Real World Collaboration on PBL Using Edmodo
Posted by: Joanna Van Raden, Retired Teacher from Michigan
I have used Edmodo for over five years, and I know what a powerful tool it is for classroom management and blended learning. I have used every feature on Edmodo to its fullest extent, but I wanted to push myself and my students even further in creating a global classroom event. Last year, I used Edmodo to extend my classroom well beyond our school community for an activity that was more than receiving and turning in assignments and taking tests. This became a pivotal point in how I used Edmodo with my students in Michigan.
I partnered with a company in my community to create a collaborative, eight-week, project-based Global Design Challenge with my fourth grade students. The challenge was for my students to work with students in Australia to design recyclable plastic bottles, snack packages, or cereal boxes. I partnered with a global company that has offices in my town and in Australia. I was able to connect with two teachers in a school in Melbourne, Australia. I agreed to teach them about Edmodo so that our students could work collaboratively. They had never heard of Edmodo and were reluctant at first. As an Edmodo Ambassador and Certified Trainer, I had many tools available to me. I set up a large classroom that included all of my students and all of their students. I added all teachers as co-teachers. I trained the Australian teachers virtually using Skype, Facetime, videos, screenshots, and Edmodo roll out materials by email. All in all, we had over 80 students and six teachers.
The challenge was sponsored by a grant that rewarded us with furniture and tools to add to our 21st century classroom. Employees from the company assisted students by creating weekly video challenge lessons on the design process, viewed in Edmodo. They also volunteered in the classrooms to help students on a weekly basis. The employees of the company learned about the power of an online learning management system in a classroom and quickly became fans of Edmodo!
We began with a poll for students on the three choices they were being offered for projects. This helped us narrow down the number of students who were interested in designing each project. Students were given the choice of which product they were most interested in designing and then we grouped them into small groups of three or four students.
Assigning students to small groups allowed them the opportunity to continually share progress on projects and ideas by uploading photos and writing notes regardless of the major time difference. Collaborating in small groups, partners researched and designed plastic bottles, fruit snack packs, and cereal boxes. An added benefit included the sharing of cultural and climate information with their new friends. For example, Michigan students were able to show themselves playing in deep snow on our playground while Australian students introduced Michigan students to the game of Cricket. Additionally, they also shared favorite foods and customs with their groups.
The culminating event was a company-hosted celebration on each continent by Skype that included parents, school board members, company executives and employees, teachers, and green-screened digital student presentations pitching their products to the audience. My students also created poster board presentations for viewing after the global conference call. Students received certificates and awards for their project designs. What an exciting real world project and powerful way to bring two continents of learners together! This was the highlight of my use of Edmodo. It goes well beyond just being a classroom management tool.