I have been a user of Edmodo for a number of years now. What surprises me about this social networking site is its depth. I began using it as a place to post private class discussions. For those who may not be familiar with this tool, teachers sign up for a free account and add groups; I associate a group with each period’s class. Each class is assigned a group code. After students sign up, you give them the appropriate code and they can join your class groups. This makes it quite easy for students to use Edmodo for multiple classes but keep them separate. For example, many of my peers allow extemporaneous discussion on Edmodo. I do not, believing that places like Facebook and Twitter are better suited for this kind of activity. I also discourage contact with me unless it is direct to keep discussions private. Each teacher can set their own parameters, since they will be unable to see the other teacher’s space.
Then I discovered the assignment piece. Working in a computer lab this was a wonderful way for students to turn in work. As long as I have the appropriate program to open a file on my end, students are able to upload most any file. There are times that we have had to work through this. For example, I want all Publisher files saved as .pdf and Window Movie Maker converted to .mov. Students don’t always understand that a working file is not necessarily a published file. I have had to get rather stern with this rule because I grade most work on a Mac computer that does not have these programs.
With Paint, I prefer the file to saved as .jpeg because the other image choices force me to download the project to be able to see it. I want to open it and use the annotation features that Edmodo includes. It is especially nice to annotate Word files and show students exactly where there are problem spots. The annotation component allows you to type anywhere on document in a variety of colors. You can also highlight and strikeout parts of the text. With the resubmit option, students are able to correct and attempt for a higher grade.
It was only recently that I discovered that Edmodo has a notifications feature. Sometimes the obvious doesn’t appear to me. With that feature, I know when students have submitted work or communicated with me. Edmodo also features a free phone app that will push notifications.
The teacher community on Edmodo is very active and helpful. You can connect with other teachers and share ideas and materials. Other features that exist and may prove useful:
- Badges you can make or borrow from other users to reward work or behavior
- Polls to survey students
- The ability to make and assign quizzes
- The ability to form subgroups
- Add parents as observers of the work
Edmodo sponsors professional development called EdmodoCon in August. Unfortunately for me, my school system begins the first week of August BUT the sessions are taped for those of use who cannot attend this virtual event. I discovered a wonderful idea for using Edmodo to create a virtual gaming unit. I plan to modify and use this idea with my 8th grade Computer Technology students later this semester. It involves all the aspects of gaming but students “play” by writing blogs.
I find myself checking Edmodo just as I do email, Facebook, and Twitter to see if there is anything new because I feel like I am just doing the minimum now!