Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why You Should Give Edmodo A Try

Recently I attended the North Carolina Technology In Education Society's (NCTIES) Annual Conference. Each year it gets bigger and bigger and we try to find more and more ways to engage with the attendees to make the conference more meaningful and to carry on conversations beyond just the sessions. So this year we did something new. We partnered with Edmodo to create the NCTIES community. This was something they had done with FETC and had great success with so we were eager to see how it would work for us.

We created a group for every session and invited the presenters to post their presentations, handouts, polls, etc to the group. Then attendees were invited to join before, during and after the conference. It was a huge success. The beauty of it was that even if I didn't attend a particular session I could still take part in the conversations around that session because of the group. And these are groups that will stay open throughout the year so anyone can visit and have a taste of what the learning was like and, again, continue on those conversations.

So you might be asking yourself, what is Edmodo?

Edmodo is a social network designed for education. While it looks like another popular social network the differences are clear.

See for yourself.

Look like something you've seen before?

Here is how it works. You sign up for a free account. Really all you need is a name and an email address. Once created you can then create groups. Groups can be used for all sorts of things. A group could be your class or it could be literature groups, project groups or anything you can really think of.

When you create a group you get a alphanumeric code. You give this code to your students. Here is where the beauty of Edmodo comes in. The only way that students can connect to Edmodo is through the group code you give. They register for a free account (no email required) with the group code and they automatically become a part of it.

So lets say I am teaching Chemistry. I give all my students the group code for our Chemistry class. All the students join. From here I can post class updates, discussions, lessons, quizzes, handouts, really anything. Any discussions we have are all threaded and the newest information appears at the top each time you log in.

Worried about how you will keep up with all this on the go? No worries. There are mobile apps that give you the full capabilities of the site right in the palm of your hand. So whether you are an iOS user or an Android user you can download the Edmodo app so you are always connected.

My favorite part of Edmodo are the parent codes. Whenever a student joins a group a parent code is generated. This then allows the parents to sign up for a free account and they can go in any time to see what their student is saying/doing. This also gives them access to the gradebook (if you want to use that feature.)

There is so much more to Edmodo. Here are some places to go to learn more:

  • Edmodo Help Center-If you are new (and even if you aren't, you will want to spend some time in the Help Center going over the different parts and making sure you understand how it all works. 
  • Edmodo Livebinder-This is a comprehensive resource with lots of ideas for use and other places to get more information. 
  • Educating With Edmodo-This is a wonderful Google Site put together by my friend Paula who uses Edmodo in her classroom everyday. You'll find all sorts of valuable information there. 

We use Edmodo in our district and our teachers are loving it. But not only are we using it with students we are using it with our teachers as well. We have several PLC groups that use Edmodo and many of our user groups for Promethean, Smart and other technologies also are using Edmodo as a way to share the wealth of knowledge. So it's not just for kids.

How are you using Edmodo? What advice do you have for those who want to get started? What do you wish you had known when you started. Leave some comments below.
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