In the infancy of this blog, I wrote a post about Edmodo. I was looking for a platform upon which to build my 7th and 8th grade class sites. The post describes the pros and the cons of using Edmodo and is still a good place to start learning about it.
I didn’t ultimately use Edmodo. I had just discovered GoogleDocs and decided to put my efforts into learning how to use Sites. Not a bad tool…but this year my needs changed and I gave Edmodo a try. The rest of this post is a synopsis of my trimester.
In a nutshell, Edmodo is a self contained classroom that looks like Facebook. There really is no learning curve for students- they get it right away. It’s easy to introduce and the workflow for students is simple- log in, check the progress pane to see where you are, and get to work.
From a teacher’s viewpoint, the advantages to Edmodo are many:
1. Notifications: Students and parents (yes, there is a parent login) can receive updates from you via text message or email. The text option has proven to be quite popular with both parents and students. I even have my notifications set so I get a text whenever someone posts something. This helps kids stay within the classroom rules that we set about what the Edmodo wall is for.
2. The Library/Backpack/Activity Stream: I often find extra resources that I’d like students to have access to outside of class. The Backpack allows me to share folders in my library that show up in the student’s backpack. The activity stream shows me who is accessing them so I can tell which ones are most readily used.
3. Differentiation Tools: You can easily create small groups within Edmodo. Have kids that need remediation? Create a group, add members, and assign work to just these students. Need more complex assignments for your students who are ahead? The same process works for them as well.
4. Progress Page: Students and parents can easily see progess. The progress page has visuals as well as links to assignments and the status of each. No more wondering if a teacher has graded an assignment and not put it into the grading software. Teachers can grade work as they review it, comment on it, link to resources etc., cutting down on the time it takes for feedback to reach students. Students can also ask questions about the assignments without having to wait to see the teacher or hoping he or she gets an email.
5. Connections to other communities: As teachers living with non-existent budgets, professional development can be hard to come by. Edmodo has subscriptions to communitites to help you bridge the gaps that budgets create. I subscribe to a smartboard group (Teq). By following a community, you get updates on YOUR page without having it show on your students’ pages. Of course, they could follow the community as well if it enhances what you do in your class. Communities and resources are well categorized which is a good thing because there are SO many of them!
6. Badges: Think of badges like virtual stickers. Even 8th graders like to collect them! They can be customized as you wish and assigned for anything- academics, work ethic, or anything else you celebrate in your classroom. Just be prepared to stay on top of it once you start doling them out!
7. Tech support: This probably should be in the number one place. Edmodo’s tech support is unsurpassed. First of all it’s done by live people in real time. I almost always get an answer to my questions within an hour of asking them- and frequently its much quicker.