The following is a Special Update by Ben Wilkoff, Online Community Manager, who describes his experiences at ICE 2011:
Whether it was walking down the replica Bourbon street to the PLN plaza or strolling by the packed David Pogue keynote, the energy at ICE 2011 was palpable. It seemed as though every teacher, administrator and other school stakeholder was on a mission to learn as much as they could before the day was out. The enthusiasm spilled out from the session rooms and onto the exhibition floor where we were fortunate enough to meet a lot of veteran Edmodo users and newcomers who were just now hearing about us at the conference.
ICE holds a special place for Edmodo because Edmodo was started about 10 minutes from the conference center. One of our Co-Founders, Jeff O’Hara, has been on hand for the last decade of ICE conferences. This year was no exception. Jeff and Ben, our Online Community Manager, had a chance to speak with over 400 teachers and more than that, they listened. They heard stories about how Edmodo was being used all over the state of Illinois. We would like to take this blog post to highlight a few of them.
- We heard how one school was using edmodo as a platform for notifying students via text message when school-wide events were taking place and when soccer practice was being canceled. They really liked how teachers didn’t need access to student’s phone numbers, but could send their messages safely and securely via the text message notification system in Edmodo.
- We heard about one teacher using small groups to separate out very specific questions in their book discussions. The teacher would add some of the students to that question when it was time to tackle it and then remove them when they needed to move on to the next one. He showed us just how easy it was for him to differentiate for his students by adding them to the questions most relevant to them.
- We saw how an elementary teacher was using her Edmodo group as a portal for her students, where she could embed all of her classroom resources and engaging videos for her students to comment on and interact with.
- We saw how a group of technology integration specialists were using Edmodo to share Web 2.0 tools with the rest of their staff and provide a non-judgemental environment for their staff to experiment with embedding and ask questions about classroom uses for their new found tools.
- We heard one teacher tell us that she had left her sub plans on Edmodo for her substitute teacher and how the students were responsible for showing the sub how to use Edmodo and where to access the plans. This teacher was happy to report that her students were turning in work while she was away at the conference and that she had an astonishing 197 turn-ins to grade when she last checked on the final day of the conference.
Other teachers that had never seen Edmodo before also came into the booth and showed us just how they would use Edmodo when they went back to their classroom. They jumped in with both feet and started creating groups for their classrooms right in the booth. They asked questions about safety and security, parent access, and the gradebook. They were powerfully interested in how Edmodo could be a communication platform and not just “something extra” in their classes. All we had to do was show the great collaboration going on in the Subject area communities and the level of support from within the Support Community and Help Center and the conversations grew from there.
Overall, ICE 2011 was an amazing time for the Edmodo team to listen to teachers and talk about how Edmodo is used across Illinois and around the world. No recap of the events, though, would be complete without mentioning a wonderful Edmodo user and the award he won at the conference. Jay Blackman, the Director of Technology for Brookwood School District 167, was awarded the ICE Technology Educator of the Year award for 2011. Congratulations to Jay, and if you want to connect with him in Edmodo, here is his profile link.
Thank you to all of the people we saw at ICE 2011. We had a blast. See you next year!