Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Tool of the month: online brainstorm wall Padlet

Often when I blog about tools I put a new tool in the spotlight. However, online learning can be rendered more effective by smart use of 'old' tools. That's why this time the tool of the month is good old Padlet. You probably already know Padlet. Padlet is an online brainstorm wall on which you can stick post-its online. I've been using Padlet for quite a few years, from the time it was still called Wallwisher. In fact, I have a privileged position at Padlet. As an early user I am allowed to use the number of Padlets I created in the beginning (20+), while you can now only create three for free. The great thing about Padlet is that your participants don't have to create an account to brainstorm. I am also a big fan of the export function. You get a nice PDF that is also easy to read. Have a look at ehis result from a brainstorm about online humor.

You can use Padlet in many different ways. Below are a number of smart ways in which you can use our tool of the month. If you have one of your own, it would be nice if you add it in the comments to this blog post.

The basics of Padlet

If you are not familiar with Padlet, this video by Richard Byrne is a good way to familiarize yourself with Padlet.

You can find more instruction videos on Richard's website

You can use Padlet for all the same ways you would use post-its and a flipchart in a room. You can ask your participants a question and have them stick post-its on a wall or flip. You can do this in exactly the same way online. The twist online is that you can choose whether you want people to brainstorm together in a live online session, or invite people in advance to brainstorm on their own. Sending out a Padlet before the session is best when collecting questions or ideas. In the session you can then discuss or cluster on this. When you first want to explain something, and work on it later, it works to work on a Padlet during an online session.

On to more creative uses of Padlet!

The three step brainstorm

With a three-step brainstorm you build your storm in three steps. Brainstorm first, then ask people to read and like, and then discuss the ratings. Padlet can be set in such a way that participants can also give comments and likes to contributions (go to settings -comments and reactions). An example: I invited participants to post a good blend of online and face-to-face activities. Then I asked participants to read the contributions and give likes. During the discussion I zoomed in on the highest ranked contributions asked for reasons. Together you can thus make a list of the working elements of a good blend. Another example of a three-step brainstorm is to invite participants to post difficult situations, then make suggestions to each other via the comments and finally discuss a number of cases. 

The world map 

When you create a Padlet you choose a template. One of the template is 'map'. You can use the world map in Padlet to let participants introduce themselves by putting themselves on the map. This gives a nice overview of the group. You can also ask everyone to add specific information, such as their areas of expertise. You can also zoom in on one particular country - see the Netherlands in the image. You can also use the map in Padlet to present information linked to a geographical location. Suppose you want to offer information about climate change, you can add info and link that to the specific location.

Breakout groups

You can also use Padlet well as support for group work in breakouts. In Zoom it is always a struggle to clearly communicate the assignment to the groups, the groups can't take the slide to the chat. Sometimes I say 'just take a picture yourself'. One solution is to create a Padlet with columns (this template is called 'Shelf'. You can use a column for the assignment itself and give each group a column, where they take notes. This is a nice way for you as a facilitator to monitor the progress in the groups. If you see one group's column is still empty you may visit that group. 

The mini-course

Microlearning is hot. You can use Padlet as the basis for a short course, for example a ten-day course on 'staying fit in times of corona'. You can use a column per day with a short assignment. You can add a video, podcast or article. Another way is to link multiple Padlets. Start a 'Mother Padlet' and link to the other Padlets. Here you will find an explanation how to link them. Or make an escape room as a mini course. 

Padlet in your own platform 

There are several platforms where participants cannot interact easily. Or the comments are quite hidden  (like in Moodle). You can often 'embed' = insert other content in your platform, like a video. If you can embed a video, you can also embed a Padlet. For the users the experience is seamless, it is as if they are responding in the platform. 

Video and audio Padlets

A nice feature of Padlet is the option to record a short video via your webcam. Hence, you can use Padlet in the same way as the Flipgrid app. For example, ask the participants to record a pitch of no more than 1 or 2 minutes and ask the other participants to give feedback via the comments. During a series of digital working visits, we keep each other informed via short video messages. During a project, the presentations were shared via a Padlet and we gave feedback via the audio. That makes it more personal.

Ideas added by readers:
  • Use Padlet for evaluation: ask people to write down their ideas in different columns. One column per participant or per evaluation topic. 
  • You can add your own image as background. You may use for instance a graph and ask people to add ideas concerning the elements of the graph. You need to use the canvas template for this, otherwise the posts can not be placed on an exact place on the wall.