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Edmodo Brings Educational Apps to the Classroom
Make your classroom a community. This is what K-12 social networking site Edmodo is offering teachers and students. The virtual teaching tool, while often described as Facebook-like, is actually geared towards helping teachers extend the lessons taught in class into the online arena so that everyone can continue to engage in educational conversation even after the final bell has rung for the day. Unlike Facebook and other social networking sites, this one will not drive students to distraction; instead it will help to drive home important points that the teacher wants to impart and allow students to share what they've learned in a setting that is free of the social pressure of, say, speaking up in class. And now Edmodo has decided to make their service even better by teaming up with third-party developers to offer apps that improve upon their platform. To begin with, Edmodo has a whole slew of useful features meant to aid teachers in connecting with their students. Not only can educators connect virtually with kids outside of class in order to offer supplemental information and take questions, but they can also set a calendar to remind kids of upcoming deadlines, tests, and class events (like field trips, for example), and even take polls, pose questions to the class, create interactive lessons, post grades, give awards (like badges), and connect with parents to keep them informed. And if students have in-class devices (computers, tablets, or smartphones) that are internet capable, this online tool can even be utilized in the classroom setting. In fact, this free platform it is currently in use at over 70,000 schools, just four years after its launch. And with the addition of third-party apps, it looks to get even better. Although it is as yet unknown how many apps will be available, at least a few are already on the radar, including a virtual graphing calculator that will mean parents and schools have to purchase one less piece of equipment for students, and a multi-player math game that will allow students to socialize with their classmates while having fun and learning. Parents will be happy to see their children engaging in online activities that are both safe and educational and students will likely enjoy their homework a lot more than they used to. Of course, there is a cost associated with these apps. Edmodo itself is free to use, but the apps could range in price from about $10-100, which teachers (or school districts) will have to pay in order to allow their students access to the tools. For schools that are strapped for cash, this unnecessary expenditure could nix the deal. But when you stop to consider the utility of some of the apps, they could actually end up saving some classrooms money on equipment or programs they might otherwise buy. You don't need to ace online graduate programs in education to know that this could be a major boon to teachers that are currently seeking new ways to connect with their students and help them engage in the learning process.