Edmodo™ “Where Learning Happens” (Borg & O’Hara’ 2012)

Social Networking for schools

Social Networking for schools (Image from http://www.edmodo.com)

Edmodo™ (Borg & O’Hara, 2012) is an online social networking site (OSN) designed specifically for use within a school setting.  The use of social networking sites in schools has been a contentious issue for many legitimate reasons including commercialisation (Friesen & Lowe, 2011) and privacy (Barnes, 2006). Further concerns are discussed by authors including Murray (2008) and Losh and Jenkins (2012) who explore questions surrounding participatory culture and public education and a level of “fear” (Murray, 2008, p. 8) using OSN in school setting. While they acknowledge genuine concerns, viable solutions are offered. These solutions lie in the ability of teachers, school leaders and policy makers to create environments where “young people can realise the benefits of online collaboration by learning about how to minimise the risks” (Murray, 2008, p. 11).

Curriculum Imperatives-ICT General Capabilities

When planning to use an emerging technology in the classroom, educators must give reasonable justification based on sound empirical evidence and current theory balanced with the expectations of published curriculum. The Australian Curriculum Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strand states:

  • Students develop ICT capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively in all learning areas at school, and in their lives beyond school.
  • Students learn to make the most of the digital technologies available to them, adapting to new ways of doing things as technologies evolve and limiting the risks to themselves and others in a digital environment. (ACARA, 2010b)

Therefore an educational imperative exists which mandates the development of effective skills using ICT. Focus questions  include:

  • Will this technology allow students to collaborate, share, exchange and understand computer-mediated communications?
  • Will students gain an understanding of the benefits and consequences of the use of ICT by individuals, groups and communities and the impact of the use of ICT on the fabric of society?
  • Is it reasonable to expect primary school students with personal laptops to engage successfully with an online social network?

Edmodo™- Tools for Online Learning

Edmodo™, utilises tools that would be familiar to most users. Informal conversations with staff members at school and personal trialling support the idea that the functionality used by Edmodo™ is similar to that of Facebook™. The creators, Borg and O’Hara (2012), have adapted many of Facebook’s™ major features specifically

Similar functionality to Facebook

Similar functionality to Facebook (Image from http://www.edmodo.com)

for a school context. Edmodo™, unlike Facebook™ remains a closed platform thus negating concerns about privacy. Issues concerning responsible use of social networks and online etiquette are catered for with the provision of sample user agreement documents, information for parents and frequently asked questions.  Edmodo™ is free to join therefore, allowing universal access for schools, teachers and students. The Edmodo™ iPad application, delivers availability to a variety of mobile and digital platforms that could be used at school and in the home, providing new spaces and places for learning (Sefton-Green, 2009).

New Learning Environments

Student communication  and problem solving (Image from www.edmodo.com )

Student communication and problem solving (Image from http://www.edmodo.com

Edmodo™ allows educators to create learning environments that extend beyond the classroom. One of the advantages of Edmodo™ is that it allows teachers to create learning spaces unconstrained by classroom walls, where collaboration is encouraged, problems shared and authentic interactions can take place. Warlick’s (2005) three important qualities of self-expression, collaboration and provision of rich and interactive information are all supported by these particular features of Edmodo™.  Students are encouraged to contribute ideas and express opinions by commenting and blogging. Problems solving occurs collaboratively through posting questions, replies and suggestions. Finally, teachers are able to create scaffolded and directed learning activities, which embed video, text, and multimedia.

Authentic Classroom Experiences

Several published anecdotal case studies support the premise that Edmodo™ has the potential to revolutionize teachers’ pedagogical practice. For any emerging technology to be judged as effective, authentic classroom experiences are worthy of consideration. Dobler, (2012) describes the experience of a teacher from Kansas, USA who developed an online collaborative community within her classroom as well as connecting to another class in Louisiana. The teacher explored Edmodo™ as a tool for online collaboration and discussion of class texts as well as a learning centre where students could access appropriate multimedia resources prior to embarking on unit of study. Holzweiss, (2013) explains her recent experience with Edmodo™ in a secondary school context where as part of her role as a Teacher Librarian she was able to utilise the tools of Edmodo™ to set up discussion groups in a virtual book club where comments and discussions were moderated wholly online.

Conclusion

Thorough critical analysis leads me to conclude that Edmodo™ has tremendous potential as an online social network.  While issues are recognised, the structure and functionality of Edmodo™ makes it possible for teachers to provide learning opportunities using a popular culture platform, which will encourage students to become responsible, innovative, creative communicators and participants in the digital world of the 21st century.

References

ACARA. (2010). Australian Curriculum-English  Retrieved 10 Sept, 2013, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/English/Rationale

Barnes, S. (2006). A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States  Retrieved 7 September, 2013, from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/1394/1312%23

Borg, N., & O’Hara, J. (2012). Edmodo  Retrieved 2 September, 2013, from https://http://www.edmodo.com

Dobler, E. (2012). Flattening Classroom Walls: Edmodo Takes Teaching and Learning Across the Globe. Reading Today, February/March.

Friesen, N., & Lowe, S. (2011). The questionable promise of social media for education: connective learning and the commercial imperative. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28, 183-194.

Holzweiss, K. (2013). Edmodo A Great Tool For School Librarians. School LIbrary Monthly, 29(5), 14-16.

Losh, E., & Jenkins, H. (2012). Can Public Education Coexist with Participatory Culture? Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 16-21.

Murray, C. (2008). Schools and Social Networking: Fear or Education. Synergy, 6(1), 8-12.

Sefton-Green, J. (2009). Location, location, location: rethinking space and place as sites and contexts for learning. Beyond Current Horizons(May), 1-17.

Warlick, D. (2005). Raw Materials for The Mind A Teacher’s Guide to Digital Literacy (4th ed.). Raleigh, NC: The Landmark Project.