Put simply, Edmodo just allows students to send messages to the rest of their class as a whole 'group' - they can't send private (direct) messages to each other. In my opinion, this therefore makes Edmodo an extremely safe environment in which children can communicate with their peers as it means that because everyone can read what they've written, then they are less likely to post anything which is nasty/unsuitable. This is especially important considering that messages don't have to be moderated before being published - they appear instantly in the timeline, thus enabling children to take part in their own free-flowing discussion without having to wait for a teacher to logon some time later to start 'approving' work (which in my experience I've found puts children off).
Recently I've read comments from people expressing their opinion that they would like Edmodo to introduce adult-moderated private messaging between students. Again, in my opinion, I don't think that sucha a feature is necessary as it would mean that greater pressure would be put on me (and other staff in school) to take time checking through these messages to ensure that they are all nice and friendly - it would be particularly annoying too if they were just random chats using text language that would be more likely to happen in conversations between just two individuals. If a child has their own personal email account or mobile phone at home (with parental consent/responsibility) then I feel that using it for such a conversation would be much more appropriate instead.
Indeed, the Edmodo team themselves seem to back this opinion up by constantly stating that they have no intentions to introduce private messaging between students. They do, however, recognise that there is a need to offer students the ability to write to audiences which are smaller than the class as a whole by offering three great, little tools as alternatives:
- all groups/people who receive a message can write a reply to it - this means that if a teacher sends a message to multiple groups/multiple individual students then either children in all the groups specified or just the named children can have a discussion amongst themselves using the reply button;
- teachers can set up small groups within whole class groups - these place students into smaller sets so meaning that they can either send messages to the whole class group or just their small group set which they have been placed in (perhaps useful for things like: reading groups, project work or discussions/debates as part of Kagan structures classroom environment);
- a 'group instant messaging' feature is apparently being developed - hopefully offering similar functionality to what is available alongside collaborative Primary Pad or Google Docs dcouments.
Finally, it's also worth me pointing out to you an article that I recently read on an American website which highlights why using Edmodo in schools is important "to boost communication, collaboration, and students’ confidence" - http://is.gd/gJlc2y.