A favourite gets even better- Padlet

One of our favourite online tools is Wallwisher, which we’ve written about before.  It’s a simple site that requires no login, and allows anyone to add sticky notes to a virtual wall. It’s perfect for brainstorming and collaborative work, or just as a simple presentation tool for collating links, text and pictures. But good news has come through recently that Wallwisher has become so much more. The site has a range of new features that make it even more useful without sacrificing ease of use. With these changes comes a new name- now the site is known as Padlet.

Padlet lets users add text, links or images as virtual sticky notes

The new features mean that walls can be created with a number of new layouts and backgrounds. There are a range of options for group collaboration and visibility of walls. You can create walls that are completely open or you can choose to moderate comments before they are posted. Walls can also be password protected for an extra layer of security. One great aspect of Padlet is that you don’t need to have an account to create or contribute to a wall, though if you want to create a number of walls then having an account is a good way to keep them organised. To find all of the customisation and sharing options, create a new wall and then select the cog icon that appears on the right hand menu.

A range of customisation and sharing options are available (look for the cog icon)

Other new features include an option to have each new post on a wall appear in a stream (rather than the default layout that has notes spread randomly over a wall). As Richard Byrne points out at his fantastic Free Technology 4 Teachers blog, this feature means that Padlet could be used as an easy way to set up a simple blog for a student or group. Richard is obviously a big fan of Padlet, as he’s also posted about the handy new feature that allows the content of a wall to be exported as a PDF or an Excel file  (on a side note, Richard’s blog is well worth following if you don’t already). Padlet also allows for some rather complex functions, such as the ability to add mathematical formulas using LaTeX codes.

In a time where we are seeing a number of tools closing down, it’s great to see a site like Padlet actually gaining useful features. There is actually a fascinating story behind the development of the site, and it augers well that the developers have plans for improving Padlet even more. They’ve certainly taken great strides with recent updates, as Padlet retains all of the charm and ease of use of Wallwisher, but adds some very handy new features that makes it an invaluable tool.


Interactive Web Search Tutorials

Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers recently posted an excellent article on free animated web tutorials to help students with web research strategies.

The tutorials include:

  • Credible Sources Count
  • Research It Right
  • Searching With Success
  • You Quote It, You Note It

Although a university site, these tutorials are ideal for secondary students. Please see Richard’s post for more information and links to the tutorials.

World’s biggest earthquakes since 1900 – interactive map

The CNN World website has developed a terrific resource for students researching earthquakes. Showing both the biggest and most deadly earthquakes since 1900, each map has captions for each area showing date, place, magnitude and death toll.

Biggest earthquakes

Biggest earthquakes

Deadliest quakes

Deadliest quakes

Earthquakes are presented by ranking.  A very good resource to begin researching the world’s earthquakes. Thanks again to Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers for informing me about this top tool!

Seven tools for organising web research

Richard Byrne‘s excellent Free Technology for Teachers site has outlined seven useful tools for organising web research. Some of the tools you may have seen before, some may be new.

  1. iCyte
  2. Memonic
  3. Lumifi
  4. Wet Mount
  5. Zoho (Bright Ideas post 29/10/08)
  6. Reframe It
  7. Webnotes

Please see Richard’s post for all the details on what these tools can do and how to use them.

Audio Owl

Audio Owl is a site that provides listings of audio book recordings that are in the public domain; that is out of copyright and freely available for anyone to download to mp3, iPod or iTunes formats. Genres include fiction, fantasy, children’s, young adult, adventure and mystery. Downloads are quick and if using iTunes are saved as podcasts.

Some titles include Anne of Green Gables, the Secret Garden, the Call of the Wild and the Getting of Wisdom.

Thanks to Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) from Free Technology for Teachers for passing on the link to Audio Owl.

Bringing experts into your classroom

It can often be problematic for students to gain access to authors and other experts in their field due to location, cost, time, travel and other issues. Technologies such as Skype can help. The ability to make free calls computer to computer with the added bonus of video conferencing if users have webcams has been a boon for schools.

But Skype is not the only method available. Richard Byrne’s (@rmbyrne) wonderful Free Technology for Teachers blog outlines three other free methods for Bringing Experts into Your Classroom:

Go to the Free Technology for Teachers post Bringing Experts into Your Classroom for some fabulous free tools to explore, thanks to Richard Byrne.

Free Technology for Teachers

Uberblogger Richard Byrne has the most amazing site for teachers wishing to integrate technology into learning and teaching. The Free Technology for Teachers  blog has won numerous awards and has a huge following.

Featuring guides such as Free Guide to Technology Integration (that explains how to create documents and presentations; tools to improve communication between schools and parents; tools for student collaborative projects and alternatives to YouTube) and Beyond Google (“fifteen tools and strategies to help your students (and colleagues) to explore the web beyond the first two pages of Google results”) as well as informative posts on items such as:

1. 30+ Alternatives to YouTube
2. Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration
3. Seven Ways to Find Teachers on Twitter
4. 10 Places to Make and Find Flashcards
5. 35+ Educational Games and Games Resources
6. Ten Grammar Games and Lesson Resources
7. Ten Spelling Games and Lessons
8. 9 Resources for Website Evaluation Lessons
9. Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision
10. Four Free Tools for Creating Screencasts
11. Great Timeline Builders

Free Technology for Teachers is a must-subscribe-to blog. Richard provides some more information for readers:

The purpose of this site is to share information about free resources that teachers can use in their classrooms.

In 2008 Free Technology for Teachers was awarded the Edublogs Award for “Best Resource Sharing Blog.”

In 2009 Free Technology for Teachers was again awarded the Edublogs Award for “Best Resource Sharing Blog” and was awarded the Edublogs Award for “Best Individual Blog.”

Free Technology for Teachers is read by an audience of more than 15,000 daily subscribers (current as of December 15, 2009).

About the blogger (Richard Byrne):
My full-time job is teaching US History and Civics to high school students at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, ME. In the past I have also taught courses in global studies and English/ Language Arts.

I believe that when used correctly, technology has the power to improve student engagement and student achievement. I also believe that technology gives teachers the ability to form powerful, global, professional learning communities.

In 2009 I was nominated for an Edublogs “Lifetime Achievement” Award. I am a Google Certified Teacher.

Congratulations to Richard Byrne on an incredible blog. Great to see that he has been acknowledged for his contribution to professional learning for teachers worldwide.