Map pinboarding for icebreaker and real-world case-based learning

Ikedinachi Ogamba

Sample map pinboard on Padlet
Figure 1. Sample map pinboard on Padlet

What is the idea?

Map pinboarding involves the use of Map, on Padlet or Google, to facilitate student engagement in icebreaker exercises and case pedagogy in online and blended classes. It allows tutors and students to pin (add) a post to specific geographic environments or locations, react to and comment on others’ posts. It also creates a global view of all participant’s selected locations, establishments, and posts. Therefore, it has been useful for classes with diversity of local and international students and for analysing real-world global concepts and case studies.

Why this idea?

As an icebreaker, map pinboarding could capture participants’ various geographical backgrounds, locations or establishments, as well as other information e.g. name, education, hobbies, likes/dislike, pictures etc. This can be useful in getting to know one another and in networking both synchronously and asynchronously, and in a diverse cohort of local and international students.

For engaging students in case-based learning, map pinboarding can be useful for eliciting multiple perspectives and issues from various geographical, socio-demographic and global standpoints. It can be applied in individual and group work to analyse and aggregate information on real-world global challenges and in complex fields like public health and global health, economics, business, management, politics, international subjects etc.

In addition, the use of map pinboarding activities on Padlet promotes visual sense simulation, information assimilation, co-creation and collaborative learning among students and tutors (Dewitt et al., 2015; Gill-Simmen, 2021). Therefore, it can be useful in advancing both students and tutors concepts, knowledge and intercultural and international awareness. When used in case-based learning, it can help in developing key skills which are generally relevant to enhancing students’ future career and employability including the ability to independently search, analyse and synthesise and summarise information, critical thinking and problem-solving (Coetzee, 2012). Moreover, map pinboarding makes learning exciting and effective as students can make their contributions based on a familiar environment or location of interest and expertise, and make better sense of the case (Harmer, 2009). Hence, it enhances active participation in class discussions and group work, provides global perspectives of the concept and problem, and comparative analysis of written case studies or ‘live’ cases.

How could others implement this idea?

Step-by-step instructions on how to implement

For the purpose of this chapter, Padlet Map would be used to describe how to implement map pinboarding, which is simple and easy to set up as follows:

Log on to your Padlet account.

Click on “Make a padlet”, then select the “Map” format.

Modify the Padlet by adding a title and description of activity to be undertaken; also select a Map Style (see Figure 1); change the Attribution to display author name above each post; enable Comments to allow viewers to comment on posts; enable Reactions to grade, star, upvote, or like posts etc.

Once you have modified and set the sharing and accessibility preferences, it would be ready to share with the student for either synchronously or asynchronously activity.

While sharing the link, you could provide additional instruction on the activity to complement the description on the Padlet wall.

When adding a post, tutors and students could pick an environment or location by searching or selecting a place or establishment or dragging and dropping a pin icon to a point on the map. They could also zoom in and out of the map to pick or view specific establishments, location, cities, countries and continents.

When they have added a post, it would be pinned to the selected locations. They can add text information, pictures, videos, files and other attachments to their posts.

Students and tutors could hover and click on each pin to edit their post content or to view, react or comment on others’ posts. The Preview Panel can also be used to scroll through and view all posts.

Students and tutors can react and comment on posts. The reactions could include “Like posts”, “Upvote or downvote posts”, “Star – Give posts 1-5 stars” or “Grade – Give numeric scores to posts”.

Map format to select on Padlet
Figure 2. Map format to select on Padlet


General ideas for an icebreaker: Ask each student to select a location (town, city, state, region or country) where they are from, then add a post with their name, education and career background, likes and hobbies, and their favourite picture etc. Students and tutors could react and comment on their peers’ posts, creating an opportunity for networking.

General ideas for case-based learning: Identify a relevant challenging and complex real-world global problem, provide context and geographical options for students to consider, give clear criteria for analysis and structure for presenting the outcomes on their Map Pin-boarding post (see sample on Figure 2). To use a public health topic as an example, you could have the students do research on the spread of a pandemic in various hotspots and share data and factors affecting the epidemiological trend in the posts or comment box of each Map Pin. Also, the tutors could create Map Pins and have students collaboratively add information to specific Pins for their individual or small group work.


Map Pin-board highlighting a post
Figure 3. Sample map pinboard highlighting a post

Transferability to different contexts

Map pinboarding could be used for both synchronous and asynchronous session activities.

Map pinboarding could also be implemented with the use of the Google My Maps application, which is a live platform providing real-time locations, information and features. The Google My Map platform is also more colourful and appealing compared to the Padlet Map wall.

Map pinboarding could be used for portfolio reports for fieldwork activities or field trips.

Links to tools and resources


Coetzee, M. (2012). A framework for developing student graduateness and employability in the economic and management sciences at the University of South Africa. In M. Coetzee (Ed.), Developing student graduateness and employability: Issues, provocations, theory and practical guidelines (pp. 119-152). Knowres Publishing.

Dewitt, D., Alias, N., & Siraj, S. (2015). Collaborative learning: Interactive debates using Padlet in a higher education institution. Proceedings from International Educational Technology Conference (IETC 2015), May 27–29, 2015, Sakarya University. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology [Special issue 1], 88-95. 

Gill-Simmen, L. (2021). Using Padlet in instructional design to promote cognitive engagement: a case study of undergraduate marketing students. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 20.

Harmer, B. M. (2009). Teaching in a contextual vacuum: lack of prior workplace knowledge as a barrier to sensemaking in the learning and teaching of business courses. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 46(1), 41-50.

Image Attributions

Figure 1. Screenshot – Sample map pinboard on Padlet by Ikedinachio Ogamba is used under CC-BY 4.0 Licence

Figure 2. Screenshot – Map format to select on Padletis used under CC-BY 4.0 Licence

Figure 3. Screenshot – Sample map pinboard highlighting a post Padlet is used under CC-BY 4.0 Licence

About the author

Ike Ogamba has a broad experience of leading the design and delivery of learning and teaching in HE and leadership and management experience in global health and development practice. He is a Senior Fellow of the HEA, with Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) interests in design, innovation, digital education, e-learning, inclusive and authentic curriculum.


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100 Ideas for Active Learning Copyright © 2022 by Ikedinachi Ogamba is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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