What is the Padlet Project?
The Padlet Project is an active learning initiative developed by Wendy Garnham in conjunction with the Technology Enhanced Learning team at University of Sussex for use with Foundation Year Psychology students.
Why was the project developed?
Traditional seminars were dominated by one or two more confident students whilst a number of other students either remained silent or had not completed the necessary reading before arriving. Students who experienced some anxiety about attending seminars found it difficult to walk into a room where others were already seated and waiting to begin. Student engagement reduced across the term.
How does the Padlet Project work?
The Padlet Project is now entering Phase 3 in its development. Below is a timeline of how the project has developed.
Before the seminar, students were expected to read a key seminar paper. As students entered the seminar room, they immediately linked up with one or two other students to form a “padlet group”. This padlet group was not necessarily constituted of friendship groups and changed each week to encourage students to work with different people in the group and to encourage them to get to know people they had not yet worked with.
Each padlet group then began the “48 hour challenge”. From the beginning of the seminar, the clock was ticking for them to produce a padlet post. For more information on padlet, click here. For students who were either unclear or unsure about the seminar paper for that week, they focused on producing a consolidation post designed to help them develop a stronger understanding of the material. The posts took on many forms: quizzes, infographics, animations, mind-maps and podcasts are just a few examples.
For those students who were confident with the seminar paper, they had the opportunity to produce an extension post. Again, this could take a range of forms: Some students posted an interactive activity that demonstrated some of the key prinicples of the paper, some posted a research paper that related to the topic of the week or that contradicted the claims of the key seminar paper. In the first seminar of the term, members of the Technology Enhanced Learning team came to seminars to help students move out of their comfort zone and embrace new digital technologies that they may not have encountered or used before.
Although the seminar was only 50 minutes long, students were given 48 hours to complete the padlet posting. After 48 hours, all posts should be on the padlet wall. The reason for this was to give other students in the seminar, a chance to comment on each other’s work using the comment option on padlet.
Results from Phase 1:
A mid-term review was conducted with students taking part in focus groups and completing an online survey. The majority of students were positive about the padlet project and keen to see it continue but a common problem identified was the lack of engagement with the commentary on each other’s posts. In the initial couple of weeks, this worked well but then students seemed reluctant to add commentary and this tailed off. Moving forward, students requested that the seminar structure be modified to bring discussion back into the seminar room before padlet post production began.
Responses pointed to the more inclusive nature of the seminars as summarised below:
Some students requested that the 48 hour challenge be extended to enable them to have more time to engage with the apps they were using.
In phase 2 of the project, seminars began with a ten minute discussion of the key seminar paper to give context to the padlet posting and to encourage students to contribute their thoughts on the content. This was then followed by the usual padlet post production exercise. The 48 hour challenge was replaced by the “6 day challenge” in response to students’ requests to have more time to get to know how to use some of the new applications they were finding online.
Towards the end of phase 2, some of the students from the seminars volunteered to share their experience of the padlet project with staff from across the University of Sussex at the annual Teaching and Learning Conference.
Results from phase 2:
At the end of term, students again completed an online survey and reported back on their experience of the padlet project. Again, the majority of students favoured this approach to seminars and pointed to the usefulness of having created their own resource bank of materials that would be useful for revision.
However, some students questioned the usefulness of this as a learning tool. On further investigation, these students felt that many of the posts did not help them because they were not directly related to the examination.Some students still felt that the discussion element had not been successfully resolved. Listen to some of the feedback from the students here.
To listen to a summary of where the project has got to so far, click here.
Moving forward, the padlet project will be modified further to focus student’s attention on key case studies. There will be core seminar readings that students can apply to the case study in question. Students will be using Values Exchange to help them explore the controversies around the case studies and will aim to produce a response to each case study and post this on the padlet wall using a range of digital applications. It is hoped that this approach will stimulate discussion more and will enable students to see how the padlet project is helping them to gain a deeper understanding of the core academic content of the seminar papers.
Listen to the recent podcast about the Padlet Project posted by the Tab.