Active Learning on Zoom: Padlet

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Promoting active participation in class is beneficial for students because they are incorporated into the activities and are contributors to their learning process. Essentially, students obtain and retain more knowledge by doing. It can be challenging to find ways to keep students engaged in these ways when teaching online. Padlet is an innovative tool that can help enhance participation, as students are invited to contribute to virtual conversations using text, images, audio or video files and more. Let’s see how Nasreen has created this learning experience in a Trades and Apprenticeship class

What did the faculty (Nasreen) do effectively here?

These are practices that worked well for Nasreen. She:  

  • had the Padlet activity prepared in advance and easily shared the link during class.
  • had pre-developed higher-order questions that invited students to apply knowledge learned in a creative way.
  • incorporated visuals; invited students to respond to the questions with photos (from their own surroundings or found online).
  • personalized some of the responses. Many faculty strategically disclose aspects of their own lives so that students get to know them and their interests better. This can often help students feel they are more approachable. In this case, Nasreen shared simple details (that she doesn’t use electric toothbrushes, but her young daughter likes them) with the class.
  • built on examples students shared.
  • asked students if they had questions after she explained the task at hand, but before they began to work on their own.
  • specified how much time students had (5 mins) to complete the task.
  • scaffolded learning by using student photos as starting points to further clarify the difference between AC and DC currents.
  • playfully corrected examples that didn’t align with instructions (without singling out students who made the error).
  • offered to post the Padlet to the course shell so students could have access to these examples after class.

What could go wrong and how could faculty manage such occurrences?

  • Padlet has many formats, uses, and variations. Faculty members who are not yet comfortable with the tool may be overwhelmed by its potential functions. Teaching and Learning offers regular workshops for Conestoga faculty about Padlet, so folks can always sign up to learn more or book an appointment for one-on-one support with one of our team members.
  • Padlet is not yet as commonly used as other teaching and learning tools such as Menti-Meter so faculty should be prepared to clearly explain to students how to log in and contribute and to walk them through step-by-step how to contribute the first few times.


Other Variations to Consider

  • Padlet’s default option is for students to respond anonymously. This has many benefits as faculty can use Padlet activities as informal diagnostic, formative, or post assessments without students feeling pressure to get the answer “right”–fearing their professor may note their response. Typically, allowing students to post anonymously increases participation. That said, some students, knowing their posts are anonymous, may feel inclined to post humorous or inappropriate things in the padlet instead of focusing on the task at hand. While Padlet offers a variety of settings to help moderate content automatically or manually that can help filter out some inappropriate content, its use should always be complemented by a classroom culture of mutual support and respect, and clear prior expectations of what constitutes appropriate submissions.  
  • Padlet is very dynamic. Students can post text and images, but also audio and video files, and even drawings.
  • Faculty members can customize their own backgrounds for the padlets they create to enhance visual engagement or link what is being shared to the topic at hand.
  • Faculty also have the option to allow students to “comment” on what their peers are offering–this can help build a sense of community–especially if teaching online where students have limited opportunities to converse with each other.
  • Teaching and Learning also has a more comprehensive description of what Padlet offers, including instructions about how to create your own padlets.

As always, please feel free to contact if you have additional questions

Lauren Spring

Lauren Spring, PhD, has been a post-secondary educator since 2012. Before joining Conestoga as a Teaching and Learning Consultant, Lauren taught at Wilfrid Laurier, Brock, Ryerson, York, and the University of Toronto where she also completed her PhD in Adult Education and Community Development. She has also led workshops for students and faculty at colleges and universities across the country. Lauren holds an MA in International Development and has expertise in critical disability and mad studies, trauma work, research-based theatre, role-play simulations, and feminist and arts-based approaches to adult education and community engagement. Lauren has also worked as an educator at the Art Gallery of Ontario since 2008 where she designs and delivers art tours and workshops for elementary and high school students and diverse groups of adult learners.

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