From a technology standpoint, this year was one of experimentation for me. As a reflection on the year, I’d like to spend some time analyzing my experience with a number of online resources. A quick note: I’m simply reflecting on my experience with these resources, rather than providing some kind of authoritative review. All of the resources mentioned on this blog are solid; some worked better than others for me, and in my reflection, I plan to simply give you a better sense of how they fit into my courses.
Edmodo is a micro-blogging service that also offers Course Management System functionality. Not as extensive or complex as Moodle (or Blackboard), Edmodo is a completely web-based way to keep in contact with students, post grades and assignments, and generally operate with a closed social network.
I used Edmodo for the first time this year and, aesthetically, it was an outstanding experience. I set up the site in the first week of school, and asked students to create accounts right away. My intention was to use Edmodo as a centerpiece of my course, where students could link to their blogs, find their grades, and generally use the site as a replacement for Moodle, which didn’t have the same “ease-of-use” factor.
Edmodo’s UI mimics Facebook almost exactly, giving students an experience which which they are familiar. Students immediately took to the site, probably due to that similarity. Where I had trouble, however, was in using the site on a regular basis. The micro-blogging aspect of the site didn’t work well with my idea for student blogs, because they didn’t have enough space to write 300-400 words per night. Had my course been built around assignments that were not meant to be public (and just turned into me alone), Edmodo would have worked much better for me.
The other issue that came up for me was in the grading functionality. I ran into difficulties when trying to use the site as my primary grade book, because I like to break my grades into categories rather than total points. Edmodo seems to only allow for basic “total point”-style grading. I had to move over to Engrade (which I will cover in a subsequent post) for my online grading.
Overall, it was hard for me to implement Edmodo due to the nature of my course and the manner in which I graded students. I simply couldn’t take advantage of the resource in the manner in which it was best designed. It was hard for me to integrate student blogging into the interface; I ended up using a combination of Blogger and Google Reader through our school’s Google Apps for Edu account.
Where Edmodo Works Best
Overall, Edmodo didn’t work for me, but was terrific for a colleague of mine who has a much more traditional course with private assignments based on specific questions. For him, Edmodo was great to post assignments and allowed students to upload those assignments immediately and with ease. It was a simpler process than Moodle, which (at the time) required a lot of extra work to view and grade assignments. Edmodo provides a simple, familiar user interface for students, an easy way to upload material, and a basic micro-blogging site for social networking among students.
For those without the infrastructure to implement Moodle or another CMS system into their network on a school-wide basis, Edmodo provides individual teachers the ability to mimic a lot of the functionality within a browser. While, much like any online resource, it is not for everyone, there are a number of teachers that would benefit from checking out Edmodo.