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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.