Sometimes two unrelated workshop tools were just meant for each other. This is a conclusion we are coming to, after several Ketso Connect users independently realised how useful Padlet could be when used alongside the kit in online workshops. We put it to the test and found it addresses a key concern from early Ketso Connect workshops, by allowing participants to see each other’s ideas in real time. Using a tool like Padlet to share images of participants’ felts adds a new dimension, building a bigger picture of concepts and allowing participants to track the development of their thinking over time.

Ketso Connect gives participants a tactile and visual way to develop their ideas. It is a small, individual kit that people can use in their own homes and remote settings, using a felt workspace and ‘leaves’ to illustrate ideas, priorities and grouped concepts, before sharing them in group discussions online. As each leaf has only a word or sentence, the resulting ‘map’ of ideas is intuitive and easy to comprehend.

We knew the kit helped students to talk to each other, but were looking for a way for participants to share pictures of their felts in the breakout rooms. This needed to be very quick and easy, allowing people to take pictures straight from a mobile or tablet. The images needed to pop up straight away, and participants needed to be able to comment on them, move them around and create links between them.

When the Ketso team was looking for a solution, a colleague at Manchester Metropolitan University recommended Padlet. It turned out that another colleague at Manchester Met, Susan O’Shea, had been using Padlet for a while to capture images of her students’ Ketsos developed in face-to-face teaching and had adapted this to her online teaching with Ketso Connect.

Padlet is a digital tool that offers an interactive virtual space where participants can collaborate by sharing images and ideas on an evolving canvas. By sharing a web link, you can invite multiple participants to view the canvas and take pictures on their mobile phones or tablets, which automatically upload on the page for everyone with access to see. Participants can also upload files and share content like written notes and imagery. It looks a little like a bulletin board in format, and is often used by educators.

“I am seeing that the quiet, off-screen time for reflection that Ketso Connect brings into online settings really helps people feel more confident in sharing ideas with each other. This semester, I am excited to combine this powerful learning aid with Padlet”.

It’s easy and it works

Padlet’s power lies in its simple canvas-like pages where everyone can share their content easily – in a neat and tidy way that really appeals to users. When used in conjunction with Ketso Connect, it forges a wonderful marriage of two very different kinds of tools, one grounded in tactile, brain-to-hand interaction and the other in the powerful central sharing space of a digital domain. This combination is an ideal way to bring engagement into the remote working and learning that we have had to adopt during the pandemic.

An opportunity to test

Having been alerted to the potential for Padlet to help with this, an opportunity for the Ketso team came about to try it out for themselves in the real world. As they prepared to run a workshop for young people in Wigan around developing a nature reserve, one of the participants asked if Padlet could be used as well. A trial was agreed, and a quick poll of the participants after the first workshop showed that they all found using Padlet to share images of their Ketso Connect useful. The success of this method led the team to use it again in a workshop for over 50 regional stakeholders exploring the future of the landscape between Manchester and Liverpool. Positive feedback about the combination of Ketso Connect and Padlet included, ‘the opportunity to brainstorm with others and see what similar or different priorities people have.’

Ketso Connect and Padlet are combined in an online lecture for 120 students

Joanne is now taking the lessons learned from these trials into her teaching, with a class of over 120 students. The Padlets will act as a stimulus for engagement in online sessions, a resource for assignments and a record of everyone’s contribution to group projects.

Introducing the process step by step, she has found that by week two students are already self-managing their group discussions. In sharing ideas from their Ketso felts and facilitating their own breakout rooms of roughly six students each, they are learning professional communication and facilitation skills. This is helping build and demonstrate employability.

This video gives a one minute overview of how Ketso Connect and Padlet combined works.

Joanne says: “I am seeing that the quiet, off-screen time for reflection that Ketso Connect brings into online settings really helps people feel more confident in sharing ideas with each other. This semester, I am excited to combine this powerful learning aid with Padlet. We have had twenty groups at a time adding their pictures of Ketso Connects to their Padlets, and discussing their ideas from locations around the world. It is a fascinating experience to watch the evolving record of students’ ideas build up in real time during the live sessions.”

One postgraduate student commented that this recent lecture, when Joanne used Ketso Connect and Padlet together, was one of the few she had attended where she had actually engaged with her fellow students. She said that previously she had often found herself sitting in breakout rooms in silence for 10 minutes, staring at blanked out screens with everyone else on mute.

The Ketso team will be adding resources to our How To section on how to combine Padlet and Ketso Connect, including PowerPoint slides you can adapt to introduce the practicalities in easy steps.

Ketso Connect is continuing to drive innovative approaches in education. Kits have gone out to students all over the world to 25 countries already, including the USA, Nigeria, Lebanon, Pakistan, across Europe and China, as well as all over UK. If you are interested in finding out more, please do contact us.