I recently had the pleasure of attending the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) for the first time. It was an excellent conference and I learned a great deal about new trends in educational technology and about specific tools that are useful in teaching 21st century learners. Rather than create a blog entry that is essentially just a list of the apps I learned about. I am going to do a little more in depth exploration of several of the tools I learned about and create a blog entry for the ones I find most useful and exciting.
I’ll start today with Edmodo (http://www.edmodo.com), which is a free online classroom management system that allows teachers and students to safely interact online either synchronously or asynchronously.
Edmodo is a very useful tool for blended learning because it can be used as a framework for class assignments and instructional resources whether they are accessed in class or outside of class, in a group or individually, as a class presentation, on a desktop, or on a smart phone. The main page consists of facebook style postings, but teachers can embed video or other files, make assignments and quizzes, and conduct polls within the posts. Because teachers can make, accept, and in some cases, grade assignments through Edmodo, it is a great time saver. It also allows for students to communicate with the class, an assigned group, or with just the teacher as part of an assignment. There are a number of apps that can be added to Edmodo to add even more content and functionality, though many of these are not free.
A class in Edmodo is referred to as a group. An Edmodo group is a very secure, closed environment and the teacher has total control of communication and membership. There are no private chats between students, only with a group or with the teacher. Students must be invited to a group with a code or a URL and moderation of all posts is an option if a teacher feels it is necessary. Teachers can edit and delete accounts and reset passwords as needed and students do not need email to sign up. All communication is archived and can be accessed for review.
In addition to providing a secure framework for media rich, blended learning, Edmodo allows educators from around the world to share resources and ideas with other educators and content specialists. Teachers can set up “connections” directly with other teachers. They can also join established “communities,” which are essentially professional learning networks or go to the “Discover” section and search for resources and instructional materials that have been posted by other teachers. At the FETC, Edmodo was used as both a place for back channeling during sessions and as a place for presenters to store files. Every session was given an Edmodo code, which could be entered in advance of the session, or even two weeks later when an attendee realized they had missed a great session and wanted to look over the presentation materials. An attendee might also choose to connect with presenters and other attendees to build a new professional learning community.
Edmodo is an very powerful, well designed tool that can help you communicate and share content with students and well as other educators. If you would like to learn more about Edmodo, check out the archived webinars available here.