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.
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).
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.
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/