Padlet (www.padlet.com) is without doubt one of my favourite Web 2.0 applications and one that I make a lot of use of. Simply put, Padlet is an online noticeboard or ‘sticky notes’ facility that lets you post text, weblinks, files and multimedia resources to a dedicated online ‘wall’ (the facility was formerly called ‘Wall Wisher’). Walls can be made ‘on the fly’ without any login (but you do not have editorial control of the wall if you do this) or else you can create a Padlet account (for free) or use your Google or Facebook login to have full control over your walls. Your students can use the facility without any login, which is always a huge plus when using online facilities in the classroom or for homework.
Padlet can be used for a wide variety of educational activities, such as brainstorming and collating ideas and suggestions from a group, checking understanding of a particular topic (particularly good for AFL activities, such as ‘exit ticket’s), curating weblinks and online resources for a particular topic, and storyboarding a project. It can be used to post content (text, weblinks, videos, etc.) for students in terms of ‘flipping the classroom’, to share sample answers and comments from students with the rest of the group, for managing and organising groups activities, and much more. It can also just be used as a straightforward noticeboard for the class. You can view some more ideas for Padlet in this presentation: 32 Interesting Ways to Use Padlet in the Classroom
Padlet works in real-time and collaboratively, so you can view the notes being submitted by others as they are posted (without any need to refresh the page). It works perfectly from any web-enabled device, including smartphones and tablets. Notes can be posted in two layouts: freeform, which is most like a noticeboard and allows anyone to post a note anywhere on the wall, and stream, which will automatically position the notes into a vertical row in the order that they have been posted (regardless of where the user places the note on the wall).
The privacy and visibility options are excellent. You can add people manually be email address (so that only you and people you add by email can access the wall), password protect the wall (so that visitors will be required to enter a password you supply to access the wall), use a hidden link (which you can send to people you want to be able to access the wall, but not have the wall indexed by Google – you can also customise this link) or have the wall completely public (indexed by Google and can be featured on the Padlet homepage). You can also set these options so that people who access the wall can only view it, can write on it or can moderate posts to the wall. You can turn on a ‘moderate posts’ setting (so that posts won’t be publicly accessible unless approved by you or another moderator) and choose to have daily notifications by email to inform you of updates.
You can also customise the background of your wall using a number of existing wallpapers or you can upload your own, and you can likewise choose a custom icon for the wall from an existing library or upload your own.
The sharing and export options are also superb. You can quickly share the wall via the usual social media facilities (such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr), embed it in your blog or website using the supplied embed code (with a special code for WordPress to make sure it embeds properly in hosted WordPress blogs), access it via a pre-supplied QR code, and subscribe to updates via RSS and email. You can also export to image, PDF, Excel and CSV format, as well as printing directly.
Padlet is a particularly easy-to-use facility with huge potential and is well worth exploring. Just head to www.padlet.com and click the button in the middle of the screen to give it a go (you don’t even need to create a user account to try it out).