by Bosco Bonilla
Every teacher and school is always looking for an effective way to engage students, connect with them, coach them and finally help them become better learners. Edmodo is an open online platform for learning that allows interaction between teachers and students in a Facebook-like environment. The platform enables teachers to share content, assess students, upload assignments, and keep in touch with students, colleagues and parents. As an instructor working at Keiser Language Institute puts it:
When I discovered Edmodo I fell in love with it. I love the fact that it looks like Facebook and it is attractive to students because they can download the app and use it in their smart phones or tablets, so whenever there is no lab available they can interact inside or outside the classroom. It also means using less paper, thus contributing to protect the environment (Martin Montalvan – EPD and EPC Teacher).
In the modern world people are always busy, hopping from one task to the next, rushing from home to work, then to the next meeting. Students, especially adults who have the desire and need to learn English face an important challenge as they have to juggle with family, work responsibilities and keeping up with an English course.
Edmodo offers a solution by empowering instructors to continue coaching their students beyond the boundaries of the brick and mortar and exposing them to real English after school hours. Authentic materials used in class, such as videos or articles can be made available for students to revise at home. Learners can post comments or questions about the material and expect clarifications and further insight from the teacher. Indeed, Mr. Montalvan states that Edmodo enables instructors to keep in touch with learners as instant notifications can be posted and students’ questions addressed.
Also, tutors can direct special attention and give additional assistance to weak students. Through Edmodo teachers can send messages, extra work or even full lessons to specific pupils. If a student needs more work on one skill or area, the teacher could prepare a personalized study plan for him or her through the platform. Another advantage is that teachers “can create connections with other teachers from different institutions, universities and countries and cultures”, which enriches the teaching experience (Montalvan).
It may sound like a lot of work for the teacher at this point, but in reality everything instructors need to craft their classes in Edmodo is one click away. The educational social network allows teachers to connect with any other website on the internet. By simply adding the URL or link teachers can make available videos, exercise, and explanations. In addition, all sorts of formats, such as PDF, Microsoft world documents, JPEG and MP4 files can be uploaded. Features like polls, quizzes, posts and assignments give teachers all the tools they need to assess, give instructions to and interact with students.
Nevertheless, as any successful class, a group on Edmodo requires careful planning. Teachers must search for the content that matches the objectives they are trying to reach and the level of their students, carefully design the activities they want students to complete and write very clear directions. There are tons of videos on a topic on youtube and similar websites, but not all of them are suitable for a beginners class, for example.
With all these tools at hand experienced teachers can combine face-to-face interaction with technology that aids in breaking the barriers of time and space and give students of all ages the chance to learn English effectively and in the language of the 21st century.