There is something old school, yet appealing, with bulletin boards. Growing up, I remember looking forward to the beginning of the month since that was when the teachers would change their bulletin board content–new graphics, text, colors, and sometimes even new layouts. Some of the posters on the board might be funny, while other content might be a preview of what we’d focus on for that month. Ideally, the bulletin board would have “gold star” assignments posted for everyone to marvel at. I was always hopeful that mine would be up there, though I was more like a silver/bronze star student at the time, so my stuff was only posted if there was room or if it was parent/teacher conference week. Since I teach in a virtual environment and a college classroom on campus, I don’t get a bulletin board, which is probably fortunate since I’d obsess about what I would do with it each month. But, there are a few Internet options for creating a bulletin board sort of webpage, and Padlet is one of the more popular options. Padlet is an Internet tool that not only allows you to “post” text, graphics, and URLs, but also allows your users to add their own content. We used to get punished in school for “adding” to the bulletin board!
Goal: share text, graphics, and URLs in an engaging webpage (that would allow users to also post content, if I needed that feature)
- Each “post” allows for a heading, whether the body of the post is text or a graphic. This allows me to label my graphics so the audience recognizes their significance.
- There is a blog with insights and ideas.
- The Padlet board can be exported to a file (e.g., PDF, JPG), which kind of takes away the appeal of the board, but perhaps it might make it easier for grading or offline distribution.
- There is a Firefox add-on so that you can post Internet material to your Padlet boards as you explore the Internet.
- Supports “audience participation” since you can allow users to post their own content to the board. For example, you can allow for classroom introductions, where students can post a photo and/or text about themselves; or groups can brainstorm ideas and post research for group projects.
- The completely free-form, post-anywhere layout of a canvas makes me a little crazy, but some may like that chaos. Fortunately, I can choose a layout to be “stream” (one post under the next) or grid (lines them up in even rows). Even if you start with free form, you can change to stream or grid and the posts will be realigned accordingly.
- This is just a reality of this type of tool, but you have to monitor what is posted since anyone can post anything (depending on the privacy setting). So, if you have students who cannot be trusted to act responsibly when posting, then you’ll want to have the “monitor” feature checked to approve additions before everyone can see them.
- I can’t figure out how to change the font/style of the posts. I think it’s pretty much set for every type of Padlet to be the same. (There are some formatting options, but not as extensive as I’d like in the way of color or font style.)
Insider View: When designing, keep in mind that your audience may have a smaller monitor and need to scroll right/down to see all the content. I have a fairly large monitor with my PC, so my first Padlet had a long horizontal view. Audiences with a smaller monitor might not realize they need to scroll right to see everything I posted. If using the free form layout, it might be a better option to build a more vertical Padlet, which the audience might intuitively scroll down to see.
Final Thoughts: Padlet reminds me of other bookmarking options such as Pinterest, BagTheWeb, Evernote, and LiveBinder, but it has a few added features such as engaging design options and posting text/graphics (not just links). I haven’t yet relied on the greatest benefit of Padlet, which is the ability to allow students/users to post content themselves. In a “participatory culture,” this is a great asset if you’re willing to monitor the posts or trust the audience to act responsibly.
Samples: Right now, I have one sample. I’m still debating on how I can entice my students to participate in a second Padlet I’ve made since I won’t grade their participation.