The “Facebook” of Education: Edmodo

How did Edmodo begin?

Edmodo was created by two school district employees from Chicago, Illinois, Nic Borg and Jeff O’Hara (Tate, 2014).  Both Borg and O’Hara worked in the IT department of school districts and spent the majority of their time safeguarding the students’ access to social networking and appropriate websites (Edmodo, 2014).  They decided that there must be a better solution.  Borg and O’Hara were attempting to “bridge the gap between how students live their lives and how they learn in school and as a result, Edmodo was created to bring education into a 21st century environment” (Edmodo, 2014).  Completely free to educators and districts, Edmodo’s popularity relies on teachers’ desires to incorporate this tool within their classrooms.  

Edmodo’s recognition

It seems to be working! One of its founders, Nic Borg, was recently named to “Forbes 30 under 30” list and “San Francisco Business Times 40 under 40” (Edmodo, 2014).   Edmodo also received recognition by PCMag as one of the “Top Apps for Teachers,” “2014 BETT Awards Finalist” and “2013 Bammy Awards: Best Teaching Tool” (Edmodo, 2014).  It is commonly referred to as the “Facebook” of education as it allows students and teachers to collaborate together by “posting assignments, creating polls for student responses, embedding video clips, create learning groups, posting quizzes for students to take, and creating a calendar of events and assignments” (Wikipedia, 2014).

Edmodo was recently featured in an article by Wired magazine in which the author, Ryan Tate, compared the stringent state and federal mandates that are being forced upon schools to the relaxed, “bottom up” improvement strategy that Edmodo is using (Tate, 2014).  “K-12 is an incredibly change-resistant system, and to be disruptive, you have to do it in the least disruptive way possible,” says co-founder and chief product officer Nic Borg (Tate, 2014).  The increase in users indicates that this approach utilized by Edmodo is working.  Launched in 2008, Edmodo “now counts 35 million users, including students and parents as well as teachers. That’s up from 15 million last year and 1 million at the end of 2010. It has now signed up more than 60,000 schools and school districts, including 91 of the 100 largest districts in the U.S., where three quarters of its users live” (Tate, 2014).

Edmodo today

By 2010, Edmodo had relocated from Chicago to Silicon Valley (Tate, 2014).  Crystal Hutter, a former Oracle engineer and investment manager at Omidyar Network was asked to join the company as it began to gain momentum (Tate, 2014). Transitioning from COO to CEO, “Hutter has helped reconcile the ad hoc, grassroots spirit of Edmodo with the buttoned-down realities of the education system” (Tate, 2014). Since her arrival, Edmodo has added tools that let school and district administrators to do basic account management and track use of the service (Tate, 2014).

The flattening effect

In a column Hutter wrote for edtechdigest.com, she described “a deeper focus on learning measurements combined with actionable insights, data-driven content recommendations and rich, connected classroom communities can bring us that much closer to achieving what the industry has been working toward for decades—a high quality and personalized education for each student, no matter their location, background or socioeconomic status” (Hutter, 2014).  Friedman (2005) wrote of a similar effect from technology in his book, The World is Flat.  Technology, for people that are connected, allows the audience to play a more active role, just as Edmodo engages students and allows the teacher to take on more of a “facilitator” role.  One of the main goals of Edmodo appears to be to help teachers communicate with each other. Using the Edmodo platform, they can connect one-on-one or in teacher-only groups focused on particular subject areas (Tate, 2014).  This world “flattening” technological capability allows teachers from all over the world in different demographical areas to collaborate with each other.  As long as they have Internet capability, teachers can connect using their computer or smart phone.

What’s up next?

Next up for Edmodo is the launch of its first revenue-generating tool, Snapshot (Tate, 2014). Snapshot is a set of quizzes that will help teachers determine how well their students are mastering the Common Core State Standards (Tate, 2014).  Snapshot will be free for teachers but Edmodo “anticipates offering premium tools at the school and district levels” that will allow for data capture and analysis (Tate, 2014).

Personally, I have registered for Edmodo’s online professional development workshop (registration link below) in hopes of being able to turn-key the information to my staff once the school year begins.  We are beginning a 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative with our middle school students this year, and Edmodo sounds like it can be an invaluable addition to our classrooms.

Additional information for educators:
Here is an informative breakdown of Edmodo available in Wikispaces.
Free online professional development (you must register):  Edmodocon2014

Resources:

Edmodo. (n.d.) In Wikipedia.  Retrieved July 2, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmodo

Friedman, T.  (2005, April).  The World is Flat.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  New York, NY.

Hutter, C.  (2014, June 6).  Edtech’s Next Phase [Web log comment].  Retrieved from http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/edtechs-next-phase/

Tate, R. (2014, June 17).  The Next Big Thing You Missed: A Social Network That Could Truly Reform Our Schools.  Wired.  Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2014/06/edmodo/

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7 thoughts on “The “Facebook” of Education: Edmodo

  1. This is a great tool I actually signed up for an account simply because of your blog. I have never heard of this tool but I can now see the use for this tool both in my military teaching and adjunct work. Since I am not really sure how to use this tool yet all I can ask you is have you used this before and how useful has it been. To me it seems pretty legit. I plan on using this in my next classes. Thank you so much for informing me of this tool. Daddy likes!

    • I have not used it in my school yet, but plan to introduce it to my teachers this year. I requested this tool off the top 100 list because I wanted to learn more about it. I also registered myself for Edmodo’s online workshop – EdmodoCon on August 6th. I’m hoping to learn more about it there as well…

  2. One of the things that impressed me in their website was their values – “Technology is creating a whole new set of rules. We believe principles should never change.” That is pretty powerful, and points to the underlying leadership philosophy. They appear to be pretty open and connected … and that can be a model for other leaders to consider.

  3. As a mother of elementary children, I am in favor of K-12 education using digital media. Using digital media tools at school is the perfect way to prepare children for the use of technology in the future. This past year my second grader was issued a laptop for her classroom and my kindergartener used iPads for his math and reading work at school. As I was reading your description of Edmodo, I was reflecting on how Shirky (2008) explained group work and collaboration. It seems Edmodo is a great tool for teaching young people (with teacher guidance) about the opportunities and challenges associated with collaborative production. The jobs of the future will need a workforce with skills in collaboration and team building. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Edmodo can help people form groups and work toward a common goal. The feature that I like about Edmodo is the safe environment to learn and the ability for teachers to monitor and guide the work. Like all the tools we are discussing this week, Edmodo will only work with sound content and teacher guidance. Thank you for all your efforts to encourage the use of digital media in the K-12 environment! We need more technology champions like you guiding schools toward digital media success.

    Reference:
    Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. Penguin.

  4. This seems like a fairly neat tool! My son uses Blackboard currently in his school for their ‘online interaction’ (he’s a junior in high school) and they actually have another tool specifically developed for the iPad that they used in Chemistry this past year. Their social interaction comes through Instagram and Snapchat, so even if they had access through this, I’m sure they’d only use it for what it was required for.

    However, for younger children, I think this is a great ‘taste’ of social media. It will give them the taste of the social media world in a monitored environment, unlike most children’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Although you cannot have a Facebook account until you are 14, so many kids have them sooner than that and so many parents simply do not monitor their usage. I’m appalled at what I see posted by many friends of my son online. He keeps in check most of the time, as he knows we’re watching. In the Edmodo environment, they can collaborate and work together, getting that ‘social’ aspect without having to fear for problems with outsiders.

    • I agree! I think for a lot of school districts, however, that may not be able to afford Blackboard or other platforms, Edmodo is the perfect answer because it is free. It’s a great way to introduce students to Web 2.0 and social networking without making a huge financial commitment. Then, if it really takes off, schools can pursue further options.

      • “Free” is a loaded term! They are making money somehow…so one wonders what they might be doing with the data they collect from students and teachers.

        And…these companies *should* make money somehow. So while I tend to point my students to “free” stuff on the web … I try to help them understand what they getting … and potentially giving up. Also, I have had free sites fold mid-semester, which leaves you and the students hanging. Even Google closed down a wiki site it was running in March, just as many school systems were in the middle of projects.

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