I can only compare what I know. I know that about 2 years ago, I was introduced to the world of Flipped learning, and as a teacher who had interned with Florida Virtual School, the idea of putting part of my teaching life online appealed to me.
Think about it… Students are online anyway. Most of the time, they really don’t mind adding a school website to the list. They end up doing what they do on all the websites… in fact, they probably are doing what you did to get here. They scroll; they get lost; they read mindlessly; they click on links and learn stuff unintentionally. Its almost osmosis.
Our current Academic Dean and a team of others in our district introduced me to Edmodo. I’m an all or nothing person (for better or worse!) and a dove right in. Within a few weeks, all of my classes were signed up, students were completing assignments, and we were rolling. I flipped some, but for me, the value of the online medium was the potential for the increase in the language production.
In a matter of weeks, my students were:
- Commenting on things in Spanish.
- Presenting stuff to me (writings AND videos) in Spanish
- Communicating with me openly about their grades, questions, concerns
- Sharing relevant content.
- Making up absent work
- Completing other assignments, notes and more on Edmodo!
Believe it or not, I didn’t have the commonly feared “inappropriate” posts, even with nearly 200 teenagers 14-19 years old enrolled! In fact, I even conducted part of my maternity leave last year on Edmodo.
But… I did have these problems:
- Constant log in issues. (Thankfully, on edmodo, teachers can reset student passwords, that is a huge plus!)
- Problems with the “feed”. Edmodo is modeled after a social network style, and the feed brings up the most popular “posts” in their “network” or classes… meaning that since some students didn’t actually click on my class, they missed out on important posts.
- A confusing interface… for teachers AND for students.
Of course, neither of these lists is exhaustive. Edmodo has served me well, and my students are still currently enrolled… but over the past few months, we’ve transitioned away to the sleeker, simpler: Google Classroom.
Google Classroom Vs. Edmodo
Google classroom is accessed by students through their own Gmail accounts, or through school created ones, if you school has “gone Google” (as ours has). This means, students will have to set and reset their own passwords… BUT since they probably already have gmail accounts, they likely already actually know their passwords…. unlike the password for the random educational thing they were forced to sign up for….
It is also a simplified version of blackboard, essentially. Instead of a lame (sorry, Edmodo) version of Facebook, the interface actually mirrors a system they will hopefully be using in a few short years, if we do our jobs and prepare them for college.
The feed in each “classroom” is sequential, meaning the most recent posts appear at the top, instead of the most popular.
Students can turn in assignments, teachers can edit those assignments, and return them with comments. Its amazing. Providing feedback is at the core of constant improvement; Google Classroom make it easy.
The most amazing part of Google Classroom, for me, is its integration into the rest of the Google world. For instance:
- Students can attach content from Google docs/ Google Drive directly to their assignments.
- Assignments are automatically organized into folders in my google drive by class period.
- Students log in with Gmail
- and more!
Although some would complain that the tools Edmodo offers (such as Snapshot, quiz making, and the Apps) aren’t available in Google, I’m glad. In fact, this is part of what contributes to the simplicity of the tool… which directly contributes to my student’s success. AND I am simplifying as a result. For instance, I have been using tools like Kahoot or Google Forms instead of quizzes by edmodo. Additionally, as a language teacher, production really is my ultimate goal, and encouraging interaction instead of participation in automatically graded quizzes, really is more inline with my goals.
Are you using Classroom? What are your thoughts?
In case you missed Parts 1 & 2: