March 02, 2012Many parents are less than enthusiastic about their young students joining social networking sites like Facebook.
Members of the Webster Groves School Board heard a report at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 27, about how a specially-designed network called Edmodo, mimics that online experience for students with the purpose of helping them at school.
The social learning network was created in 2008 by two men who worked for schools in Chicago, Ill. Teachers and administrators at Hixson Middle School first discovered the free program two years ago and have been steadily incorporating it into the curriculum.
"Students are really digitally native and they're instantly comfortable with using it. It's been a great learning tool for us," said Jason Heisserer, principal at Hixson.
Edmodo is not viewable by the public; access is limited to students, parents and school staff at a specific school. It is available as an app for tablets and smartphones as well as the web-based version.
For students, the network allows them constant, online access to their assignments. Homework can be completed without ever being printed. Textbooks don't need to be carried home because the information is available through Edmodo.
"I like that the information comes straight from my teachers. Kids have started using this a lot more because it is so much easier to work with than programs we tried before," said Jameson Howard, an eighth grader at Hixson.
Teachers can use Edmodo to offer weblinks to information they want students to study at home, they can survey the class on certain topics, receive completed work and comment on it, and keep parents informed on the student's progress.
"I have a couple of parents who solely contact me through Edmodo," said Sherri Evans, a social studies teacher at Hixson.
"They can go on and look at their child's work, their grades and their progress. It's an accessible tool for them," Evans said.
Board Member Steve Dioneda commented on how impressed he has been with the incorporation of technology into the curriculum at Hixson.
"I applaud the way teachers and students interact here," he said. "This is my fourth time as a Hixson parent and I love the positive buzz that surrounds this school.
"On the technological front, from the way Jason communicates with the students and parents through his blogs, emails and use of social media, to how the students are engaged in learning through the use of the closed-circuit Edmodo, Hixson is among the leaders in the district in fulfilling our goal to use 21st century technology as a proper and important educational tool," he continued.