February 6, 2022: Content Creation and Ed. Tech Tools… An Exploration

The list of tools shared was extensive! It was difficult to choose just one… So I chose two. I decided on Padlet, as I am always looking for new ways to encourage reflection and brainstorming with my students. Secondly, I chose Google Jamboard. I have used Google Jamboard before, but only the sticky notes feature. During remote learning, I could not figure out how to make templates or make my Jamboards uneditable to students. It was such an overwhelming situation and I didn’t have the luxury of time to really explore the tool. Recently, I’ve started following Alice Keeler on Twitter and learned that Jamboard has many capabilities and presents a variety of ways it can be used in the classroom. I wanted to take some time and explore the tool a little more to “amp up” my game. Keep reading to find out more details on my tool exploration…

Padlet: Tool Overview

Ahhh, Common Sense Media does it again with a thorough and comprehensive review of Padlet. According to this source, Padlet is a website and app that allows students to curate ideas on virtual sharing boards called Padlets. There is a free option and three paid options. I opted for the Basic Plan, however, it may be worth investing in one of the paid options depending on the amount the tool is used and what features are considered “must haves.” According to Common Sense Media, teachers can share boards and students may create their own. Students may also add as many items as they would like to a board. It is important to note that this tool is not just handy for brainstorming, but also useful for sharing images, GIFs, documents, links, etc. Padlet can be shared through QR codes or with a link.

Format Options

I decided to create a board myself. I was expecting more of a hassle, but all I needed to do was enter my email and create a password. Before I knew it, I was on my way! The Home page on the user account is intuitive and user-friendly. There is an option to join a Padlet. In order to do this, you simply enter the link. In order to create a Padlet, click the Make a Padlet button. There are a variety of formats to choose from, which I think is quite helpful. Teachers have the ability to choose a format that suits the purpose of their lesson. For example, if you’re creating a mind map or timeline, you can choose those options. Although I didn’t use the Shelf option for my own Padlet, I like that you can create categories within your Padlet to offer a more organized view. Padlets can also be modified to fit your ideal aesthetic. Lastly, there are posting controls that teachers can put in place to filter posts.

Posting Controls

Padlet: Strengths & Weaknesses

Privacy Options

Strengths: Overall, I enjoyed this tool! I found it easy to create Padlets and share with my students. I also appreciate the comment moderation and profanity filter… Sometimes you just never know what’s on someone’s mind! In addition, I found it helpful that the tool allows teachers to chose from a variety of formats, as one format does not fit all purposes. Finally, I appreciated that there are a variety of privacy options. It also gives you the option to choose how people may use your board (e.g.: can write, only read, or edit).

Common Sense Media provided a learning rating score as well. Although I didn’t require additional support to use Padlet for my purposes, it was noted that the tool has a useful Help Page to troubleshoot any issues. In addition, the tool’s interface mimics a social media account and allows for sharing, making this tool relevant to the context of many students.

Weaknesses: Of course, there are always areas of improvement! Although Common Sense Media noted that the paid options are reasonable in price, it is important to consider if it is worth paying for a brainstorming/collaboration tool when there are many free options available. In addition, the free option only allows the user to make three Padlets. With paid options, you may create more, but it was a little disappointing that the free option is so limited. When sharing the Padlet, there is an option to share it directly to Google Classroom. It is very possible that I missed something, but I could not share my board directly from Padlet to my Google Classroom. However, this wasn’t a major issue because I could just copy and paste the link. If someone can fill in the blanks for me on this one, feel free to comment! The Common Sense Media review highlighted that the tool is engaging and interactive, but doesn’t provide any accessibility features such as an immersive reader or a talk-and-type feature. Lastly, Common Sense Media notes some considerations in regard to privacy. Below, I’ve provided a brief recap of some of the privacy issues associated with this tool. To view the full review, click here.

I’m not too concerned about users (or students in my case) interacting with strangers, as Padlets can be made private and I have control over who can access the link. However, this could pose an issue if the Padlet is open to the public or the host doesn’t turn on the proper settings. When I was reading through the full privacy review, it appears that there are a lot of “unknowns” or parts about the tool that are not clear. Perhaps the privacy rating would improve if Padlet clearly disclosed what kinds of information it discloses/collects and who the tool is intended for, as Common Sense Media notes that it is unclear if the tool is intended for students.

Padlet: Potential for Teachers

At first, I thought this was just another brainstorming tool. However, with my realization of Jamboard having so many capabilities, I figured I should keep looking in order to gain an understanding of Padlet’s uses.

Initially, from what I can tell, Padlet is not only an interactive tool for students to share ideas/resources and comment on each other’s posts. I see this tool as another effective way to formatively assess students on a topic being covered in class. Furthermore, Padlet would also be a great tool to incorporate some digital citizenship lessons in a safe and structured way! Like I mentioned above, the set up of this tool is similar to that of a social media account and it allows students to comment on each others’ posts. This would be a great opportunity to discuss engaging in online conversations and how to comment appropriately on the work of others. Lastly, since Padlets can be shared with others, it would be a neat experience to connect with another class who is studying the same content and have the students comment and share resources with one another. Every year, I do a pen pal letter exchange… Using Padlet would take that to the next level!

I was curious about some other potential uses that I haven’t thought of myself. I came across the article, “30 Ways to use Padlet in the Classroom.” Here are some of the suggestions that stood out to me the most:

  • Ice Breakers (e.g.: Two Truths and a Lie): This would be a great exercise at the beginning of the year for student/teacher introductions!
  • Classroom Communication: Although I use Edsby for communication, this tool could serve the same purpose if teachers are looking for another way to send out reminders.
  • Live Question Bank: This one is probably my favourite! So often kids have a question in the middle of a lesson. By the time, I can answer any questions, they’ve forgotten it! Plus, some students are more timid when it comes to speaking up in class, so this is another useful alternative to sharing.
  • Quote Analysis: This would fit well with a novel study or as a Bell Work task, as it would generate higher level thinking and discussion.
  • Classroom Newsletter: Each new Padlet board could be for a month and the teacher could share monthly updates with students and families.
  • Birthday Wall: This would be a great way to build community! Each student has a Padlet board and their classmates can share a birthday wish or compliment.

Would I Use Padlet?

Yes, I certainly would! Initially when I began this blog post, I was planning on taking it for a test drive with my students… I made the board and everything! However, I did start having second thoughts. Since the privacy factor is still a little iffy and I don’t have enough time to ask for parental permission, I figured it would be best to play it safe and hold off until I can go through the appropriate channels. Since my division uses Google products, I am most comfortable experimenting with those because they are approved. Although it most likely would not have been an issue, better safe than sorry!

Google Jamboard: Tool Overview

Of course, Common Sense Media has provided another helpful review, but this time on Google Jamboard! Basically, Google Jamboard is an interactive whiteboard. Although I’ve used it before, my knowledge of this tool is very limited. Plus, I’m thinking it might be a useful tool for my major project! Common Sense Media notes that students and teachers can create boards, share, and collaborate on them. They can be saved as PDFs and presented in the form of a slideshow. As a matter of fact, in the video below, Sam Kary noted that he believes Jamboard will eventually take over Google Slides. Students can draw, add sticky notes, text boxes, and shapes. During remote learning over our Google Meets, I used this tool mainly for check-ins and Bell Work. It is important to note that Jamboard functions quite similar to Padlet, as links can be shared in order to collaborate with a group on the same board. Links can be restricted, meaning that only people added to the Jamboard can view it or links can be shared and anyone with the link may have access to the Jamboard. In addition, the creator can make the board view-only or editable for others. Common Sense Media also noted that students may add Google Docs. to a Jamboard– this is a feature I have never tried before!

I stumbled on this video, when I was researching other ways I can use Jamboard. I have been curious about classroom uses and template creation. Below are some of my takeaways. Honestly, some of my takeaways are pretty basic, but I had no idea of the possibilities associated with this tool!

  • You can view all of your Jamboard frames at once by clicking the expand button.
  • The three dots in the corner of each frame allows you to create a duplicate and the + button allows you to add more frames, like Google Slides.
  • There is an undo and redo button to recover your work.
  • Click the Set Background button to choose one of the pre-made options. Sam also noted that images can now be entire backgrounds (more on this later).
  • GIFs can be added in a frame, but the file needs to be saved as a GIF.
  • PowerPoint can be used to create an animated GIF background image. Make sure to save it as an “animated file” type!
  • On the lefthand side of the frame there are some options: laser pointer, sticky note, eraser, drawing tool, insert image, insert shape, insert text box, and a select tool. The select tool must be clicked on in order to move boxes around on the Jamboard.
  • Canva, Slides Mania, Gifted Tawk, and Ditch That Textbook have a variety of free, pre-made templates that can be downloaded and uploaded to your Jamboard.
  • Google Slides is a great way to create templates for Jamboard! To get the slide on your Jamboard: File > Download > Save Image As (PNG) > Add image to slide as a background. This will prevent students from moving your template around, as it is the background! This has solved so many of my problems. How did I not think of this before…?
  • You can share Jamboards through Google Classroom if you want everyone to edit the same board or have their own separate board.
  • Using a screen casting tool, such as Loom, students can record their voices to describe what they’ve created on a Jamboard. I definitely did not consider this as an option prior to watching this video!

*If you’re thinking about using Jamboard, I highly recommend taking the 25 minutes and watching the video below. It was incredibly helpful and I’m looking forward to trying out some of their suggestions!*

Google Jamboard: Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths: Overall, I enjoy this tool and my students have had success using it as well. It is user-friendly and intuitive. During remote learning, the kids had a blast experimenting with the different features of the tool! I also found that during remote learning, students were reluctant to turn on their cameras, share verbally, or in the chat, so this option offered students another avenue to participate. In addition, it is a Google Product, so it is easily accessible for myself and the students. Plus, it syncs with Google Drive! I also like that Jamboards can be saved. This is helpful to refer back to notes or to pick up the next day with your students where you left off.

Common Sense Media provided a learning rating and highlighted some strengths about the tool that initially I did not recognize. I love the ability to offer instant feedback to my students! This is so valuable for checking comprehension and generating spontaneous discussions.

Weaknesses: Overall, I think it does a great job as a collaboration tool. Plus, it is very similar to Padlet and it is free. Common Sense Media notes that this tool could be improved by having more options to add media such as music or videos. Common Sense Media didn’t provide a privacy rating, however, since my division uses Google Products I feel comfortable using this tool with my students. When I used this tool for the first time, students were making their sticky notes huge, moving each others’ around (which caused some frustration), playing with the laser feature, etc. In retrospect, I should have discussed appropriate use and my expectations earlier. However, it would be helpful if there was a way to “lock” certain features, so students can only use what is available. It is important to note that if you do not share the Jamboard on Google Classroom and make the link available for anyone, they will show up anonymously, making it difficult to know who is contributing what.

Google Jamboard: Potential for Teachers

  • Collaborating on Projects: I’m not sure how this would work with younger students, but I can see this being successful with older students if they are collaborating on a project remotely! I also like that I can view their progress and check-in with each group on the Jamboard.
  • Assessment and Check-Ins: This tool would be great for Bell Work tasks, check-ins, or exit slips.
  • Presentation Tool: Instead of writing on a traditional whiteboard or putting a slideshow together, Jamboard allows teachers to create more interactive lessons. This reminds me of the SMART Board craze, except easier to use and free!
  • Creating Templates: For the longest time, I have been trying to figure out how to make my own handouts, instead of just using a word document and typing it out. Of course, the online/interaction feature is the purpose of using a Jamboard, but sometimes all you need is a paper copy of a handout. Not only can you use Jamboard for interactive purposes, but also for handout creation.

Google Jamboard: My Own Creation

My students love giving feedback on new tools I try with them! They take it so seriously… They’re the best source of information! This seemed like another fantastic opportunity to test drive a new tool with them and find out what the tool is like on the student end. This week, I plan on giving it a whirl with my students! When I’ve used Jamboard in the past, I didn’t know how to make the template non-editable to the students. This made for a lot of chaos. However, creating the background as an image is genius! I also made a copy for each student on Google Classroom, as this will prevent them from manipulating each others’ work. Keep checking my Twitter for an update!

I know my Jamboard isn’t anything too exciting, but I’m just glad that I figured out how to make a template!

I wonder…

As always, these blog prompts make me reflect on my experiences. However, they also make me curious about those of my classmates. So, I leave you with this:

  • I’m forever concerned with privacy when it comes to using different ed. tech tools. Have you ever used Padlet with your students? Was this an issue?
  • What are some other ways you’ve used Padlet or Google Jamboard? Are there any other comparable tools to these options?
  • What have I missed?! For those of you who have used these tools: What was your experience? Are there any features you thought were helpful that I may have missed in my review? How have you implemented these tools?
  • Out of curiosity, what tools did you review for your blog post this week? What were some of your highlights?

Thanks for taking a read!

Until next time,

Leigh

9 thoughts on “February 6, 2022: Content Creation and Ed. Tech Tools… An Exploration

  1. Hi Leigh,

    As always, you have a strong and comprehensive review of these two different programs! I also reviewed Padlet for my post this week and was extremely intrigued by the design and trendy colours.

    I think I would utilize Padlet as a reflective/review process for my math class, however, you bringing up the idea of potentially using it for assessment of a project did make me think of the possibilities how that might look. It reminds of the format of Glogster that I really enjoyed in my undergrad, and how Padlet offers the similar potential and more! I will continue to dig into this program and how it might fit the needs of my learners.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment, Chris! To be honest, the aesthetic appeal of Padlet definitely was a plus for me! Overall, I think it is a great formative assessment tool!

      Like

  2. Hi Leigh,
    Great post! And so comprehensive! I’ve seen Padlet used in a MAP online class, and it was for students to introduce themselves. The instructor didn’t want to use the Forum on UR Courses, because it’s really hard to be creative using the Introduce Yourself forum. The final product was a digital bulletin board the instructor posted on UR Courses, which was amazing!

    I’ve used Jamboard for presentations, and I love them. A lot of my classmates use them as well for their presentations as it keeps track of the discussion when we have to go to a breakout room. It’s nice because it is live, so you can see what the other groups are writing.

    My colleagues and I have had extensive discussions on how secure these third-party tools are, and if instructors should be using them. These are several issues we always talk about:
    – Can the tools maintain confidentiality and security? – I remember being in a meeting and someone mentioned using Jamboard to document the discussion. That idea was automatically dismissed because it didn’t meet the level of security they wanted.
    – How much of the assessment will be done using third-party tools? What if Padlet disappears and a student wants to appeal their mark, and 25% of that mark is in Padlet. How can reassessment happen in that situation?

    Just lots to consider…

    Myla,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Myla,

      Thank you for the insight! There is always so much to consider when it comes to using new tools, especially ones that involve potential privacy issues! I wonder of there is some kind of document in my division that outlines this when using tools like Jamboard with students.

      Like

  3. Thank you for your reviews. Like you, I had used Jamboard before. I appreciated the suggestion of creating a background image using Google Slides! It is so frustrating when students delete the questions or images that I have added. This will definitely help!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have wanted to give Jamboard a shot, but haven’t had the time lately to do it. Your review has definitely pushed me further to attempt to use the tool in my classroom… plus that video helps alleviate much of the stress of using a new tool with little to no information about it! Thanks! I think you hit this blog post on the head with your comprehensive and detail-oriented examination of the two tools! Privacy is a huge concern… but I have never had any privacy issues with Padlet. I have used it at PD events and in my classroom to build resource banks for students’ research projects. If you make the Padlet private, it is safe for students to use without fear of any unwanted visitors! Thanks for another great post, Leigh!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the comprehensive review of both Padlet and Jamboard! I agree that when given tech options, it makes the most sense to go with a suite that is already implemented in one’s division. You’re more likely to have opportunities to learn from colleagues and possibly tech support from the division office. I feel motivated to take a deeper look at Jamboard now (especially with knowing that it might overtake Google Slides in the future), so thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the comment, Dalton! It is super user-friendly… My students were teaching me about using Jamboard today! They figured out how to insert emojis and all kinds of stuff! Thank you for the feedback about Padlet. Real-life reviews and experiences definitely make me feel more comfortable using new tools/platforms!

    Like

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