Three uses of Padlet in undergraduate dental education (Julie Mallinson)

Lockdown offered time to be more creative and inventive with teaching, which has proved rewarding for both teachers and students. Julie Mallinson used Padlet thoughtfully in three different ways. Her approach to Padlet is uncomplicated and accessible, and her results have been refreshing and effective.

Full story

Julie was new to Padlet, but found different ways to use it in her teaching. Padlet can be used before, during and after a synchronous session.

Use 1: Live

Julie used Padlet with her 1st year group as part of a synchronous session to encourage student engagement and stimulate input. She used breakout rooms to give students an opportunity to ponder some questions before posting the answers on Padlet. Julie intended this as an online version of a face-to-face workshop where students work in groups using flip charts and pens to come up with their own answers to set questions.

The Padlet itself worked, but not with the desired discussions in the breakout rooms. Without a teacher around, Julie observed that students rarely engaged. Whilst some groups were talkative, others were completely silent. Julie realised the only way to get student engagement was via anonymous contribution to Padlet. She found at this point in the course, students are unwilling to have an online conversation, use the microphone or text Chat, perhaps because of a lack of confidence.

Use 2: Pre-session

This approach was also with a 1st year group, and was based on an idea Julie had whilst on the Digital Design course. She set up a Padlet for students to engage thought processes on a particular topic prior to an asynchronous lecture. This should offer students an opportunity to reflect on the topic before hearing Julie’s interpretation and to encourage them to challenge their own thought processes and understanding.

Julie looked with interest at what students wrote and referred back to the Padlet content within the lecture. Ideally, she would have liked students to have commented on each other’s posts. Julie feels their reticence was perhaps due to lack of confidence.

Use 3: Post-session

The third session involved Year 2 students as part of their OSCE. Students had a 1 hour Collaborate session, followed by an opportunity to ask questions on Collaborate. As Julie couldn’t be present at either of these sessions (due to timetabling and teaching obligations) she provided a Padlet for students to ask her questions over the following week, building in a natural period of reflective time. The intention was to give everyone in the cohort an opportunity to ask questions and to allow Julie (as the clinical lead for the OSCE) to contribute, despite her prior commitments. It was also useful for students with a reflective learning style.

Julie found this to be a successful session, where Padlet was highly effective. She found students had more drive in this session, perhaps because of the incentive of wanting to do well in their exam. Julie was impressed by the calibre of questions asked. Every student received an individual response. 

Year 2 Q&A Padlet board


  • Work out exactly what you want to get out of the Padlet!
  • Take advantage of training. Julie found the TEL sessions to be excellent, and had the idea for her first Padlet whilst on the Digital Design course, where she says she picked up some really useful points.
  • Increase teacher engagement to make student contribution feel worthwhile. Making comments on student comments might have made it feel like a more valuable exercise for them.
  • To increase student participation in breakout rooms, consider giving job titles such as scribe, timekeeper, etc.
  • It would have been nice to adjust the asynchronous lecture to reflect student comments, but this was not possible timing-wise. Ideally Julie would like to assess pre-learning and then adjust her session accordingly, but this can be impractical.
  • Even if you don’t achieve your original intended outcome, look for unexpected wins. Julie found the Padlet sessions a great opportunity to see where students were in terms of progress.
  • Consider how you can adapt and reuse online content for face-to-face teaching. Julie would repeat sessions 2 and 3 under normal circumstances. Pre-lecture engagement would still be useful work before a face-to-face lecture and the opportunity to ask questions before an exam would also be helpful.