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Get More out of Padlet with Advanced Layouts

Introduction

You may already be familiar with using Padlet for teaching purposes. Many people think of it primarily as a kind of digital pinboard. But did you know that there are several advanced layouts that can help you facilitate more engaging classes? This article includes brief descriptions, suggested activities and links to examples for each kind of template.

Layouts

Wall

A Wall layout Padlet. There are five columns of posts arranged in a grid. Each post has a link to a different educational resource.
A Wall layout Padlet being used as a resource bank with links to different educational padlets.

This original Padlet layout is what most people think of when they hear the word ‘Padlet’. It’s a free-for-all space where people’s posts appear as different sized bricks. If you want to have a single place where students can post presentations or the output of project work, this is a great layout to use. It also works well with activities that have a significant visual element, like curating a resource bank, mood board or a gallery of photos.

The main drawback of the Wall layout is that it can get quite messy when you have lots of students or an activity that requires multiple posts from each person. If you want a bit more structure, another layout would be more suitable.

Wall layout example

Grid

A Grid layout Padlet. There four columns and two rows of posts. The posts are links to songs with an explanation of how the songs are relevant to the book that students are reading.
A Grid layout Padlet where the instructor has asked students to post songs related to the book that they are analysing.

The Grid layout also arranges posts as bricks, but it keeps them aligned in rows. As such, it’s useful for many of the same activities as the Wall template, but it has a more ordered feel.

Grid layout example

Shelf

A Shelf layout Padlet. There are three columns and the headings of each are statements. There is an example answer under each heading showing students they should answer by saying if they agree or disagree and why.
A Shelf layout Padlet where the headings are statements and students use their posts to agree or disagree and explain why.

This layout allows you to organize posts under several headings, such as different topics or questions. You can ask a large class to brainstorm ideas or respond to prompts, and the headings will keep everything organized and easy to navigate.

The Shelf layout can also be used for SWOT analysis, a KANBAN board, KWL charts, or even to facilitate groupwork: name each column after a different group / breakout room and ask one student in each group to post a summary of their group discussions.

Shelf layout example

Tip: Even with the added structure of the Shelf layout, things can get messy if everyone posts in a different format. Put an example response at the top of each column to demonstrate how you would like students to answer. This can add consistency and encourage students to answer as fully or minimally as you intended.

Map

A map layout Padlet. There are instructions at the top asking students to add a pin to the map to show where they live, and an example post from the instructor about Oxford.
A map layout Padlet being used as an icebreaker to allow students to learn about where their peers are from and their interests.

The map layout is a fantastic way to help students to get to know each other at the start of a course. It works especially well if your students are from different places. They can drop a pin on a location in any country and add a post with text and media. As in the example, you could instruct them to add a pin to their hometown with a photo. Why not practise by adding a pin to the example map yourself?

Map layout example

Stream

A Stream layout Padlet with a single column of posts. The posts are questions about assessment.
A Stream layout Padlet being used for an anonymous Q&A about assessment.

The Stream layout places everyone’s posts in a single column. If you don’t like Padlet because it’s ‘too cluttered’, this might be the layout for you! It’s great if you need posts to be easy to navigate and organised in chronological order. You could use it for a Q&A, for instance about assessment as in the example below. Students will be able to see other people’s questions and your responses, which should avoid you having to answer the same thing several times. You could also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking students to answer any questions that they know the answer to.

Stream template example

Tip: In Padlet settings (the cog icon at the top right of a Padlet board), you can turn Attribution off if you want to make posts anonymous, which can encourage more engagement. You can also turn on ‘Vote’ reactions and ask students to upvote other questions if they also want to know the answer. This will help you to identify the most common knowledge gaps.

The Posting section of Padlet settings, showing how to make posts anonymous and turn on voting.

Canvas

A Canvas layout Padlet being used for an organisation chart. The central post is the Managing Director of a company. Around this post there are several other posts listing other members of the company. They are all linked to the central post with arrows to show they report to the Managing Director.
A Canvas layout Padlet being used for an organisation chart.

This is the most flexible layout and as such it’s useful for mind maps, flow charts and basic infographics. Students can drag their posts wherever they want, then make connecting lines between different posts (click on the three dots on the top right of a post, then ‘Connect to a post’). These lines can be labelled to clarify the connections between different ideas.

Canvas layout example

Tip: Because it’s so freeform, the Canvas layout is more suitable for use by individuals or small groups to avoid overlapping content.

Timeline

A Timeline layout Padlet. There is a dotted line with four posts above it arranged left to right in chronological order. Each post details a different important event in the Apollo program. Some of the posts have images of astronauts and space shuttles.
A Timeline layout Padlet being used to show important dates in the history of the Apollo program.

This layout allows you to post above and below a dotted horizontal line. As its name suggests, its most obvious use is for activities that include dates, for example describing significant events in a historical period. You could use it as an icebreaker by asking students to post three important dates in their lives with a photo and a short explanation.

The timeline layout is also perfect for activities where students have to describe stages in a process, such as the development of a product or the lifecycle of an animal.

Timeline layout example

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned about different Padlet layout options, why don’t you try some of the ideas in this article for yourself? You don’t have to master each layout straight away – start by choosing one or two and think of different ways you can incorporate them into your teaching.

For general information about Padlet and how to access it using your university credentials, see the introduction to Padlet article. For further inspiration, check out Creating a Live Question Bank with Padlet and Padlet’s own curated gallery.

About the author(s)

  • Steven Williams

    I'm a member of Coventry University's Education Technology team. My background is in teaching and learning design. I've taught in five countries and I worked in educational publishing before taking on my current role. I'm interested in using technology to improve teaching and learning.

Updated on July 25, 2022

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