Without a doubt, Twitter has taken the education community by storm. However, there really aren’t all that many people who are using it in the classroom. Let’s face it, it just isn’t designed to be used in a teacher/student environment.
Jeffrey O’Hara is the network administrator/webmaster for Community Unit School District 200 in Wheaton, Illinois. I remember meeting him at a TechCocktail event and spending a few hours talking with him about what worked and what didn’t when it came to Web 2.0 in education. He shared with me a crazy idea for taking the Twitter concept spinning it around so it would suit a school’s needs.
Fast forward to a few days ago and his nutty idea has become a reality, and I couldn’t be more happy for him. And to be honest, for teachers as well. It’s really a great tool to add to your web 2.0 arsenal, and one that you can use immediately with your students.While I do compare it to Twitter, the comparison really does Edmodo a disservice because it does so much more. At it’s heart, people can create short messages (140 characters or less) and blast them out. But here’s where it starts to deviate from Twitter already. Those messages don’t get blasted out to the world, they get sent out to individuals, groups of people, or multiple groups. You have much more control over who sees specific messages, instead of just sending them to everybody and anybody. If people choose to respond to your post, their replies are threaded with the original, making it easy to follow conversations.
Of course, if you were to send out an assignment, you might want to send a handout or resource along with it. With Edmodo, you can. You are able to attach files, embed links, or even turn a basic post into an assignment or event complete with date metadata. Very easy to send out an assignment along with attachment out to a specific class of your students. Or you could send your contact information and office hours to ALL of your classes. Or send a video to your after school club for them to enjoy. You get the idea. Lots of control here.
Need more? You got it. There’s even public pages available, complete with RSS feeds! So if you have something that you DO want to share with the entire world, it will support that as well. Students can save specific messages in their ‘locker’ to refer back to later. Assignments and events hang around and will appear conveniently in the sidebar when their associated dates are coming up.
If you see the value of microblogging and have ever thought to yourself, “This’d be perfect for class EXCEPT….” then you’ll definitely want to check out Edmodo. It’s not only a great way to introduce microblogging to students in a safe environment, but it’s also a great communication tool. Gets my seal of approval!