Two Edtech Tools To Try This Week

 Two Edtech Tools To Try This Week

Episode 15 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores two edtech tools to try.

***04/04/18: since recording this episode, Padlet has introduced a new pricing structure - the free option only allows you 3 walls. While this is a bit disappointing, Padlet is still a great tool and I very much recommend it.***

Podcast Episode 15 Transcript

Welcome to The Teaching Space Podcast, coming to you from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

Hello, it's Martine here. Welcome to Episode 15 of The Teaching Space podcast. Thanks so much for joining me.

In this episode, I'm going to share two edtech tools that I think you're going to want to try this week or indeed next week.

What is Padlet?

The first tool is Padlet, and it can be found at padlet.com

What is Padlet? Well, it's kind of an online bulletin board or notice board. That's how they describe it on the website, but actually, it's so much more than that.

I really think of it as a collaborative online space. You can share all sorts of different things on a Padlet, for example, written notes, photographs, web links, all sorts of stuff. Teachers can sign in using their Google credentials, so if you are a G Suite for Education establishment, then this is really convenient.

Students don't require an account to use a Padlet. However, there are some benefits from them signing up for an account. For example, you can see the username of the person who is posting on the Padlet, and sometimes that's useful, particularly for assessment purposes. But, again, your learner can use their Google credentials, so it's nice and easy.

What I love about Padlet is it's accessibility. It's so easy to use, so even the most nervous tech users will feel quite confident using a Padlet. It looks great, too. 

My Experience Using Padlet

Padlet is web-based, but there are also a number of different apps and browser extensions you can use with Padlet. I've been thinking about use cases for Padlet, and there are so many.

The first time I used Padlet was ... it was quite a few years ago, to be fair, but it was to gather ideas from a group of students. We were planning an event, and we were coming up with different ideas for different types of events. So, I set up a Padlet and the students just put all of their ideas for events on to the Padlet, then we organized it and narrowed it down to our chosen event. That's just one way you can use a Padlet. 

I'm also using Padlet at the moment as an experiment for The Teaching Space Book Club. Incidentally, if you are interested in our book club, hop over to theteachingspace.com/book-club to find out more.

Using Padlet for the book club is still a bit of an experiment and I will report back to you on how that goes, but essentially the setup is simple. There's a column layout and I share a variety of different questions about the book, and then participants can post underneath the questions. So, it's a nice simple layout. I'm thinking it's gonna work quite well, but I will report back. 

Backchannel

Padlet can make a really good backchannel. For example, if you're teaching a session to a large group of people and you want somewhere they can go online to make a note of questions for you to deal with, perhaps after the session or in a second session or something like that, then use Padlet as a backchannel.

They have got a fairly new backchannel layout feature. I've given it a try once. From my point of view there were a few things missing but I suspect Padlet will be ironing out those little hiccoughs because it's such a new feature. It's definitely worth exploring.

Online Portfolios

Padlets can also work as online portfolios, because ultimately you're using it as a space to bring lots of different links and pieces of work together.

It could be fun to do as an exit ticket, so perhaps at the end of a session you ask learners to share one thing that they've taken away from that session on the Padlet and then you can perhaps look at the Padlet in the next session and use it as a recap. 

Padlet and Parental Communication

It might be a nice tool for parental communication. Now, I've not tried this, because I deal with adults. I teach adults on a daily basis. Communicating with parents isn't something I have to do. However, I do know a lot of people have used Padlet for things like class newsletters. That might be worth exploring.

Here is a link to a great blog post I found, called 30 Creative Ways to Use Padlet for Teachers and Students

How Much Is Padlet?

On to pricing. Now, Padlet is a free tool, and the free version of Padlet is fantastic.

There are premium options and I've upgraded to the lowest level of premium option, just 'cause it gives me a couple of extra features that are handy for my book club setup. I'd say that most people wouldn't need to upgrade, though.

My upgrade has cost me $34 a year, and that's worth it just for the book club side of things.

Please see the pricing update at the top of this post.

What is Flipgrid?

Next up is Flipgrid. Everyone seems to be talking about Flipgrid at the moment, so I apologise for jumping on the bandwagon, but it is a really good tool. It's a video discussion tool.

So, what happens is, the teacher creates a grid, then a topic, and generates a grid code. If you've used Kahoot before, this is very similar to how students would join a Kahoot. They get the app on their phone or in their browser and they just put in the code and then they join.

So, this means that learners don't have to have a specially set up account, which is usually quite handy.

How Does It Work?

On that topic grid, then, the teacher could, for example, pose a question and that involves the teacher recording a quick video on their mobile device, for example, or via their laptop. And, students can respond with videos themselves. So, it's a video-to-video collection area. All of the videos are presented in a grid, and it's really easy for students to watch each others' video.

That's quite a complicated explanation to really get to grips with Flipgrid, is. If you can see it in action, I highly recommend it. There'll be some decent videos on YouTube, I'm sure, to show it in action.

Flipgrid Feedback

There are many good things about Flipgrid. I've had great feedback from the learners that I've used it with.

Another great thing is it talks to Google, so teachers can sign in using their Google credentials, and the mobile device apps are excellent.

Most people who have used Flipgrids I've set up have recorded their video on their mobile devices, because you download the free app, you put in the grid code and you hit record. It is as simple as that.

The App and Nervous Students

Flipgrid is fantastic for giving a voice to students who perhaps wouldn't speak up in class. Then you might be thinking, well, if they don't speak up in class, then they aren't going to fancy recording a video of themselves, but you'd be surprised. A lot of colleagues I know who have used it with young people have found that even the shyest learner is okay with recording a video.

Now, interestingly, I used Flipgrid with adults and I suspect I had more issues with adults being nervous about videoing themselves compared to the younger students.

I predict a very bright future for Flipgrid. It's an innovative tool, which gives a voice to students who might not ordinarily have one, and that's amazing.

The Only Downside

There is one thing that I wasn't so keen on with Flipgrid, which I'll mention now. I'm hoping it's something they might improve later on, and that is the ability for students to give feedback to each other and also teacher feedback, both video and written.

They encourage video feedback from the teacher. That's kind of built in, but you have to invest in the paid option to get more sophisticated feedback options.

I think there need to be some improvements there. But, don't let that put you off giving Flipgrid a try. It's fantastic. As I mentioned, it's a web-based tool and there are apps available for all devices.

Case Ideas

I have a few use case ideas for you. Flipgrid is great for simple Q and A formative assessment type activity. You could use a Flipgrid for feedback on an event, like a CPD event, get staff to record videos of their feedback on the event.

I, personally, have used Flipgrid for a group research project lately, and the forced brevity, you're only allowed, I think, 90 seconds for your video on the free version. That forced brevity really helped my learners, working on their ability to summarize lots of information.

How Much Does it Cost?

So, that's Flipgrid. Let me talk to you about pricing. It's free for learners, but there is a premium option and that is $65 a year, and as with Padlet, the premium option just gives you a few extra features.

I haven't invested in the premium option yet, but it might be something I do in the future, I'm not sure. Watch this space. 

Wrap Up

Those are my two tools, my two ed tech tools that I'd like you to think about giving a try this week or next week. That's Padlet and Flipgrid.

If you aren't already subscribed to the show, you might want to know that every fortnight I send an email to my email subscribers and I let them know that episodes are live. I also share lots of other interesting bits and bobs. So, it's worth being on my email list if you're not already. You can find the signup form at theteachingspace.com/vip. 

It's time to sign off. Thanks so much for joining me. I hope you'll tune in to my next episode.


 Two Edtech Tools To Try This Week