Social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the way that people connect with one another. In an educational setting, appropriate use of these tools can encourage collaboration, sharing of resources, transmitting new ideas, and the virtual expansion of classroom walls. But they can also be used for activities such as online bullying and digital stalking.
Because of the negative perception among educational leaders and parents, many teachers are not allowed to take advantage of the many positive aspects of social media tools.
Frustrated with school restrictions but aware that social media tools had the potential to increase learning, classroom teachers Nic Borg and Jeff O'Hara created Edmodo in 2008.
Designed specifically for use by teachers and schools, Edmodo is a free online and mobile tool that provides a safe way for your class to connect and collaborate; share content; and access homework, grades, and school announcements. The goal of Edmodo is to help educators harness the power of social media to allow easy customization of your classroom.
To get started, visit Edmodo and select “I’m a Teacher” to create your free account. After your account is created, you will be taken to your personalized homepage. You will want to create groups after that, making it easy for you and your students to communicate and collaborate with one another.
Once you have your classes and groups created, you can begin to invite students. This is the beauty of Edmodo and is what makes it different than other traditional social media sites. Only those students you invite can interact with you, your content, and each other.
Because you moderate and control the content, there are no worries about the negative issues typically associated with social media sites. Invite students by sharing with them a six-digit code created when you made your group. Once they have your code, students visit Edmodo and select the “I’m a Student” option, enter the code, complete a simple registration process, and select “Sign up." Parents can also be invited to join the group and monitor their student’s individual progress, increasing communication between home and the school.
Teachers are discovering that Edmodo is a versatile tool that encourages a variety of classroom uses. One middle school world history teacher organized her curriculum around essential questions and began using Edmodo as a way to stimulate student conversation focused on these questions. She created an Edmodo group titled Social Studies and then created sub-groups for each unit’s essential question.
One question was "How do geographic factors influence civilization?" This led to students posting responses such as "People who lived near the Huang He River became farmers because the soil was full of minerals and deposits left behind from flooding." Students could then respond to each other with the teacher also contributing comments. After completing each unit, the teacher required students to submit a written response using Edmodo.
Edmodo allows you and your students to take advantage of the benefits of online social media while retaining complete control of the process.
Want to learn more about Edmodo? Wiebe recommends the following resources:
- These two Google Docs highlight a wide variety of teacher-created strategies and ideas for using Edmodo. Check them out here and here.
- Social Studies Community: With over five million current Edmodo users, there are lots of useful ideas and strategies floating around. Take advantage of this experience by joining Edmodo's online community. (Note: You must be logged in to Edmodo to view this community.)
- Edmodo in Action Videos: Edmodo has a number of helpful videos. Be sure to watch "Social Studies in Action" which briefly describes one way of using Edmodo in a social studies classroom.
- Edmodo Mini Lessons: You can find several social studies-specific lesson ideas at Edmodo's mini-lesson page.
- Edmodo Resources: Resources for teachers interested in integrating Edmodo into their curriculum, hosted on Livebinder.
- Edmodo in Social Studies: This YouTube video summarizes one way a social studies teacher simulated a conversation with Thomas Jefferson.