I used Edmodo for the first time yesterday without the greatest results. Edmodo is a site designed for teachers to use for a private chat in a classroom. I used it for a backchannel with a large 8th grade class. We watched the commercial "Think before you post" and the video of Brad Paisely's "Online".
First of all students had difficulty signing up because the site would not pull up the sign in page properly. The solution was to keep refreshing until it did but it took some students over half an hour to get in. This resulted in a large amount of down time for the rest of the class as I tried to help/figure out why the site was not loading properly.
When we watched the videos I asked them a question about each and some of them responded, but no real discussion came out of it. There were a lot of silly, irrelevant comments about other things which I expected as middle schools "play" with something new to figure it out.
The most disappointing part was that a few of the students posted rude comments about each other and even some inappropriate remarks. We had talked about following our social contract in the chat and that it would all be monitored but that did not matter to a couple of them. The main problem was a student who signed in as another student in the class and made fun of him.
I caught him, of course and had an archive of the chat to prove it, and turned him into the office. I want the students to take this seriously, not as a joke. I was very frustrated yesterday, but felt better after looking through the transcript and realizing it was mainly just one student.
In the future I see this as a problem with edmodo that students can sign in under any name they choose and I will not know who they are unless I physically go around the room and check their screens. Anyone have any ideas to prevent this?
Today we set up individual blogs. We talked about the problems with the chat, and I showed them how people from around the world had viewed our blogs last year. Most of them seemed interest in blogging and I think they understood that they are representing themselves and the school on-line. We will keep talking about appropriate netiquette and creating a digital footprint.
Mistakes are a part of learning. I will never be afraid to try something new. We will use backchannel again. I refuse to let one student wreck this learning opportunity for the class. One little bump in the road might slow us down but will not change the direction we are heading.