Chris Thomas' latest screencast is a how to guide on setting up Edmodo, the free microblogging tool designed specifically to be used in and out of the classroom. He explains integral features such as how to create and manage groups, send messages, links, pdfs and other files, embed audio and video clips, set assignments and assess individual work.
Particularly useful is the way, Chris shows the differences between what a teacher and pupils would see when logged in. He highlights for example that teachers can send messages to any group or individual pupils whereas pupils can only send messages to their own group or to the teacher not individual pupils. This is very helpful if a pupil needs support for a homework assignment, but doesn't want the rest of the group to know.
Edmodo was also the topic for discussion at last Saturday's Classroom 2.0 Live Elluminate event where special guest and co-founder, Jeff O'Hara, answered questions from 100 educators around the world for over an hour and described future plans for developing the tool based on teacher feedback. These include:
- Edmodo Chalk - an integration of the popular Open Source tool EtherPad with a possible 32 simultaneous users
- An exportable gradebook for turned in assignments
- a native Edmodo app for the App Store
- a teacher moderated public page with its own RSS feed
- parent accounts
- monetisation of certain premium areas of the site, but keeping all the basic features free
- Moodle integration
You could also contact MFL HoD and Edmodo evangelist, José Picardo whose words of encouragement at the IOW Conference 2008 and MFL Flashmeeting 3 (25.35) inspired colleagues such as Amanda Salt and Kath Holton to try out the tool with their classes and found that their pupils really like the tool too. Have a look at this earlier post where José's students give some very positive feedback.
It will be interesting to see how Edmodo evolves in the future and how many schools decide to give it go. They may feel that if they already have a VLE wouldn't want to invest time into developing the use of another tool which replicates many of the same features. However, individual teachers or departments may find Edmodo a useful way of communicating within their own subject in a familiar environment their pupils find engaging.