Author: Amy Parkes – Lecturer Practitioner in Physiotherapy, University of Central Lancashire
Since stepping through UCLan’s doors just over 2 years ago, I like to think I have been somewhat akin to a sponge, absorbing ideas from everyone I meet and catching on the coat tails of other’s innovation and good practice (please don’t judge – hopefully one day I will be that person people look up to for inspiration!). Although not a technophobe as such, I was most definitely naïve to the concept of technology-enhanced learning and had just really started to dip my toe in the water with some of the skills when COVID hit and as for many of us, this has been a real catalyst for change.
Padlet was initially introduced to me through an IPE project called “Frailty Friday” which involved the collaboration across 7 different programmes and the development of a multidisciplinary teaching event on a large scale to over 350 students on one day. This of course, took careful planning and skill to deliver, and technology-enhanced learning was at the core of the project. Padlet was used as the platform to plan the workload, store documents to support collaboration between the staff and then as the vehicle for the students to record their discussions and present their plan of action. I learnt quickly about the capabilities of padlet with the support of some key players… and it got me thinking as to how I could use this platform within my own programme and modules to enhance the virtual teaching experience.
As with all new technologies, you need to invest some time and get familiar with it, tackling those common questions;
“how do I share this properly?”
“ do I like the background?”
“ which font looks best?” etc ….
But after only few minutes you are soon able to develop the necessary skills to allow you to get going and with unlimited access through your UCLan account, the world suddenly becomes your oyster. Padlet has a really informal approach, with an almost comical approach at times with the suggested backgrounds and titles, which is refreshing and fun to work with. It has definitely provided me with a more than acceptable replacement for my old faithfuls – the whiteboard and flip chart paper.
I now use Padlet in a variety of ways;
- Presenting information and pre-reading in a fun and attractive format.
- Exploring opinions of individuals and groups with regards to module content.
- Specific learning etc either prospectively, retrospectively or “live” within sessions.
- Encouraging group work through collaborative assignment preparation.
- Collaborative space to share and store resources/research that students have sourced to support each other in their learning.
Of course, we need to ensure learners have the skills and abilities to engage with the technology otherwise our efforts are wasted. However, having now trialled this across multiple different cohorts including undergraduate, pre-registration and post graduate learners I can confidently say that Padlet is accessible to all.
Padlet has rapidly become my new “best friend”, my trusty sidekick who has never let me down, a friend who tolerates my at times slightly crazy creative ideas and a reliable companion has the ability to support me as I endeavour to be an effective facilitator of learning from my spare room/office! It is proof that we can still stimulate discussion, record the ideas generated in class discussions and best of all, create a permanent resource for more meaningful learning despite our current challenges. Gone are the days when all that creativity, exploration and discussion is simply wiped off the board or put in the recycling bin. We now have permanent resources that our learners can reflect on, add to and use (I hope) again in future. For me, even when we are back face:face teaching, Padlet will continue to feature heavily in my sessions.
Overall impressions – ridiculously easy to use, hugely versatile, creative and fun ….and most importantly it won’t take you hours to master or put into practice – win, win!