It is summer holidays and after finishing my last paper for my Master’s program, I finally have time to blog!
Since my last blog post on the differences between the multiple learning platforms, I have gained much insights after trying out Edmodo, Moodle, Weebly and Google site (all except Schoology) first hand.
I will begin by first describing what I have done in the past using the different sites.
Working at a dual language school, I wanted to use technology to increase student motivation and engagement in learning Chinese. I suggested using Edmodo for students to submit and complete their weekly “homework” online. Edmodo was selected because of its user-friendly layout and intuitive nature, which was less intimidating than other websites that required slightly more computer knowledge. Edmodo was able to transform the more traditional Chinese “homework”, such as scribing characters in practice grids, reading comprehension worksheets and journal writing, into tasks that were more engaging and interactive. Edmodo became something that students looked forward to after school and during the weekend.
Working with the Chinese homeroom teacher, we designed activities using the “Quiz,” “Assignment” and “Poll” features. For instance, as one of the tasks, students were first asked to click onto a link to an audio recording on www.vocaroo.com where the Chinese teacher spoke about her favorite person. (You can listen to the teacher’s recording on http://vocaroo.com/i/s0ZeR1Tbgho1
Students were then asked to speak about their favorite person, giving some reasons and background information on their choice. Many students also enjoyed this speaking practice which could not be accomplished without the easy usability of Edmodo.
This is the speaking task as viewed by the administrator (teacher) on Edmodo. Note that it is easy to keep track of how students have “Turned in” the assignment.
I personally believe Edmodo is an effective learning platform when used in a structured manner with thoughtfully designed tasks – although many might argue that teachers should allow more spontaneous conversations on Edmodo. I thought it worked very well that students strictly used Edmodo for completing their assigned tasks, or to ask questions and interact with others relating to those tasks. They understood the importance of staying on topic to keep the Edmodo page “clean” and “clutter free.” With special announcements, importance notices, and homework assignment that weren’t part of Edmodo, I kept those contents on the class homepage, where class information was shared.
Another great way to use Edmodo is differentiation, which I find even Google Classroom cannot achieve. On Edmodo, you can separate students into groups, and have completely different sets of announcements, discussions, assignments for each group. This is great if you are doing Literacy Circle, or Math Centers, etc where students are grouped according to their interests or abilities.
Although I did not set my Edmodo group this way for my last integrated ICT unit with the Grade 4, you can click here if you want to read my more recent blog on how I used Edmodo for a historical fiction study.
Yes, when setting up a class website, I’ve tried both Google Site and Weebly. But guess what, although I am a huge of Google fan and a Google Certified Individual, I have to admit that I still prefer Weebly as a class site simply because of its easy to navigate design, drag and drop uploading, and…. it is glitch-free! I’ve not only used Weebly in my classroom, but in my post-graduate program where I was required to showcase my work on a website. Given I didn’t want to spend a lot of time setting up the different pages and layout, I simply chose a template and was finished setting up in less than 5 minutes.
So when do I use Google site? Google site is a powerful platform that integrates with Google apps seamlessly. I use Google site for my personal teaching portfolio/resume, where I often have to link files and photos on Google Drive, and videos from YouTube. Although the set-up took some time to figure out (I had to Google search the instructions), once this was done, everything else was simple.
Here is my online resume on Google Site:
Another powerful function of Google Sites is its collaborative feature, which makes it so easy for different people to simultaneously edit or work on a single platform. Early last year, I suggested using Google Sites for the school’s sports homepage as a way to document, celebrate and share continuous achievements made by our student athletes. Coaches were given access to the site to upload training schedules and important announcements (cancellation, change of venues, etc), and selected students were invited to submit reflections via Google form on how their event/game went. It turned out to be a fantastic project that fostered great collaboration between school members, and feedback from parents were all resoundingly positive! Without this collaborative feature, imagine how much work it would be if one person had to upload all this information, or if a password had to be shared with everybody who were involved in uploading content onto the sports homepage!
One last thing to consider when using Google site is that the URL must begin with “sites.google.com/site/” which might be a hassle when sharing with younger students who might find it challenging to enter the URL.
As for Moodle, my suggestion is that if your school decides to implement it as a school-wide learning management system, USE IT and WORK WITH IT! It is great for teachers to share course content and helpful for students to organise their course materials. However, I do admit the layout and features are more appropriate for secondary students, but I’ve seen some schools’ customised Moodle platform to be very user-friendly for the little ones.
In conclusion, I believe multiple platforms could be used in a single classroom as long as you are clear on its limitations. There is no platform that is “one size fits all.” Each platform has a different utility and one needs to choose the most suitable platform to suit the most appropriate delivery of educational content.