One of the great revelations of pandemic teaching was the zoom chat. Very often, the best part of the classes and workshops that I taught, and the meetings that I attended, was the parallel conversation that the chat enabled. In fact, when I returned to fully in-person teaching in Fall 2021, I discovered, much to my initial surprise, that I really missed the zoom chat. My online students had been so talkative! My in-person students? Not so much.
Since I was not looking forward to yet another semester of begging my students to participate, I decided to recreate the zoom chat for Spring 2022 to use in my fully in-person Sociolinguistics class, a small discussion-based class with a cap of 30 students. My tool of choice was Padlet.
I made my “class chat” Padlet with the Stream format because the layout resembles a text conversation, with all posts in a single column and newest posts at the bottom. I put a link to it on Blackboard, and I would project the built-in QR code for the first couple minutes of class so anyone using their phones could easily open it. Then, I projected it onto my whiteboard every single minute of every single day of class. Yes, I had to regularly remember to look at it to see if anyone had made a comment. No, I was not able to write on that half of the whiteboard since I was projecting. And no, I could not use PowerPoint slides because projecting the slide deck would have required me to stop projecting the class chat. So, there were some limitations. But, it was all worth it because so many of my students were using it.
Most days, I would have a brief writing prompt for the chat. I would ask a question and instruct my students to write their answers in the chat, so we could look at all their responses together. Every single time I asked a question, I reminded them that they had the option of raising their hand to speak aloud or typing into the chat. And, since the chat was always projected, my students could (and did) write whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. They asked questions for clarification, agreed (and sometimes disagreed!) with each other, pasted links to websites after doing some quick on-the-spot research to further the conversation, and even made a few jokes. I was pleased that even the jokes were on-topic; not one single person abused the chat all semester.
Once I made the decision to use Padlet inside my classroom, I decided to double down on Padlet and use it as my platform for low-stakes homework and my higher stakes group project. I figured that using a single tech tool for multiple purposes would be easier, for me and for my students, than using multiple tools, each for a single purpose. Because I was using so many Padlets, I needed the Professional account that ICIT offers*. However, for the class chat, all I needed was a single Padlet the entire semester. If I had only been using Padlet for that purpose, I could have easily used a free account from Padlet.com.
– Jack Kenigsberg (Rockowitz Writing Center / English)
* Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Hunter Padlet account.