So a teacher that wants to ‘extend’ their classroom to the web has a lot of options. Of all the tools I have seen and touched, Edmodo stands out.
My first choice has been and remains Google Apps for Education. There is a truckload of great reasons to use Google Apps in the classroom, and when they put me in charge of the world it will be running full blast in every school. But there are challenges and obstacles – some technical, some policy-related – that won’t go away until the school and/or district leadership fully supports its use.
So that takes me to Edmodo. It is commonly described as Facebook for the K12 classroom, but it is safe, secure, private, and designed for K12 education. Edmodo can be an extension of your classroom on the web. It is feature rich: You can post assignments, maintain a class library of documents, resources and links, and give online quizzes. Edmodo has a built-in messaging system that is safe, secure and completely controlled by you – no private messaging is possible between students.
Best of all <drumroll>, it WORKS, it’s EASY, and it’s FREE (and free of adverts).
Whereas my experience with Google Apps has been compromised by district and state network limitations, Edmodo thus far seems to get a free and unrestricted pass. And since the system is tightly sealed there should be no need for special permissions or policies regarding its use. A teacher can manage student interaction on Edmodo as well as they can do in their classroom.
And a lot of people out there like it. According to Forbes.com, Edmodo membership has shot from 500,000 to 5,000,000 since 2010, and it recently got stoked with $15 million of Silicon Valley investment capital. The guy behind LinkedIn is now on the Edmodo board.
In my world, every teacher I have taken on an Edmodo tour gets fired up and dives right in. And several classes we have registered here at Carver Middle School are lighting up the place. The kids dig it, and it works for the teachers.
A good article about Edmodo including a video documentary and an interview of its co-founder.