Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Two More Possible Padlet Replacements

Doug Robertson definitely wins the "best tweet of the day" for his suggested Padlet replacement: giant pad of paper and sticky notes. I love it!

There have been lots of other free suggestions today, like using Google Docs, Slides, or Drawings as a replacement. Everyone's fave Richard Byrne blogged about 5 Alternatives on Free Tech for Teachers today.

Still, I poked around and looked at two more possible Padlet replacements: Pearltrees and Stormboard.


Pearltrees was not new to me, but I was prepared to hate it because in my previous use of this tool, I found it to be not intuitive. I am usually willing to give a tool 15 minutes. In that time, I either find value or decide it's not worth the time. I'm glad I took a fresh look at Pearltrees because within 15 minutes I could see teachers using this one. It's much different than I remembered it.

The interface is pretty simple. Click a plus sign and you can add a collection or an image, file, link, note, or import things from Drive, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, or your computer. Collaborators can be invited through email. Collections are embeddable. Here's the one I made:
You can also share your collections via link, through email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and by QR Code (nice touch for education!).

Pearltrees has a free and premium service with special packages for educators. The free package comes at a cost - all collections are public. For only $25/year, you can change the setting to private and get full customization.

Pearltrees has an iOS app, an Android app, and a web clipper Chrome extension or Firefox add-on that you can use to add things to your collections from anywhere on the web.


Stormboard was a new tool to me, so I was excited to try it out. I saw a few people recommend it on Twitter yesterday as a possible replacement. It's really designed to be an online brainstorming, collaboration tool, but could be used with students in a Padlet-y way, I suppose.

You start by creating a "storm," a board where you will post ideas and perhaps encourage others to do the same. They have ready-made templates that serve many purposes, including some education specific templates to help students write 5-paragraph essays or compare and contrast two topics. Once you name your storm and choose a template, you can click to add an idea in the form of text, a whiteboard, an image, a video, an index card, or a file. "Text" is a sticky note and I quickly mastered that. You can color code the sticky notes and create a legend for what each color represents. I struggled mightily to get the whiteboard to work (I managed a sad scribble eventually) and almost started cursing when I tried to delete my index card. Video and image were much easier. If I used the tool a lot, I'm sure I would get the hang of it, but I didn't find it to be intuitive. Here is an image of my final product:

You can share storms, and invite collaborators, via link and email. If they are embeddable, I did not find that option. When you are finished with a storm, you can close it, but they can never be deleted.

Pricing is a little tricky. There is a free Personal plan that gives a user 5 open storms with 5 collaborators each. For $60/year, the Startup account gives unlimited storms and collaborators. There is an Educator package also which allows for unlimited storms and collaborators with more storage and features; it is free until June 30, 2018. Not sure what happens after that date.

There is an iOS app, Android app, and Microsoft app, but I did not find a browser extension or add-on. That makes sense for what this tool is designed to do. It's more about brainstorming and not so much about curating.

Bottom line: For me, I would choose Pearltrees over Stormboard, but depending on what you need, they each have potential.

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