We are lucky that we live in an age where numerous resources are readily available at our fingertips. The downfall is the lack of time we have to implement and fully discover their possible advantages and disadvantages.
Recently, I experimented with adding the app Padlet to my classroom.
Creating an ‘online resource box’ for students
Initially, I created a Padlet page as an “online resource box” for students to access when they are researching in class or at home. I felt this was necessary as a majority of the students I work with are English language learners, so they and their parents often request additional resources to better understand concepts taught in class.
Since the students I am currently working with are focused on preparing themselves for an exhibition, my way of using Padlet is influenced by the flipped classroom approach. The “exhibition” is a term commonly used in international education and is a required part of Primary Years Programme (PYP) schools. This looks very different at every school and is student-driven. Each student demonstrates the skills they’ve learned within the PYP curriculum in their own way.
On my Padlet page, I added key vocabulary words that could be further investigated at home for deeper comprehension of content. Students are also provided useful links that I have used myself to further assist them with constructing meaning on their selected topics for the exhibition. Additional notes or guides for review are also shared on this page. When students are physically in the classroom with my co-teachers and me, they are able to ask additional questions for clarification on the material shared and can reference back to the Padlet page at any time. Oftentimes, I encourage students to check the Padlet page at home for updates to help them along with their projects.
Fostering student collaboration and ownership
Besides using Padlet as as an “online resource box,” I urge students to create their own pages. Since this educational tool has a layout that is easy to learn and build upon, students can quickly make their own Padlet to collaborate with others on a project or to share their knowledge with the rest of the online world. However, if an administrator of a Padlet page, student or teacher, would prefer for this to be private, that is also an option.
Padlet is an organizational tool that is downloadable as a free application from both the Android and iOS marketplace; you can also add it as a plug-in on WordPress and as a Safari extension. A premium membership purchase would allow for benefits such as larger file updates, additional support, Google application integration, analytics, and more. Overall, it can be used by both students and teachers to create, share, and build knowledge together. If you are interested in learning more, check out the website at padlet.com.
Adding an extra layer with QR codes
It should be noted that a resource such as Padlet can only be as advantageous so long as it is shared wisely.
In my experience, based on my geographical location of China, I find quick response codes (or QR codes) to be well-known. QR codes are used on a daily basis here. Generally, QR codes allow for a source such as a website link to be opened practically instantaneously after it is scanned. In China, they are used to pay for bills, share contact cards, compare prices, and more. Their use within the classroom setting is just starting to make an appearance, but it seems to be gaining momentum!
Since QR codes are so popular in China as well as in today’s classrooms, I rely on websites such as qrstuff.com to create a free QR code that is ready to scan within minutes. In terms of sharing my Padlet page, I copy the link to my Padlet page and paste it as the website address I would like to share with the audience that scans the QR code. I then download the code and print it onto posters to be displayed around the classroom. Students can scan these codes with ease and access to the Padlet page for additional guidance in class.
It would be wise to teach students the skills required to create a Padlet and to make their own QR codes. Since Padlet is an organizational tool, a student can continue to use it for educational purposes, but also grow to incorporate its usage for business and for personal benefit as well.
Once students create their first Padlet and QR code, educators can encourage students to think of creative uses for these tools in their future. Teaching our students skills such as these will help our students become self-sufficient in and out of the school setting and ready for what the 21st-century holds in store for them.