Twitter could be a great tool for teaching and learning. Groups of students and educators could use it to engage in multiple ongoing dialogues, which could be viewed all together or in separate streams based on specific topics. Links and files could be shared, upcoming events announced, people reminded of assignments, etc. And all of this could be viewed in real time or caught up on and returned to at later points.
So, if Twitter’s so great, why invent a new “micro-blogging” platform?
Sadly, many educators are scared of anything that might be more interesting to students than what is going on in their classrooms. And that includes, well, pretty much anything that begins with “http://www…” Therefore, Twitter is blocked in many schools. There are also security/privacy issues that arise in schools, such as the need to take measures to protect students from the cyber equivalent of the blue van offering kids candy that we were periodically warned about over the loudspeaker in elementary school.
I saaaid, enter Edmodo!
(there we go!)
Edmodo is a “private social platform for teachers and students to share ideas, files, events and assignments.” In addition to sharing short bursts of text, files, and links, there is a calendar function and assignment/grading capabilities. And new features are continuing to be added. One recent one: Polls. With a few keystrokes, teachers can now poll students’ opinions. The whole class can watch the results of a poll take shape through a visual interface. This is a cool addition, but I’m not sure why only teachers can post the polls. Students should be able to request and track their peers opinions as well. Maybe that will be a “premium feature…”
All the features mentioned above are free and, according to the Edmodo site, will remain free, but apparently they will eventually be adding additional features that will only be available to premium (paying) users.
I’m curious how this platform will be used. If I wasn’t teaching in a prison where internet access is forbidden, I would love to give this a shot with students. Which makes me think… Maybe Edmodo should design a handheld device that only runs their platform… I’m not sure how big a market it would have outside of prisons, given that many kids will probably opt to access Edmodo’s mobile platform (m.edmodo.com) from their cell phones. But, for the 104,959 juveniles behind bars, such a device could create a robust, continuous, multimedia educational experience that encourages dialogue, writing, reading and the development of technological skills.