Technology Spotlight: Padlet

tl;dr - Padlet lets you curate and creatively present content for your online classroom

Padlet at a glance


The concept of a digital bulletin board is not new - if anything it has nearly become banal.  Pinterest seems to dominate the market on curating pinned items.  However, in my opinion Padlet is a much more flexible platform for academia and online learning.  It embeds very cleanly (Pinterest requires a great amount of workaround to embed into Canvas), there are many options for customizing your layout and presentation, and it works very well for collaborative projects.  

Padlet allows you to add files, images, links, videos, etc. to a board that you can share with your class.  You can determine if the board is public, private, password protected, etc.  You can add specific users to collaborate or let them add themselves, and you can choose various moderator and contributor roles and responsibilities.

How can I use Padlet in my class?

I have used Padlet a few times in my classes.  It is a great tool for students to curate their own content and organize their online resources.  I also have used it as a class introduction tool.  I gave my students instructions on how to create a Padlet account, upload materials, grab the embed code, and embed their padlets into discussion posts.  Students didn't just link to their padlets - they actually embedded them into the post.  This made the discussion interactive, engaging, personal, and incredibly fun. 

In a typical "Introduce Yourself" discussion, I might see one or two posts per students.  In a class of 15 students, if I see 50 posts then I am amazed at their level of engagement.  The first time I introduced Padlet as a platform for the discussion, the students absolutely loved it and the participation was off the chart.  I gathered 300+ responses that week just in the introduction discussion - a number I had never seen.  Here was my personal introduction board that I shared with the class:

Made with Padlet

I also created an assignment where students were to gather sources based on the chapters in the textbook we read that week.  Each student had a dedicated spot on the Padlet where they gathered and curated relevant YouTube videos, blog posts, news articles, prominent tweets, and of course scholarly journal articles.  By Friday that week we had a well-build Padlet board that we all contributed to (yes, I even gave myself a spot on the board where I did research alongside the students and helped contribute to the class project), and their assignment over the weekend was to write a reflection paper based on our class Padlet board.  

Here is what I like best about Padlet

Padlet is incredibly interactive and there are so many possibilities to create collaborative assignments for the students.  I even embedded Padlet right into Canvas, so the students didn't have to go out to another platform to interact with it.  If I made a change on the website then it automatically changed the Padlet in Canvas, and vice versa.  I can't overemphasize how easy it is to embed - it can embed anywhere in Canvas where you have an HTML editor: announcements, assignment pages, discussion boards, content pages, etc.  The Padlet interface is intuitive and robust and it is easy to give access to the students.  Padlet works on any browser and on mobile, and even has apps for smartphones and tablets so you can build on the fly!

Here is what I dislike about Padlet

This is one of the rare platforms where I actually don't have a lot to criticize.  It is a free tool, but there are premium options available to allow branding, analytics, and tech support.  My only complaint is that I wish the embed code was less intimidating, perhaps using an <iframe> instead of a convoluted <div>.  But it's easy to figure out (reach out to me if you need help embedding).  

My recommendations

There are many applications for Padlet.  In addition to my examples as a class introduction tool and group project platform, you can:

  • use Padlet to build a community where students can share thought-provoking and interesting resources with each other
  • establish a virtual community or commons areas
  • use it as a tool for a professor to share content with the students
  • create a platform for experienced students to mentor new student
  • create an "idea bin" that students can contribute to throughout the term
  • establish a board that students can refer to during academic break
  • create challenge assignments where students build their own boards and then have a show-and-tell where they all come together
  • assigns groups to cover different themes of a topic
  • use this platform for book reports
  • brainstorm topics - individually, as groups, or as a class
  • have students use the platform as a journal or notebook - collecting images, ideas, videos, blog posts, online resources, etc.

In short, Padlet is a fantastic platform for collaborating on projects, organizing and editing content, and sharing sources in a fun, interactive, and easy setting that integrates into Canvas.

Written by Dr. Sean Nufer, Director of Ed Tech for TCS Education System.