Edmodo vs Google Classroom

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Since I started teaching at the university in 2004, I have always felt the need to use learning management systems (LMS) for my courses. Otherwise, I usually get lost and I could not find a unique platform for communication with students. For example, I sometimes need to make an announcement about the cancellation of the class on the last minute or I have to remind my students of the due dates of the assignments. Using e-mail accounts or my personal website is not a solution for this issue. Thus, the name of the LMS is the first thing while designing my syllabus for the course.

Up to now, I have used different platforms, such as Tapped In, Nicenet, Ning, Dokeos, Facebook, Moodle, Edmodo, and finally Google Classroom. Tapped In was a text-based platform. It was quite good when it was active but it was closed. Nicenet was also a text-based platform and you cannot even upload basic documents. You should copy/paste the information and it was useless. Ning was very good when I first found it; it was free at the beginning; however, they asked me to pay for it after a while. Dokeos was an open source platform. You could easily modify the system according to your needs. I also had a published proceeding and a presentation on Dokeos at a conference. Yet, the problem was that they delete your data when they update the system/interface. You should keep your files up-to-date on a specific hard drive. Facebook works very well. I should admit it. But, it was not solely on your classes and most of the time both my students and I have lost my concentration on my course and distracted with videos and my friends’ status updates. Moodle is still one of the best LMS in the world. I also tried it. I installed it on my personal website and I used it for about two semesters. I have for rights all administrative controls about the membership, design, etc. but it still requires technical knowledge in order to fully benefit from its features. The last two platforms were Edmodo and Google Classroom. I was quite happy with Edmodo. It is free of charge, it has many features for classroom management. However, I also wanted to give a try to Google Classroom as our university has purchased it. At first, it seems a good idea because it is supported by Google and I can easily integrate Google Drive for assignments, files, materials. However, after two months of experience in Google Classroom, I can easily claim that Edmodo is much better in terms of the following points.

Membership: If your institution hasn’t paid for Google Classroom, you cannot use your own Google account in order to create a classroom as a teacher or join a classroom as a student. You are asked to purchase Google Classroom as the institution in order to use it. That could be accepted to some extent but you do not have the right to use your Google account even your institution purchase it. You are asked to use a username, which is provided by the technical office of your school. For example, one of your students have some problems about his/her username or password. S/he should contact technical staff in order to solve this problem. To speak to my own context, I had at least 10 students whose accounts were not created at the beginning of the semester and they missed some deadlines. You cannot reset your students’ passwords as a teacher. You asked to them to e-mail to the technical assistance unit or stop by their office. Finally, the e-mail accounts provided by the institution is not used for e-mail services (unless the administrative unit allows you to use them). They use it just like a username and password.

However, if you are using Edmodo, the students can easily prefer to use their personal e-mail address (from any e-mail service company, such as Google, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.). They receive updates through their e-mail accounts. They can reset their passwords on their own; however, if they also forget the e-mail password, you have the right to reset their passwords as a teacher. It is not based on institutions so anyone can create accounts as a teacher or a student; can login using the information s/he provided during the registration. Thus, the number of problems about registration is minimized and teachers can easily solve the problems without any help from an outsider.

Collaboration: One of the purposes of Web 2.0 tools is to contribute to the collaboration among educators, learners, and ordinary users. If you are using Edmodo, you have the chance to meet educators from your own field and contact them easily. However, Google Classroom is a more closed platform. I couldn’t even see the trial version until our institution purchased it.

Permission to files: You create some files on Google Documents and there is no limit for the size of the file. That was the greatest feature when I first heard about it. I was planning to share some of my files on Google Drive at the beginning of the semester. However, I noticed that I had another Google Drive account associated with the e-mail account provided by the technical staff. In other words, I had two different accounts for Google Drive. This was a bit confusing. Anyway, I also accepted this. However, when I share a document with my students, some of them couldn’t reach the document. The reason is that their mobile devices are automatically logged into their personal accounts. They didn’t even notice that and the files are shared with the institutional accounts. Then, your students begin to send their assignments via e-mail in order not to miss the due date.

Additional features: As I used Edmodo first, I expected to see some features on Google Classroom but there were no features like creating small groups within the classroom, quiz, and timing for quizzes. In Edmodo platform, you can create small groups and your students can also work in groups. For example, you have 50 students in your classroom. You can group them into 5 and then they can discuss and work within small groups. They do not see the sharings of the other groups, which allows more participation. As for the quizzes, you can create quizzes on Edmodo and assign it with a time limit. In Google Classroom, you can only ask a single question at a time. I know that online exams and quizzes are not an appropriate measurement for your courses. The students could easily cheat; they can search for information on Google or anyone else could easily complete it. However, my purpose is not to measure their academic performances. I just want them to monitor their own learning and be aware of their achievements.

Finally, I can easily say that Google Classroom is a great fail if you have already used Edmodo for your courses. There are many limitations and you always need some technical staff to solve your problems. However, you can easily control your students and your information with some basic computer skills. As a conclusion, I will definitely go back to Edmodo as soon as this semester ends. I might have expected more when the tool was created by Google and this expectation resulted in disappointment.


Mobile Learning for Language Learning

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Mobile learning (m-learning) has been discussed for the recent decade. While I was writing my PhD dissertation and at the conferences on the use of technology in language classes, I have seen many articles and presentations on the use of mobile devices in language classes. Although, it seemed like a utopia and too idealistic about 5 or 6 years ago, now it can easily be seen that they are used by the new generation very commonly and there are many applications for education, especially for language learning.

Tomorrow evening, I will be talking about Mobile Learning in for language learning in my Computer Assisted Language Learning course at the university; and I have searched for mobile applications and information about how to use them classes all day long and I am still finding new things just before the course. The most advantageous thing for me about this course is that I can learn many things while teaching. Every tool has many updates or changes and it is great for me to explore these changes.

If the topic is mobile learning, it is inevitable to talk about the applications. Actually, I am using Android operating system on my phone; so I couldn’t find a chance to try some applications which works only on IOS operating system. I visit the Google Play website and search for educational applications. Although there seems to be huge number of applications, you should limit the number of your applications so that you can use them effectively.

We are all using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linked In. These applications help us to receive notifications and check all our accounts in one application. In addition to these, news, blog posts and this kind of updated sites need RSS reader; and we receive notifications from these sites. I like Flipboard application for these purposes. You can choose some topics as your interest and you also add your Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can easily follow these accounts through one application.

In addition to this, I also need an extra RSS reader application. I was using Google Reader until Google announced to close this service. Now, I am getting used to Feedly application; however, to be honest, Google Reader was much better. I may get used to this application in time, who knows. Although it is good to check all your social networking applications using only one application, I also prefer to keep their own applications separately. I sometimes prefer to check only Twitter messages in order not to get lost among other tools.

Here are the list of application installed on my mobile phone (I omitted the default applications on my phone in this list):

Youtube: It is quite useful to view Youtube videos without visiting its website on a web browser. With the recent technological developments in mobile phones, it is easy to view videos without interrupting.

TED Talks: I have always followed TED Talks on my computer and it is now available as mobile phone application. I try to watch and share them with my friends as frequently as possible.

Skype – Facebook – Twitter: These are just the mobile versions of computer software or websites. You can do whatever you can on the website using these applications. Since I installed them on my phone, I didn’t need to turn my computer on for just checking my messages.

Instagram: It allows us to share photos and make comments on the photos. You can also create a list of your friends and you can follow their photos. This is just a photo sharing application.

WordPress: As I am using WordPress for blogging and my 200+ students had blogs on WordPress, it is inevitable for me to use WordPress application. You can write posts, see comments, customize your settings and add content to your blog page. If you are blogging, you should install this application.

Merriam Webster and Tureng Dictionaries: I love the former more, but sometimes I also need English-Turkish or Turkish-English dictionary and I installed the latter for that purpose.

In addition to these I also use Aldiko for reading e-books; QR Droid for decoding QR Codes, Teamviewerfor controlling my computer using mobile phone, etc.

And finally games… I cannot think of a mobile phone without games. The following games are installed on my mobile phone: Temple Run – Speedcar – Flick Shoot – Siege Hero. Although games are blocked at our university with McAffee, I strongly believe the benefits of the games; and I will go on playing.

To sum up, the number of application is limitless and you may find a new application everyday. It is better to think about your purposes of using a mobile phone and decide on the applications to install. Then, it takes time to get accustomed to the applications; but this is not a problem. I will leave and go on searching for educational applications at home, and I am sure that I will be able find more applications. I kindly ask for your suggestions, if you would like to contribute to my CALL class.

Dr. Sedat Akayoglu