On July 13, 2009, I attended a webinar which was presented by Jeff O'Hara, co-founder of Edmodo.
Edmodo is a website dedicated to "micro-blogging for education". Some of its main features are that it allows you to to set up classes, post notes (optionally including embedded content) to those classes, have online discussions, post (and have students submit) assignments, and post items on a calendar.
My first reaction was very positive, and I was hyped to use it to replace many functions of my website and online daybook. I particularly liked it because of its notification system -- students could be notified of updates via the web, twitter (via direct message), email, and/or text message.
I particularly liked that students could be notified of updates via text message, as many of my future students are rural, and according to some of my colleagues, do not have high speed Internet at home. But most of them have cell phones, and many students seem to love sending and receiving text messages...
I also liked that items can be made public, so parents would be able to see assignments and deadlines. This is obviously important for improving student success.
But much of those positive characteristics came crashing down on me the past few days because of two critical discoveries:
- SMS messages cannot be sent to Canada. Edmodo had promised to fix this by this past weekend (and did not), but I am starting to prepare my online content for my classes today. Without SMS capability, many students will lose out.
- Calendar events cannot be made public, so parents will not be able to see deadlines unless they are made public as part of a note.
Some of my other serious concerns are:
- Calendar events cannot be moved, only deleted and recreated. I often have to move items on my daybook because of unforeseen circumstances. This isn't a critical item, just a limitation.
- Other users are reporting that they are not getting regular notifications. In one case for me, I was not notified (via twitter) about an item for eight days! I'm sure this is just a bug, but I need a system that I know will be reliable.
Don't get me wrong, Edmodo looks like a great service, and many teachers are reporting very positive things in their classrooms with it. But I'm not sure that, at this time, it's a better tool for me than what I have been using in the past, which is a combination of my website, Google Groups, and Google Docs.
I'll check it out again before semester 2 and reevaluate my decision.