Enhance Communication with Edmodo

Age Range: 7 - 11

Recently, I've been playing with Edmodo. If you're not familiar with the site, it defines itself as 'a private communication platform for teachers and students'. I've also heard it being labelled as 'Twitter for Schools'. However, Twitter is a public system (with the ability to make individual messages private) whereas Edmodo is 100% private (unless you choose to make particular posts and events public).

Edmodo

To get started, I helped six children to register with the site. I wanted to make sure that the sign-up process didn't present any hurdles for a small group before rolling it out to the entire class. This worked surprisingly well, and those six children then became my 'expert helpers' when the rest of the class were registering themselves a few days later.

After registering, the children were incredibly keen to use the site. As I typed this, there were children posting messages, uploading files, replying to each other's comments and sharing useful sites. They also discovered some other features that I wasn't aware of!

Why am I using Edmodo?

  • Posting homework online - Our children receive paper copies of homework once a week. Of course, like all teachers, I occasionally receive excuses from children who have said that they have lost their homework, or that their brother / sister / dog destroyed it somehow. By posting the homework online, children cannot lose it and once they've uploaded it, they can forget about it until it's time to review the work in class. The children can also ask questions about their homework, which I can respond to quickly and easily.

Edmodo Messages

  • Allowing pupils to return homework online - Edmodo also allows pupils to 'Turn In' their homework, by uploading it to the site. This is an incredibly useful feature as it keeps a checklist of those who have / haven't submitted their work yet. I've recently found that it's possible for me to grade the children's work and add comments via the site, so the children can also receive a response online.
  • Posting spellings / other useful info - We have weekly spelling tests, so I'm also going to be putting those spellings online too. The children could then copy and paste these into sites like Spelling City to help them to learn the words.
  • Sharing useful websites - I'm also hoping to share relevant websites with Edmodo, which link with the topics that we are learning in class. The children can then use these at home to support their work, or simply to explore if they're interested. Occasionally, we play online games in class (as a treat!), so I may share links to some of those sites, so that the children can play at home too.
  • Sending reminders about dates / class events - Our school website has an online diary, but this has information for all children and classes at school. By using Edmodo, I can show information that is only relevant to my pupils.

Edmodo Announcement

  • Increasing parental awareness - A few parents have expressed a lack of awareness of their child's homework, as the paper copies of homework sometimes don't even make it home! Although everything on Edmodo is private (and therefore only accessible by the children), I can make the homework / spelling posts on Edmodo public (simply by ticking one box), so that the parents can see what their child is expected to achieve and when it is due. I can also post events and other information for them to see. In fact, when I posted a message about an 'Open Afternoon', a child then added a question about the event from their parent, which I was able to respond to quickly.

What are the potential problems?

  • Children not remembering to check the site - Our use of the site is only be successful if the children actually remember to visit, to read the information that is posted, and to interact with it! There are lots of pupils using it at the moment, but I'm sure that the novelty will wear off in time. I need to ensure that Edmodo becomes embedded in our class work too, so that the class get regular reminders that it is there, and become increasingly comfortable / confident in using the different features. Indeed, I could set tasks in class and ask them to post their work to me online via Edmodo, rather than having to search through the school's file server to find wherever they have saved it! We could also use the grading / comments options as a shared assessment tool during lesson plenaries.
  • Forgotten passwords - Our pupils now have three different usernames / passwords to remember... one for Superclubs Plus, another for Tutpup and now a third one for Edmodo. I have encouraged them to set similar usernames / passwords and even given them discrete cards on which to record these details (with strict instructions to keep these safe and secret!). The creator of Edmodo has also just responded very quickly to my help request and pointed out where I can reset passwords for my pupils, if required.

Password Cards

  • Increased workload - I seem to spend a huge proportion of my free time in front of a computer screen anyway (either working on school planning, adding to my websites, or exploring new sites online). I can see Edmodo being another site that I check regularly, potentially take up lots of time. I need to ensure that I limit the time that I spent on the site, so that it doesn't become another timesink.
  • Types of homework given - Sometimes, our paper homework might be a photocopied worksheet from a photocopiable book or from a website. I don't think that distributing these worksheets over the Internet is allowed, so I need to be a little more creative with the homework that is given, relying less upon pre-printed materials.
  • Differentiation - We often give out different homework to different groups of children, depending on their ability. This will need to be addressed carefully with Edmodo, and I need to make sure that I make it clear which groups are to complete which activities.
  • Lack of internet access - Of course, not all families have Internet access at home. There are only a few children in my class who aren't online at home, so I will continue to offer paper copies of homework (etc.) and make sure that those families continue to receive the paperwork and information that they always have. Edmodo simply offers a single place for parents to go when they need that information, rather than receiving newsletters and paper slips at irregular intervals.
  • Copyright - I haven't shown them how to do so, but some of the children have discovered how to post images and multimedia files. It's therefore important that I remind them about the importance of respecting copyright. We have spoken about this on a number of occasions, but regular reminders might be useful!

Are you using Edmodo yet? I would love to hear thoughts and experiences from others.

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