I’ve been working with a group of HS teachers that work in a one-computer classroom environment. After introducing them to Edmodo this past October, two of them (a language arts and a history teacher) decided to utilize it. (If you are not familiar with Edmodo, take a look at this video.)
We met again on January 13th and I was so pleased to hear how things have been going.
Both teachers mentioned the benefits of using Edmodo:
- It’s user friendly
- There’s a polling option
- Students can submit assignments
- It allows for a paperless environment
- It seems like it accepts most file types
- The teachers can edit student comments and posts
- Students have their own accounts
- Teachers can send alerts to their classes
- You can connect with other teachers
At this point in time, the history teacher uses Edmodo mostly for course management. Students must submit their assignments through Edmodo in order to receive credit. In the past, the teacher was getting e-mails with attachments from his students. Frequently he would hear excuses about assignments being sent, but not received. Now, since they are all on the same platform, the student can show him when it was sent.
The language arts teacher said that students communicate with him more through Edmodo (virtually) than in class (face-to-face). He requires blog posts from a set of students each week. Since sometimes information from these posts are included on exams, students are required to read them and comment. The language arts teacher felt that time is lost during small group instruction to socializing, so some of these conversations have been moved over to the Edmodo forums. This leaves the conversations in class more focused and in-depth and there is time to cover more literature and push their critical thinking skills. Specifically, the teacher mentioned that time spent in literature circles was often time lost to socializing. He couldn’t be with each group simultaneously, so it was difficult to moderate the conversations. With Edmodo, this was no longer an issue. Now he feels he has a greater presence in the classroom.
We spent some time discussing how the students were able to get all this computer time when each classroom is only equipped with a tablet computer and a wireless projector. It really came down to students using their home computers. Both teachers said that “there isn’t a working printer in the entire town”, so prior to using Edmodo, students would not hand in their homework as they couldn’t print it. Each teacher gives the students plenty of time to complete assignments so that they can make arrangements to use a computer in school or at home. Actually, out of the 120 plus students they have combined, there are two students who don’t have computers at home. Impressively, the majority do have smartphones and with the Apps that Edmodo has for the iPhone and Android, there’s just no excuse.
So, how is Edmodo benefiting the students?
The two teachers felt that:
- Knowing their audience had grown, students writing was improving
- Being able to embed videos was encouraging students to look for quality content on YouTube
- It was a great way for students to communicate in a forum rather than just one-way e-mail with the teacher
- As an intro to blogging
- Student responsibility has gone up – everyone is submitting everything on time.
- Student engagement is up
- They are learning from each other
- They are speaking up more in Edmodo than in the classroom
- There are great teachable moments about what to type that people can see
- They are practicing writing for purpose and audience. They can use text messaging in the Forums with each other, but if it’s being graded, it must be grammatically correct.
- Their grammar is better for a larger audience
Their recommendations for teachers new to Edmodo were:
- Color code your classes so it’s easy to see which class a student is from
- The students got comfortable fast. Be prepared to consider removing some threads and allowing the students to start again as they learn proper etiquette.
- Just start it. It’s worth it.