Padlet

Padlet is a browser supported tool that you can be used for many things in class either using iPads or computers. It was previously known as wall wisher but has been revamped and is now a lot more user friendly and automatically updates and saves all changes.

It is basically an online wall that just by double clicking you can add notes to this wall simultaneously. It is a great tool for collaborative activities or to give instant feedback on writing.

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How can Padlet be used in an ELT class?

I have used Padlet in the following ways so far:

A collaborative vocabulary bank made by students. Students had to find the definition of words first seen in print in a Shakespeare text and write their own context sentences for the rest of the students to be able to see and access when they like afterwards.

Collaborative writing. Students were given a number of themes to write on and in groups they had to write a different section of a persuasive essay related to that issue. Introduction, body and conclusion. Instead of passing paper round they just clicked on the appropriate text box in Padlet.

Individual writing activities. Using Padlet students can be given a writing activity to do in class and you as the teacher can see what they are writing as they write via another iPad or on your computer on the IWB. You can call out the students name as and when they are writing and ask them to correct something or look at it again.

To give instructions for another iPad activity. Using padlet you can give instructions or share resources easily in order to implement another iPad activity or even do a webquest or set group collaborative activities.

To take notes of emerging vocabulary during class as an alternative to using an IWB programme meaning a link can be shared easily with students that won’t involve a download.

Advantages of Padlet

It’s extremely easy to use.

You can edit the link of your wall to give it an easy to remember name.

You can embed the padlet on a blog or on a student forum if you use one to share easily with students.

Drawbacks

There’s only one drawback really in regards to iPad it doesn’t as yet have an app however it’s still fully functional on a tablet and the word on the techno grapevine is that there will be an app soon.

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What’s in a webquest?

So, what’s in a webquest? Before starting, though, let’s take a minute to consider some of the following questions. (You might jot down some of your own ideas if you’re truly ambitious!)

  • What is a webquest? Is it the same thing as doing online research?
  • What is the purpose of a webquest? What sorts of language skills are they meant to develop? What about thinking skills?
  • How should a webquest be structured?
  • Are there any resources available online for finding, adapting, exploiting or creating webquests?

Alright, enough with the questions. Let’s get to some of the answers.

What is a webquest?

Bernie Dodge, largely considered the father of modern webquests, has defined webquests as “…an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet“.  Tom March went further, offering this definition:

“A WebQuest is a scaffolded learning structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and an authentic task to motivate students’ investigation of a central, open-ended question, development of individual expertise and participation in a final group process that attempts to transform newly acquired information into a more sophisticated understanding.”

Ok, great! But how does it work in practice?

Structuring a Webquest

It turns out, webquest enthusiasts have largely agreed on a fundamental structure that most webquests can employ. The stages are:

  1. Introduction: where the overall theme of the quest is introduced
  2. Task: where the learners are instructed on what they have to do
  3. Process: the activity stage that the learners work through
  4. Evaluation: a final stage which is designed to encourage learner self-evaluation and reflection

If you’re interested in more details about these stages, check this article on the BC’s Teaching English page.

Skills Development

One of the criticisms launched against webquests is that they develop/promote low-order thinking skills (copy & pasting answers from websites). Advocates of webquests disagree, suggesting that webquests are a constructivist, inquiry-oriented learning process that develop higher order thinking skills–not simply “internet scavenger hunts.” The fault, they suggest, lies in poor design. In terms of language education, poor webquests encourage learners to simply copy/paste answers from a text, whereas a well designed webquest will require learners to respond to newly encountered information in a meaningful, productive task. (For more on this, consider listening to this podcast interview of Bernie Dodge)

Moving Forward with Webquests

Are you interested in seeing more examples of ‘good’ webquests? Consider visiting the following sites:

Questions? Please post them in the comment thread below this post.