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Friday, February 5, 2010

Using Edmodo in the Classroom: Five Days Later

I recently posted about Edmodo, comparing it to Ning for kids. The fact is, it looks and acts more like a Facebook/Twitter hybrid, but the fact that students can choose to post and interact in groups gives it a Ning feel as well.

Before I tell you how it went, here are the guidelines I provided to students via our class newsletter:
  • Do not reveal any personal information on Edmodo. No telephone numbers, addresses, or other students’ names. To check someone’s username, click on their class group (schoch12, schoch56, etc.).
  • Do not post photos or videos showing yourself or classmates.
  • Keep conversations on topic. There is a proper place (group) for almost anything you’d like to share.
  • Use appropriate language. If you’re not sure if a word or joke is okay, then it’s not.
  • Refrain from posts that tease, bully, annoy, spam, or gossip about any other member.
  • If someone posts an inappropriate remark, kindly ask them to edit or remove it.
These guidelines were in no way a surprise to students. They fully understood the reason for each. We then spent a good deal of time discussing how students would always use coded names to interact (initials, class periods, student number). All students were then required to join all fifteen groups, even if they thought they wouldn't interact in a group (the reason being: once students joined all groups, I changed the access codes).

Our discussion groups include Artwork, Cool Videos (curriculum related), Count Me In (surveys), Discuss Monthly Projects, Fun Stuff (videos and links unrelated to curriculum), My Status, Recommended Sites, Reminders, Stories and Poems, Sound Off (prompted discussions based upon class topics and themes), Vocabulary (lists and related links), What Are You Reading, and three groups designated by period numbers. In retrospect, Cool Videos was an entirely misleading group name (they kep throwing their random funny videos in there) and Vocab simply wasn't needed.

After five days, about fifteen (of sixty) students are the power users. Always on, interacting, and uploading content. An equal number has only logged on when required to respond to a prompt in the Sound Off section. The rest are somewhere in between.

So what's been learned? Surprisingly, a lot.

Technically, students learned how to:
  • follow and contribute to a threaded conversation, rather than firing off comments into the great abyss;
  • consider audience when choosing a group with which to share a given message, link, or video;
  • tag comments for friends to find;
  • use a filter to sort through collected postings to find what was needed; and
  • change avatars to match their personalities, while at the same time protecting their identities.
Socially, students learned to
  • think before posting, and edit remarks when peers disapproved;
  • refrain from certain conventions and language which, while acceptable with friends outside of the school setting, are considered inappropriate in school;
  • select hyperlinks and videos which would be enjoyable and appropriate for everyone in the group; and
  • disagree with ideas without attacking the students who posted them.
We did tweak the guidelines a bit. When one student posted a dozen videos in the first ten minutes, it was decided that each student should post just one at a time. When a student wants to share another, he/she would need to remove the first video. Students also agreed that music videos were too hard to monitor for appropriateness given that the lyrics were often unintelligible, so music videos were temporarily voted down. Temporarily, because other students argued (somewhat successfully) that show tunes and other songs were certainly appropriate, and actually uplifting. We agreed to return to that topic after a week or two.

Overall, students are very excited about this community, and they've been conscientious in its use. While our experiment is thus far successful, I would urge potential users to draft a parental consent form for Edmodo. While our district Internet policy covers the activity in a blanket statement, I think teachers should further protect themselves by getting explicit parental consent for students to participate, while at the same requiring students to agree to established guidelines for conduct.


Janey Nolan said...

This sounds great. What age were the students?

Keith Schoch said...

Sixth graders, although I think fourth grders could also handle this platform.

Laura Degado said...

My third graders use Edmodo all the time and they love it! It's really appropriate in the context that we use it. They have posted original poetry, watched videos to support what we've learned in class and followed links to math practice games. It's a great site!!!

Anonymous said...

I just started using it primarily as a way to communicate with my kids during all the STUPID snow days we're having this year. My kids aren't much into posting anything yet, but they do use it to get extra credit assignments, missing work, etc. I like the fact that I can still keep teaching (via video links) when they're off for snow. Thanks for your post. Really good ideas there.

Mrs. K. said...

I'm an 8th grade science teacher interested in edmondo....any suggestions as to how I could incorporate this into my classroom?

Mrs. Shepherd said...

Love Edmodo!

Lisa M said...

I love Edmodo! I used it for the first time last year with my 5th graders. However, my group labels were very conventional, except for our Pen Pal group. Can I "steal" some of your group labels for this year's group? :)

Anonymous said...

I have tried Edmodo this year and it has been very popular with the kids. I like that you created different discussion groups. I will try that with my own students. Thanks for sharing

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