My Experience With Edmodo
Steve Anderson’s recent post, “Summer Learning Series-Collaborative Classroom With Edmodo,” inspired me to share my experience over the past year using Edmodo as my classroom learning management system. When I discovered Edmodo I fell in love with it instantly. I love the “Facebook” look and feel of it, the fact that it has an iPhone, iPad & Android app, and that it allows me to link to Google docs. Most importantly, my students (most of them) enjoyed using Edmodo to communicate and collaborate with me and each other.
Advantages of Edmodo- The Teacher Perspective
The set up of my teacher profile page took very little time. The site is extremely easy to use and there are all kinds of guides to help you get started including:
Posting Rubric (created by Marc Hamlin; West Greenwich Regional High School in Greenwich, Rhode Island)
In addition to the guides provided by Edmodo, there is also an excellent support team. Members of the team quickly respond to any questions you may have regrading using any of Edmodo’s features. There are also community groups that educators can join based on content area. Community members discuss and share resources and joining an Edmodo community is a great way to expand a professional learning network.
After my profile page was established and a group for each of my classes was created, I had my students create their profile pages. For the students, the set up took even less time and required zero direct instruction. Student profiles consisted of a favorite quote (Edmodo provides a library of inspirational and school appropriate quotes), their learning style (hugely important in developing personalized learning experiences), intended career goal, and of course, a profile picture. I required students to use a professional photo and encouraged them to use professional photos on all their social networking sites in order to project a positive online brand image. As a result, several students changed their Twitter profile pictures to accurately reflect the serious, young professionals they aspire to become.
Once my class groups were established and I showed students how to access the course content I shared with them via folders, we were ready to take full advantage of the bells and whistles offered in Edmodo. I could create polls and quizzes, post discussion questions, send reminders, and add due dates to the calendar. I encouraged students to set up text notifications, which many of them did, as well as install the Edmodo app. Overall, my first year using Edmodo was highly successful. However, there were some unanticipated challenges I experienced with Edmodo that I also wanted to share.
Advantages & Disadvantages- The Student Perspective
The majority of my students loved using Edmodo, as I had predicted. Introverted students embraced Edmodo the most because it provided them with an outlet to communicate with me and their classmates in writing, versus participating orally in class. Additionally, students who were absent were able to keep up with what was going on in class through reading my posts and/or sending me direct messages. I saw a spike in homework completion and major improvements in the written work of my students. I wholeheartedly believe the quality of written work increased because students knew their peers would be reading their posts. However, not every student embraced Edmodo, and this is what caught me by surprise.
While the initial response from almost every student was positive, over time, some students decided to disable text notifications from me because they “didn’t want to be bothered.” It was a tough adjustment for some students to suddenly realize that they had increased access to communicating with their teacher outside of class. Many students were stuck in the 20th century mentality that school hours were confined to 7:15 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. and after that, communication was no longer necessary or wanted. Not surprisingly, there was a definite correlation between Edmodo use and student grades. The students who were active on Edmodo, asked questions, and solicited my feedback prior to submitting final versions of their projects, earned higher grades on assessments than those who did not.
Although we often believe our students our “digital natives” and will fully embrace a tool like Edmodo, the truth of the matter is that not every student is going to get on the “classroom without walls” bandwagon, nor will their parents. I decide to adopt Edmodo this year because I wanted to help my students achieve to the highest level possible. I determined that being accessible to my students outside of class would have an impact on their learning and achievement and I was correct. Sadly, not every student took advantage of the power of Edmodo despite my best efforts. There were a few students who were not aware of due dates, assignment requirements, and were “disconnected” in general. I may or may not use Edmodo as my LMS for 13-14, but whichever tool I decide to use, my goal will be to get 100% of my students (and hopefully their parents) on board and ultimately increase student engagement and achievement.
If you decide to try Edmodo in the fall, I am confident you and the majority of your students and parents will love it. Realize however, that you may experience similar challenges that I faced and potentially some resistance to adopting Edmodo; especially if you are the only faculty member using the tool and your district is not all that tech-savvy. On the other hand, if you are teaching in a tech-rich district, you will be more apt to find enthusiasm for Edmodo and will have the opportunity to build a strong and vibrant digital learning community.