Edtech tool of the month: Talkwall

Not just your average visualisation tool, Talkwall, a service which allows for innovative teacher-student engagement in classrooms, is based on new research that explores designs for involving students in rich, whole-class discussions.


The cloud-based tool allows classes to share, evaluate and develop knowledge together. For example, teachers can use the service to propose questions or tasks and students can respond, either individually or in a group basis, posting messages to a white board or projector in the classroom.


Particularly beneficial for student interaction in larger classrooms, Talkwall also fits in well with many of the latest teaching methods and strategies, whereby teaching is characterised less by unquestioned pedagogy, with teacher imparting knowledge that students must consume, but by teachers acting as guides, using technology to ‘curate’ learning experiences with student input.


For example, Talkwall allows for effective flipped learning classrooms as students gain the ability to collectively respond to teacher input, in the process promoting active participation. Posts can be interactively arranged on the wall, encouraging instant visualisation and the comparison of ideas.


According to Dr Ingvill Rasmussen, who is part of the team of researchers at the University of Oslo who developed the tool, TalkWall is “designed to support the development of 21st century competences, such as critical thinking and collaboration skills.” By avoiding proscriptive methods of learning, it encourages flexibility in teachers.


“TalkWall doesn’t strongly structure classroom activity through embedded scripts, steps, or procedures,” Dr Rasmussen notes, but rather “empowers teachers to orchestrate classroom activity in different ways and in different situations. TalkWall can thus easily be combined with a flipped classroom approach.”


When developing the tool, the team sought to differentiate TalkWall from other micro-blogging and visualisation tools on the market, drawing on state-of-the-art research which emphasises the importance of ‘dialogic’ interactions in classrooms. According to Rasmussen, “there are other micro-blogging and visualisation tools around, but they do not have this flexibility for involving and sharing collective thinking in the classroom and individual thinking.”


Being inspired by pedagogy that values “co-construction, participation and dialgoues,” TalkWall is gaining traction in the current learning ecosystem. It has already been taken up by the The Centre for Professional Learning in Teacher Education in Norway, as well as the major portal in Norway for open educational resources for secondary schools. Dr Rasmussen sees it as having a bright future, pointing toward “international initiatives related to establishing standards and ecologies for tools such as TalkWall to be used in concert with other tools in a flexible way in 21st century classrooms.”


Talkwall is available from www.talkwall.net and samtavla.no. You can hear more about the research project from Dr Ingvill Rasmussen at OEB 2015.



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