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What is this, an advertising blog? Sorry for the blatant ed- promotions tonight, just all kinds of great stuff to see and share! I was able to wrangle an opportunity to view edmodo (alpha) tonight (due to my wonderful disposition, I’m sure……..or Jeff O’Hara got annoyed that I was so blatantly promoting @edublogs, teehee – you can follow @edmodo, too) and was pretty impressed with how professional the site is and the basic premise. I’m not going to tout this as the next-greatest thing, because that’s honestly up to users. Things become hits because they work, simple as that. As no one is actually using edmodo yet, it’s difficult to predict the popularity/adoption. Personally, I can’t wait to try this out and see how others are using it, I’m always up for new things :-) I won’t be able to use it in the classroom right now due to my insane schedule and position in the district, but if I had a full-time teaching position with full-time students, I’d be chomping at the bit to figure out how best to take advantage of it. That’s the key: teachers need to get in, play around, and figure out how it works with their classroom structure, technology access, and curriculum.

Wait, I didn’t actually tell you what Edmodo is! Well, it’s been spun as “Twitter in the Classroom” on Tech Crunch but it’s just so much more than that (and attaching Twitter to it may be a downside for some who don’t embrace the wonderful world of tweets). I think to label it a microblogging tool is a little simplistic and really diminishes the potential educational uses. From exploring, I’d say it’s a combination of pownce, facebook, moodle and some other things I probably don’t even know about. Some may cringe that I compare it to moodle, but I’m currently deep into moodle right now and the blocks are somewhat similar, as is the concept of posting assignments. The messaging seems rather like pownce to me, much more so than Twitter. The design is a little Facebook-ish at first glance.

The screencast teaser (PLEASE go check it out, I had issues embedding it here) gives a taste of what it looks like and highlights some of the features.

Still confused? Sign up for the beta and for now, see what others are saying:

Edmodo About Page says “Edmodo is a brand new company creating free online tools for the education community. The first tool we are building is a communications tool for Schools, Teachers, Students, and parents for use in the classroom.”

Who is edmodo? (edmodo About page)
Currently edmodo is owned, operated, & funded by Jeff O’Hara & Nic Borg. Jeff is a network administrator/webmaster for Community Unit School District 200 in Wheaton, Illinois. He also blogs at http://blog.zemote.com. Nic is the webmaster/web developer for Kaneland Community Unit School District 302 in Maple Park, Illinois.”

Matt Long on Classroom 2.0 says (also see this discussion for Jeff O’Hara’s replies):

So Jeff was nice enough to let me demo the tool this afternoon for about 20 minutes. Cool stuff. Here is a brief writeup.
W/ Edmondo you can create groups (classes). Each one is color coded which is nice and pleasant to view. Once these are created you send out an email to your student that tells them to either add their current account as a student in the “course” or create an account and then add themselves.

As an instructor or student you see the courses you have setup on Edmodo. You can add a note file,link,assignment or alert. The assignments and alerts are date sensitive and pop up as they get closer. As you add one of the above then decide what course you want that info to flow into. As a user you can view all courses at once or view one at time. You can also reply to any information added. You also have a “Locker” for saving interesting posts. You can tag the posts and search using the tags.

Besides classes you can create groups. Jeff, can you explain this area more? Not sure about this part of the tool.

So, if you use Twitter it would be like having a separate area to Tweet friends,family or co-workers. You would then have the ability to join Tweet Groups of common interest.

Cool stuff. Looking to use this to support incoming freshman now instead of Twitter if launch is successful. The cool thing is the startup for a tool like this ( and Twitter ) is a couple of minutes. I figured out how to use it in 3-4 minutes.

It would be nice to be able to customize the color scheme. Of course, I’m looking at this from a branding perspective of a university. I don’t think that’s possible.
I would also like the PM other users. I did not see this feature.

Lastly, the navigation on the left could be a bit more obvious. I see Classes, Activities and Groups but those headings don’t really stand out to me. Overall, the tool worked well. I was pleased.”

Somewhat Frank’s post “Edmodo: Microblogging for Education” adds this:

Built on PHP and MySQL Edmodo enables users to create groups and share files, links, embedded videos and images along with alerts, assignments and events.  Alerts enable user to set quick notices over email and eventually SMS text message.”

And how about this, The National School Board Association is talking about it as well! Their post summarizes Edmodo like this:

“BoardBuzz sees in Edmodo what could be a new trend. As a recent commenter predicted, more and more K-12 infrastructure and classroom management tools will look to web-based solutions. BoardBuzz hasn’t seen Edmodo in action, but we think it might be another great addition to the education community’s library of Web 2.0 tools.”

I asked Jeff a few questions (via Twitter dm) and here are his responses/explanations:

parents feature will not be implemented in the first release, still working out those details……after a teacher signs up, and creates her classes, a signup code will be generated…..the teacher would then give the signup code to the student to create a login, the student would then automatically be assigned to that class…..during the signup process for the student we will ask the user if they have an edmodo account already, if so, their account would then be associated with a new class……a student will not be required to have an e-mail address, but can provide one if they want to

Jeff credits his wife for thinking of the no-email requirement! Did you catch that? NO STUDENT EMAIL ADDRESS REQUIRED!!! That’s what has been the sticking point for so many educators on so many of these tools. Thank you edmodo for thinking of this – it is HUGE.

Yet again, here’s the screencast teaser , check it out, sign up for the beta, and take a chance on something new. The world of education is certainly big enough and innovative enough to see if edmodo is the tool we’ve all been waiting for……….and please, we truly don’t need another discussion right now (or at least right here) about educators blindly embracing technology, it’s been said elsewhere. New things come around for a reason, it’s up to the community to decide what works.

9 Responses to “Edmodo – I scored an alpha invite!”

  1. [...] shared her review of Edmodo as an alpha [...]

  2. mbogle says:

    As always I am completely compelled to have a tinker and see what this application can do. I like the fact it’s directed specifically at educators too. Based on the screencast there definitely seems to be some potential from the technical/application perspective.

    That said though, the key to a successful curricular implementation would be a proper learning design underpinning the whole thing. How would you go about implementing it in a course? What sorts of activities would you conduct and what would the learning outcomes be?

    (I’m not saying that to be sarcastic by the way, I’m honestly interested in how you would envisage using it in practice.)

    Please keep the evaluation reports coming – I’ve yet to have my account request approved! :(

    Cheers,

    Mike

  3. Cindy Seibel says:

    The screencast and descriptions are intriguing. As Mike suggests, products such as these will take root (go viral perhaps?) when they are tied to good learning design.

    But the other issue is sustainability. Jen Jones just blogged about this, and discussed our risk of becoming dependent on tools that may not be there tomorrow.

    So I can’t help but wonder, is a company a company with no revenue? I in no way wish to denigrate the contributions of Jeff & Nic – kudo’s are in order. I’m just trying to understand if there is an underlying business model for enterprises like this, and if so, what is it?

  4. Kate Olson says:

    Mike -

    Thanks, as always for making me think and putting me on the spot :-) My early opinion (like I said in the post, I don’t think it’s fair to judge too quickly, so I’m sure this will evolve) is this:

    1) I see this being used heavily in HS and college, with lighter use on the lower age levels. The use with cell phones is paramount to success. As with any technology, the adoption will be based on the level of tech availability to students, which is why I focus it on HS/university where students have more of the buying power. Anyone who thinks a new app needs to be able to fully implemented on the elementary level is unrealistic. Also, the current K-12 policies of banning all mobile devices could restrict use on the lower levels. I’m thinking more and more that university is the place that will make this big.

    2) As a parent and educator, I’m really excited to see the parent notification features that are still in development.

    3) At the beginning I think edmodo would be great for class communications and alerts and as teachers/students become more comfortable with it, I think it could work really well for class discussion and collaboration. Implementation with virtual schools and stand-alone online course could do really well.

    4) I think the use of edmodo would have to be accepted by students (somehow integrated with facebook? just a thought?) otherwise teachers would be “tweeting” into oblivion

    So, Mike, thanks for making me think harder, I always need a push :-)

    Cindy -

    You brought up excellent questions……..wish I knew the answers! I’ll see what I can find, but perhaps Jeff O’Hara would be the best one to answer the questions of revenue and underlying business model? Maybe we can get him to chime in……….

  5. mbogle says:

    Hi Kate,

    The change management process you mention is a really important one that I think IT people really need to consider – not just for students, but staff as well. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone.

    You touched on this inadvertently via one of your Tweets too regarding the educator who feels they don’t have time to keep up with all the innovation going on. That’s completely understandable and represents a huge reality check for eLearning folks like me.

    In many ways I think this should get rolled into learning design. I suppose at a uni level this sort of thing might be called a graduate attribute – increasing student comfort levels and digital literacy when collaborating via different modes of communication. Then again, at the uni level we’re starting to see students coming in who are quite comfortable with the new tools, while instructors are not.

    So perhaps one of the crucial planning elements, even before the subject matter is covered, becomes the establishment of a culture of encouraged exploration and active collaboration in which all members of the class – instructor and students alike – are encouraged to experiment and develop their own appreciations of what the tools do and how they see themselves using them.

    This would inevitably lead into the subject of Personal Learning Environments and Networks, but I’ll save that for another comment I think :)

    Without the digital literacy component the whole equation starts to fall over I think. So in that sense adequate change management is essential.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  6. Jonathan Orr says:

    For me I think the deal breaker will be whether or not is can do sms. I think that this will be a huge asset to the program. I am looking for a good program like twitter that is sms capable, but limit the network to my students.

  7. [...] shared her review of Edmodo as an alpha [...]

  8. [...] weeks ago a series of conversations on Twitter and touched on by edubloggers Kate Olson (”Edmodo – I scored an alpha invite“, Reflection 2.0, 6 March 2008) and Kelly Christopherson (”Go to the source“, [...]

  9. mcarls says:

    I too can’t wait for Edmodo to be released and have had the chance to try to go check it out in alpha version. It will be interesting to see how it is promoted to teachers and accepted. I know few around my area that even know what Twitter is and almost none have Twitter unblocked. I do see great advantages over Twitter and with the tagging, locker and ability to embed video, documents and links it looks intriguing. Now that I’ve read about it, I think in Business it could have a great following as well.
    I may have to check it out again and write more on my blog once I’ve formulated more thoughts. Thanks for Kate and Steve Dembo for writing about it and for Jeff and Nic for getting it together. Like anything, marketing it to teachers and giving solid examples of using Edmodo in the classroom may be key. I can’t wait.
    Mark.
    Twitter: mcarls

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