The MALAT course I am teaching at RRU is wrapping up this week, and I am starting to reflect on how this first iteration of the course has gone.
The course is called Facilitating in Digital Learning Environments, and while this specific iteration is a new design, it is based on a facilitation course I have taught in the past. We held onto the experiential model from the old course, where learners become the facilitators and design a week of digital learning for the rest of the cohort. I step back and get a chance to observe them develop their own facilitation style.
I love going through the weeks and seeing what kinds of activities the learners design, including their technology choices and rationale. This time around, I’m noticing some new tools being used. While learners have always had access to a Moodle course shell (and many use it as the central hub for their facilitation week) they are using other tools, like Kaltura. This year, RRU joined the provincial Kaltura service, and I noticed a big uptick in the use of video by the learners, especially the informal “turn on the webcam and fire off a quick video” types. Flipgrid is also a video tool that is being used as an asynchronous video discussion forum.
Padlet is another popular choice, and a fairly new tech to me. Before this course, the only exposure I had to it was in 2016 when it was one of the apps featured in the first ETUG 12 Apps of Christmas, but never really explored it.
As I worked my way through the different student-led facilitation weeks, I noticed that many included a Padlet activity. When I went into the Padlets, what I noticed was that Padlet was being used in a very similar fashion to a linear asynchronous discussion board common in the LMS. Now true, the layout of a discussion in Padlet looked different than in an LMS discussion forum, but essentially what I was seeing in Padlet was pretty similar functionality that you would find in an LMS asynchronous discussion forum.
With this limited view of Padlet, it made me wonder why use Padlet for asynchronous discussions when there is already a discussion forum in Moodle? I thought maybe I was missing something about Padlet – some specific affordance or functionality that made it significantly different than the toolset available to the learners within Moodle?
Spent a lot of time in Padlet lately & wondering what advantages it has over discussion forum? If your learners are already in an LMS, why would you use Padlet over a forum? Am I missing something of the technologies affordances that makes it substantially different than a forum?
— Clint Lalonde (@edtechfactotum) October 22, 2018
I got back a few responses. The first from D’arcy pointed me to some functionality I didn’t know Padlet had
post-its can be laid out visually, clustering and linking between. Good for brainstorming and ideation. Discussion forums are linear or hierarchical.
— D’Arcy Norman (@realdlnorman) October 22, 2018
Ohhhh, wait. Clustering and linking? Ok, that is something that can’t be done in an asynchronous discussion forum.
Dugg (one of the learners who is also active on Twitter) also reminded me that Padlets can be openly shared, making contributions from outside the class possible.
I prefer the graphical interface with global view of @padlet in contrast to the linear threaded single view of most LMS discussion boards. I also like that I can open it up to share beyond the garden wall of the LMS or embed within iBooks, eTexts, etc
— Dugg Steary (@DuggSteary) October 23, 2018
And Brandon noted that content in Padlet can be embedded, making it portable and reusable in other contexts.
Padlet can be embedded and the content can be reused in future courses.
— Brandon Carson (@BrandonCarsonEd) October 22, 2018
So I started digging around in Padlet a bit more. Sure enough, there are templates that allow you to build various types of Padlets, including Padlets that mimic the functionality of an interactive mind-map, and a Kanban board. Already I am looking at Padlet in a different light. It’s more Swiss knife-ish with the functionality that I first thought.
Then I noticed a button labelled Remake in the top right hand corner of the Padlet. What is this? A one button clone of a Padlet? Well, this is useful.
Functionality where I can not only share the works I make in Padlet, but I can also clone someone else’s Padlet and use it as the starting point for my own Padlet. One button remixability. Very handy. About the only thing missing that would make this a fully complete OER creation tool would be the ability to add a Creative Commons license to a Padlet. But still, it is good to see that the makers of Padlet recognize the value to educators of being able to copy and remix others work.
Seeing this kind of functionality built into Padlet sans Creative Commons licenses, or any reference to “Open Educational Resources” or open education reminds me of just how much “grey” open educational activity occurs among educators, many of whom are likely unaware that there is this thing called “open education” out here, with communities and practitioners, advocates and researchers. They are simply doing and sharing, remixing and adapting, using tools like Padlet to clone, remix and adapt others resources, and making their own resources available for others to do the same.
So, next year when I offer this course again & knowing how much learners love using Padlet, albeit in a fairly narrow way, I think I will include some more introductory activities using Padlet that I can use to model other uses and affordances of Padlet. I’ll use this link of 30 Padlet ideas sent to me by Tom Farrelly as a starting point, and see if we can’t perhaps use the remix functionality in Padlet as a pedagogical device on which to hook concepts of open education, reuse and remix onto.