I am using Edmodo as a social network and my intention is not to try to run it as part of the Moodle platform, but to run both tools separately. This was mainly due to my belief that the social network aspect of Moodle was not engaging the students. Some of my comments and reviews will deal with Edmodo specifically, while other sections will deal with social networking more generically.
Self-Review Lens: Please also refer to previous blog post MyFace, my search for the perfect social Network. What I suggested in that post is still true in my opinion, I have yet to find the perfect social network for my needs. Edmodo is currently my choice almost by way of default, due to the shortcomings of its competitors. Being in adult education I can see that it is generally pitched at a lower age group. I have noted that I am automatically defaulted to the title of Mr Dunning on the Edmodo site. This is a little too formal for my liking, but I understand the necessity to differentiate myself from the rest of the group. On the plus side, it does look a little bit like Facebook, which the vast majority of my students are familiar with and this familiarity hopefully is likely to lead to good levels of interaction in the future. The reason why I am saying the future and not now, is revealed below.
Student Review Lens: I am currently trialling the Edmodo social Network with one of my classes which has just 9 Students. Currently, after a few weeks of requests, I have 3 members and 1 who (for reasons unknown) is unable to join due to technological issues. Of those 3 students, 1 is unable to view the embedded content, and I have had to send the link to the content via email (exactly not what a social network is for). However, the 2 students who have been able to join the group and access the content have already commented that they feel that this is an excellent resource, and something that they can access from anywhere and communicate with each other as well as with myself. They feel as if they will make use of the posting and forum sections, especially when they finish their studies for the summer but need to prepare for external examinations. So, from a student perspective, a mixed level of comments. I have not been a member of Edmodo as a student. However, I am a member of Yammer as a student and certainly see the potential of a social network for students, especially in the forums. I have also seen the use another group of my students have made of Facebook (although I have seen this only by being shown the group on a students computer – I have not been invited to join this private group) – this, perhaps, creates another debate for another time.
Peer Review Lens: Some of my colleagues are very sceptical indeed about the use of social networks as part of the learning process. I have one colleague who searches the students Facebook accounts to use as an issue in data protection (it is part of one of the modules in the course as we deal with patient data within an ophthalmic practice). However, in our department we are all part of the Yammer group. Graphite (2013) Compliments its ease of use although stating that it has a lack of features compared to other learning environments.
Theoretical Review Lens: Social networks in education are often discussed in terms of both usability and sociability. Dumas and Reddish (1999, p4) defined usability as ‘people who use the product can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their tasks). Whereas Sociability is defined as ‘how members of a community interact with each other across the…interface’ (Preece, 2001 p5). The usability of Edmodo is something that has been measured by several reviewers of the system on blogs and wiki’s, but the sociability issue is harder to judge, and relates to each individual group of students who use it, depending on the context of the group. Preece (2001) had suggested that social support groups are far less likely to tolerate argumentation than academic groups. However, it could be considered that some academic groups have a duty of social support. I certainly would consider this to be the case with my own groups. Therefore a balance needs to be sought.
The same is also true in terms of safety within a social network. The graphite (2013) review pointed out that Edmodo has safety in mind. Any discussion on the use of social networks in education is almost certainly going to be centred on safety and the potential problems of misuse. Cunningham (2011, Online) pointed out that her establishment be removed from Edmodo due to student issues, even though she felt that the issue was to do with moderation rather than the platform itself. Her comments then go on to reflect her feelings on the subject of students and social networking.
‘Are the students ready? Yes. Are they going to mess up? Yes. Will we have discipline issues? Yes. Should we just deal with those like we do the equivalent action face to face? Yes. Are we going to stop them from using social media? No… It’s not like turning off Edmodo is stopping them from interacting.’
Simon Haughton (2011, Online) has made sure steps are in place before the implementation of Edmodo in his school – stating to the students that there were a ‘range of possible sanctions in place which could be implemented if they misused/abused this privilege of being allowed to post instant messages’. This, I suggest, would be something which may deter many students from wanting to get involved with a social platform. Perhaps a finer balance needs to be struck. I am involved in adult learning, and feel that it is important to allow my students to be adult.
Overall, I think it takes quite a long time to establish a successful online community. I certainly haven’t had that time up to the time of writing. It is something I intend to continue with, and hope to report back with my evaluation in the future.
Cunningham, J. (2011) Unplugging Edmodo [Online.] Available: http://julieacunningham.com/2011/01/31/unplugging-edmodo/ [Accessed 18/05/2014]
Dumas, J. s. and Reddish, J. C. (1999) A practical guide to Usability Testing (Revised Edition). Exeter: Intellect
Graphite. (2013) Great, easy to use, free social networking site for education [Online}. Available: http://www.graphite.org/website/edmodo-teacher-review/3887131 [Accessed: 18/05/14]
Haughton, S. (2011) Introducing Edmodo – My First Experiences. Available: http://simonhaughton.typepad.com/ict/2011/03/introducing-edmodo-my-first-experiences.html [Accessed 18/05/2014]
Preece, J. (2001) Sociability and Usability: Twenty years of chatting Online Behaviour and Information Technology Journal 20:5 pp347-356