Samantha Gholar/News-Sun Cracker Trail Elementary fifth grader Allie Cannady uses and iPad to check her educational profile on Edmodo.com Friday afternoon in her classroom.
published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Website helps students, teachers connect online
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- Technology has changed the way everyone lives; through ever-evolving technology, people have learned to live, work and play easier and more efficiently.
The world of education has also grown and changed thanks to electronic innovations. School systems have come leaps and bounds from where they were even less than a decade ago, all with the help of technology.
Highlands County classrooms have been equipped with a number of technological tools over the past decade including Smart Boards, Apple iPads and iPods, video systems and Internet connections.
Though nearly every classroom in the district uses some or all of these tools to enlighten and educate the young minds, at least one classroom has taken an extra step.
Cracker Trail Elementary's fifth-grade HAART ( Highlands Advanced Academics Rising Together) classroom -- a double class taught by Ian Belanger and Allisa Ibrahim -- has been taken step further with a social media-like Website used by the teachers, students and parents.
"It is called Edmodo (www.edmodo.com)," Belanger said. "Edmodo is a free and secure learning network for teachers, students and schools. It provides a safe way for teachers and students to connect, share content, access homework, participate in discussions, manage due dates and receive class information."
The site provides an instant link between teachers and students (and parents) to communicate issues regarding anything that takes place in the classroom. According to Belanger, he and Ibrahim's class are the only class at the school currently accessing the tool.
"It is a great tool. For example, we had a science test (and) I posted a link to a document of a 'secret study guide.' I had 15 students who had read it before they went to bed," said Belanger.
The instructors are able to upload podcasts, videos, instructions or just about anything that will help students understand homework and study guides. Students log on, create a profile and are able to instantly discuss problems with Belanger and Ibrahim.
"I also post videos before or after discussions to 'flip' where the learning is happening. I have also had discussions at all hours of the evening, posting videos to YouTube to clarify homework questions," Belanger said.
"It's crazy how much they use this," said Ibrahim. "I get on here and post homework and most of the time about 30 minutes later it's like 'ping, ping, ping, ping,' they've already done the work. The love it."
Though the tool is somewhat similar to a social media, Edmodo's guidelines specify that it can be used for school-related and educational purposes only. Students are required to use proper and correct grammar (no text language or slang). Students are unable to send messages amongst one another, only to the teacher, and the content must remain positive and friendly at all times.
Allie Cannady was busy logging into Edmodo and checking her profile Friday afternoon alongside fellow classmate Chance Smoak.
"I like it because you can do things a lot faster. The homework and stuff is easier," said Cannady.
"It's just simple. It's easy to talk to people. It's simpler to do homework. It's just cool," Smoak said.
Parents are able to sign up to an account that is linked to their student's account. Through the account, parents are able to view homework and project due dates, assignments, grades, school events and the content of the communication between the teacher and their student.
For more information about Edmodo, visit www.edmodo.com/.
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