Let me start by saying that I love Moodle. Moodle is great. It is simply a great platform for building an online classroom. Moodle lets a teacher share information with his or her students, engage in conversations, and collect homework from students, and is full of all kinds of features and settings.
Seriously, it’s so full of settings that it nearly feels overwhelming, as though it is trying to do everything when most of my online interactions consist of handing in assignments and forums. In Moodle, getting a page made and customized can take a long time; setting up different groups and user accounts takes even longer; creating nifty tables, embedding assignments…
Earlier this month I got to sit in a meeting and a product was mentioned called Edmodo. Edmodo looks and feels just like Facebook. It looks so much like Facebook that I am convinced they will either be sued soon or that it’s one of Mark Zuckerburg’s tax shelters. Within a few minutes of getting to the site, I was able to create a profile and a classroom page. Instead of a long, drawn-out page creation process and account setup, I was merely given a six-digit key code. I then gave that code to my test group of students, who in turn used it to access my class page. Their own profiles took less than 5 minutes to set up. The whole process was so easy for them that my interaction in the setup was minimal. Within a few minutes, my students were posting and commenting on each other’s work and handing in writing assignments.
The end result is a website where all the interactions that I once had to set up long in advance now form themselves into one continuous feed. I can create or delete whole classes within a few clicks and my students can join them easily using key codes. I can easily view everything going on in my classes by scrolling through my feed.
The ability for this to get out of hand—with students chatting with one another—is there; but students cannot privately interact with one another. They can only post publicly or reply publicly. The only person they can directly contact is their teacher.
Speaking of their teacher, they can have several teachers attached to the same feed, allowing easy collaboration.
I don’t want to give up on Moodle yet. But Moodle, with its complicated interface and setup, can be hard to get started on. If you want to get your students interacting online with the full force of social media, Edmodo can be a great place to start with very little time and absolutely no cost.