll through, you can easily view each item up close. Each wall has privacy settings that can be customized, some of your walls can be public and searchable via Google, while others are eiher shared only via email or accessible by a password you designate. Each padlet wall can be customized with an easy-to-remember URL (if available). The options are nearly limitless, both in terms of the content that you can use and the ways that you can incorporate this easy-to-use tool in the classroom.
Obviously, Padlet has very real implications for the way teachers plan. For many teachers, it can be laborious to try to gather information for a unit or a project in one place, especially as they try to incorporate multimedia elements. Pinterest is fantastic for what it does, but it doesn’t work easily when you have websites, YouTube videos, audio clips, images, and Word documents or PDFs. Padlet does — so instead of having to move from program to program, you can gather them together in one place.
From there, you can create a wall that you use in lectures or in presentations, something that can be projected easily and contains everything you need. Click on the YouTube video, and it will become larger than a thumbnail, in fact, it will play right there, having been automatically embedded into the wall. You can share your walls on a classroom blog after the lecture or presentation is over, on Facebook, or on various other social media platforms. The possibilities are really endless. The same is true for the ways that you can use this remarkable tool for students. Posterboard is a thing of the past for 21st century students, but PowerPoint presentations can be boring and restrictive, both for the students who feel constrained to read the text on each slide and the audience members forced to listen. Teach students about the merits of talking points and visual aids by using Padlet, they can drag and drop the visuals that support their points but won’t have the same sort of textual crutch that other presentation formats have.
But more exciting is the way that Padlet allows for real-time collaboration. Multiple users can tack things onto the wall or add to an ongoing text document, and every user who is logged on can see it in real time. No need for screen refreshes, it’s all there. Virtual classrooms can truly benefit from this collaborative tool. Group projects can take on a multimedia life of their own, and the ease of use will help students focus more on the content and the creativity behind the project rather than the clunky slides or presentation software. (And grading is a breeze as well, simply scroll through the items on each wall as a refresher and you’re good to go.)
Padlet is a fun, easy-to-use tool that should be a part of every teacher’s toolkit. It makes so many things easier, and offers an interactive element that few other apps do. You’ll be building wall after wall before you know it and hardly remembering a world before Padlet became your go-to tool.