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10/14/2011 Darren Dennstedt
Protopage to Edmodo in the Intermediate Grades: Transforming the Reluctant Users
Communication with parents is a vital part of building positive rapport and a strong working relationship within the public school arena. In an attempt to incorporate technology into the classroom, teachers within the building I’m currently employed in adopted a tool called Protopage. Teachers were exposed to this basic start page communication tool three years ago as a place to post student work, homework assignments, and allow basic communication with parents. The free tool allows for RSS News feeds to be incorporated into a personal page along with sticky notes displaying information. Often the sticky notes are assigned different academic subject areas to list important information that needs to be communicated to parents. A downside to Protopage is the constant influx of advertising that is displayed on the main page when parents and or students log into the supplied URL address. On occasion the advertising can be less than age appropriate for elementary aged students who are being asked to log into the site to find homework assignments. In addition, the site can become cumbersome when you drag and drop items around the page. When initially setting up the “start page” (Nations, D., 2011) time is spent cleaning out modules not needed when building the page. An opportunity for change exists as I propose to elicit the help of my intermediate teaching peers when suggesting movement to a different site called Edmodo. Edmodo is a private online social platform for teachers and students to share ideas, files, events and assignments. This site allows the flexibility for teachers to handle class activity online by sending out assignments and receiving completed assignments from students. A class calendar can be easily updated with assignments and due dates. Files, events, and assignments are easily shared and the site is entirely free without inappropriate advertisements. Edmodo is extremely appealing to students since it has a similar setup as Facebook. In accordance to the mission of my school which is to teach and learn 21st Century Skills; my goal is to lead a group of intermediate teachers from the use of Protopage to the adoption of Edmodo as a tool for communicating with parents.
Movement from basic knowledge and the existence of the Edmodo site to complete implementation by potential adopters will be a challenge. Typically, educators are reluctant to change and need professional development to establish relevance and a connection to why the change is important. Initial exposure to the Edmodo site will be shared in an intermediate grade level meeting with goals set for the course of the first trimester on how the site will be implemented by teachers. Professional development will be offered weekly in team meetings breaking down the different components of the site and how it can be used effectively as a communication tool. Survey intermediate teachers on use and satisfaction of the Protopage application (Dissatisfaction with the status quo (Surry/Ely, 2001)). Initial exposure to Edmodo in a team meeting to garner interest in the application. Professional development on a weekly basis in team meetings breaking down the individual functions of the site using a Screencast model and direct instruction. Availability of time for participants to practice using the site and gain knowledge while making connections to the relevancy of use. Make direct connections for teachers on application uses and how it can impact students. Creation of collaborative groups who will become trainers for the remaining staff members.
Due Date 8-30-11
Task Survey intermediate teachers on use and satisfaction of Protopage. Discuss change model with administration.
Exposure to Edmodo as a replacement solution for Protopage to garner interest.
Screencast modeling different features of Edmodo making connections on possible impacts for students and parent communication. Direct instruction and exposure to the site components with handson opportunities. Collaborative groups formed within the participant group with direct accountability. Participants assigned tasks and due dates to share a feature of the application discovered during early adoption. Opportunity for participants to share a feature of the application with the whole group. Intermediate teachers assigned to primary grade level groups to teach basic components of the application during staff meeting. Survey intermediate teachers on their continued use of Edmodo; Survey primary teachers on possible interest in adopting Edmodo. Formation of Professional Development groups for Primary Grades with the goal of implementation; Survey parents and students on use and ease of Edmodo as a tool for communication.
Removed from the timeline based on feedback.
Evaluation will be based on the speed of adoption and if full implementation by participants occurs. Continued use of the site beyond professional development would be a benchmark of true adoption and implementation of the change project. If after the initial group of intermediate teachers has adopted the use of Edmodo then diffusion via professional development can be offered to other grade levels with the intention of full adoption within the building. Surveys will be conducted at the beginning of the change project and the end to gauge the process of implementation.
Initial adoption of the application will be met with resistance as educators are typically reluctant when change is suggested. Offering opportunities to gain knowledge and practice using the tools of the application will move participants forward towards implementation and full use of the program. Frustration will occur as members of the group will question the need to move away from the status quo and implement the use of Edmodo.
Communicating with parents and having an opportunity for students to engage in a 21st Century tool to emphasize learning skills is a necessary progression the public school must make. When making the transition the importance of acting responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind is at the forefront. Consideration of the needs of participants and the time commitment as change occurs from knowledge to acceptance and full adoption must be acknowledged. Possible harmful scenarios to participants and the community at large focus around confidentiality. Whenever engagement in the Global Community occurs within the public school arena, fear of outsiders gaining access to information is a valid concern. Addressing concerns with parents and staff members about the relative safety when using Edmodo will be paramount when launching this project.
The transition from Protopage to Edmodo for many teachers was a positive shift and met with only mild resistance. Many teachers in the intermediate grades were able to see the value of the site through exposure and hands-on training and were quick to implement. Students became quickly engaged in using the site and adopters understood the value in the change. Currently, assessing the tool for primary grades is occurring. At this time use by primary teachers as a tool to communicate with parents will not come to fruition. Through collaborative group discussions it was agreed use of the site would be difficult for younger students. Consequently, the initial time-line has been adjusted to remove the formation of professional groups for primary grades based on feedback with current users. In addition, there are some reluctant users at the intermediate grades who have participated in the time-line but have failed to adopt and consistently use the site.
Initial Survey Results with Eight Respondents
Question 1. How often do you use the Protopage tool to communicate with parents and students? 2. What are the pros and cons of using Protopage as a communication tool in the classroom? 3. Would you be interested in other on-line tools to communicate with parents and students? Results 33% 1-2 Times per week Pros-communication with parents Cons-advertisements, difficult to personalize 100% Interest
Post Survey Results with Eight Respondents
Question 1. How often do you use the Protopage tool to communicate with parents and students? 2. What are the pros and cons of using Protopage as a communication tool in the classroom? 3. What are the pros and cons of using Edmodo? Mean 8% 1-2 Times per week Pros-Quick and easy Cons-Freezes and doesn’t save changes Pros-Parents and students can see assignments. Articles and videos can be linked. Cons-Facebook appeal can be a problem for age group. 62.5% Daily
4. How often do you use Edmodo as a resource to communicate with students and teachers?
Interrupting the survey results shows an increase in usage of the Edmodo site by intermediate teachers. Currently, 8% of the intermediate teachers are still reverting back to using the Protopage site while 63% have switched to Edmodo as a daily tool for communicating with parents and students. Initially, 33% of the participants were using Protopage 1-2 times per week. This percentage has decreased by 25%. Some teachers are still primary users of a traditional paper newsletter as a form of communication. Based on survey results teachers who made the shift have a positive regard for the tool and consistently implement daily.
Implementing change in a public school arena can be a difficult proposition. Many educators can fail to see the value in adopting a new tool that can assist the organization and increase productivity. Several early adopters of the Edmodo site have become useful in bringing along the late adopters. Over the course of the project some late adopters have moved into the implementation phase via momentum and excitement for the change. In final analysis, movement is still occurring as people adopt the change in the organization. 6
Movement of the late majority is the primary focus currently in an attempt to increase participation. As excitement grows and continued exposure occurs the challenge remains in keeping momentum moving forward. Often, adoption can occur with failed long-term implementation due to lack of continued usage. Another challenge not foreseen is the participation levels by students and parents. Continual log-ins by students and parents has decreased over time. Typically, a small percentage of students fail to access the site on a daily basis to complete assignments and respond to posts. An effort, to move these participants to full adoption is a next step in the change initiative.
Surry, D.W., & Ely, D.P. (2001). Adoption, diffusion, implementation, and institutionalization of educational innovations. In R. Reiser & J.V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Draft online: http://www.sothalabama.edu/coe/bset/surry/papers/adoption/chap.htm Crane, T. (2002), Learning for the 21st century: A report and mile guide for 21st century skills, 9. Retrieved August 24, 2011, from Partnership for 21st Century Skills site: http://www.p21.org/images/stories/otherdocs/p21up_Report.pdf German, K., Cassidy, J., Seitz, E., McNamara, Brian, & Lewis, Jenna. [Edmodo Review]. Web 2.0 tools -New possibilities for teaching and learning. Retrieved August 23, 2011, from http://wiki.itap.purdue.edu/display/INSITE/Edmodo Nations, D. (2011). [Review of Protopage]. About.com. Retrieved August 23, 2011, from http://webtrends.about.com/od/startpagesreviews/fr/protopage_re.htm
Survey instruments are available at the links below. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DKB3WRZ http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D8YKHV9 http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D82ZSH6 7
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