Noticeboards, or bulletin boards, are a great way of sharing information and making it easily accessible to a group of people, whether students or work colleagues.
But there can be drawbacks: for example, if they are not properly monitored, leaving them open to abuse.
What type of noticeboards are there and what are they used for?
Wall-mounted noticeboards have been around for a long time and are still useful for sharing information at a college, workplace or other venue. They tend to either be made of cork or felt with pins to attach notices, or of metal with small magnets to hold notices in place.
Virtual noticeboards can be used for basic pinning of information, but have a wide range of additional features.
An admin will usually set up the noticeboard and control how the boards are used, for example:
- Advance monitoring versus free posting
- Allowing comments on posts
- Inviting select people to view and use a board
- Setting times for tasks to be completed
- Sending email alerts when a post is added or amended
The basic version of an online noticeboard is often free to use, with additional features available through monthly or annual subscriptions. Being virtual, they can have different wallpaper backgrounds and layouts.
One of the first online noticeboards was Wallwisher, now called Padlet, other options include:
Asana, Blackboard, eduClipper, Group Zapp, Milanote, Miro, Mural.ly, Netboard.me, NoteApp, Pinup, Popplet, Prezi, RealtimeBoard, Ryeboard, Slatebox, Spaaze, Stormboard, TUZZit, Trello and Walling.
As well as being useful for posting information, documents and images, some online noticeboards now support video content.
Intranet noticeboards are online noticeboards commonly used by companies and educational facilities. Messages can be posted about work schedules and projects, class times and study projects, work and personal support, forthcoming events, general announcements and small ads.
What are the downsides of using noticeboards?
Wall-mounted boards can potentially be defaced and information added or removed by anyone, which is why they are often protected by glass or Perspex frames or placed in lockable cabinets to restrict access.
Online and intranet noticeboards can suffer from technical issues leading to a loss of data or inability of users to access the boards.
However, the main drawbacks of online and intranet noticeboards in particular is the risk of people broadcasting inappropriate or harmful content. Similar to the risks around social media, this can include extremist material, propaganda, fake news or bullying comments.
Online noticeboards usually include the option of allowing the admin person who creates the board to review all content by other people before it gets accepted as a post. Most will allow the admin to remove content once it has been posted, but this could be too late if people have already viewed and possibly shared the posts.
If your role requires you to safeguard vulnerable people, it’s best to use the most stringent settings and keep a close eye on what is posted and how users react to it. Extremist material that suggests the person posting is at risk of radicalisation, for example by right-wing terrorist groups, should be followed up with the poster and, if necessary, with the relevant authorities.
A final consideration is that using online and intranet noticeboards can result in additional screen time. It’s important for users to have regular breaks to avoid health issues such as problems with posture, and ideally to take a break from the screen at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.