Tool Name: Edmodo
Version Number/Release Date: 2008
Developer Website: http://www.edmodo.com/about
Reviewed by: Rebecca Fil
Review Date: 20 February 2013
Tags or Keywords: education, library, connect, resources
Purposes of the Tool:
Edmodo is a free website for teachers that essentially combines the features of Facebook and Drop Box as a resource for teaching.
STARTUP: When signing up for Edmodo, you have the option of creating either a teacher or student account. My focus in this tool review will be on the teacher account features of Edmodo. This review’s primary audience is for graduate students/TAs and secondary education educators. A teacher account allows you to become an admin and create different groups for your classes, as well as access a cornucopia of teaching resources. With a student account, you can see and download assignments, participate in online discussions and quizzes via Edmodo, view student grades, and post questions or comments, but you cannot edit anything. The sign-in page also has an option for parents and administrators.
PROFILE: Once you have created an Edmodo teacher account, you add your school. Most schools (K-college) are listed and will automatically connect you with the school’s Edmodo group, but you can also add your own school (For this review, I created a profile and made up a high school). The profile is a modified Facebook profile—it features an about section, connections (the friends section of Facebook, except it’s teachers on Edmodo), favorites (liked pages on Facebook, except it’s teaching resources), communities (your subject area), and badges, which isn’t very useful.
GROUPS: Located under the home tab, the groups section is for you to organize your work into the respective classes you teach. Students who create Edmodo profiles will receive a link that will give them access to their group for their class. You can upload assignments, post quizzes and polls, alerts, and comments in each of your groups. When you post anything, you can tag however many groups you want. If you are teaching three sections of American Lit and one graduate-level class on Joyce, you can post an assignment and tag all three sections of American Lit. Another cool thing about groups is it takes grade level into account. For whatever reason, you might also teach a creative writing elective at a local high school or community college in addition to your courses at the university—you can create a different group with a different grade and subject area. This can be changed in the group settings tab on the right side of the page; you can also filter the posts that your students receive in this tab.
PROGRESS: Along with the planner tab, which is a calendar, the progress tab is also useful for staying organized. Here you can record student grades and award badges, as hokey as it seems, for student achievement. The progress tab is where students can see their own grades and stay on-task about upcoming assignments. Progress is organized according to group.
LIBRARY: The library tab is the most attractive feature to digital humanists, because it strays away from the Facebook-like structure of this tool and becomes more like Dropbox. Here you can upload files from your computer, save links from the discover tab or those you have found on your own, Google docs, videos, movie projects, music, pictures, etc. You can’t see them online, but you can download them. The files can be organized into folders for groups, public/shared, or private.
DISCOVER: This tab is useful as a resource for teaching or your graduate work. It is a search engine that will produce any posts by edmodo teachers, links to other digital humanities/educational resources websites, questions and comments by other teachers, state standards, and so forth, all based on the keywords you’ve given.
CONNECTIONS: The connections tab works like Facebook friends—you connect with other teachers in your school or of your acquaintance. You can share assignments, items from your library, collaborate on projects, and make them group admins, if you are co-teaching a class.
APPS: Finally, the feature of Edmodo that could be considered the most useful to teachers is in face the least useful to me. Since Edmodo is a free website, they have to make their money somehow—Edmodo’s apps tab works like iTunes apps. In fact, many of the apps on iTunes for teachers have identical or at least similar apps on Edmodo. There are free apps, but you can’t really download them unless you purchase store credit. The apps are useless unless you don’t have access to the apps of iTunes, which is unlikely. And most of the free apps are things you can find online anyway, like TeacherTube, state standards, and digital humanities resources.
Edmodo is easy to use. Sign-up and profile creation take five minutes to complete. The features are easy to figure out, mostly because of their similarities with Facebook and Dropbox, and Edmodo offers tutorials on features, connecting with schools and districts, the website’s mission statement, and offers tech support. Edmodo doesn’t require you to download anything, and runs well on Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. A mobile app is also available for download.
Though most people who use Edmodo post rave reviews, I think its main problem is it is busy and doesn’t filter posts by other teachers well. If you join the Language Arts community, Edmodo will show every post from every English teacher on Edmodo, with little help in filtering out posts by grade or genre. The discover tab is not as useful as it could be in narrowing search results, especially if you’re looking for scholarly articles. I entered Paradise Lost in the search engine and what I got was a list of other teachers who were teaching Paradise Lost and resources I could’ve found with a simple Google search. And the app tab was a let-down. Keith Rispin, in the most comprehensive review I’ve seen of Edmodo, mentioned he’d like to see the inclusion of Wiki Space, white board for real time instruction, ability to add twitter feeds, collaborative space, Google Docs integration in lieu of collaborative space on Edmodo, but shrugged and said there is more to come for Edmodo.
Implications for Digital Humanities:
I said that the most attractive feature of Edmodo to digital humanists is its library, because it offers what in past tool reviews we’ve been left wanting—a way to share (or not share) documents with specific groups who cannot edit them. The discover tab is really the feature that should entice digital humanists, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, especially when it has to compete with Google Scholar, Zotero, Scout, and other search engines for the digital humanities. But that’s because the website wasn’t designed for graduate students doing extensive and specific research. It’s really an alternative to teachers using the state educators websites (in Alabama, for example, teachers use the Alabama Learning Exchange, or ALEX, website) to access lesson plans and Facebook/Google to connect with other teachers. However, teachers are digital humanists, just like graduate students and researchers with grants. In fact, teachers benefit the most from the digital humanities, in their quest to reconcile the digital age with the traditional classroom.
Summary: Edmodo is an excellent resource for teachers because of its social media and digital library features.
Rival or Comparable Tools: Facebook, Elearning, Blackboard Learn, Drop Box, Tioki, Edwic, Gmail
The most comprehensive review of Edmodo by Keith Rispin
Tioki: a rival tool