Lindsay Warwick
CELTA trainer, materials writer and teacher... read more

An excellent collaboration tool for teachers and learners.

Who it’s for:
All ages (young learners with parental consent)
Free (limited), Backpack: plans start at $12 USD/month
Website iOS Android Chrome, Safari and Firefox extensions

Padlet is an extremely easy-to-use tool that allows learners to collaborate online by posting text, images, links, documents, videos and voice recordings.

User experience.

Users can access Padlet via a website or app. Setting up a board requires registration but it’s easy to do. You only get three Padlets (think noticeboards) for free but you can recycle them, or upgrade for more. Setting up a Padlet takes just one click of a button – it’s that simple! You then share the link with learners who add posts by simply tapping or double clicking, either in class or at home. It’s extremely easy to use. Modifying your Padlet takes a bit longer but if you follow each step, it’s not hard to do.

Language level and skills.

Padlet is a tool that teachers can exploit with any level of learner. As learners add their own posts, what skill they develop depends on what task given is to them. Learners can develop writing skills (e.g. write a short description of a person you admire) or speaking skills (record yourself telling an anecdote). They can also brainstorm vocabulary related to a topic to activate existing knowledge before a reading or listening text. As learners all type their ideas at the same time, it’s an inclusive and efficient way of collecting ideas.

Language learning content.

Padlet doesn’t provide any content for teachers or learners. Instead, it provides the opportunity for teachers to share content in the form of links e.g. to videos or online articles to watch/read. It also allows learners to share learner-generated content in the form of text posts, audio recordings, video or documents. It’s great for project work, as learners can go away and research something then report back on a Padlet. It should be noted that the free version allows video files of just 25mb so this is a feature that only really works if you upgrade.  

Tracking learning.

Padlet doesn’t track learning itself but it does allow teachers to monitor the understanding or use of English of all learners in the class. Let’s imagine that learners all have to share as many words as possible that they remember from the previous lesson in two minutes. The teacher can assess how well each learner remembers the words. If learners record audio or write a short text, the teacher can assess their use of English and provide feedback. Padlet is also great for peer feedback, as learners can read or listen to each other and provide feedback in the comments.

Social interaction.

Padlet allows for synchronous or asynchronous collaboration. Learners can share ideas, materials, audio and video.  They can then comment on these. The comments option does need to be turned on though, as it’s off by default. When creating a Padlet, you have different formats to choose from. The Backchannel option provides a forum style format where learners can discuss a topic as they might on social media. Teachers could create a Padlet in this format for each group of learners in a class and ask them to discuss a topic and come to an agreement for homework.

Learning through language.

One problem some learners have is with coming up with ideas of what to say in English, for example in discussions, debates or essays. Learners can use Padlet to share ideas before they do any of these things. It pushes them to come up with one idea, but they can learn from others’ ideas too which may prompt even further ideas. Teachers can then encourage learners to think more critically about these ideas e.g. rank them in order of validity. This preparation could be done in class as part of a lesson or for homework in preparation for a classroom activity.

Supporting teaching and learning.

Padlet is a platform which gives learners a wider audience for the work they produce i.e. their classmates, and parents or guardians. They can receive feedback on their work, as well as look back at previous work to identify progress. For the teacher, Padlet helps them to better assess the learning of everyone in the class, something that can be tricky even with medium-sized classes. The teacher can then use what they see to assess learning and inform the rest of the lesson and future lessons.  

Technical: user safety and data security.

Teachers have to register but it means they can delete Padlets, and edit and delete posts. There are different privacy settings too. There are some very helpful video tutorials and a knowledge base section where you can find answers to questions. The free version of Padlet has adverts but only on the page of the person who sets up the Padlet e.g. the teacher. Padlet says they collect data and share them with third parties but only to enable them to run their service. You can find out more in their About section under Privacy Policy.

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