Popplet is a tool that allows users to visualize ideas. Teachers and students can create graphic organizers, timelines, and many other forms of visual organization. Popplet's strength as a collaborative brainstorming tool, however, should not lead teachers to overlook its usefulness as an effective presentation tool.
Registering with Popplet takes only a few minutes and includes a tutorial that guides new users in understanding the basic features.
Once registered, users can begin developing their first projects by creating a popple: a balloon or textbox. By double-clicking on the Popplet canvas, text can be added, aligned, and resized in each new popple. Likewise, videos and images can be imported via Facebook, Flickr, or YouTube, or from any file saved on the computer. Users can also use the drawing tool to freely write notes or sketch a diagram. A comment function allows other users to leave feedback on individual popples. Finally, users can take advantage of color coding to group and organize their Popplet canvases.
In addition to these simple features, other tools offer added flexibility—which can be accessed by clicking on the wheel in the top menu. Users can edit entries and organize popples in a variety of way: either horizontally and vertically. Aside from Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube, Popplet also allows users to directly embed from Google Maps and Amazon. One helpful feature for teachers is found in the labs functions, where a "timewarp" displays a sliding timeline of the popplet's creation process. Finished popplets can be exported as JPG and PDF files, as well as saved and printed. A new feature is a desktop application that can be downloaded and allows popplets to be saved for offline presentations.
(Note: iPad users will notice two options: the lite (free) and full (paid) versions.)
Popplet is a new tool whose database of user samples is small but growing. However, a few examples demonstrate Popplet's ability to enhance the history classroom. A short history of Coke bottles is a good example of how visual displays can show change over time, or diversity, within a specific subject matter. Similarly, another example on the Popplet site focuses on Napoleon's career, mixing images with textual information.
Like another collaborative brainstorming tool, Wallwisher, Popplet is a useful tool for either teacher-directed or student-initiated projects. Teachers can use Popplet to create a variety of templates for student use of graphic organizers, timelines, or storyboards. For formal presentations, educators can develop Popplet displays that model historical timelines, hierarchal social systems, and other forms of organization that historians often rely on for their work. Popplet is also a valuable tool for collaborative planning among history faculty through its comments feature and multiple-user interface. Students will also find Popplet as a useful tool for initiating ideas for history projects or for displaying research, similar to other display tools like Glogster.
EdReach offers a nice reflective blog entries on first impressions using Popplet.