I first learned about Edmodo from Sandy Millin’s detailed post back in June, 2011. Yes, that was quite a while ago but till recently I hadn’t had any real incentive to experiment with it on my own. Tools I had already mastered were enough for me.
All that changed after I had taught my first course to 38 adult students in a private language school and had agreed to teach another such course. I was determined to ERADICATE some of the problems I had encountered the first time around and I can’t thank Sandy Millin enough for discussing Edmodo with me. The course ended last night and here are a few problems I DIDN’T HAVE:
1) No student claimed that he didn’t know which assignment he was supposed to have done (or that I never said it needed to be done). Edmodo shows the students very clearly, both in a written list and in a graphic representation which assignments are waiting to done, which have been completed and how they were graded. Complete with comments!
2) No student claimed that he HAD handed in assignments and its just me that was claiming that he didn’t. True, in the first course there were only two such students and they said to me later (after I refused to back down) that since the final exam is such a “high-stakes exam” they were just trying their luck, but it stung. Such an argument can only be used when tasks are done on paper, graded and returned. On Edmodo all tasks are handed in online and remain there.
3) I didn’t receive multiple copies of the exact same answers to a homework assignment, sometimes even photocopied copies of the same task! I won’t say it isn’t possible to do so on Edmodo but the fact is that it only happened once during the entire course. It could be argued that I didn’t notice but I teach low level students and copying is so much easier to spot at that level…
4) I didn’t come home with piles of papers every lesson and carry them back the next lesson. The number of papers multiplied since some students are absent each lesson and their papers go back home again too. This time I only carried home certain vocabulary quizzes which I wanted the students to do in class – everything else was handed in and checked online.
5) Students can upload a profile picture. Remembering 38 students’ names was more successful this time around (though not perfect -only half of the students bothered to upload a picture.). I had a terrible time with names last course!
During the last lesson we discussed Edmodo and almost all students said that it helped them be more organized (me too!). They also said they liked the fact that they could easily write me with questions. If it was really needed, I sometimes answered in Hebrew – Edmodo supports that too!
After working so intensively with Edmodo for the last two and a half months I have been emboldened to explore other ways it can be used. These are in the beginning stages so I will mention them briefly here – more in the future!
* As a safe platform to collaborate with other high-schools of the Deaf around the world. This project is led by the amazing Arlene Blum. We have been using a blog till now and I suggested we move it to Edmodo.
* As a platform for an a-synchronous 3 week online course for deaf and hard of hearing high-school students mainstreamed into regular classes. This hasn’t opened yet (Feb. 8) – I’m working on it!
Someone asked me how Edmodo makes money and I haven’t a clue. It is completely free and there are no advertisements at all. All I know is that I’m glad it exists!