Lino – A review

Not too long ago I did a review about Padlet. It’s a pretty good service and I know another similar service is Lino and I thought I’d do a review about it as well. I’m not going to compare Lino and Padlet … yet :)

So here we go!

Signing up

Why do I do this? It’s so simple and just about the same as every other site. You can sign up with your own email account or sign in with one of your other accounts. Check out the image below.

As you can see, you can use your Google, Twitter or Facebook account to sign up as well making it just as easy to get up and running as any other site. I even think you can connect it to your Yahoo account.


once you log in, you will be brought to your dashboard and look at that! Lino has two canvas for you to look at and trail for yourself. Now that’s pretty considerate wouldn’t you say? You have a Main canvas and a Someday canvas

You also see a How to lino canvas down at the bottom of the image. This is a canvas that shows you all that you can do with Lino which is also a nice touch. Kind of a proof is in the pudding kind of an example. You can see there is a clearly defined button to click to create a new canvas as well. It’s kind of nice, but the help section is far more informative.

A new canvas

When creating a new canvas you get the option of selecting the background (you can change this at anytime, so don’t lose any sleep over this) and then it appears. A blank canvas with two floating palettes and a hidden one. Check out the image below. The backgrounds are pretty good and sticky notes don’t seem to get lost or feel out place when looking at them on the different backgrounds.

The palettes themselves cannot be moved which is a shame but at the same time I kind of get it. They want you to work around the palettes, not constantly managing the palettes. Anyone who has ever used an older version of Microsoft Office on Mac knows what I’m talking about. You would be constantly be moving, closing, opening, moving and so on, so I get it, but it still is something you are working around.

However, all the palettes themselves are quite useful. The sticky palette lets you add stickies to your canvas. You can also find links here to go home, get info about the canvas, access the help page, log out and two newer features I’ve not seen before. All in all they are all pretty useful and straightforward.

Now onto those two unusual features. One is Highlight New. This feature will add a number to each sticky that shows the order in which they were added. Check out the image from another canvas I was playing with.

Pretty handy, especially if you are a teacher trying to keep track of what was added first and so on.

The other feature is Show Private. Basically when you add a sticky you can make it private. By clicking on and off the Show Private you can show or hide those stick notes. When they are “hidden* you see a translucent sticky but none of the info is present, even to you!

The navigator let’s you quickly get around a large canvas which is handy. It is just like the navigator palette in Photoshop. The calendar is kind of interesting. It will show you important dates (like holidays), but it also has another function. On a sticky you can add a due date and it will be reflected on the calendar.

Another interesting thing about the calendar is that it reflects important dates from all canvas, not just the one you are working on. That’s kind of neat.

The canvas palette lets so switch between canvas quickly. It also allows you to move sticky notes between canvases as well. Just open up this palette and you can drag a sticky right to the canvas you want it on. Again, this is a clever feature.

Sticky notes

Now to the main feature of Lino, creating sticky notes on your virtual cork board. It is really easy, just drag a sticky note from the palette anywhere on the canvas. Don’t worry about the color you can change that at anytime and there are more than four options that the palette shows.

After you let go of the mouse (or trackpad) you can then add your message, due date, change the color of the note and font size and color as well. You can also make it private or not.

Again, Lino adds a nice feature. You can send this note to somebody. Be aware that when you do, the note will disappear from the canvas though.

You can attach just about any file type to a sticky note as well, but with a free version you can only upload files 10 MB or less. There are plenty of ways around this, so it shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers.

To see who made what sticky, just hove your mouse over the smiley face in the bottom left hand corner of the sticky.

The name of the user will appear. The user can add a profile picture, but at that small size it is difficult to make out what it is.


Like Padlet, many users can work on a single canvas at the same time. Also, like Padlet, you have no idea who is on your canvas at any given time and when changes are made to it, they are reflected pretty quickly but not as quick as Padlet does. It can take a minute or less for those changes to appear.

The choices of who can do what are pretty basic. There is no moderation (at least none I could find), but you can set up notifications so when someone does post something, you get an email or a message in your dashboard.

I wish there was a moderation option like Padlet, but as an administrator you can delete any sticky added to the canvas.

Summing it up

Leno is very good and if you are thinking of using it for groups to brainstorm, to have people post their point of view, it could be good. It’s easy sign in, powerful and attractive feature set make it a winner in any classroom.

Which is better? I’ve got to get back to you :)

Padlet – A quick review

Padlet has been a mainstay in classrooms for years. It was previously known as Wallwishers. Basically it is a blank canvas and you add notes. These notes can include links to websites, various types of files and images. If you use the premium option you get more options such as uploading videos from your phone, premium themes, larger storage and a few more perks.

Let’s get into it.

Step 1 – Signing up

This is crazy easy. You can sign up with your Google, Facebook or Twitter account. To sign up with your email, just give them your email, make a password and click I’m Beautiful. I think that last part is really to prove that you are not a robot.

Step 2 – Your dashboard

When you first log in – you have a pretty lonely dashboard, but worry not we will change that.

Normally you see a list of your Padlets and a list of activity that has happened like the image below.

So let’s create our first Padlet and change this situation. To start one, click on New padlet in the top right hand corner.

It’ll take a second but then you will find yourself inside your fist blank Padlet, which is very much an empty canvas. To add anything, just double click. No menu to drag items, no shortcut keys, no convoluted floating window that you constantly have to move around to see what may be hiding under it. Just double click and what looks like a sticky note appears.

Here you can write a title, a description and then add a webpage, upload a file or use your webcam (if you have one … you probably have one) to take a photo. All in all its simplicity is great. It’s easy enough that a young elementary student can use it and it is flexible enough that someone in higher education can use it as well. It is pretty rare to find a tool that can appeal to that wide of an audience.

You can do more and we will cover that in Step 4.

Step 3 – Settings

I don’t want you to misinterpret what I’m saying here. I know a lot of people here the word simplicity and they equate that to very little options. That is not the case with Padlet. You will notice on the far right hand side of your Padlet a little menu bar with icons. This is a place that you will not visit too often, but it does have some important features. Check out the image below to get a quick idea.

Here is a list and quick description:
– Home = Takes you to your dashboard
– New = Let’s you create a new Padlet
– YOU! = Let’s you switch between your Padlets, access your account and log out
– Share = Let’s you share it on social media, get a QR code for easy mobile access and get that all important embed code to put it in websites
– Info = Gives you very basic info about that particular Padlet
– Help = A very helpful quick guide to Padlet’s features
– Settings = The settings where you can change privacy, the wallpaper and more

The settings are where you can make some real changes. Check out the image below.

Here you can change the wall paper, and a favicon of sorts to your Padlet, change the privacy settings and more. I do have to say that many of the wallpapers are kind of ugly. I tended to pick the backgrounds with a light colored background.

Step 4 – Adding content to your Padlet

Like I mentioned earlier, all you need to do is double click to add text, images, webpages and more. You can also drag and drop files right inside of Padelt making it even easier to get those files uploaded.

Since not all sites support all files, I thought I would take it through some of its paces to see what I could and couldn’t upload. Check out my list below.

  • PowerPoints = You can preview the whole presentation without animations and sounds
  • Word documents = Both .doc and .docx files
  • Excel files = You can preview the spreadsheet (thought is was a simple one with no charts and only one sheet)
  • Images = Yes it supports animated GIFs
  • PDF = You can preview
  • Youtube = Yep and I’m assuming that the same goes for Vimeo videos as well
  • Your own video/audio files = Sure as long as it is less than 25 MB.
  • Apple’s Pages file – It uploaded, but no preview was available
  • Apple’s Keynote – It would not upload
  • Apple’s Numbers – I didn’t try but I imagine it would work like the Pages file. Also, you shouldn’t be using this lousy program anyway

Step 5 – Collaborating

One reason why I’m writing about Padlet is its ability for students and colleagues to collaborate in real time together. In this day and age, this feature is a must (looking at you Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel online). Of course you can turn it off if you need to. By default your Padlet is publicly available through a Hidden Link. This means that you have to share the URL of your Padlet to people who want to work on it.

To get to all the settings select Settings from the far right hand menu and then select Privacy. Check out the image below.

As you can see, you can make it private, invite people through email, make it totally public (meaning people can even search for it) and even add a password to it. This flexibility really makes Padlet pretty sweet. To me, it is very clear of what everything means and makes it very easy to find and accomplish what you want to do concerning the privacy of your Padlet.

As for as the actual using of it, I had no notification when someone else was editing the Padlet and when changes were made, items just appeared, moved or were modified in an instant. If someone has editing rights, they can change whatever they want which makes sense, but if a person logs in and deletes everything I couldn’t find a log or version history that will allow me to see who did this or if it could be recovered. Something that makes Google Docs pretty darn sweet.

Also, if a person edited someone else’s addition, it never reflected that anywhere. Another thing that made me a little uncomfortable. However, Padlet’s answer to this is to allow the owner to moderate all new posts. You can find this option in the Privacy settings at the bottom.

When a person tries to add something it looks like this.

The owner sees this on their screen.

Once approved it shows up for everyone to see. If it is not approved, it is just removed. No notification is given to the author. The post just ceases to be. The owner even got a warning message saying that this could not be undone.

Also, people invited to edit cannot delete or edit anyone else’s posts once the moderation feature has been turned on. Of course the original author can delete or edit their posts.

Step 6 – Sharing

Sharing is important – almost as important as collaborating and Padlet has some interesting tricks up its sleeve here. Of course, you can share it to a bunch of social media outlets with a click of a button and then you need to sign in. You can also email, print or subscribe to it via RSS feed. I guess if you want to see what’s happening to your Padlet in your news feed you can.

There’s even a QR code for those with tablets and mobile devices that want to see it, in all its glory.

What really caught my attention was the Export features. You can export it as and image which is nice, but the PDF looks pretty cool. It is a timeline of what was added, by whom and when. Check it out.

That is just kind of neat. Sure images and notes added are not displayed, but all the links are there if you want to go directly to that info and it is a nice way to kind of summarize all that there is in a nicely looking package.

You can also export it to an Excel or CSV file. Both look pretty similar. Check it out.

Last but not least you can embed it into a webpage (it’s even friendly). Turns out I was wrong about that. Padlet is trying to work with but as of this post there is no way to embed it into a blog.

Feel free to have your way with it!

Summing it up

Padlet is pretty good. It works with Google Apps for Education and if your school shells out a little cash, you can some other nice features as well. I know people who swear by it and others who are less charmed with it. I’m going to be checking out later this week to see how to two compare.

SignUpGenius – A Walkthrough

Since I just wrote my review of SignUpGenius, I figured I would follow it up with a post about how to use SignUpGenius. Now like before, SignUpGenius does the job although it’s a little ugly and with some annoying ads, but it is pretty easy and if it’s just you or a small team, then this could work for you so read on!

Step 1 – Creating your account

Super easy, all they need is your email, password and your name. From the home screen, just click the Login/Join button in the upper right hand corner.

Then fill out the required info as I mentioned above. Check out the image below. They do make a strong claim that they will never sell or share your data with other companies.

Step 2 – Start your first sign-up

Now that we have an account it is time to create our first sign-up. For this example, I’ll set up a parent-teacher conference sign-ups. So let’s get going.

Once you’re logged into your dashboard, you will notice that there is a button near the top right hand corner that says Create a Sign Up.

Now it will want some basic information. It wants a group and a title of the event. Later on, it will ask you to add email addresses. If you use this group again, those emails will automatically be loaded so you can inform them.

Step 3 – Themes galore!

Yep, they have a lot of themes to chose from. My own personal opinion is that they are pretty ugly though. I suggest choosing a white or light colored background. You’ll see why later. However, picking a theme is pretty easy. Just select what you want and click continue.

Step 4 – Date and time

Since this is a sign up, this is kind of important and SignUpGenius makes it pretty easy. Again, this example is for parent-teacher conferences so I’ve set a start and finish day and then set the intervals for the conferences.

Again, just click Continue to move on.

Step 5 – Slots

OK, this is really the only confusing part and it’s not that bad so don’t worry. Here is the screen for the next step.

You can add something for the Title Slot which might confuse people. I added You and your child’s name for some clarification. What is a little confusing here is that do you need to add that to each of the blanks or just the one? The good news here is just add it to one and it will replicate it. I guess this option is here in case you want different people to work on different things at different times. It is kind of clever but a little confusing at first blush.

You can also add how many people you want for each slot which is kind of nice, but unnecessary for this example.

Step 6 – Settings

This is pretty simple. You can make certain fields required and the like. Check out the image below – I think it speaks for itself.

Step 7 – Preview

The next step gives you a peak of what it will look like. Mine is ugly (see it below).

Step 8 – Invite and make it live

Now that you’ve seen your preview, it is time for the last step. Inviting people (which is optional) and making it live.

You can add the emails manually or by importing them from Microsoft’s email, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL mail or even through a CSV spreadsheet. When you are done, you can send the invites and make it live, just make it live and send no invites or continue to work on the draft.

Once it is live, SignUpGenius will provide you with a link so you can look at the actual live site – check mine out in all it’s glory.

Ahhhh – glorious.

There you have it! Those are the basics and should get you up and running.

SignUpGenius for Parent Conferences – Not so fast!

For years parent conferences have been done the old fashioned way. The teachers send home a form. The parents fill out the form, the teacher reviews the forms, checks with other teachers (for students with siblings) and then sets the times and then sends those times home. Then the parents respond back with other ideas and so on and so on.


All the parents just show up at a given time and hope to get in to see the teacher they need to see.

Online sign up sites can help with this and we’ll be reviewing SignUpGenius today.

What does it do?

It lets teachers create their own sign up sheet for parent/conferences or any event that may require volunteers.


It is free but they do have paid versions that cost $10-$50/month. You can find more information here by clicking HERE.

Does it work?

Yes – it does.

The Problem

This isn’t so much a problem as it is sticking an oval peg into a perfectly round hole. If your school doesn’t have an online sign up and it is all left up to you, then SignUpGenius is probably a really good solution. Honestly, set up isn’t too bad (I’ll go through with that in a later post) and all you have to do is email out a link to your parents or you can add their email accounts to SignUpGenius and have them send out an invitation email.

The problem comes if you want your entire school on SignUpGenius. Because SignUpGenius is not centrally managed. Meaning that each teacher is responsible for setting up their own sign up sheets, getting it out to parents.

Sure there are ways to “manage” it, but that requires someone to take on a bit more work. Each teacher will have to email their link to a “supervisor” (just a teacher who doesn’t mind taking on a few extra hours of work). That supervisor will make sure that it’s been set up correctly and then email back to those that need help. Then help those people.

Also, other parents can see who signed up for what. I’m not sure why this would be an issue, but if you wanted to schedule in a bathroom break parents may try to take advantage of that time (don;t shake your head – I’ve seen it before).

Another problem is that parents can sign up for more than one time. Sometimes, they just don’t know how to get rid of their first appointment, the other time or they are hedging their bets. Either way it causes a little work for the teacher.

If it were managed centrally, then all this would be taken care of. Allowing parents to sign up for more than one time slot can be controlled by one person, and all the teachers would be responsible for is making sure their name is correct, the room number is correct, do they want bathroom breaks and to be aware of which parent is coming at what time.

If you want to put your whole school on a system I recommend School Bookings. It’s not free, but it is not too expensive either and it is very easy to set up and use. Check out their pricing HERE.

Summing it up


Good for individual or small groups of teachers. Free for the most part and pretty easy to use.


Not good for an entire school because it is not centrally managed. Parents can see who has signed up. Parents can sign up for more than one time.
To sum it up, if it is just you or your team – then go ahead with SignUpGenius. School Bookings is just too much. If you want the entire school you will want something that is centrally controlled and managed like School Bookings. You can read my review (a few years old but it still stands up) HERE. The prices most likely have changed and I know the visual appearance has changed a little too.


Should you use it – sure. I’m not a hater here (most times). This would work for individual teachers and small groups of teachers. Need a place for parents to sign up as volutneers? This is good! Want to hold a PD for your staff and want to know who is coming? Yep again. There are uses here but not on a whole school/district level. It becomes messy to scale it up to larger groups.

Want to make an app? Better research first!

I’ve seen a lot of people asking about making apps with students. I think it could be a great idea, but if you think you’re going to pair students off and then have them make an app in 4–6 weeks you should think again. While it might be fun, it greatly underestimates the time, cost and work needed to develop even a simple app.

Check out the infographic below to get a sense of what it really takes. The infographic is created by The Nine Hertz a company that actually makes apps.

Instead we suggest making a few apps with an entire class over a period of time. Give them a budget, guidelines and a direction and have them go at it. This will invloved negotiating with art designers, coders, getting it approved, marketing and constantly revisions and upkeep.

If that sounds unrealistic (hey-money and time doesn’t grow on trees), then look at programs like GameSalad to create apps quickly. There are others out there, but GameSalad is among the best.