Over the past couple of weeks I have been completing the remaining requirements to earn my Edmodo Ambassador credential. This was an interesting endeavor because although I am a very frequent user of Edmodo, it is not in the traditional classroom setting. In my position with the State Department of Education, I am heavily involved in professional development for teachers. Edmodo works well in this scenario because it is web based and participants can be from any district.
While many would state that Edmodo doesn’t completely qualify as a Learning Management System (LMS), it is a perfect tool for the management of a professional learning community. It provides a great venue for group discussion in the form of posts and replies to specific topics. Edmodo also includes a polling feature, quizzes and a library system in which you can easily store resources. These are features found in most LMSs but the openness of Edmodo in allowing the individual teacher to regulate enrollment. This outshines most LMSs for my uses in that there are no restrictions on who can be added to a group. Google’s Classroom limits participants to users in the same Google Apps for Education system (Google recently added the ability for administrators to “whitelist” other GAFE districts allowing select cross population.)
Let me walk you through a typical use case for Edmodo for professional development. The State Department of Education was set up by Edmodo as a school district. That allows us to add various programs as schools. Once teachers, in our case various State Department of Education staffers, have been added to the schools, they can create groups. Each group normally represents a particular professional development session or professional learning community. These groups can be used to completely manage the session if it is to be presented asynchronously or can be used as a supplement to a traditionally presented PD session.
To manage a completely online session, the facilitator (or in Edmodo terminology, the teacher) can add resources, make assignments, take polls and even give quizzes. Using Edmodo in this way does take some planning. You don’t really have a way to post a course structure as many LMSs do. However, you can create folders and add files, links, and quizzes. The teacher might create folders for each unit or module of the course and post the needed materials in the folder. Participants (or students in Edmodo-ese) would need to learn to switch to the folder view to navigate through the content. (Note, participants would utilize the same Edmodo account they would use as a teacher in their school, they would simply be referred to as a student in these groups.)
A more frequent use of Edmodo for us is as a supplement to in person PD sessions or conference presentations. The presenter of the session can preload content and additional resources into the group and referred participants to the group as a repository. However, the group could also be used during the session to post feedback, take polls to gather data and even allow for ‘back channelling discussion amongst the participants. This is made possible with the quick and easy enrollment process using group codes and the availability of full-featured mobile apps.
Research has shown that one-shot PD is not very effective (Darling-Hammond, 2009), so one of the greatest advantages of Edmodo as a supplement to the traditional PD session or conference presentation is to provide the necessary follow up and extension activities to ensure teachers actually integrate their learning into their practice.
Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R. C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Palo Alto, CA: National Staff Development Council and The School Redesign Network, Stanford University.