I write about our past class use of Proboards here, and how I planned to use Edmodo in a similar capacity this year here.
This is the second part of a reflection on that decision to migrate platforms.
I created four virtual "rooms" in Edmodo for my students this year:
1) The Fantastic Forum
2) The Homework Help Room
3) The Ape Room
4) The Reflection and Review Room
In my previous post, I wrote about my experiences with the "Fantastic Forum". In this post I'll write about the "Homework Help Room".
The Homework Help Room
It's not easy being an international student in Kathmandu. There are increasing power cuts as the weather gets colder, and many kids have at least a two hour round trip commute to school each day. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for homework on a lot of days. Coupled with that I try to give online work as much as possible, but the internet connections in this city are sporadic and slow.
"Maybe you should try not giving any work then."
Despite these obstacles, I still give homework. And because of these obstacles students have a heck of a lot of reasons why they can't do their work- some of them valid, and some of them not. To help counter this and create more of a culture of out-of-class responsibility, I try to do two things:
1) Require that children communicate directly with me, either by calling or by emailing, if they are unable to do their homework.
2) Set up the Homework Help Room in Edmodo.
The Homework Help Room is helpful in two situations:
- Homework that is given over the weekend
- Homework that involves larger projects.
It hasn't been so great with assignments that are due the next day, because I don't want to be spending my home time constantly checking it, and neither do my students. So I try to visit it a couple times in the evening, and in general this has helped with work where the kids have more time to do it.
What I think is really nice about it though is when my students help each other.
My goal for the rest of the term is to encourage this. I can think of two ways I could.
The first way to encourage helping is to actually build homework assignments in the homework help room. I don't like this way as much. To encourage this I could give out Edmodo's virtual badges, but I hate that way. So I'm going to dismiss this first way since it will ultimately require extrinsic motivation to encourage children to help each other.
The second is to make a "volunteer" homework help group whose job it is to patrol the room every night. I might bring this up in a class meeting. The idea is fun and holds a certain amount of responsibility and activism so I think I'll get close to 100% of students who would like to do this. The trick is to make sure those who volunteer don't forget. But this way is driven by an intrinsic motivation so I actually think as long as there is reflection involved in the process, it will be far more successful.
The other thing I need to do is to clarify to the class about organizing their requests for help. The Homework Help Room is riddled with posts that look like this:
Where two or more students are posting completely different problems in one thread discussion. It's hard for me to catch all of these because they're posted everywhere, so a refresher course of how to post in this room would be good for the class.