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.
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.
- 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.
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.