P.S. 54 teachers use social media platform designed for learning to reach students

Most children love using social media, so why not a platform for educational purposes?

Instead of spending hours logged onto social media sites that don’t necessarily have anything to do with learning, teachers at Bedford Park’s P.S. 54 are now using a social media specifically geared for peer-to-peer learning and student-teacher interaction called Edmodo.com, multiple sources confirmed.

Parents can also interact with teachers on Edmodo, and there is also teacher to teacher interaction on the site, which now advertises 35 million users.

The interface can help along learning in a digital environment with students who are more used to typing on a keyboard or with their thumbs than putting pen to paper, said P.S. 54 elementary school teacher Beatrice Lopez, one of the teachers at the school using Edmodo.

“They are digital natives,” said Lopez, a strong advocate for the social media platform, of her students. “The ways that they learn are different…from the ways that you or I learned in school.”

With Edmodo, students can access their schoolwork and get feedback from peers and teachers at anytime, in or outside of school, she said.

They can communicate on Edmodo from any computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, she added.

Instead of logging into other popular social networking sites, many of her students are logging into Edmodo, and getting peer-to-peer feedback on everything from reading assignments, their own writing, and work on all subjects.

“It looks very much like Facebook, however it is 100% monitored and controlled by the teacher,” said Lopez. “It really reinforces learning communities based on 21st Century practices.”

There is an “immediate response” with their peers or with their teachers, she said, creating a learning environment where technology and teaching are informing each other.

Edmodo is also useful to engage students who may be too shy to raise their hands in class, but may able to reach out to their peers and their teachers digitally, said Lopez.

She cited the example of large achievements of a student in one of her classes who was learning English as a Second Language (ESL) and reading at second grade level even though he was in the fifth grade. The use of Edmodo engaged the child, who liked to play video games, she said.

He went from being a child who did not want to do homework to a child who had the highest number of Edmodo posts among peers, she added.

“You have to have a lot in your repertoire, especially when you are working in a high-needs school like I am,” said the teacher. “But Edmodo is definitely a great place to cultivate a learning environment.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.