Now that I’m officially in my second week of school, I’ve been putting Edmodo, a safe, social networking tool for K-12 education to test.  I have 75 language art students and wanted a blogging platform, but quickly discovered most have begun charging for their products.  Determined to locate a free and better option, I stumbled upon last spring.  Intrigued, I dabbled with it off and on for a few months, but was unable to run it through the ringer until now.

First I must say the intuitiveness of this product is amazing.  It’s user friendly, functional, and fairly easy to manage.  All a teacher needs to do is login, create a class, and copy the generated group code.  Students type the code in at Edmodo’s homepage, create a username, and they are automatically enrolled.  No student emails are required, which is another excellent and critical piece for most teachers.

Similar to Moodle or Blackboard, teachers can create assignments, set up discussions, etc. but my favorite component is the ability to embed anything as long as you have the html code.  It’s wonderful!  I simply embed video clips, Google forms, Scribd PDF books, and more to start discussions or use in my classroom instruction.  Nothing could be simpler or better to push a paperless classroom.

Additionally my other favorite features are the ability for students to receive email or SMS text messages when a new assignment or direct post is sent to them and the ease of sending assignments to students when they are absent.  Even today I had a student who was home ill, but she popped into Edmodo during class time and still participated in the discussion and classroom activities.  (I’ve also informed them that if we have school closings, we would still have the opportunity to conduct class via Edmodo).

The only enhancement I believe the social network should consider is the ability to click on a student’s name to view any and all posts or comments made throughout the platform.  Conversations can quickly be lost if not tagged immediately. This can enhance frustration for both teachers and students.

On the positive side, Edmodo has been a wonderful tool for me to extend the learning day of my 8th graders and provide opportunities for each of them to have a voice.  Whether we are doing virtual roundtable discussion book talks or doing research, students are sharing and reflecting in amazing ways. I am truly the lucky one to be a part of those discussions.