I was first introduced to Edmodo last summer at our annual CTE Summer Conference in Nashville. I did register for an account but as the session went on I realized it was a similar platform to Planeths.com, a website that our district uses. So, I saw no need to reinvent the wheel and learn something new. Also, Planeths is required by our district. I hope you don’t mind that I discuss planeths instead of Edmodo…..they serve the same purpose and have very similar features. We first began using it for our two high schools and now have integrated a K-8 version as well. Students (and parents) register for an account that gives them access to the site. Once registered, students and parents can follow classes and clubs for notifications, assignments and important school news. Notifications can be set to be received by text or email. The teacher has the option when making a post to send out a notification or just make a post. Planeths is very similar to a social network like Edmodo. Postings appear on the wall similar to a social network site and you can “like” (I think is pretty pointless) comments. You have the option of who you “follow” so you only receive this information that most interest you.
When we first started using planeths, it was very basic. You could post assignments, use the calender and send notifications. Now, there is a section to store documents, upload videos and photos, online streaming, discussion boards, groups and collaborations, and students have digital lockers for file storage. There is also a section to create surveys, polls, and elections. Currently, our school has been using this section to post surveys for teachers from administration. In the future we plan to hold class elections and voting for homecoming courts, etc., things that often take time out of class and administration feels this is a tool that could be utilized for minimal class interruptions.
Planeths v/s Facebook (my own personal comparison)
The goal of using such a platform is to provide information concerning homework and school news to students and parents. So what makes Planeths more appealing than Facebook? Planeths – provides pertinent information! Facebook – provides pertinent information but also allows every lamebrain (yes, I said it) in the county the opportunity to provide unsolicited comments and ideas on what, when and how we should be doing it. This in turn creates an entire thread on everyone bashing everyone whether they even are a parent or have a child attending our district. Case in point…..a simple school closing post (for snow) created 144 comments one night. Nothing but bashing and bickering because, you know, everyone thinks they’re right about everything. 🙂 The district doesn’t respond to any comments, it is only accessed to make the necessary postings. But as of last month all schools have been notified that all school information be posted through Planeths. Our district has drunk the Planeths “kool-aid”!! Currently, the site is free but the owners plan to promote the site and eventually sell it for profit, which will probably make the site no longer free and we’ll be back at square one searching for something else.
I think that is great and all but there are times when I feel Facebook can be a greater benefit for promoting school fundraisers. Case in point: The Give with Target contest. This contest is marketed through Facebook and I believe the use of Facebook can generate more votes (for FREE Target Gift Cards) for my school than using Planeths only. Reason: You have many friends, family and former students that are a “friend” on your schools Facebook because they still want to be informed and support their former school but don’t want/need a Planeths account. You would be loosing votes (and $$$) by not being able to use Facebook. I will be crossing that bridge with my district on this very issue next September! 🙂
I currently don’t use Planeths as much because I don’t require homework for my class. All our assignments are completed in class due to students not having MS Office software or no internet access at home. It has just been to difficult to try. I attempted to “pilot” an assignment that was to be finished up outside of class (and I used my “good class”) and only 4 students out of 20 completed the assignment. I sent notifications each day as reminders to which students replied, “I forgot” or “I didn’t get the notification”. Most of my assignments I can’t post due to copyright issues and it would take me about 2 years to scan all the material I use for my class into PDF files for posting.
So, currently sites like Edmodo and Planeths are not extremely beneficial to me right now. However I do still make postings for reminders and helpful articles to read.
I heard about Coursesites last semester from someone in one of my online classes when she told me about the 592 Online Course Design and Teaching. I really would like to set up my Computer Applications class similar to taking an online course so students can get experience with the online process for when they taken them in college. Another reason for wanting to learn Coursesites is that I have spoken with a couple of local community colleges about teaching online courses. Whether they use Blackboard or another online site, this will give me experience with using an online program and make me “more hire-able”…..and that’s the ultimate goal! 🙂
My biggest “pet peeve” with Coursesites is that it only seems to work by using Mozilla Firefox browser. I had recently registered for an account previous to this assignment and was so frustrated that I had to email for customer support. To which I was told to use the Firefox Browser!!! That’s just ridiculous! I’ve never heard of a website that only worked with one browser. I had forgotten this little tid-bit of information this week when I went back to review the site for completion of this assignment. I was trying to watch to tutorials and couldn’t…..why you may ask? Because I was using Google Chrome. Grrr..
Just looking through the site I have realized there is A LOT of information and video tutorials to watch! Hopefully this summer I can have time to watch them all and get my class ready for online learning. I really think our teachers would enjoy utilizing Coursesites other than our Planeths site. I like the way Coursesites is laid out like Blackboard and think the sections have a neat and clean design. After the first 2 days of using it I felt pretty comfortable with it.
The only con for our students it that several colleges in the area use a different program called DTL but I have heard that it’s pretty similar. So the transition may not be that big of a deal. Personally, I can’t wait to start using it.
When I first looked at this site my first reaction was oh goodness, another site to register for!! I’m probably the only one who feels this way because I am on Web 2.o overload between class and teaching. It seems like every other day our administrators are sending out emails about some “great new site” to utilize with our students. Who has the time? The great part about this class is it forces me to sit down and look at many of those sites I would normally brush off and set aside.
The best part was probably the “On Demand” webinar section. I actually emailed it to our teachers who are in need of obtaining the much needed professional development hours. Our state changed the required PD hours from 18 to 30 and some are struggling to find hours. Thank goodness webinars can count toward those hours. I have found it extremely difficult to watch live webinars because of the times they start, so the “on demand” section is great.
After watching the video about Collaborative Classroom, I like their layout and format of how students can see the results through charts and graphs. This would be a lot more useful than the discussion board section in our Planeths system. It’s horrible! I tested it one day and although it looked like it was set up similar to Blackboard, it was not. Students were unable to reply to just one person. Each reply showed up at the bottom of the list and you couldn’t tell who was replying to who. That was the only day I used it!
Another reason Collaborative Classroom is beneficial is for shy students. I have four girls that sit on one side of the class and never participate because they are so quite and rarely talk to other students. In another class, I have two girls the same way! They find the rest of the class to be obnoxious and sit off to the side and hardly talk. They’re great students, engaged in class and always complete their assignments. This format would allow those type of students to “be heard”.
I think the only cons would be the feeling of oh goodness, here is another resource they want me to use. Everyone is different and this site might just be what they’ve been looking for. As a computer teacher who has access to a computer lab everyday, I still find it very time consuming to get student accounts set up and registered. It took me 3 days this year to get students set up with all the resource sites I use in class. And most of my kids act like they’ve never created an account before…..and some really haven’t. Teachers have to fight for computer lab usage and it would be difficult to get access to the needed technology.