Thursday, October 1, 2009

Edmodo In...Twitter Out

I started off the school year planning to use twitter with a 10th grade honors U.S. History class for discussions.  The first few attempts were great.  The feedback from the students was positive and extremely enthusiastic.  I was pleased with the level of interaction and quality of the comments.  After the first three attempts, I was collecting the discussions through Tweetdoc, which allowed me to go through and easily grade their posts.  Then the problems popped up. 
Innapropriate followers: Just about every day one of my students let me know that someone was following them, and asked what they should do (this was expected, as it happens to my account, but the extent of the following was a concern). 
Lost Comments: An entire class discussion based on a lecture from ItunesU was lost.  Only 6 of the approximately 150+ comments showed up in a search and they were not collecting through Tweetdoc...I had officially lost my interest and enthusiasm.
Akward Conversation: Maybe I should have realized this ahead of time, but it was challenging at best to follow conversations, reply to students and grade conversations.  The biggest problem was that students couldn't comment on each others comments.  Sure, they quickly picked up on the @ feature, but it just isn't the same as a reply comment posting below the original.

Edmodo came to the rescue.  I heard about the site through twitter and signed up months ago.  After playing around with the features one night, creating a student acount to see what it would be like from their end, and posting back and forth between both accounts, I decided very quickly I was going to make the switch.

Edmodo Results - Day 1:  The sign up process was a breeze, with only one students experiencing minor trouble.  I had already created a group for my class, posted the access code and within 2 or 3 minutes every student in my class was signed up.  Navigating the site is intuative (a few commented that it was alot like facebook), and they began posting comments immediately.

Posting & Viewing Comments:  What I like most as a teacher is that I have two class groups created and I can easily filter the discussion based on what group I want to read through.  Similarly, when students post a comment, they send their comment only to the group (thus eliminating the public and unsecure nature of twitter).  Something that I didn't even realize when class started, but will come in very handy, is being able to view all group members, reset their passwords and view their comments / reply comments...grading will definately be easier with this system.

I am thrilled with my first experience using Edmodo, and already have plans to present this tool to the rest of the Freshman Academy teachers in a technology training session next week!

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