19 October 2009

Adventures in Edmodo Part II: Setting it Up

Last time I talked about some of the mistakes I made in having students sign up for Edmodo. This time I'll share some of the successes we've had in just a few days' time.

Since I am now teaching in a computer lab with 22 computers and assorted tables, I have found that assisting students is not as easy as having 35 desks in neat rows. I've also discovered that many of the questions my freshmen ask could be answered by their peers (i.e. "where do I find...?" or "when is this due?"), yet they had no efficient way to ask those questions. I was also facing frequent interruptions when trying to help small groups; by using Edmodo, students could ask their questions and those questions would go into the 'queue' to be answered when I have a moment (or they can be answered right away by their peers if that is appropriate).

When we use Edmodo in class, I have it projected on the wall (no, I don't have a screen) so that all students can easily see the questions and answers even if they aren't on a computer. If a question is relevant to everyone, I can point it out easily and address it whole-group. If a comment is inappropriate (see previous Adventures in Edmodo post) I can address it right away and show students how to move learning forward. I also have the ability to point out excellent student questions and responses and explain how those will help move us forward.

The real time feedback both on Edmodo and in person has helped some students refine their questions and get more focused on their work. Others have taken the roll of encouraging their peers when comments are self-defeating. Next time we'll look at how Edmodo can be used as both a back channel in class and a homework helper out of class.