Below is a post in response to a prompt for my Research in New Literacies Class. I had to discuss the impact of a technology tool in my classroom from the point of view of a subject in a research study. I focused on one of the eight themes discussed in Rachel Karchmer’s study, “The Journey Ahead: Thirteen Teachers Report How the Internet Influences Literacy and Literacy Instruction in Their K-12 Classrooms.”
Theme from Karchmer’s study: Students’ motivation on the Internet
My students began using Edmodo recently. I have posted several assignments, polls and quizzes on the site. Now that students are familiar with it, and we are using it more regularly, some of them seem to be developing a sense of community online. There is definitely an increase in student motivation when using Edmodo. While this may not apply to all students, it is noticeable in many. Below are some observations.
The survey feature of Edmodo allows me to ask a quick multiple-choice question to students online. Their responses are shown in a bar graph, listing the percentage and number of students who chose each response. So far I have used this feature to ask student opinions about characters and events in a book I read to the class. I never announced the survey questions I posted; I just posted them and watched what happened. I was impressed with how many students quickly found the questions posted, some while working on another assignment on Edmodo in school, and some from home. Even more interesting was that students started commenting on their answers. For example, one question asked them to choose a favorite character and students left comments defending their choice and encouraging others to vote. All of this happened without any verbal discussion of the survey in class. One student even came to ask me to post more survey questions, and I asked him to come up with a question. He did and I immediately posted it as a “question from Harris.” He was amazed to see responses and comments to his question coming in within a few minutes.
Another feature of Edmodo I have used is the quiz creator. I am able to create quizzes with multiple choice, matching, true and false, fill-in-the-blank and open-ended questions. In addition, I can embed videos and documents into quiz questions. I have noticed a change in student interest and motivation during quizzes as a result. Students seem to enjoy taking quizzes online for several reasons. They have told me that they like the instant feedback an online quiz provides. They also think that having other items such as videos and documents embedded in a quiz makes it more interesting. They like that they are able to look up their quiz grade and see a copy of their actual quiz online. Now when I tell students that we are having a quiz they ask if it will be on Edmodo. There are also many advantages to me when I give an online quiz. Most answers are scored by the computer, and scoring open-ended questions is quicker than shuffling through stacks of papers. I can review the quiz with the class and show them the percentage of students who correctly answered each question. I can also quickly see class averages and show samples of open-ended answers to the class.
I cannot say that the quality of student writing has increased just by using Edmodo, but the interest and motivation in using writing to communicate with each other has increased. As the teacher David said in Krachmer’s study, his “children are proud that what they say may be read by others.” Also, although editing errors are still very common, many students are writing longer open-ended answers on their quizzes and other Edmodo assignments. Another teacher from the study, Melanie, noted that many students who do not have legible handwriting now communicate more freely using the computer. However, I do have students who still prefer to handwrite their assignments due to a lack of keyboarding skills.
Overall, I have noticed an increase in motivation when students use Edmodo for writing, especially when they are communicating with each other. Not all students have been affected in the same way, but there is a positive change in many students’ writing behavior.
Karchmer, R.A. (2001). The journey ahead: Thirteen teachers report how the Internet influences literacy and literacy instruction in their K-12 classrooms. Reading Research Quarterly, 36, 442-467.