Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Teaching Experiences with Edmodo

I've taught online using Edmodo. Like Moodle, Edmodo is a Learning Management System (LMS) which allows you to share course content, updates, send messages to students, and manage student memberships. Students are able to download assignments, post replies to updates, send messages to either you or the entire class, and access their grades. Another interesting thing to note is that Edmodo's interface is somewhat similar to Facebook. Updates are posted with a profile picture attached. Replies to updates can then be posted and will appear just below the update. No "Like" buttons, invitations to play "Farmville" or ads on Edmodo's site, though!

One of the things I think some Middle and Secondary School teachers (and parents) might like about Edmodo is that students are not able to send private messages to other students. One can then rest assured that no inappropriate correspondence is privately happening in the course. If students want to send a message, they can send it to the entire class or just the teacher. This is also a great way of building a stronger classroom community online, making discussions more inclusive.

One other thing I really like is that you can create sub-groups within your course. This is an ideal feature if you are planning to involve your students in group projects online, giving them private space to work and collaborate with each other.

Parents can also access student information if you provide them with a parent group code. Once the parent signs up with the code, he/she can view their child's grades, and see whether their child has been turning in their assignments. The parent, however, does not have access to names of other students in the course nor to course updates (unless updates are made public).

In addition to using Edmodo, I used a course wiki I've created using Wikispaces. This was a place where content that supports the learning in our classes was posted. A course content outline was also available to students on the wiki, helping them navigate the course with greater ease. As I added class recordings and other links to Edmodo, I updated them on the Course Outline.

There is a tagging option available on Edmodo, allowing teacher and students to tag updates with labels. I have suggested to my students that they use this feature to tag updates by lesson number (lesson 1, lesson 2...) or by topic ("Salutations", "Les nombres") I am using this option as I like to be able to readily pull up content by lesson should I need to refer back to it.

One other feature I liked to see on Edmodo was to see which students were online and what they had already viewed in the group. This helped me understand whether all of my students were taking time to login to the site. For those who might not have been logging in, this gave me an opportunity to personally contact him/her, asking whether I can be of any support.

Because Edmodo allows students to post replies to updates, this can be a useful tool for getting students involved in discussions. Teachers can give participation marks for students who post comments and replies pertaining to specific topics. It can also be a great feature for students to share links to their blog posts or useful sites they are using in the course. I have been encouraging my students, for example, to share links to their Vokis and reflections on what they have been learning in our French course.

If you would be interested in trying this free service, go to Edmodo's website and sign up for an account. Once you have created a teacher account, you are ready to create your course(s).