What a year it’s been so far! Things are going great, but I am so busy! I haven’t been posting as much lately, but the beginning of the year craziness is starting to wind down, so I’m hoping I’ll be a bit more active on here in the near future.
Last year, I used Edmodo to have my students turn in their weekly Aventura reports and post their blogs. This year, I have switched to Google Classroom. I haven’t tried some of the others out there (I’ve heard good things about Schoology), but here are my thoughts so far about how these two work for me. I think the best way to compare is to break it down by features.
I had very few issues with Edmodo last year. I can think of one or two instances when the site was down or not working properly, but the great majority of the time the site was up and running.
So far this year, Google Classroom has been 100% reliable for me. I have had a few students say they “couldn’t get it to work” but I don’t know if that’s due to a poor internet connection, user error, or an issue with the site itself. So I give the edge here to Google Classroom, but it’s not a big one.
Account & Classroom Management
Edmodo made it very easy for me to manage students’ accounts. As a teacher, I could view usernames and change passwords – which for some students was required multiple times throughout the year. It would have been a major headache had I not had that control.
Google Classroom does not require students to create new accounts. They already have Google accounts through the school, so it’s just a matter of going to the website. This is a major plus for me, and for my students, who I know have been required to make several “extra” accounts for other classes (plus a Twitter account for me!)
Joining the classes was a similar process on both – a class code is generated and students enter it to join. Edmodo’s code automatically expires after 30(?) days for security, but a new one can be generated at any time. Google Classroom’s code does not appear to expire. I think I prefer Google on this one, but it’s far from a major issue.
Google Classroom gives me the option to mute a student from posting on the class stream. I can also decide by class whether I want students (as a group) to be able to post to the stream. For my classes, that’s a huge yes, but for other teachers, I can see how disallowing this would be a useful tool. I do not recall having those options in Edmodo, but that could just be because I never had to use them.
Both Google Classroom and Edmodo have convenient places for storing important class information, links, documents, etc.
Since students are typically only turning in the same two assignments on the stream every two weeks, I definitely prefer Edmodo here. With Edmodo, I received an email any time any student posted anything directly to the class page (I didn’t get emails about comments unless they were on my own posts). I loved it. It made it extremely easy to keep track of what I had looked at and what was still waiting for me.
On Google Classroom, in order for me to receive an email, it has to be a comment on my post, or a student turning something in in response to an Assignment that I create. Since there is no option to create a recurring assignment, I just have my students post to the stream, and then have to dig through to find where I left off in order to make sure I check them all. I could just put something up saying “reply here with this week’s aventura/blog” but many of my students like to do things early (earlier than I would have them posted, that’s for sure!). Not to mention that in Spanish 3, one of the blog requirements is to comment on someone else’s blog, and there’s no option to reply to a comment. Plus that’s extra work that I would have to not forget every week, and some weeks that’s asking a lot.
In my opinion, one of the nicest things about Edmodo was the ability to see a list of all of a particular student’s posts and replies. There were some bugs in the feature last year that caused a few headaches when trying to look at things older than a few weeks, but the feature itself was marvelous. I’m checking homework and think, “Did that good student really not do a blog this week?” Easy to double check without digging through the entire class feed. Students could create profiles and send private messages as well, which was handy.
On Google Classroom, I have not been able to find a similar “see all posts by this person” feature, and I miss it. Instead, I have to scroll all the way to the bottom, loading older and older posts and then CTRL + F to make sure I haven’t missed someone’s work. It’s time consuming, and if I make a spelling error, all bets are off. It is easy to email students from the Students page, although I haven’t used this feature yet.
I’m really not sure what to call this category. It’s just something that I’ve noticed on Google Classroom. On Edmodo, for both aventura reports and for weekly blogs, students naturally just typed the info into a new post and linked whatever they needed me to see. I’m not sure why, but on Google Classroom, many students want to type their blog and/or aventura in a Google Doc and link through Classroom. That’s extremely easy to do, but it does create an extra click for me. Instead of just reading, I have to open their Doc. I didn’t foresee that happening this year, but I’m trying to break kids of that habit early. Saving 2 or 3 seconds on 150 assignments a week adds up!
Overall, if the new year were to start right now, I’m not sure what I would do. Google Classroom is terribly convenient because other teachers use it, the kids are comfortable with it, and they don’t have to create a new account. However, the email and search-by-student features of Edmodo helped keep my life a lot simpler and more organized.
What do you use to manage students online? Do you like it?