For anyone planning to introduce Edmodo to their children, I've created a series of LI slides to illustrate how I differentiate my annual refresher lessons at my school if they're of any help to people:
I regularly get asked for my advice on how to introduce Edmodo in a school so I decided to create a mini presentation for people to use to help them:
Note: You may also want to pre-register your school for an Edmodo subdomain before rolling it out at your school - it enables you monitor usage and reset teacher passwords. More information is available at www.edmodo.com/institutions/
For the first lesson of the year with KS2, I wanted a lesson that was fairly easy to deliver so that I could familiarise myself with the children in their new classes and have the opportunity to remind them of my expectations (e.g. health and safety and the aim to work independently).
Doing a session on Edmodo seemed like a good idea therefore as it would enable me to: give them the code to join their new class' group, remind them how to use its tools to send/reply to messages and show them it's new design features (including how to react to posts).
For Year 4 upwards, I created this checklist for them to use to track their progress through exploring the site:
Meanwhile, for Year 3, I instead just displayed this slide:
Children really enjoy being members of different groups on Edmodo and here is a list of the groups that I've created so far that children at my school can choose to join:
Since I like to award a badge to a child when they join a group as an incentive to do so, I like to allow any child the chance to join most of my groups - I normally do this by sending out a message on Edmodo to every class containing both the join code and a link to the group join request page (so they can join it in the way that they find easiest).
Obviously, having children of different ages talking/chatting with each other isn't always ideal (e.g. peer pressure, disrupts the main content/purpose of the group) so it's reassuring to know therefore that Edmodo offers a few settings that group owners can change to make their members contribute effectively:
Occasionally, there may be times when you might want to restrict access to a group and I've heard some great stories from schools that have tried this:
Indeed, I've also read some really good success stories from schools who have set up groups to facilitate collaboration between schools - such as digital leaders sharing their ideas for using innovative technology in the classroom.
With the Olympics coming up, I feel that getting children to engage with the competition via Edmodo has huge potential (especially considering that it's during the summer holidays when school is closed) - I've just yet to decide how best to go about setting up/running such a group. Do you have any inspiring ideas?
I've found that children really like joining groups on Edmodo - probably because it makes them happy when they feel they belong to lots of different communities.
A couple of weeks ago I created a 'book reviews' group for my school in which children could write and share reviews of any books that they have enjoyed reading recently. Since then it has become very popular and nearly every day I now see a new review being added to it by a pupil - indeed, it's turning into a fantastic way of promoting and improving children's enjoyment of reading books for pleasure.
To make everyone aware of the group's presence, I asked a couple of eager children to each design a poster advertising it and explaining how it could be joined (i.e. what the group code was). This helped to put a bit of child-ownership on the project and seemed to be a great way of attracting members who would likely be more interested in promotion by a friend their age than by an adult.
In order to keep the group's message stream tidy and free from distracting 'chat', I opted to implement the new 'moderate posts' setting in Edmodo. This means that all messages sent to the group are held for moderation by the owner (in this case me) before they appear. Any new reviews/replies that aren't good enough quality I simply delete before others get the chance to read them.
To encourage good review writing, however, I ensured that the first message posted to the group contained my expectations and success criteria for what features should be included and I also created a badge to reward to those who successfully follow them.
Have you created any interesting groups on Edmodo for encouraging online learning?
Although I use Evernote on a daily basis to bookmark useful websites and clip interesting articles/lesson ideas to build up an enormous bank of resources, it isn't the most tidy of places as I literally just save there quickly knowing that I can find it again later by doing a keyword/tag search. I do share this collection with people online and in school but I've never really seen it used much because it's not that visually attractive and can sometimes seem a little overwhelming due to she sheer amount of stuff on it.
For these reasons, I also store duplicates of my favourite resources on Edmodo using their 'Library' tool. You can upload documents (up to 100mb) in size as well as save links to websites and embeddable content (e.g. YouTube videos). From the Library itself, you can only add resources individually one at a time however by sending a message to yourself on the main Edmodo screen with lots of attachments, you also can add multiple resources at once.
You can search for specific documents in your library by doing a key words search as well as filter items to just view those: of a particular type, attached to posts from a particular group or added to the library directly.
In addition, you can also organise your items neatly by creating folders to put them in. Once a new folder has been created, you can then either add an item to it directly or you can share the same item across multiple folders by using the tick-list that appears when you click on a item - this can be useful for items that you feel might be useful being placed in several locations. The order of items in a folder can be rearranged by simply dragging items around to their desired locations.
Folders can be shared on a read-only basis with any of your groups - I find this helpful since you can share items on topics specific to particular year groups to provide them with a collection of relevent resources that they access any time that they want.
The main benefits of using Edmodo to store resouces though I think are:
Creating a resource library on Edmodo is completely free - there are no ads and no premium add-ons. It's extremely easy to add and organise items on it and I've found that people find it extremely intuitive to use.
I was exploring the Memiary website earlier today and got thinking about how Edmodo could be used in a similar way by the children in a class to collaborate to create a online, daily diary of their learning.
It's extremely easy to set up - all you have to do is remember to post a message your class group each day for the children to reply to.
In this example, I've asked the question 'What did you learn today?' and the children could respond with what:
To encourage them to write a reply each day, you could perhaps reward them with a badge if they do it every day in a week.
Over time, these replies would gradually build up to create a large collection of their memories. To help keep them organised, each message could be 'tagged' so that each of the diary posts could be filtered out from the 'everything' stream. This tag could be shared with your groups too - if you send each day's diary question out to several groups separately you would see all the posts under this tag whilst the children in each group would only see the posts sent to their group.
At the end of each week/month/term/year, you could look back on these memories with your children and review what they have: learnt, achieved and remembered. This could even be used to assess their ability to accurately recall knowledge and understanding of topics or to refresh their skills relating to particular concepts.
What a great way for children to keep track of their learning experiences!
Here in the UK we have a government-backed organisation called CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) that provides children with: advice, guidance and, if required, the ability to report online crime. They encourage owners of popular websites to include a link to their 'Click CEOP' button which children can easily click on to access a variety of their online e-safety resources - I obviously registered with them to be able to put it onto my school's website.
When I launched Edmodo in my school I made sure that all the children clearly understood my behaviour expectations when using the website, as well as the actions which would be taken if they were broken. I even created a mini poster reminding them how to stay safe on Edmodo and set it up on my website so that children automatically see it for ten seconds before being redirected to the main Edmodo login screen.
An idea which I had last night that other Edmodo users might be interested in to further promote e-safety amongst their students is to create a dedicated e-safety group for them to join. For my school it would simply contain three posts - one with a picture of the 'Zip it! Block it! Flag it!' slogan promoted here in the UK, one with a link on to the fabulous ThinkuKnow website (which contains e-safety games for them to play/information for them to read) and another with a a link on to the CEOP 'report' website.
To get students to join the group and see the links I would just send the group code to them as an alert. I wouldn't force anyone to join the group, however the incentive of being rewarded with a badge when they did would hopefully encourage them to.
This would be the only real admin task associated with the group but could be done quite straightforwardly each time I receive notification of new members having joined in my spotlight - all new members would be set to read-only access automatically so that all that they can actually do in the group is click on the links (and so not send messages). I did consider creating a folder in my library with the links in and just sharing it with each of the class groups but felt that creating a new group instead would make them appear in a more visually prominent place on the screen - as well as make it easier for me to see who has opted to access them so that I can reward them with a badge.
My inspirations for this plan are the EdmodoCon group (where all members are receiving a badge to reward their attendance) and the way CEOP encourages Facebook users to install their panic button application (to give more control to the user - rather than just having the link there from the start).
By creating a dedicated e-safety group it will hopefully help to make Edmodo users at my school feel more confident in their online behaviours as well as provide them with an easy way to access any advice/support should they need it.
I'd love to read what thoughts anyone else has on this idea!
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:
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.
I'm sure many of you would agree with me when I say that children love collecting things and comparing their collections with their friends - especially with whatever the latest 'in' toy is at the moment (it was Mini Trolls at my school just before the summer, for example).
The creators of Edmodo seemed to have spotted this and as such introduced a new feature today to their website for students called 'badges'.
When you now click on a child's avatar picture, you are taken to their profile page and can see what badges they have been awarded by their teachers. Children can get recognition for their achievements and can compare their collections with others to see what other badges they can aim to get rewarded with next.
There are a few generic badges already available for teachers to give to pupils (e.g. to recognise good attendance), however you can create your own to build up a collection of different badges more specifically suited to your children and your school.
I've been having a quick go at designing some badges this afternoon and the ideas that I have come up with so far are to reward children who have:
At the moment these are fairly 'serious' badges but I am considering creating some extra more 'fun' badges to reward children with every time they collect an extra 10 badges - this should hopefully keep the children keen to continue working towards reaching new milestones and thus prevent the system from becoming stale.
I can see a huge potential in using badges to try and encourage children to engage with Edmodo more from home and produce quality work on it. I look forward to seeing how successful they become when the new term starts in September!
I've spoken in the past about the benefits of using Edmodo with school children, however I got thinking today about how the website could be exploited by school staff for use as online staff community (or staff room if you prefer).
It's very straightforward to set up - just create a new group in Edmodo and share its code with all your colleagues so that they can join it. Teachers can then easily send messages to this staff group with just a few clicks - this can sometimes be preferable to sending messages to 'all connections' since some things might be very school specific which you don't want to share with the wider audience of your PLN.
Some ways of using this staff group could include:
These are just a few ideas but hopefully it helps you realise the many different benefits encouraging your staff to join their own special Edmodo has.
How do your staff use Edmodo to help with their school work?
Last week my deputy head put a writing task on Edmodo for KS2 - within four days, 42 children had chosen, in their own free time at break or at home, to complete it! They weren't forced, it wasn't formally set as homework - they just decided themselves that they wanted to do it.
To say that Edmodo is a success at my school would be putting it mildly. Since my last post (view here), I've managed to get about half of KS1 signed up too and have even had children who are off ill logging in at home during the day.
Having had more time to explore Edmodo, I can now explain some of the tools I overlooked last time, as well as give you some useful little tips I've discovered to help get the most out of Edmodo.
Firstly, let me talk about 'assignments'. As a teacher, you can set an assignment to be completed by either one group or multiple groups. You send it by filling in the message form (including attaching any pictures/files) and setting a due date for it to be completed by. It appears in each child's timeline, as well as in the 'spotlight' area in the top-right of the screen to remind them that it needs to be done.
To complete an assignment, children have to click on the 'turn in' button on the assignment description before typing their work in (and upload any pictures/files) - they shouldn't do it by replying to the message.
Once an assignment has been completed, it appears in the teacher's mark book to say that it has been turned in. The group creator and any co-teachers can grade the work by giving it a mark (we've been setting writing tasks to the whole of KS2 and giving marks out of 5, based on National Curriculum levelling), as well as give feedback by adding a comment to it.
As Edmodo is aimed at all sectors of the education system, assignments that have been turned in can only be viewed by: the group creator, co-teachers, each child in question and any parents associated with them. Whilst this has the advantage of preventing children from cheating by looking at what each other has done, it has the disadvantage of children not being able see each other's work and comment on it. To get around this though, I had the idea of publishing a good piece of work completed by a child in each class onto the school website - this lets children aim to do the best they can so that it gets shared with a worldwide audience and also makes it so that they only see good examples of work to model their own ideas from (rather than just looking at their friends, which might not be that good).
Moving on, teachers can also send 'alerts' to groups - these are messages which contain only text and which appear in the timeline in a larger font to highlight their importance. Edmodo says that you are limited to 140 characters, although this doesn't seem to be the case. It's worth pointing out that sending a message/alert to multiple groups means that children from different groups can all reply to it and get a little discussion/conversation going - this might be something you want to allow but if you don't, the only workaround is to send the message to each group separately.
Any files/links/embed codes attached by a teacher to a message are automatically added to their online library/storage area (you can also upload to the library directly too if you wish). At the moment there aren't any storage limits, although uploads are limited to 100mb - this, in my opinion, makes it a fantastic place to store documents online. Images (and I think PDFs too) less than 1mb in size even show a preview of the file automatically too.
Library items can be organised into folders to help organise them, and these folders can then be shared with your groups (who will have read-only access to them). As well as having groups for each class in my school, I also have a 'staff' group that only staff can access - I spent around four hours last weekend uploading PowerPoints and printable resources to share with this staff group so that they can access them at home (something which many have been requesting for a good few years now).
Lastly, I want to quickly point out a few things I've discovered about user profiles:
In just under a month, Edmodo has become firmly embedded in my school - everyone has taken to it so quickly and with so much enthusiasm that I've actually been amazed. We even held a meeting for parents earlier this week to tell them about what our vision is for using the site and how they can help their child to work on it.
(Created by S Haughton, M Kemp and clip art provided by B Evans)
Nearly every other day I've been getting an email or Tweet sent to me from a school asking me if I would recommend rolling out Edmodo and each time my response has be a definite 'yes'!
I'll end with a few comments from our children about why they love Edmodo so much:
"I don't like Edmodo, I love it!"
"It's better doing homework on computers than paper. I think if you do more homework on computers you can get more people to turn it in instead of maybe having some scruffy writing on paper."
"Edmodo is the best!"
"Because you can chat to each other and do assignments."
"I like Edmodo because you can comment on people's writing and share things with one another."
"I like Edmodo because you can talk to friends at home."
Edmodo is probably most easily described as being a child-friendly version of Facebook designed specially for schools.
For the past few months I do admit to becoming a bit concerned about the number of pupils I was hearing about in school who are on Facebook - especially when I know that they will have broken its terms and conditions by lying and pretending that they are over 13 years old when registering. I do teach e-safety lessons fairly regularly but I always think that it's a fine line I have to draw between teaching them how to work with a site that they shouldn't be on in the first place (thus promoting it in a way) and teaching them good e-safety behaviours in general.
I originally signed up to Edmodo two years following @markw29's recommendation. At the time though, whilst what it offered was good, it was a service still in its infancy and it did have a few missing features that made what it offered a bit too basic I felt. Having been keeping tabs on their blog however, over the last month or so I began to notice that the team behind the site had introduced lots of new tools recently. This, coupled with a quick chat with @primarypete_ and @2sparkley, made me want to have another look at the site to see how it had improved since my last visit and to see if it could help me deal with my concerns regarding Facebook use by pupils.
Having done all my school jobs last Saturday, I signed into Edmodo and was pleasantly surprised with what I found - it basically now offered everything anybody could ever want from a school version of Facebook and therefore a fantastic safe online environment for children to use to develop their online behaviours before being 'exposed' to more famous, world-wide, 'adult' websites when they get older.
Here's a quick overview of how to get started on the site yourself:
1. Register as a teacher by going to www.edmodo.com and fill in the on-screen form.
2. Register your school address onto their system and set up a customised sub-domain. This sounds more complicated than what it actually is - all you have to do is choose a unique web address and fill the form in on that page. For example, I work at Parkfield Primary School so filled in the form at parkfield.edmodo.com
3. Set up groups for all the different classes in your school. As these have to be unique, I went for the easy-to-remember titles of 'ParkfieldY3', 'ParkfieldY4' etc.
The website is then extremely easy for children to register with themselves and use:
During this past week I've managed to teach Years 4-6 how to access the site, plus a handful of keen Year 3 children who come to my weekly afterschool Internet club too. I made a rule in my head that I would only give out the group code to register with to children who I had taught how to use its features - I didn't want children using the website without knowing its full features. (I gave them all a little card to write down on what their class code was to take home - you can download it here.)
Edmodo is a private website - only children I've allowed and given the code to can join it. The messages appear instantly in the group's timeline and to me this isn't really a problem as no members of the public will be reading them (unlike comments on my school website which only appear publicly after they've been moderated and approved for viewing). I made sure that I emphasised to the children whom I introduced Edmodo to that they were aware that their usage would be monitored and that there were a range of possible sanctions in place which could be implemented if they misused/abused this privilege of being allowed to post instant messages:
To make sure that they were fully aware of my expectations of how they should use the website, I created a poster and made a quick redirect page on my own website which displays this for 10 seconds to the children before they are then taken to the login page. On this page I also put on links to:
As I wanted other members of staff at school to use Edmodo and be able to have the same management/editing tools available as me, I enabled them to join as 'co-teachers':
It's worth point out that co-teachers have access to a variety of useful group admin tools too:
I've only been using Edmodo for one week yet in that time it has been unbelievably successful - I've had six parents personally thank me for finding it, I've had three children in Year 5 who've been using it to write poetry of their own choosing and have even had a bit of debate started after my deputy head put on a poll to find out what everyone's favourite subject is (currently tied between English and ICT)!
In these hard financial times, I'm very grateful to come across a website that offers so much to schools with absolutely no cost whatsoever - everything on Edmodo is completely free! (They also have a great technical support team who have so far responded in a matter of hours to any queries I've had.)
It's still early days at the moment using the website for me - I'm still trying to think up how to best exploit the uses of it to improve children's learning and I know I've still got features of it still to explore - notably the online 'library' (aka digital e-portfolio) I can set up and the online assignment/homework facility it provides - but I've not been so amazed by the capabilities of such a website for a very a long time.
Both my deputy head and head (who just happened to come into my lesson with the head of the LA's technical team at the exact same as I was introducing it to Year 5) seem extremely impressed with the work I've managed to do setting up Edmodo with the children and are looking forward to seeing how it can become embedded even more as a school digital communication tool in future.