Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 40, p. 83-93, May 2014.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study investigated the possibilities and challenges of using Edmodo as a reflective tool.
The participants were 77 middle/secondary pre-service teachers in the second semester of their junior year in a teacher preparation program at a moderately sized Midwestern university in an urban setting.
The authors encouraged the participants to use the social networking site Edmodo.
Before commencement of the study, teachercandidates received a short introduction to Edmodo in their on-campus literacy class and learned how to navigate and use the service. In addition, candidates were encouraged, but not required, to connect their posts to the weekly readings assigned in the on-campus literacy course and review the following prompts in order to jumpstart ideas.
In addition, candidates were encouraged to read their classmates’ posts, and compose 1-2 thoughtful replies, building upon the author’s ideas, posing questions, making connections to their own experiences, sharing advice and resources, and/or offering another critical perspective on the author’s argument.
Overall findings indicate that Edmodo was generally user-friendly and fostered substantive interactions among peers, and students and instructors perceived that collaborative reflection led to growth among pre-service teachers.
In addition to the ease of using the Edmodo interface, many students expressed that they enjoyed the choice afforded by the medium.
The authors were encouraged that teacher-candidates found that the peer-to-peer learning afforded by Edmodo provided a valuable source for ideas, resources, and support.
The pre-service teachers typically responded to their classmates’ posts in one of three general ways:
Over half of responses to an initial post introduced a new idea, perspective, or resource to help the original poster think about the topic in a new way.
The second most common form of response was to support or agree with the sentiments of the original post.
These types of responses ranged from affirming a frustration to relating a similar experience to empathizing with a perspective or incident.
The least frequent way students responded to each other was by disagreeing with, or challenging, a classmate’s comment or perspective.
Finally, pre-service teachers’ posts that went beyond description of events in field experiences invited and received more and better responses.
The ease with which the students used Edmodo and the nature and types of posts encouraged the authors that Edmodo provided a worthwhile medium for collaborative reflection and this was only further confirmed by our pre-service teachers at the end of this study.
The type of collaborative peer-to-peer learning that characterizes many digital spaces was evident as the students were able to support each other, brainstorm solutions, and reflect upon issues.
Students were able to post on and reply to issues that interested or concerned them, and they could provide resources, advice, or recommendations in those areas in which they had experience or expertise.
The collaborative reflection on Edmodo also helped students gain support and feel a sense of collective purpose with their peers.
Finally, as instructors, the authors found Edmodo a promising medium for collaborative reflection for many of the same reasons as the students.
The service was user-friendly and accessible as it was easy to track students’ interactions.
On the whole, the pre-service teachers found that interactions with peers, including those that were more informal, helped them grow as teacher-candidates and rethink pedagogical choices and possibilities.
They enjoyed the usability of the medium, the community of support, and the influence and choice achieved within our digital space.
Finally, there are a number of specific findings that might be useful to other educators worldwide considering using a social networking space like Edmodo:
First, the authors recommend utilizing platforms that are accessible to students while also encouraging interactions.
The participants were nearly united in praising the usability of Edmodo.
Secondly, the quality of students’ posts and responses can hinge on requirements and explanation.
Overall, the authors found Edmodo a promising medium for collaborative reflection appropriate for the digital age.
Edmodo provides a closed social network that makes it an apt fit for a space where pre-service teachers must navigate the complexities of the school world.
However, Edmodo is only one medium of many that affords users a space where collaboration and participation can flourish.
These spaces allow instructors to hear the voices of students and join conversations aimed at growth.