In our prior article we covered the connections and community formed within classrooms on Edmodo (and beyond, to parents). For this article, we’re going to look at the larger school community, as well as teachers who are social learners themselves.
Our recent article asserted that “Social Learning isn’t just the future. It’s the present.” And here’s the kicker — it’s also the past. Ideas about social learning have been around for about half a century. In 1977, Canadian-American psychologist Albert Bandura published the seminal work in social cognitive theory. (The seeds for this modern framework were sown even earlier, in the 1930s, by a pair of philosophers Edwin B. Holt and Harold Chapman Brown.)
Social cognitive theory, also known by the term social learning theory today, is a learning theory founded on the premise that people learn (at least in part) by observing others. Within the context of online learning or blended learning spaces, social cognitive theory can provide useful guidance. It informs how we should structure learning environments and the actors in them. It can also be instructive when it comes to important pedagogical factors, like learner motivation.
“Students care when they believe that other people care about them. They are less likely to drop out, and more likely to feel positively about school, when they have ongoing connections with teachers. Likewise, when they associate with highly-engaged peers, they become more engaged themselves.”
The connections formed in learning environments are critically important for every learner. Conveying just how much relationships matter in teaching, Rita Pierson said in her recent Ted Ed Talk, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”
Edmodo can help teachers and training leaders establish these connections, whether they’re in the classroom, a PLC, or anywhere in between. These relationships strengthen a sense of community across all stakeholders in the learning process, which in turn enables better learning.
“Social media is technology used to engage three or more people.
Social learning is participating with others to make sense of new ideas.
What’s new is how powerfully they work together.”
-Marcia Conner, The New Social Learning.
No matter what your school network looks like, you can use Edmodo to help your learning community thrive. The same social dynamics at play at the classroom level can be applied to professional development and scaled for your entire school.
As your teachers use Edmodo to enrich learning in their classrooms, they’re able to tap into a vast network of educators — both local and worldwide. School leaders can harness social cognitive theory to achieve better training outcomes for their staff and teachers.
So, how do you leverage social cognitive theory to power learning in the classroom and on staff development days? Start with these techniques.
Bring your training into an interactive learning environment where others can discuss and debate a topic. Since learning is a cognitive process, the interpersonal exchange of knowledge and perspectives makes the subject matter more relevant to the learner. (39 bodies of work support this claim.) Learners also retain information better when it can be related to personal experiences and allowing for social interactions makes learning more personal.
Research also suggests that social grouping leads to imitation, which improves the problem-solving process. A team of cognitive scientists at Indiana University conducted an experiment to assess the impact of social learning on problem-solving and found that people who observed and imitated others achieved better results than participants scrounging for their own innovations in isolation.
How to do it on Edmodo
Edmodo Classes (for students) and Groups (for teacher PD) are perfect for this! It’s the same basic structure for each type, which has the added benefit of allowing any PD your department puts on serve as a model for using Edmodo in the classroom with student. By default, these environments are open for all participants, and the social media-like interface uses familiar elements to encourage social interactions such as comments, threaded replies, and media-rich sharing.
Whether you instruct students, coach teachers, or both, the same concepts apply. Learners learn better when they are motivated. A recent Carnegie report shows that enhancing learners’ sense of connectedness with their teachers and peers helps build motivation.
Connectedness plays a pivotal role in many aspects of learning. In the world of corporate training, this social learning phenomenon has been widely circulated as the ‘70–20–10 Model for Training and Development.’ Developed in the 1980’s by The Centre for Creative Leadership, this framework asserts that 20% of learning comes from others through a combination of interactions that includes social learning, coaching, mentoring, collaborative learning and other peer interaction. While it has limitations, the 70–20–10 framework results in several benefits to the learning process, primarily by providing better feedback and encouragement to learners.
How to do it on Edmodo
Edmodo gives educators unrivaled ways to connect with their students and each other. Within Edmodo Classes (or Groups), sub-groups (called Small Groups) can be set to provide more personal coaching. Edmodo also has a built-in Messages feature that allows for users to connect through one-to-one conversations. In the classroom, teachers can even uses Edmodo Messages to communicate with parents.
Gamification is a fairly new concept, only emerging as a methodology within the last decade, and it’s not without its critics. But when done correctly, evidence suggests it works. However, gamification needs to be about more than just points and badges. Learners need to have their success and status shared with peers (in other words, they need to be socially motivated to succeed). Gamification as a pedagogical application works best inside a social learning environment.
The eternal debate between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and which is best, is central to Gamification. Gamification: Intrinsic Motivation for Lasting Engagement argues that these two motivators are co-dependent rather than being polar opposites. At the very least, research suggests it’s not helpful to paint one as being “better” than the other, and that instead using each judiciously has its merits.
“A person’s interest often survives when a reward is used neither to bribe nor to control but to signal a job well done, as in a ‘most improved player’ award. If a reward boosts your feeling of competence after doing good work, your enjoyment of the task may increase. Rewards, rightly administered, can motivate high performance and creativity. And extrinsic rewards (such as scholarships, admissions, and jobs that often follow good grades) are here to stay.”
-David G. Meyers. Psychology: Eighth Edition in Modules.
How to do it on Edmodo
In her Edmodo Basics Webinar, Kate Baker talks about how she uses gamification in the classroom (we skipped ahead to the 22 minute mark, but you can watch the entire video — she shows off some advanced applications of Edmodo). She uses Small Groups to lightly gamify course delivery. The same can be done for professional development groups! Badges are also on available on Edmodo (for both teachers and students), which school leaders can use in combination with PD groups or shout-outs via your School Page to motivate training.
“I used Edmodo to build out a course, which served as a blended component to live webinars I was delivering. The content of my course included HTML, CSS, SEO, and SEM. I was surprised by how much I knew about those topics and how valuable I was able to be to the people I was training!”
There aren’t any limitations to your community on Edmodo. Any school leader can set one up by submitting a simple request form. Or, if your community on Edmodo already exists, you can request administrator access using the same form. Within a couple of days, you’ll be approved and ready to experiment with your program.
When you decide to roll out Edmodo more formally, be sure to take advantage of the free services we offer to assist with this process.
Application Integration Partners. Edmodo is designed to work with app integration services with leading partners, such as Clever and ClassLink. These services take care of the setup process and provide administrators with support for real time account management, group rostering, and single sign-on.
An Award-winning Support Team. Our Support Team is top-notch, and we have a special team available to school leaders. Just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with one of our specialists.
You can also take a look at these recent articles we’ve published for school leaders to get additional ideas about how your Edmodo community can be used: