Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Have you tried Edmodo yet?


I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Edmodo.  Whenever I heard about teachers talking about creating a class page with their students, Edmodo always came up.  And I'm interested in using technology more with my students;  I already had a classroom blog which I talked about in this post.  I just didn't know how Edmodo was different.

The instructors likened Edmodo to Facebook.  While I wouldn't "sell" it to parents in that way, the kids did see the connection right away and were excited about all the features:

  1. Kids can personalize their account complete with avatar, learning style, career goal, and inspirational quote (they can even search by famous person within the system).
  2. Kids can reply to posts.
  3. Kids can write their own posts for others to reply to.
  4. Kids can upload photos, links, and documents.
  5. Teachers can post all of the above as well as polls and quizzes (very similar to using Google forms, but integrated onto Edmodo itself).
  6. Teachers can enter dates and assignments into an integrated calendar.
  7. There's an app for that (Apple and Android).
However, Edmodo is designed for children and therefore has safeguards against predators as well as cyber bullying. 

First, when you sign up for Edmodo as a teacher, you are given a "classroom code."  You will give that code to your students when you sign them up, and no one else can see the page unless they register with that code.  It's not the same as a password, in that the children will sign in with a username and password each time they log in, but the code is only used by them once when the register.  Once your whole class registers, you can "lock" the group.  If you get a new student later in the year you can reset the code to register that student (students who registered already don't need to re-register with the new code).  So the bottom line is, no one is getting on now or later without your help.

Second, unlike Facebook and other social media sites, there is no private messaging between students.  Anything a child writes will be seen by you and every other child in the class, and it will be logged under their real first name.  If a child was going to say something inappropriate, it would be as if they stood up in the middle of class to say it; it's all out in the open.  You even have the option (in case you do have a "bold" class this year) to "moderate" comments.  That is, you can set their posts to stay hidden from the other kids until you approve each one.   

Edmodo does not require an Email to sign up (unlike most websites that you create accounts for).  The only tricky thing about signup is that children need to tick a box that says their parent has read and agreed to the terms of use.  Out of respect to this rule, I sent home a permission slip that granted the children permission to tick the box in class during my introductory lesson.  [Update] A reader requested a copy of this permission slip.  I've added it to my TPT store for free for a limited time, so if you're interested, grab it now!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Edmodo-Permission-Slip-Free-1195367
I've used Edmodo for 2 weeks now, and honestly I am not sure I love it more than the classroom blog.  Tomorrow over on Shut the Door and Teach I will be writing a pros and cons list for Edmodo versus Weebly.  So if you're interested in Edmodo, I feel it IS worth trying, but you might find a different platform suits your needs better. 


9 comments:

  1. We've used Edmodo for the last 3 years at our school for fourth and up. For us it was a way to contact our students directly, since most do not have email. It has been a great help to our faculty in that way - being able to communicate directly with the students rather than sending everything to the parents' emails and hoping they would tell the child. We also use the online gradebook - fourth grade is the first year our students get traditional grades, so it helps both the students and the parents keep track of where they are at any time. I also like that I can keep documents, directions, etc in folders for the kids. The calendar is helpful for our group too because fourth is the first year the kids travel between teachers and classes - organization, organization, organization!

    Janie
    Are We There Yet?

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  2. I've used Edmodo for the last 5 years in my classroom. We use it almost daily. I love the capability of being able to have a folder to store documents, links, videos, websites, etc. for the kids to access at any time. It's 100% safe and it's extremely easy to navigate. I doubt I would ever switch to something new.
    Alison
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

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  3. Very interesting post. Thanks.

    I'd love to hear more about what you actually use Edmodo for and how well you think it's been "accepted" by both students and parents. Specifically, are the things it offers mostly "nice-to-have" or is there functionality that you couldn't see yourself living without? I ask because I follow a variety of similar classroom communication tools, most (but not all) of which seem to be modeled on social media platforms. And I wonder to what extent they become indispensable, versus simply just another channel for communication you're already doing through other means (your blog, email, notes home etc.).

    Would love to get your thoughts on that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've done a post over on my other blog that compares Edmodo with Weebly here: http://shutthedoorandteach.blogspot.com/2014/04/edmodo-vs-classroom-weebly-blog.html

      So far the kids enjoy it; they have been better than I expected about staying on topic with their posts. They like to "quiz" their peers with math problems, as well as, "can you name a landform in the Southeast Region," and "What is your favorite animal?"

      I have not received any feedback from parents. I still have 3 students who have not returned permission slips, so I'm not ready to go all out with it. I don't THINK the lack of permission is due to resistance; they (or more likely the kids) have just forgot. I may revisit this topic in a future post once I've had more experience with it. For now, I'm just getting started. :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks for referring me to your other blog. The comparison with Weebly (which I admit I know nothing about) gave a great perspective on Edmodo's value. Now I need to look at Weebly as well.

      Delete
  4. Hello,
    I was thinking of using Edmodo with my fifth graders. I agree about the permission slip for the use policy check box. By any chance could you share your permission form you sent home?

    Thanks a ton!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ask and you shall receive! I posted it last night in my TPT store. You can download it free (for now) here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Edmodo-Permission-Slip-Free-1195367

      Delete
  5. I love using Edmodo in my classroom! When I introduced it in the fall, my students were commenting on how it resembled Facebook and that definitely got them excited to start using it. I currently use Edmodo at my Technology Station with students posting replies to the videos, pictures or questions that I've posted. I know that Edmodo has lots of other capabilities, but for now...this is working for us! I also love how I need to approve students post before it hits the web. Can't wait to read your future posts on Edmodo.

    Amy
    Turtley Loving Teaching

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