As mentioned in the previous posts on Kahoot!, Socrative and Shout it Out!, Popplet is limited to the definitions of its programming, however, these are not the boundaries of its potential. Popplet is a tool for both teachers and students. Additionally the app is marketed to business as an interactive organizational tool, lending credence to its value as a learning tool, and transference to ‘real world’ skills.
Graphic organizers are commonly used in classrooms to help students to organize and coordinate their thinking. A visual tool, organizers are benefit all students. The benefits of graphic organizers are even more profound for students who work better with the visual dimension activated while working in subject areas that require connections and scaffolding, ELA, Social to name a few, to experience success. Popplet is to graphic organizers what SMART Boards are to the traditional whiteboard.
The uses for Popplet in the classroom could include, but are not limited to:
- Note taking – Popplet could function as a virtual binder for concepts covered in any subject are. While there are actual virtual binder tools on the web. I do not know of one that would work as effectively for students. The ‘at a glance’ aspect of Popplet would function as a great way for students to keep track of concept progression in subject areas.
- Writing – From sentence, to paragraph, to essay, Popplet is a fantastic tool for developing and organizing writing. Evolving organically or in a linear fashion, student would again, at a glance, be able to see the connections, or lack thereof, in their writing. Additionally, using Popplet would allow students to access their notes as a structural tool for cumulative responses and summative assessments. Rather than flipping through page after page of note paper, students can quickly identify key ideas and supporting information from class, or individual supplemental connections.
- Access to Existing Popplets – A little sideline, but worth a mention is the existence of a growing repository of Popplets for students to access as a research tool. I am certain that this will grow, substantially, as the app gains traction. No tool to search these yet, so it does require some ‘browsing time’ (I’m sure its coming soon).
- Collaboration – Of course one great aspect of Popplet that paper can never achieve is for students to collectively contribute to a Popplet. As identified in the Introduction to Popplet…Popplet, students can collectively contribute to a Popplet. Whether in the form of ideas in formulated in class, or contributions stemming from personal connections, Popplet opens the door for class-wide contributions from students who may be hesitant to contribute in class. This, of course, deepens the relevance to students and helps move the position of ‘knowing’, and knowledge formation, from the teacher to the student.
These are just a few ideas of how Popplet might be incorporated into the classroom. Again, once the app gets in to the hands of teachers, and students, innovative and creative ways of using it will develop…consider it a ‘Remix’ for apps.
All too often we as educators see the value of tools in the classroom, but forget the role they could play in our role as learners. Popplet also functions as a great learning tool for teachers who all to often get caught up in the same stale methods for working on and developing ideas for use in the classroom.
- Planning – Popplet offers a great tool for planning. Many teachers spend hours organizing and creating plans for lessons, units, or even the whole year. Often these are generated in different formats that are specifically geared to: division office, administration, teachers, then students…How great would it be if we had plans that were decipherable by all tiers of of the educational hierarchy?Imagine a year plan that could be navigated by students? Or a lesson plan that showed progression and sequence of ideas, that could be posted for students and parents to navigate and reflect on when needed? No more would it be necessary to make these documents two, three, even four times, and in different formats. This would save time and and increase student access to information. who, out there in the teaching community, couldn’t use a little more time, while at the same time potentially leading to increased student outcomes?
- Collaboration – OK, this builds on the previous point, but it is a valuable aspect, and perhaps a great place to start using Popplet in a professional manner vs. one that is strictly educational.I know that I have had conversations around the idea that myself and other teachers need to get together to plan. We are all doing great things in our classrooms, however, all to often they stay in our classrooms. Popplet allows teachers to work collaboratively to create concept maps on content or outcomes. Teacher groups could work in grade alike PLC groupings that would allow them to share lesson plan ideas, resources, and activities, without ever having to meet (particularly valuable to divisions that cover large geographic areas). No longer would teachers need to scour the web for effective activities as they would be collectively gathered and vetted in a common and easy to navigate format. All the while becoming more comfortable with the platform, and its use, for students in the classroom.
There are challenges to Popplet. There is no way to store, that I know of, locally. This means you are dependent on the internet and connection speeds for work to be both generated and accessed. You can save in image formats jpg and png.
Not really a big deal in this day and age with cloud storage, and remote data for adults…becomes a tricky issue when working with students. However there are connection issues in schools as they often do not enjoy the same access to bandwidth that other, sectors can afford.
Then there is cost. I will be honest the cost is minimal and I think Popplet is making an effort to keep costs down for educational institutions (Popplet if you read this…thanks for that). However, convincing those who hold the purse strings that it is a valuable tool can be challenging without evidencing its potential benefits. Trial periods would be nice, and the investment would, I believe pay off for both teachers and Popplet.
Finally, its new. There are bugs to iron out, like inserting pictures (still haven’t had success in that endeavor). However, I think back to Voicethread. When I was in university VoiceThread (@voicethread) was a ‘big deal’, but it was tricky to use, not very flashy and connection speeds were, at the time, slower than molasses in January. VoiceThread now? Whole different kettle of fish (OK that’s the last euphemism…promise). Flashy and quick, Voicethread is something I will have to look into once again. Popplet is in a similar phase. However, much like VoiceThread, I am certain that Popplet will undergo revision and refinement, as it transitions from beta, to better serve its users in both the professional and educational fields.
Ultimately, Popplet is a pretty cool app. Its usage is simple, and the results are valuable. Little input has the potential for some great outcomes. Your kids will undoubtedly use it with more vigor than the countless versions photocopied only to one day festoon our, lets be honest embarrassing, recycle bins. So head over to Popplet, and visit @poppletny to see what they are cooking up next for this useful little tool.