This summer, I have been experimenting with Edmodo social networking with my incoming sixth grade students. It began with some conversations with a teacher in Texas who was interested in learning more about using technology, and I suggested we join forces and launch Edmodo for a collaborative summer reading project. Our students are reading The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg and responding periodically in our shared Edmodo space to discussion prompts.
I’ve been interested in both the function of Edmodo, which is talked about a lot in teacher circles, and in finding ways to connect summer reading with writing in an online space. The collaborative element with friends in Texas is sort of like icing on the cake.
I have mixed feelings on Edmodo. One one hand, as the video overviews hows, it offers up some great possibilities for collaboration in a networking space that feels comfortable to students. Teachers have flexibility on sharing, moderating and more. And there are various communities for teachers to participate in on Edmodo, which allows extension of learning networks. Parents can be invited to view the work going on in classroom spaces (as observers), and you can even make some or all of the space public (see below). My students seem to have adjusted nicely to using the space with no help from me at all (I visited their classroom for one quick overview in June and handed out a paper with some basic instructions, but other than that, they have been on their own with their book and Edmodo). I think that demonstrates the ease-of-operation of Edmodo in a nice way.
But I also find Edmodo strangely limiting in its structure, and it may just be that I don’t find my way through its structure all that intuitive. Threaded discussions don’t happen all that naturally, it seems to me, and I am not all that high on the design of the site (which, I know, seeks to mimic Facebook, whose design I absolutely hate). And while Edmodo is free for schools, I worry about all of the funding it is starting to gather from venture capitalists (it just raised another $25 million).
So, we should be paying attention to these developments and wonder how those investments are going to pay off. Is there going to be advertising? Data mining? Corporate partnerships? There has to be something in works beyond philanthropy by the investors when it comes to that much money for a space dedicated to young people. That worries me. (see this nice overview of Edmodo to go deeper into the growth and shifts of the platform)
Peace (in the space),