Long but worth the read, IMO. (Skip to the end if you want just the data.) Been meaning to post my review of Edmodo since school ended. Here it is:
So the semester is now over. I thought I’d summarize how Edmodo worked out for me. I used it throughout the semester in my classes and for a couple of my projects.
I wound up my Edmodo class at the end of the semester checking quiz results and awarding badges to various students for various actions/results. I didn’t use (as I promised them I wouldn’t) Edmodo activities or quizzes in the calculation of their final scores, but a look at the final scores I calculated and matching it up against their activity on Edmodo draws some very clear parallels. Those who participated more tended to get higher scores.
To review: I set up an Edmodo group for all my classes at the beginning of the school year. Despite some naysaying here at the Saloon, and without much pushing from me, all 125 students (25x5 classes) had joined by the third week. 100% entry participation.
Edmodo has an extensive badge system for awarding badges to students for various things. Students will be engaged by the Badge System (after all Chinese students love to compete for anything) and just spend Sunday nights going through whatever you’ve assigned and give them Badges. It’s actually fun spending an hour or two going through the quizzes and polls and posts and rewarding students with badges. I found I got a lot closer to students individually this way.
Over the course of the semester, I awarded badges to students for various reasons: a good suggestion, taking a quiz, extra badge for acing the quiz, etc. In fact, when I originally started it, I had no intention of doing quizzes but I realized about ¼ of the way in that I could set non-credit quizzes to assess what they had taken away from the previous lesson. Surprisingly, more than 100 of the students would take the non-required Edmodo quizzes I posted. Depressingly, they did much worse than I would have expected, but it very much informed my teaching as to: (a) what to review with them; and (b) how to present the material in the future. The Quiz function itself was a real teaching tool to help in assessing retention. When you set up the quiz in Edmodo, you provide the system the correct answers. As each student “turns in” their quiz, the system automagicaly grades it and posts the score in your class grade book. You can review earh quiz, and the student’s answers, and post a private comment to them.
(Aside: Though I never used it this year, I'm going to be teaching some writing classes next semester, and Edmodo has an Assignment/Annotation function whereby you set the assignment, students turn it In through Edmodo, and you can parse, annotate and grade it through Edmodo and send it back to them.)
During the course of this semester, I was also going to do a couple of projects with my students. One of the projects came by way of interacting with teachers from around the world. Another huge benefit of Edmodo. A school in Washington state (US) was doing an International Economic Forum (similar to a Model UN) and their "China" representative group (like, three guys named Josh) needed info about China. Their teacher contacted me through Edmodo and I told my students about it, set up an Edmodo group for those who were interested and the group got about 20 of my students to join and they had some interesting discussions between the US and CN.
Too, I decided to start another project. This time, it was the "Chinese Menu Translation Project." I think it's been mentioned here at the Saloon, but by way of background....a year or so before China hosted the 2008 Olympics, Beijing decided that maybe China should standardize the English translations of Chinese dishes for the hordes of foreigners who would descend upon Beijing in 2008. So the set up a committee (of course) to do this. I remember seeing the story all around the Chinese internets way back then. I wanted to volunteer as I have done a lot of this. But I wasn't in Beijing. Still, I thought, this is definitely a good thing. And they promised a gold-standard translation team with "foreigner" input.
2007 passed. 2008 and the Olympics passed. 2009 passed. Nothing. Then, in 2010, the committee completed their work. Two years too late. But there it sat-not very widespread. (embarrassed that they missed their deadline by 2 years???)
Finally, this year, they published it as a book available in PDF for free. I downloaded it the moment I found out about it.
BAM! It looks beautiful and the translations are (mostly) dead-on accurate and culturally-attuned. But as a guide for westerners coming to China to help them order in Chinese restaurants? TOTAL FAIL!
It's only in Chinese characters and English translation. For example, 北京烤鸭-Beijing Roast Duck. If you're sitting in a Beijing restaurant and tell the waitress "Beijing Roast Duck" she'll give you a smile and a giggle and a 听不懂 (ting bu dong). The whole damn list had NO pinyin. You have a 50-50 chance of muttering, "Beijing kaoya" to a Chinese waitress and she'll understand you.
So, the heavy lifting having been done by the Beijing committee in doing the actual translations, all that needed to be done was to add Pinyin. Seemingly simple, but I insisted that tones be added too. I announced the project to my Edmodo classes and fully 42 of my 125 students joined my new Edmodo Translation Project. Using Edmodo as the main communication method, I divided the whole Beijing project (+3000 menu items) into 6 parts. The students then divided themselves into 6 groups with 6 or 7 in each group responsible for one part. They assigned one Team Leader for each group and they were responsible for posting their group’s work to the Edmodo project so all work was posted online. Each group was then responsible for checking other groups’ work. Errors were posted on Edmodo and the original group had to go back and correct their own. (Most errors were in tone marks, the students were really diligent in checking each other’s work.) Finally, each group posted their final work. I assembled all 6 back into one document and gave everyone one more chance to check it.
I was very impressed with how this worked out through Edmodo. It really helped to organize everything and co-ordinate among the 6 groups and their group leaders.
I could go on and on (I already have) about the benefits of using Edmodo for my students, but I just want to add one more thing: Once you’ve joined and set up your class, Edmodo has a number of communities of teachers you can join (e.g. Language Arts, Writing, etc.) where teachers pass ideas back and forth and reach out to other teachers for collaboration. The International Economic Forum I mentioned earlier was one such opportunity.
At the very end of the semester, against my better judgment, I posted two polls (it has an anonymous polling function, too) just for kicks to get some metadata:
I think using Edmodo in class was helpful.
Strongly Agree 35.48%
Neither Agree or Disagree 12.9%
Disagree 0 vote(s)
Strongly Disagree 0 vote(s)
No one hated it and 87% agreed (35% strongly so). The teacher cannot see who answered the poll nor what they answered so this was done anonymously.
My final score was........
Too high 8.82%
Too low 11.76%
Just right 79.41%
Not sure what was up with the “Too high” crowd. but I was happy that only 12% said, “too low.” And, of course, 80% satisfaction is a high number in China where people seldom seem satisfied.
In the end, I’m really happy I stumbled across this Edmodo resource and absolutely satisfied how it worked out through the semester. It’s definitely become part of my teaching package. It’s easy to set up and has lots of useful features as well as the ability to make connections. It’ll take about ½ hour to get used to and after that, it’ll run pretty smoothly. And judging by my students poll results, they’ll appreciate Edmodo and your efforts.http://www.edmodo.com