I read an amazing article by an educational specialist whom had written about her observations of deploying tablets and laptops within her school. The column provided explicit detail on oversights that had been made and recommended steps a school should take before deploying 1-to-1. Within the article she outlined ten things that she wished she had known before deploying devices. Among the list was proactive education for students on appropriate and inappropriate use of email. Another observation was the use of Edmodo and the need to introduce it to the school community.

I had heard of Edmodo and had seen it mentioned within a few App reviews, however, within the article I have mentioned, it highlighted the importance of the resource and alerted me of the fact that this was more valuable than I had first thought. I took time to investigate the subject and downloaded the App and visited the web link and set up a school account. Over 300 Australian schools use Edmodo and it is growing in popularity. Before sharing Edmodo with staff I spoke to numerous colleagues about the learning medium and attended a small workshop at ISQ conference that discussed Edmodo.

Apparently, "Edmodo is the 3234th most popular site in Australia based on a combination of average daily visitors and pageviews. 6.0% of the Edmodo users come from Australia and they generate 6.5% of the pageviews on Edmodo".

What I soon discovered was that this amazing resource allows online communication and a safe and secure location for students to share their ideas and upload content. People can reply to each others posts and engage in powerful and dynamic conversation with peers. Further to this, the platform provides a location for teachers to direct and facilitate learning, without being in the classroom and allows students to discuss particular items of interest, subject content and issues being investigated in class. The teacher is also able to create quizzes and questions and poll student responses.

I introduced Edmodo to the staff and there was immediate interest. The current LMS allows discussion, however, Edmodo is far more superior and looks almost exactly like Facebook. The students are able to select their Avatar or upload a profile image and add personal details if desired. By personal details, I simply mean selecting time zones, password and notifications settings. The program is easy to navigate and certainly a breeze to use if one is familiar with using social media.

Approximately thirteen teachers started an account within one week and of these teachers one had 81 students from their specialised subject area create an account within five days. I encourage students to seek parent permission prior to developing an account. As I have stated in previous blogs and articles, parents must always be aware of what their children are doing online and ensure computers are located in open areas and than internet connectivity is discouraged within the bedroom. Although there are no age restrictions, it is advised that children under the age of eighteen seek approval from their parents.

I asked several senior students about Edmodo and was encouraged to hear them say that they had never enjoyed Literature and English so much. As the Edmodo administrator for our account I can observe all group discussions and am pleased with the level of student engagement, peer mentoring and constructive feedback that are happening at all levels. I have been overwhelmed by its instant success. Students are uploading content and sharing information. One particular subject area has allowed a teacher to explore the idea of 'flipping the classroom' by asking students to read and respond to material that has been uploaded. The students have been posting their personal opinions regarding the materials and when they have returned to school the following day the class discuss their personal views and participate in activities that require deeper thinking. Within Japanese, the teacher is posting in Japanese and the students reply with the English translation. At times when students have not quite completed correct translation, other class members are assisting their peers.

One teacher is planning to have the class construct a website as an assessment task. Edmodo is going to be used as a means for the students to share their URL with their class and ask for feedback and opinions regarding the design and content of their website. When the students return to school the next day, they can review the posts and recreate their website to accommodate suggestions and improve their design. Professional educators are familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy which provides a framework for which to develop higher order thinking skills and creativity. If Edmodo provides the means for students to interact with their peers and redevelop their project work and create a better website, then by all means creativity is being encouraged and deeper thinking acquired.

I have been amazed by how well Edmodo has been adopted and how quickly accounts have been generated to populate the NCC online learning community. There is such and a positive energy among users. More importantly, the social and educational medium has been embraced by various year levels and subjects areas and this highlights how adaptable Edmodo is to the educational needs of a school. Primary School is using Edmodo as a means for students to network and share materials and opinions regarding the London 2012 Olympics and Senior Classes are using Edmodo to access criteria sheets, PPT and embedded videos that have been created and posted by their teacher using an iPad and the 'ShowMe' App. I must restate that parental consent is recommended before using Edmodo, however, I stand by the statement that all online activity requires parental consent.

Edmodo is a powerful resource and provides the opportunity to elevate students connectivity to an online learning community. It allows students to interact with their peers outside of the classroom and allows them to share their ideas to build a sense of community that is interested in supporting each other with educational studies. Edmodo allows those who may struggle with course content to see how their peers are going without the fear of asking them within a classroom environment and it also enables the advanced students to share their own knowledge to help their peers. Classrooms become a learning community outside of the classroom with Edmodo.


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