Featured Blogger: A View from the District with Andy McKiel

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April 18th, 2011

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What an honour and a privilege to be selected as one of Edmodo’s Featured Bloggers!  I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share my experiences with the Edmodo community and I hope that I’m able to provide some insight for those of you who have long been connecting and collaborating within Edmodo.  While this forum will allow me to highlight and share some of my own experiences with implementing Edmodo across my school district, my hope is that I’ll also learn from your collective knowledge!

As a K-12 Curriculum Coordinator, I work primarily with teachers and administrators across grade levels and subject areas. Ever since I left my own Grade 4 classroom four years ago, I’ve been supporting teachers with the infusion of technology across the curriculum.  As was the case with my own classrooms full of students, the group of learners with whom I currently work have a very diverse range of skills and abilities.  While some teachers are quite tech-savvy, others resist the use of technology.  I often run into the issues of time and money being limiting factors when encouraging teachers to try new things – but not with Edmodo!

Over the last couple of years, the impact of social media has had a profound effect on the teaching and learning that is taking place in our schools.  The proliferation of social networking tools has led many of our teachers and students to explore the use of these tools and begin to realize the benefits they offer.  Unfortunately, content filtering prevents the use of many social networking tools within our schools and classrooms.  We can talk about the benefits of Facebook & Twitter with our students, but we can’t easily show them first-hand how they work.  We can teach our students about the importance of restricting access to their Facebook profiles, but we’re prevented from walking them through the steps.

There’s a real desire among our students to have access to these tools, but we’re missing out on some great opportunities to teach our students how to utilize social media ethically and responsibly by preventing their use within our schools.

Enter Edmodo…
This tool has been a welcome addition for many of our teachers and administrators due to it’s ease of use, the fact that it is a secure environment that encourages teachers and students to freely share ideas and information – and the fact that it’s free!

Although I’ve held my own Edmodo account since they launched back in 2008, I really hadn’t been using this tool effectively until earlier this year.  It was down in Orlando, when I attended FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference) for the first time, that I realized the true power of Edmodo.  After seeing how easily participants could connect with each other and the presenters through the groups had been created for each breakout session, I realized what we’d been missing out on.  I decided right then and there that I needed to get more teachers on board with this tool, as Edmodo could be the perfect solution to model the ethical and responsible use of social networking tools.

In between sessions at FETC, I visited the Edmodo booth and discovered just how easily I could set our entire school district up with Edmodo.  After a quick chat, I knew what needed to be done to get the ball rolling & I started to imagine the possibilities. Before leaving Orlando, I had several of our schools set up and I was ready to launch Edmodo within our district upon my return to Winnipeg, Canada.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll blog about our adventures getting started with Edmodo from the perspective of a District Administrator.  I’ll highlight the ways that professional learning opportunities are being provided, and I will share several ‘a-ha’ moments from our teachers and students as they discover the benefits of connecting and collaborating through the use of Edmodo.

Andy McKiel, is a K-12 Curriculum Coordinator at St. James-Assiniboia School Division in Winnipeg, Canada.  The opinions shared in this blog entry are his own.

3 responses to “Featured Blogger: A View from the District with Andy McKiel”

  1. Ben Wilkoff says:

    I really appreciate your perspective on using Edmodo, and I am looking forward to sharing the journey of rolling out Edmodo with you. Like you, I too all at once realized why I wanted to be a part of Edmodo. After I saw a few student to teacher interactions and the sense of student ownership, I was hooked.

    • Andy McKiel says:

      Thanks, Ben! It’s exciting to see how quickly and easily our teachers are embracing Edmodo – it takes so little time and effort to get up and running with groups of students that they can’t wait to get started 🙂

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