Day 5: “A to Z” Guide of Apps & Web 2.0 Tools
Are you looking for a free, easy to learn tool that:
1. Is designed to increase two-way communication between you, your students and their parents?
2. Has the ability to send text notifications to an entire class or individual students without providing your phone number?
3. Has a web version as well as a free iPad/iPhone/Android app?
4. Allows you to create quizzes that will be automatically graded and provide students with instant feedback?
5. Gives students the opportunity to provide YOU with feedback on an assignment (Needed more time, Tough/Challenging, Awesome, etc.)
6. Offers preset or custom-design digital badges that can be used to reward your students for their achievements/behavior in (and outside) your classroom?
7. Includes an interactive polling feature for creating entrance and exit tickets?
8. Is integrated with Google Drive and provides access to additional free tools including SchoolTube, Pixton Comics, EduClipper, and Subtext?
9. Comes with a knowledgeable, responsive support team of REAL people who will answer your questions about the tool?
10. Gives you the ability to connect with other educators in your content area who share curriculum resources?
I could go on, but if you aren’t using Edmodo yet, what are you waiting for? It is a safe and private “learning platform” with a Facebook look and feel that will be familiar to most of your students. Although some may think Edmodo is an LMS (Learning Management System), this blog post by Edmodo’s CEO Crystal Hutter clearly states it is not. So what exactly is Edmodo? Cutter states,
“Edmodo is a free, teacher-centered social learning platform. Powered by a global network of teachers and students, Edmodo emphasizes collaboration, discovery and sharing of new resources and best practices, access to the latest educational apps, and classroom management tools. Edmodo’s grassroots usage can thrive alongside official LMS deployments and in many school districts, Edmodo is used as a no-cost LMS alternative.”
In addition to the (partial) list of features mentioned above, Edmodo is an excellent tool to use if you are committed to teaching responsible digital citizenship. They have teamed up with Common Sense Media and offer an entire K-12 Digital Citizenship Starter Kit. There is also a digital citizenship community with close to 8,000 members where you can find all kinds of resources, advice, and ideas for teaching digital citizenship to members of your school community, including parents. As more and more digital tools are accessed by students, it’s critical that parents become partners in guiding them towards responsible, ethical, and appropriate use. Creating a local, private digital classroom with Edmodo can help students understand the “rules” of digital etiquette and ultimately become positive contributors to the global, public digital world.
When, Where, and How to Start with Edmodo:
I would advise introducing your students to Edmodo at the very beginning of the school year or semester if you teach half year courses. So, if you are gearing up for your second semester classes, now is the perfect time to give Edmodo a try. Start with quizzes and polls, and as you and your students become more familiar with the way Edmodo works, experiment with some of the more advanced features. For example, after you have established groups for each of your classes, you can create sub groups. If you assign a project where students are working in teams of three or four, you can create a group for just those students. This type of classroom management is where you can really start to differentiate your instruction and provide students with a personalized learning experience. Another important point to note is that Edmodo can provide a “voice” for your more introverted students. Some of the quietest students in my classes were the ones who used Edmodo to “talk” with me the most, especially outside of class. If you do plan to communicate with your students outside of class, establish your “virtual office hours” so students and parents are aware of when you will be available to respond to questions. If your district has a policy about student communication outside of the school day, then obviously follow that and include that policy in your course syllabus.
Everything You Need and More:
Hopefully I have convinced you to log on to Edmodo.com and get started. I’m referring this tool because of my personal experience using it and while it hasn’t been perfect, (if you have tried to integrate a tech tool and can say it’s been perfect, I’d have to respectfully call your bluff), it has been one of my favorites and I often refer it to the colleagues in my school who haven’t yet integrated a social learning platform.
If it’s “too late” to use it with your students for this academic year, invest some time into setting up your virtual classroom and getting it ready for 14-15 (it will be here before you know it!). Definitely join communities that are applicable to your discipline and reach out to other educators. Like Twitter, there are many helpful educators using Edmodo whom you can connect with. Looking for a class to Skype or Google Hangout with? Google+ is a great place to investigate to make those connections, but don’t forget about Edmodo as a place to build and cultivate a PLN. If you are looking for very specific content resources and ideas for your curriculum, but you also want that “human aspect” of connecting with other people, Edmodo could be the best technology tool you are not yet using.
Here are direct links to Edmodo resources you may find useful:
Posting Rubric (created by Marc Hamlin; West Greenwich Regional High School in Greenwich, Rhode Island)
Here is a brief tutorial on how to get started with Edmodo: *Slide three features a link to a blog post from one of my former students and her thoughts on using Edmodo as well as a link to a Voice Thread I created last year as a part of a Social Media/Web 2.0 presentation. Students talk in the Voice Thread about the social media tools we were using in my class and in particular Edmodo).
Have you used Edmodo in your classes? What has your experience been like? This year I used my blog, GMail, and Remind 101 in conjunction with Edmodo to communicate with students. I’m planning to use Edmodo more this upcoming semester for quizzes and as a way to introduce appropriate blog commenting to my students. Did I mention Edmodo offers the ability to moderate comments before they are posted to “the wall?” I’d love to hear about your success and/or challenges with Edmodo. I’d also love to hear from you if you have used SubText and/or EduClipper with Edmodo.