It’s odd but I don’t think that I have ever blogged (solely) about edmodo. Edmodo is my most favourite web 2.0 tool. Why? Because it literally has become my virtual learning space. I guess I could say ‘classroom’ but I won’t because it connotes four walls and isolated teaching and learning. I guess I could say ‘environment’ because that is the buzz word (er, I mean ’acronym’) ’VLE’ but for me the word ‘space’ connotes freedom from the traditional restrictions placed on learning. I could use adjective ‘institutionalised’ in the preceding sentence but I refrained as I know you’ve heard it all before – being eduporn addicts and all!
So why blog about edmodo now? Afterall, I’ve been using this ‘micro-blog’/'social-networking for education’ for over 18 months now. I’ve been evangelising edmodo for the last 12 months. NOW is the time to blog about because it’s getting just so damn good! The people at edmodo have (honestly) listened to their community and moulded their (dare I say it?) ‘product’ to suit our needs and wants. It’s really cool that users can have such a genuine influence on education tools – what’s better is that it is free. It better stay that way. Can I have a chorus of ‘Ning’?
I’m not going to blab on about edmodo like I do with everything else (afterall I have 6 hours to complete three piles of marking – two physical and one virtual – and three PBL projects to organise) I’m simply going to list my 5 fav things about edmodo at the moment.
1. Communities: This is a brand new feature just introduced to edmodo yesterday. (Aside: You know you’re an edu-geek when you notice a feature introduced 5 mins after it becomes available!) Edmodo communities are oriented by subjects (i.e. Social Science; Science; Mathematics; Language Arts) and are ‘suggested’ to teachers in the ‘suggestions’ tab. Once you join the community you can get direct access to the resources/ideas/experience/feedback of other teachers from around the world. Iknow many of you are on twitter – the best PLN there is. What edmodo communities allows you to do though is save any of your favourite resources/links directly to the built-in library (more about this at number 2). Also, the conversations are threaded and this means you can ‘write longer’ and keep track of a conversation more easily. Awesome.
2. Library feature: Edmodo recently added the library feature in order to assist teachers in keeping track of and organising the great resources they share (and have shared with them) on edmodo. Simply put, every file and link added to an edmodo group is ‘magically’ placed into a large cache called the ‘library’. Teachers can then creat folders and select which resource should reside in which folder. I know this sounds simple but it gets even better. You can share these folders directly with your students! This means the teacher can select a variety of materials appropriate to a specific unit/topic and send these directly to the students, all organised into a folder! Awesome.
3. Assignments and gradebook: I am just beginning to use this feature regularly and I LOVE it! The edmodo assignments are so easy to set. All you have to do is click ‘assigment’, add the details of the task, upload files/attach links with a click, select the due date with another click and the send to your chosen group. (Go register for edmodo, play around with setting an assignment and I assure you it is this simple!) My fav part of this feature is the gradebook. Your students ‘turn-in’ an assignment with a click, and then you access them in your ‘spotlight’. Read through their work, give them some feedback and a mark – then literally with a click of a button the grades have been sent to your ‘gradebook’. Awesome.
4. RSS feeds: You can now RSS to your fav blog/site and it feed DIRECTLY into your chosen group. It’s so easy to do that even I worked it out in two minutes. I set up an RSS from the Board of Studies site to my Davidson DER group so the teachers at my school get the latest news from the BOS without any effort from me required.
5. Public pages: You can now select for certain posts/assignments/links/polls to be set as ‘public’. This is great because it allows your students to share their work/ideas with the ‘real world’ – especially their parents but the edmodo group as a whole maintains its ‘private’ status. Public pages are great to showcase student work and acts an incentive for students to put in their personal best with all tasks. See an example public page here.
So that’s my little edmodo evangelising. It really is great and my school has adopted it fully. My principal mentioned edmodo at assembly last week – allowing me to confidently proclaim on twitter that at Davo ”we now have ‘momentum’ “. Blended learning is taking over my school slowly but surely – thanks edmodo!