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Edmodo <www.edmodo.com> is a free online learning management system that provides a private virtual space for students and teachers to share and discuss text, images, audio, and video. It has become a popular platform used in primary and secondary schools as well as universities in the U.S., but its functionality, ease of use, and cross-platform simplicity make it a good fit for EFL contexts at all levels as well.
Edmodo is accessible via web browser and/or a free smartphone app (iOS and Android). The user interface, common to all platforms, is simple and intuitive—similar to that of social networking sites such as Facebook (see Figure 1).
Edmodo communities are formed by teachers for specific groups of students—usually classes. Once a teacher creates an Edmodo group, he or she receives a short code to give to students, which they use to join the group. This registration method has two benefits. First, it simplifies the process of student sign-up. Students do not need to input email addresses or other personal information to register with the site in order to participate. They just need the code they receive from their teacher. The second benefit is that students can choose their level of anonymity on the site. The registration process requires students to create a username and password for themselves, but does not require an email address or even a real name. And though Edmodo is secure and private, this feature helps alleviate concerns that might arise about the sharing of personal information on the Internet.
During a trial of Edmodo I did in a third-year university oral communication class in 2012, my students registered with their given name and the first initial of their family name. Many chose to register their email addresses as well because this allows students to receive notifications of activity on the class Edmodo site. Once users sign in, they are presented with a very simple “wall” of recent posts. This is the primary place where class activity on Edmodo takes place, so if students are able to sign in and scroll around a webpage, they have the digital literacy skills necessary to participate in a class on Edmodo.
Posts to the class wall, called “Notes”, may contain text and files for download, or web links to audio, video, or other online resources. Similar to posts on Facebook, notes automatically embed video links and provide previews of other types of media. All members of an Edmodo group have the ability to post notes independently or in response to other members’ notes. Notes can be posted to individual group members, the entire group, or to smaller discussion groups created by the instructor. The instructor also has the ability to post quizzes, polls, assignments, and alerts to the whole group, or to individual students. Teachers can even time delay these posts—setting them to appear at specific dates and times in the future.
Files may also be placed in easily accessible shared folders organized by the instructor, or in Google Drive folders shared with the group and accessible through the Edmodo interface. A calendar feature allows the teacher to map out future assignments or class events for everyone to see, and Edmodo now also provides access to a wide variety of third-party apps that can be used within the platform. Many of these apps, such as dictionaries and class planners, are free.
The best way to get to know Edmodo and its features is to sign up and explore the user interface yourself to see what is possible. If you have more than one email address, you can add yourself as a student in a class you create to experience what students do when they use the system in a class. Overall, Edmodo is a simple, easy-to-use, multi-platform learning management system that provides useful tools for students and teachers to interact online outside of class.
Peter Hourdequin is an instructor of English in the faculty of foreign studies at Tokoha University. He is also a post-graduate researcher (part-time) in Lancaster University’s department of Educational Research. The author has recently published a research article about using Edmodo in the language classroom entitled, “Promoting Student Autonomy with a simple online learning management system” in the journal, Learning Learning.