Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

My love for Edmodo as a teacher knows no bounds. I have been using the education-geared social network for several months now and I really do think that it is the wave of the future. Seriously, if you are not using it now, start.

I have been having trouble getting my students to get their homework done, or to even think of doing homework. Math, it seemed, was for school; home was for TV. Then I decided to try an experiment. On our assignment notebook board I wrote: “Check Edmodo at 7pm.”  Since finding out last week that all of my students, even the most rural of farm kids, has internet access, there was no excuse not to check it. Several of my students got iPod Touches for Christmas (they seem to be the Gameboy of this generation) and they loaded their devices up with the Edmodo app (which is fantastic, by the way).

At 7 pm I posted a math question. It was the kind I used to give my students in the form of a copied mini-worksheet: a daily word problem that they, for the most part, ignore. The first night I got 8 of my 16 students replying to the question. The second night it was 11, and the third it was all of them. I got them to do work at home, after dinner, during prime time! They did not even know what the assignment was; just that it was coming.

Edmodo in action (click to enlarge)

I don’t even need to give a reward anymore; they check Edmodo on their own, casually, the same way they would check their email or Facebook. And I have to be honest, I am seeing an uptick in their interest in math, or at least in the conversations that we are having about the subject.

I am not saying that social media is the cure-all, but it does represent a form of interaction that my students are comfortable with. I am sure that I could have arguments about how this is not preparing them for the real world, or that I am pandering to my student’s anti-social, media-obsessed digital lifestyle. But I can’t argue that my students seem more interested in their subjects when they are allowed to use tools that they are familiar with and find interesting. And I have to admit, it is nice to look at my Edmodo page and see a student asking for help on a math problem after school, and then see that several of her classmates have pitched in to offer help. Tools like this are new to everyone, and I can’t wait to see how they pan out.

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Comments on: "Engaging Students Through Social Networking" (3)

  1. I am so glad that there are teachers like you out there willing to integrate social media with education. When done correctly, like you demonstrated, the integration can actually be helpful. And let’s face it: quite a handful of companies today utilize the social media for communication. If today’s students are to be launched into the workforce, then let’s make sure that they can use the technology they have in their hands to the fullest extent.

  2. I agree with Hyouten! Good job utilizing social media with your students. We encourage the same thing with My Big Campus to not only engage students more in their school work (as you have done) but also to help teach them proper netiquette and digital citizenship.

  3. thanks for all the great input! its great to know that there is growing support for using the tools of social media to maximize education and overcome some of the physical hurdles present in schools. I think that is the job of educators to learn and embrace new skills as society embraces them in order to stay relevant. for instance, I no longer teach students how to use and Abacus! (sorry to all the abacus fans out there) Also, thanks for the support Crissy! from what I have heard about My Big Campus you seem to get the balance that you have to make between filtering out the bad and keeping things open enough to maximize learning.

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