Edmodo-A review

Update: I’ve created a guide to go along with this review. All you need to do is click the link below. http://www.scribd.com/doc/52581150/Edmodo . It’s 25+ pages of Edmodo info! If you can’t view the Scribd document, leave a comment and I’ll send you the PDF!

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OK folks, I am back for another engaging review. This time I am going to be talking about Edmodo . So what is Edmodo? It is basically a social network that you set up for your class. Now don’t roll your eyes just yet, this one is very different from Facebook as it has been specifically targeted for educators. With this focus, in mind Edmodo has been very thoughtfully planned to keep students and teachers on task. So let’s get into it shall we.

When I was first nosing around Edmodo I was very skeptical and here is why. I saw this thing (which looked like Facebook) I had terrible visions of kids more interested in their own chats than the topics at hand, cyber bullying, and inviting people that had no business in the class at all. Well, the good folks at Edmodo clearly had those same fears in mind when designing this educational social network. Students cannot carry private chats with each other, they cannot cyber bully and they cannot invite people to the class or have their friends sign up. Why? Well, cause the teacher is the HEIC (Head Educator In Charge). Students only have 2 choices when posting, They can post to the teacher directly or they can post to the class (or group as Edmodo calls it). This allows the teacher to see everything that is posted. I allow some off topic chats, but mostly I get a lot of questions about projects, assignments, and just general school stuff. It is a great way for me to stay connected OUTSIDE the class. I love this!

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This is just the tip of the iceberg ladies and gents. Not only can students post questions to you or the group (I do prefer the group as it allows meaningful collaboration), but I can add resources to Edmodo. That’s right, I can add hyperlinks, videos, embed YouTube videos, documents, PDFs, images, just about anything i want, and what is even better is that the students have the ability to add these things as well. In my class we were using online documentation to look up relevant information about the area that we live. Once students started sharing links, information, and ideas the project became more of a class collaboration than an individual project. Just by giving them a safe place to share ideas and to find ideas.
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What a cool way but it still gets better! I can also assign homework, projects, and classwork right from Edmodo. This way students and the teacher can see assignments, when they are due, if they have been turned in, and I can even grade them right in Edmodo.
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This gives students fantastic information about their grades, what they’re missing, and where they need to improve. Most students do not grasp the whole grading system. Many seem to think that all grades are relatively equal, but in middle school weighted grades are a reality (at least where I work). Therefore a test is worth much more than an in class assignment. While Edmodo does not weight grades, it is a great visual cue for me to pull up a student’s grades and have a good conversation with her/him about why their grade is the way it is. Since they also have access to this information, as the year goes on, they can have a sense of how their grades are shaping up. A great learning tool.

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You can also bring up individual student grades if you like

Some other great features that I will just touch on are the sorting features. Students and teachers have the ability to sort through the feed. This way they can just look at assignments, attached files, or look at specific groups (if you have more than one). You can also disable, reset passwords, and change the group code (this code is what students need to join a specific group). These features are very handy because people (not just students) can forget passwords. Now you the teacher have the ability to reset the password or disable an account (if someone has been a little naughty).
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You have a calendar that only you the teacher can add things to and you have a file manager. Also there is the library; let’s say you teach a unit and you want to reuse many of your same files next year. They are saved to you in your library on Edmodo and this is very helpful. Rather than scouring your computer and various flash drives, all you need to do is peruse your files on Edmodo and just add them again. Cool huh?
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I could go on and on about the cool features and how helpful Edmodo is, but I would like to close up this review with some important facts that many people seem to overlook when dealing with an online application or a piece of software. What I am talking about are the people that are behind Edmodo. I have had a few questions and each time I send that question (they have a special support group) I have gotten a very quick and effective e-mail. Once a colleague of mine was having trouble logging in. I sent a quick message on her behalf. Within one day her account password had been reset and she was back into her groups. Fantastic! Also, Edmodo is always improving. Just logging into today I could see that a number of style changes have been added and even a few small new features. Heck they even have an iPhone app! The people behind Edmodo know they have a winner and are working hard to make sure you know it is worth your time.

One more thing, Edmodo is a free service. No need to pay and they are committed to always offering a free service. I mean how can you beat that! Something the organizes your class, brings your students together in meaningful collaboration, and helps keep everyone up to date with assignments and grades? In short you can’t. I’ll be looking at other sites such as Moddle and others, but for now check Edmodo out-I think you’d foolish not to.

www.edmodo.com

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About Patrick Cauley

I teach middle school technology and love to play around with tech and teach students and colleagues alike. You can read my blog at www.itbabble.com
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22 Responses to Edmodo-A review

  1. Linda says:

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is
    added I get three emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from
    that service? Bless you!

  2. Pingback: Feeling Like an Ugly Duck with Edmodo | iDIGedtech

  3. Disenchanted says:

    My 4th grade son came home one day and announced that his teacher set up an Emodo account for all the kids in class. I was not given a chance to be informed, nor have I ever given permission.

    After investigating, and logging into my son’s account, it’s obvious Emodo is primarily a social site. The site allows file and picture uploads as well as chat within a specific group, in this case 25 kids. The great majority of chat had NOTHING to do with school-work- and some of it was definitely questionable i.e. “going to get you”, “do you like my outfit”, “we’re gonna sandwich him!”, “my house is on fire!” as well as an obvious attempt to at gaining popularity.

    Emodo states that it’s a great site for “school learning”… but learning what????

    Edmodo allows unfiltered posting of pictures, media, web links, and chat—the only thing that can be done to regulate this is for the teacher to scan and try to regulate what 25 kids are doing—which would only be found after the fact, if at all—as there were 1000’s of chat messages within the first week. After spending hours reviewing, surprisingly I did find four or five that actually pertained to classwork.

    Obviously the teachers are ill-equipped to handle and monitor the volume of chat to ensure the safety of our kids.

    • Dear Disenchanted,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I would like to start by saying that I love using Edmodo with my students. At my school we start using Edmodo in the 4th grade and continue on through high school and it is a big success. What it sounds like here is the teacher decided to jump in with not a lot of preparation. The teacher should have contacted you and you should have set up the Edmodo account with your child together and then joined the class. That way you are both aware of what it is and what is happening and you can talk about online etiquette.

      As far posts that are off topic the teacher can moderate and delete those that are not permitted. The teacher can take away posting privileges from individuals or the entire class. I know teachers who have done this until they feel their class new the ground rules on how to behave online. Which the teacher should have discussed with the class ahead of time.

      With my students I tell them that Edmodo is an extension of the classroom and if they wouldn’t be prepared to raise their hand and share it in class, then they shouldn’t feel that it is OK to share it on Edmodo. This works though there are those rogue posters who I need to pull aside once and awhile to remind them of the purpose of Edmodo.

      You are right, Edmodo is a very social site but this can be a positive. In my class, I’ve seen students use it as a forum to get help, clarification or help organize group work. It helps keep students up to date on assignments and important information and I find that Edmodo brings a level of transparency to my class that is nearly impossible to achieve without it. For that student excuses are cut down, I have fewer confused students and parents appreciate being able to see what is specifically happening in class and the results of turned in assignments.

      It sounds like the teacher has some good intentions but is not that informed. Have that person check out my guide (it’s a little dated but does a good job). Here is a link to it.

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/52581150/Edmodo

      Please let me know what happens if anything. As I said, I am a big proponent of Edmodo and what it can do for a class.

      Patrick

      • Sawickm says:

        Thanks Patrick, I do appreciate the reasons as to why you like it, however, at this time, there is no real way to control what is posted, only to try to mitigate and maybe catch something– as mentioned it took 4+ hours to review 2 days worth of posts– some kids posted over 60/day, and Edmodo hides many posts, which further increases the difficulty in quickly reviewing. There are some positives that you mention, but in all (at least at this time) the negatives outweigh the positives. I did bring this up to Edmodo Administrators before, and all they wanted to know was whose account it was, not what happened or how to fix the issue… Until they fix it, I’d like all parents to be aware of not only the positives (which is only mostly what I see online), but the negatives as well. Here is what I’m now posting to sites:

        ISSUE: Edmodo Enables Misuse and Bullying

        DISCUSSION: In a 48 hour period, my daughter’s 4th grade class of 24 students posted nearly 2000 posts. There was cyber-bullying, threats, sexual comments and strong innuendos, false claims of ongoing burglaries, and a student posted a graphic picture, and more… The Edmodo site is enabling this mostly unsupervised behavior. Edmodo allows unfiltered posting of pictures, media, web-links, and chat. There are no auto-filters, no smart scanners, etc. to find and filter web-sites, media postings, or text messages. It’s obvious that a single teacher cannot properly monitor the great volume of chat that is sure to continue if allowed and enabled. The most a teacher can do, if they “catch” something wrong (though not likely out the nearly 1000 posts a day from a single class- many of which become hidden due to compression), the most they can do is try to fix things after the fact. Of the nearly 2000 posts that I spent 4+ hours reviewing, only 2, yes, 2 out of nearly 2000, or close to 1/10th of 1%, actually pertained to classwork or homework. This needs to be addressed and FIXED.

        RECOMMENDATIONS:
        For users 18 years and younger (i.e. Edmodo accounts for elementary, middle and high school- which is probably where 90%+ of Edmodo users are):
        -Limit Chat: only allow a maximum of 5 posts per day (without this, it is unreasonable to expect adequate adult supervision)
        -Keep it All Visible & Easy for Adults to Review: do not compress any discussions– it should all be easily seen by parents and teachers
        -Keep Graphic Pictures & Documents Off: do not allow the posting of documents or pictures (other than possibly submitting an assignment directly to a teacher)
        -Filter It: incorporate a filter to disallow certain language and red flag inappropriate/bullying posts- and send a notice to the teacher and parent of such an event

        Without these recommendations, Edmodo will continue to Enable Misuse and Bullying- providing an unsupervised arena for our children… Not to mention the early indoctrination of our children into embracing social media, as Edmodo has a Facebook feel to it.

        These concerns were raised to Edmodo administrators over 6 months ago, and nothing has been fixed- other than they posted a parental permission form for schools to use that makes Edmodo sound like it’s some great thing… In actuality, our children would probably be much better off if it didn’t exist.

      • Dear Sawickm,

        First thanks for the very passionate comment. I can tell you are really upset about what is happening and as an educator, you should be.

        Second, your argument is flawed. That’s not to say there isn’t something wrong, because there clearly is, but the fault is not Edmodo. Your argument states that Edmodo enables misuse and bullying. This is simply not true. Let me put the same logic but to a different example. A person runs over another person with their car. Is the person operating the car accountable or the car company?

        Edmodo didn’t type or suggest to those children to type those horrible things. Think of Edmodo as a nicely organized container for teachers to use to increase communication, assist with organization and bring transparency to their class. Nothing more than that.

        Edmodo does have some features to keep this sort of thing from happening. It can allow teachers to moderate all comments before they are published to the group. They also can turn off posting privileges for an individual student or for the entire group. I bet you were not aware of that.

        The problem (and there are many) is not with Edmodo, it is your child’s teacher. The teacher clearly has no idea what he/she is doing when it comes to Edmodo. I am sure that they had the best of intentions but they clearly did not do their homework. I tested out Edmodo for six weeks before I finally rolled it out to my classes. When I did, I laid out clear guidelines of how it was to be used and I moderated comments at first. When a student did post something inappropriate I took immediate action and the parents were notified. When I encourage other staff members to try it out I offered free workshops to get them up to speed, so they knew what they were getting into.

        It sounds like the teacher in question just tossed it out to the class and let them have at it. This is a mistake in any educational setting with any educational tool. Do not blame the tool Sawickm, but the the person who is allowing the students to misuse it.

        I have no reason to doubt you when it comes to what was written and the sheer volume of it. My advice, take some screenshots, take it to the administration. These children must be helped and shown that this is not acceptable. It should be a talk between the teacher, parents and the child(ren) involved. The teacher should also be held accountable to some degree in my opinion.

        As for your recommendations to Edmodo, I would not use it if they were in place. I’d take my classes and students elsewhere. Edmodo changed my classes for the better. It brought us closer together and made us a learning community where students helped each other. Not this wild, uncontrollable web service you believe it to be. It can be controlled and easily controlled. If the teacher is unable to do this, then that person needs to stop using the service altogether. The service shouldn’t have to change.

        My parents are very appreciative of it as it helped keep their children more organized and the transparency it brings to my class would be nearly impossible to achieve without it. Myself, the students, the parents know what assignments they are working on, when they are due, the resources available to help them complete it and a controlled forum where they can safely ask questions and get answers.

        To sum it up, the problem is with the educator not the educational tool.

        Thanks for stopping by,

        Patrick

  4. Pingback: Facebook – A square peg trying to fit in a round hole | Technology in the Classroom

  5. Michael Lamb says:

    I’m using Edmodo in my grade six class. It is amazing! So much easier than having stacks of essay hard copy essays to grade. I read their essays right on Edmodo, and immediately assign a grade. I do not allow my kids to “post” to each other. There is a way to block that feature. (In grade six, there’s enough personal chatting going on already. My kids are totally engaged, and so am I.

    • Yep, that is one feature I love about Edmodo. It works for PowerPoints too! Edmodo is a pretty great platform and I like how they focus in on the individual classroom as opposed to the entire school.

  6. Flick Chick says:

    I am a parent and the fifth and sixth grade students at our school were just introduced to this yesterday, and I have many reservations. First, this site is being handled by our tech/librarian. She has about 100 students she is monitoring and I don’t know how she will have time to monitor every posting such as… “We got a puppy yesterday.” Also, she cannot monitor is 24/7 and the postings come up immediately. My son was bullied last year (in school, not online) and I’m concerned that this will be a new way to do it. Could a conversation run unchecked all weekend before the librarian has a chance to catch it? Also, I tried a few maneuvers to see if they would work. For instance, I could copy a student’s picture and bring it on my screen to use anywhere else, it didn’t block me from doing that. Also, it did not even give me a warning that if I clicked on a website, that I was going out of Edmodo and the site is not checked by them. According to our tech teacher Edmodo is going to be used to deliver assignments for technology class and kids can take assessments, but at this point it is only being used to socialize and it’s not being used by the students’ homeroom teacher in any way. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I will not let my children have Facebook acts because there are too many ways for other people to abuse it, but as far as I can tell, this program is not that safe either.

    • Dear Flick Chick,
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. You have some very real concerns and I’ll do my best to address them.
      1) Teacher monitoring – This is far easier than you may think. There is no way for students to send direct or private messages to anyone except their teacher. This means that everything they post will be public and the teacher can see and even edit or delete it.

      2) Using Edmodo as a place to socialize – Yes it is true that some students will use it as a social site or may chose to use it inappropriately. If that is the case the teacher or Edmodo administrator has the ability to take away their ability to post or even remove them from the group altogether. Also, you mention that the librarian/tech specialists is monitoring, but the individual teachers also have that same ability over their own groups or classes. Also students in one class cannot communicate with students in other class greatly limiting their ability to effectively socialize.

      3) Bullying – This is another real fear that parents have when students start to use Edmodo. As I mentioned before, everything that is posted is public. The proof of someone bullying will be right there online and then action can be taken. Since students without the code cannot join (and this code can be changed or even disabled by the teacher/administrator at any time) then this keeps out unwanted students who would like to “crash” the class and post inappropriate things and then leave. Edmodo does not work that way in this respect.

      4) You mentioned that you were able to copy your child’s picture and use it however you like. This is true anywhere in the Internet. Even if a picture is “protected” a person can still use a program to take a picture of it and use it however he/she would like. If this is a real concern for you I encourage you to speak to your child and hive her/him change it. Your child has completely control over this. Not even the Edmodo administrator can change it back. Edmodo has a number of premade icons. This will keep your child’s picture off the Internet a little longer. Also, you were able to get the picture because you had access. There is no way that I could gain access to your child’s picture even if I knew her/his name, school, group, etc. I would have to be a member of that particular group in order to gain access to her/his picture.

      5) Safety – Also you are right there is no check for what websites are linked inside of Edmodo. If a student were to post a link to an inappropriate website, the teacher could delete that link, remove that student’s privileges to post or even be apart of the group and then report them to the administration but there is no way to stop the student from posting it. There is usually a description of the link (it is required before posting) which gives you a pretty good idea of what it is. However, it is not much different than a student bringing an inappropriate magazine or picture to school. The real difference is on Edmodo we have proof and action can be taken to keeping that student from ever posting anything inappropriate again. If a student brings in the physical copy, it can often undetected as that student has the ability to show it off in private.

      I think your thinking of not giving your child a Facebook account is right on the money, but I don’t see how your child’s Edmodo account can be abused. You can change her/his picture, there is no personal information (apart from his name which can also be changed), so there really is nothing to abuse as far as one’s personal identity is concerned. You and your child have control over that information as well, not the school or the teacher.

      In general, Edmodo is a great way to deliver assignments and assessments online and provide a safe environment for students to collaborate and share. You can attach detailed explanations, give examples, rubrics, checklists, tutorial videos, etc. It can be a great resource for teachers, students and parents alike. I’ve been using it full on for the past three years and have not experienced or heard of students misusing Edmodo to a huge extent. The power the teacher/administrators have helps ensure that if it does happen it does not happen often. I like Edmodo and hope you give it a chance. I think you and your child will like it as well.

  7. Hi Patrick,
    As if you don’t have enough to do, have you checked out Haiku LMS? Looks a bit like Fronter. Would like to hear what you think of it. http://www.haikulearning.com There is a free account, but you can pay for more. Thanks for all the great reviews.
    Josh

    • Josh,
      Thanks for all the ideas. I’ll be sure to get to it as soon as I can. I really like the name though. I also had no idea that there were so many of these sites out there. This is great, the more choices, the better the competition, the better the products! :)

  8. Jen says:

    Dear Patrick,
    Have you stacked it against Lightspeed Systems “My Big Campus” that is a true Facebook-like K-12 e-collaboration tool with over 300,000+ populated educational library resources (and still gowing!)

    http://www.lightspeedsystems.com/resources/My-Big-Campus.aspx

  9. Matt Hurst says:

    Another one that I’m currently testing out is Schoology.com
    Any thought on it?

  10. Sal says:

    This is a nice tool and surprisingly free. I think it’s more suited to younger students though (under grade 8). It doesn’t enable networking and their projects capabilities are really very basic.

    • I’ll take a good look at enterthegroup.com and let you know how I think it stacks up to Edmodo. You may be right about the group projects, but I know high school and university teachers who use it. It is a nice way to reach students beyond the classroom and its simplicity makes it easy for teachers, students, and parents alike.

      Thanks for the comment and I’ll be sure to write a review of Enter the Group soon.

      • pross says:

        How do you think this stacks up against edu2.0?

      • Pross, thanks for stopping by. I checked out Edu2.0 a while back but didn’t delve too deep into it. I just came from their site it looks quite cool. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ll have a review up on IT Babble in the next week or so. Thanks for pointing me in this direction. We’re always looking for new and better tech to help teachers out. This looks quite promising.

  11. Pingback: Some sweet features on Edmodo | IT Babble

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