I teach a third year option module called Crime, Media and Culture, and towards the end of the course incorporate a session on visual criminology, in which we explore the ethics and politics of viewing/representing images of crime, as well as considering how visual culture interacts with the criminal justice system. This is the second time I have taught this session, and in the previous year I invited students to bring to the seminar an image that they felt 'represented' some aspect of crime for a 'show and tell' seminar activity.
This year, I decided to trial Padlet to allow students to curate a gallery of images that we could discuss in seminar, setting up the gallery page and uploading one image with a little commentary on why I had chosen it to provide students with an example. Students were then asked to add their own image and commentary in advance of seminar.
Using Padlet to facilitate this activity aimed:
1. To enhance students' engagement with the session by giving them greater ownership over the seminar materials discussed.
2. By giving students the opportunity to look at others' images in advance, an opportunity to reflect critically on their relationship with the image they chose, and why they had chosen it.
3. Easier display of images in class itself, and the ability to edit in advance any graphic content that might be upsetting to some students.
I found using Padlet for this activity more successful than the previous year in meeting the learning outcomes. Students said they found Padlet very user-friendly, as it does not require participants to sign up for an account to become interactive users, and images can be added either with a link to a webpage or by uploading a JPEG file. I added the link to the gallery to the Moodle page, but also emailed it to them directly a week before, as well as flagging it again in a lecture. Students also said that they liked that, as a cohort, they had curated their own visual criminology 'scrapbook', and that they thought it was particularly useful that the gallery was easily accessible, so they could return to it for exam revision. Click here for the visual criminology Padlet link.
One negative impact of using this approach was that not all students who attended seminar did select and add an image in advance. I suspect this may be down to the anonymity of the Padlet page. While it may enhance collective student ownership of seminar activities, anonymity perhaps diminishes individual responsibility for seminar preparation. In future years, I will ask students to sign off their commentary to try and mitigate this.
Overall, with the above caveat, I would recommend Padlet, and will in future use it for other student-led tasks, such as asking them to curate media articles and audiovisual content for seminar discussion, or tutor-led activities, such as posting links to journal articles on a particular topic.