The edtech educator‘s equivalent of “The sky is falling!“ happened this week, last Monday to be exact. A pop-up message when opening Padlet explained, in friendly but finite terms, that the service (including features I’ve grown accustomed to using daily) would no longer be completely free going forward. The options were pay to play, 99€ a year, or live with the exisiting quota awarded, in my case 136 boards.
Oh well. I followed my first instinct and sent a mail with feedback to the developer team and then added my own tweeted reaction to the growing number of tweets in reaction to the news. The developers were understandably swamped but personally addressed the situation and astutely pledged to consider other options for educators.
I have now had a few days to digest the change and I have decided to not only keep on using Padlet, but to continue to be an ambassador and proponent for the platform.
Here‘s why I am doubling down on my use of Padlet and why I think educators are wrong to look for alternatives, that are lesser and inferior versions of the multifaceted webtool.
Padlet’s raison d’être
I am going to list all the reasons why I have used Padlet till now in my teaching and teacher training practice and why the tool is indispensible for me.
Those of you who immediately started listing alternatives like learning apps.org or Wakelet (which I refuse to link because they started spamming disappointed Padlet users with pleas to use their tool instead) are missing the point entirely.
Padlet has several strengths that no other tool has. It‘s easy to grasp, quick, accessible and versatile. It is SO easy to grasp that veteran teachers (many of whom are digital immigrants) have no problems creating their own boards once they found out how. This is NOT a given by many tools.
What Padlet offers
Padlet can not only be used to collect links or to post post-it like notes. It can do much more. Can you do the following with your alternative tool? And be honest here.
- instantly create a board
- post on a board as a site visitor (no log in)
- customise URLs
- share or embed a board URL via link or QR-Code
- print or send contents as pdf, image, csv or Excel file
- add audio or video recording directly in the app
- add image, location or file (pdf, word, ppt) directly in the app
- get a preview of pinned contents
- play videos in the app or browser
- draw on a board
- like or comment on postings
- remake a board easily, taking either only the design or also the contents
- make available to private or public audience, with the option of a password
- add collaborators to a board
- choose from five different formats
- customize background, font or style
- use seamlessly between web browser and mobile versions
- see changes to a board in real time
- assign colours to posts that act as tags
- broadcast padlets to nearby devices
Think long and hard about your alternative. Can you do all of the above? Flipgrid, realtime board, linoit.com, Google Slides/Keep or Numbers or OneNote? If you can, I’d be happy to hear from you. Please create a public link to your note or board and let us evaluate the tool.
Here are just some of the ways that I have used Padlet over the years:
- to collect feedback from students or seminar participants
- to collect links, pictures, video or audio curated by students or seminar participants
- to brainstorm ideas (freestyle postings)
- to distribute learning materials
- to collect and display student assignments
- to host information for events
- to curate resources collaboratively
As collaborative workspace for seminar participants
Curating resources for educators
Collecting live feedback during webinars
Collecting and displaying student work
Collecting student submitted videos for class discussion on Jazz Music
Posting useful resources for students doing self-study
As a learning space where students work directly on the board
To pay or not to pay, that is not the question
The most frustrating thing about the change is not the fact that they need to charge for their services. The Padlet team this week confirmed that 10 million users visit the site each month. That is a lot by any measure. They have costs. I understand that. Users like myself are willing to pay for services and software we regularly use. However, 99€/year is too steep for me. I sincerely hope that the Padlet team work out a cheaper option and a viable referral program.
For the moment, I’m happy to work with my existing quota of 136, and reuse boards. If a more affordable plan is released, then I’m also happy to consider it.
I’m glad a friend and colleague of mine is going ahead with her webinar on 7 June 2018, where she plans to discuss the changes. We educators who have been power users of Padlet in the past few years should be rallying behind the developer team, who have created something that enhances our collective teaching practice. Let’s tell them that and work with them to find a good way going forward! Let’s double down on our use of the tool.