How Edmodo and Google Docs Can Change Traditional Classrooms. Chada Kongchan. King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand

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1 How Edmodo and Google Docs Can Change Traditional Classrooms Chada Kongchan King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand 0442 The European Conference on Language Learning 2013 Official Conference Proceedings 2013 Abstract Edmodo is a free and secure educational learning network. It looks similar to Facebook, but has been designed and developed to be a private and safe learning environment. Edmodo provides a simple way for teachers to create and manage an online classroom community as well as enable students to connect and work with their classmates and teachers anywhere and anytime. Since Edmodo also allows teachers to create small groups in the virtual class, Google Docs, in which individual or multiple users can simultaneously edit documents in real time, can be synchronized with Edmodo to motivate and facilitate students knowledge construction individually and collaboratively. This study aims to investigate how a teacher makes use of Edmodo and Google Docs to change her traditional English classroom, the teacher s and students perceptions of using them, including problems and suggestions. The subjects of this study were a teacher and 87 students at King Mongkut s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand. The research instruments used were a diary, a questionnaire, Edmodo, and Google Docs. A diary was kept to find out how the teacher used Edmodo and Google Docs and to record her perceptions, while a questionnaire was employed to investigate students opinions towards and suggestions about using Edmodo and Google Docs. The data automatically recorded by Edmodo and Google Docs were also collected to examine their use. The results of this study may inspire other teachers to reappraise the way they conduct their classes. iafor The International Academic Forum

2 Introduction and Literature Review In general, teachers of English have physical classrooms as their workplace to do their jobs, teaching English, and their students also have these physical classrooms as their learning space. However, the rise of the Internet and online communication technologies has changed the way people work, communicate, socialize and learn as a network society (Castells, 1996:21). Accordingly, learning is rapidly changed, especially among young learners or digital natives. These learners are seen as native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games, and the Internet (Prensky, 2001). Therefore, their preference for learning, their learning styles and strategies are also enormously changed. For example, the research conducted by the British Council in 2007 revealed that 69% of learners around the world said that they learned most effectively when socializing informally. The result of this research also showed that students with strong social networks performed well academically (Arroyo, 2011). Therefore, if teachers want to remain relevant to their students and be effective teachers, they need to use 'learning technologies' to help students reach the world outside the classroom. Teachers should also become network administrators to find out what social networking sites students like to use and introduce free learning opportunities through helpful sites for them (Dalton, 2009). As in Thailand, currently, there are about 18 million Facebook users and the largest age group is (Millward, 2013). This may show that a large amount of Thai youngsters are starting their new way of enjoying their lives by socializing online. Accordingly, it could be a big challenge for teachers to change their traditional classrooms and teaching strategies by making use of new communication technologies to encourage their students to learn better in class as well as in their real world. As a matter of fact, there are many academic websites or programmes that teachers can utilize to promote their new way of teaching. The only problem is whether or not the teachers get used to those tools as Lipsett (2008) reveals an important finding of the research conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), the UK s largest independent provider of research for education, that a third of 1,000 teachers struggled to use the technology which schools were equipped with because they lacked necessary skills to make the best use of the technology available to them. So that is why non-digital-native teachers may think of a simple tool like Edmodo that they can learn how to use it by themselves. Edmodo, which is available at has been designed and developed by Jeff O Hara and Nick Borg since This website is a free, private, and secure learning network which looks similar to Facebook (Jarc, 2010), so it may not cause students to face any difficulties. They may also find it easy for them to connect and work with their classmates and teachers online. Moreover, teachers may like Edmodo because it provides simple functions for teachers to create and manage their online classroom community. In addition, Edmodo offers privacy to both teachers and their students. Only teachers can create and manage accounts and only their students, who receive a group code and register in the group, can access and join the group. No one else can participate or spy on the group. Via Edmodo, teachers can send text (SMS) alerts, messages attached with a file or a link, reply students messages, send out quizzes and assignments, receive completed assignments, give feedback, assign grades for assignments, store and share content in the form of both files and links, conduct polls, maintain a class calendar, and contact with the whole class, small groups, or even individual students. Students can also send a message attached with a file or a link, store and share content in the form of a file or a link, submit homework, assignments, and quizzes, receive their teacher s feedback,

3 messages, alerts, and reply to the teacher, vote on polls as well as set their own calendar. Students can communicate with their teachers, the whole class, and their small group. The only limitation is that they cannot communicate with individual students via Edmodo. At present, Edmodo also offers a connection to Google Docs (Google Drive) as a new channel in order to enable teachers and students to work online more effectively and conveniently. Google Docs (Google Drive) is a simple freeware tool which enables individual or multiple users to edit documents simultaneously in real time. Since Edmodo allows Google Docs to be synchronized with the website, both Google Docs and Edmodo could motivate and facilitate students to construct their knowledge individually and collaboratively. So that is why the researcher would like to see how the teacher made use of Edmodo and Google Docs to change her traditional classrooms, the teacher s and the students perceptions towards both tools as well as problems and suggestions. Research Methodology 1. Subjects The subjects in this study were the teacher researcher and 87 students. The teacher researcher was the teacher of the second English course for the undergraduates at King Mongkut s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand, which was LNG 102: English Skills and Strategies. The students were the students of the course. They were 3 groups of students from the Computer Engineering Department, the Multimedia Technology Department, and the Industrial Education and Technology Department. 2. Methodology At the beginning of the semester, the teacher set up 3 online classes via Edmodo. Then all her students were asked to register and join the online classes according to their groups. Small groups of about 4-5 students were then set up via their Edmodo online class in order to allow students to work on the required tasks of the course collaboratively. Then the teacher blended her physical classes with the online classes throughout one semester. 3. Research Instruments The research instruments that the teacher used in this study were a diary, a questionnaire, Edmodo and Google Docs. The teacher kept a diary throughout the semester in order to see how the teacher made use of Edmodo and Google Docs and her perceptions. The questionnaire was employed to investigate the students opinion towards Edmodo and Google Docs as well as their suggestions. The data automatically recorded by Edmodo and Google Docs were used to examine how the teacher and the students used them. 4. Data Analysis The data from the teacher s diary entries were analyzed and grouped into three groups: dates, activities on Edmodo and Google Docs, as well as reasons or opinions. Then, the researcher further categorized the information by dividing it again into two groups: how the teacher and students use Edmodo and Google Docs, and her perceptions towards both tools. The data from the five-point Likert-type scale questionnaire were analyzed by using a rating guide as follows: = like.very much, = like, = neutral, = do not like, 1-1.8= do not like very much, while the data from the open-ended questions were grouped to see salient

4 points of problems and suggestions. Finally, the data collected from Edmodo and Google Docs were analyzed and grouped in terms of activities the teacher and students did during the semester. Results and Discussions 1. Functions used via Edmodo According to the diary entries, it can be seen that among all functions of Edmodo, the teacher like to use the folder function very much as can be seen from the diary extract below: I like the folder function in Edmodo very much because it allows me to post my PowerPoint presentations, exercises, audio files, and even a link for my students to study in advance before coming to class. April 19, 2013 The data automatically recorded via Edmodo as can be seen in the charts below, show that the teacher uploaded her PowerPoint presentations of the lessons, audio files, and also exercises for her students in advance. This means that if her students access the online group through Edmodo and click Folder, they can study whatever the teacher has posted before coming to class. 2. Teacher s Activities and Students Activities via Edmodo and Google Docs The second finding was about all activities the teacher and the students did online throughout the semester. From the left pie chart below, we can see that 75% of all the activities the teacher did via Edmodo and Google Docs were giving feedback to the students work. Moreover 21% of her activities online were informing her students about submission and physical class issues. However, only 2% of the activities were for uploading lessons and the other 2% were for giving compliment and encouragement.

5 For the students, the right pie chart shows that 78% of all the activities they did were doing and submitting the work. The students responded to the teacher s post, explained their work and confirmed their submission about 19 % out of all the activities they did online. Unfortunately, they asked questions and contacted their classmates only 2% and 1% of all their activities, respectively. This might be because Edmodo does not provide an active notification as Facebook. So they might not know whether or not their team was online. Some students told the teacher researcher informally that they also used Facebook and Skype to contact their team while working. 3. Changes in Traditional classrooms 3.1 Flexibility In traditional classes, students generally do their course work such as a writing task only on paper, but the students in this study could do their individual work and group work online through Google Docs and submitted them via Edmodo. From the right chart below, it can be seen that whenever the students submitted their work, the teacher could check the work, and gave feedback to her students online. Moreover, whatever each member of the group posted to the small group, the teacher and other members of the group could see it. In addition, with Google Docs, the students and the teacher could work together online at the same time on the same document. For example, according to the right chart below, while one student was working on describing his pie chart, another student was writing the conclusion of the report and the teacher was giving feedback to the students work. While other members of the group were writing, other students might work on other parts of the same task. For example, as shown in the left chart below, one student was submitting her audio files of the interview which was one part of the same task to the teacher.

6 Furthermore, the teacher could track the students work online in real time as shown in the diary extract and the chart below: In class, I changed my class to a writing workshop. I asked students to bring their computers to class and work in a group searching for the countries they liked and making a note in a note form. I checked their work and gave comment and suggestions for them group by group. For the groups that did not bring their computers to class, I asked them to work at a library, a computer centre, a self-access learning centre or their department. I could also track their work in real time through Google Docs and Edmodo. I was very happy that I could do so and my students were also happy that they did not miss their work. 21 st Jan., 2013 The data from Google Docs above shows that Google Docs could help the teacher track her students online by the symbols that automatically shown up when students were online. For example, the symbols on the top right corner of the chart show that there were 5 students online at the same time. Moreover, if anybody typed anything on this document, the teacher could see his movement according to the colour that represented each student. 3.2 Knowledge Construction For knowledge construction, all of the students in each group helped each other to construct the task together. From the diary extract below, it can be seen that one member of the team designed a note- recorded form and asked other members to fill their data they got from the interview into the form. Moreover, the teacher could encourage other classes to use this form, too. This shows that Google Docs and Edmodo can facilitate not only students but also the teacher to construct their knowledge collaboratively. I saw the head of one small group post the information via Edmodo to ask his team to fill the data they got from the interview into the note-recorded form he had designed onto Google Docs. As soon as I saw it, I had an idea to ask other teams to do so because the form could help students gather their data more easily. I was so glad that I could use my student s idea to encourage other students to learn from their friends. In other classes, I could open his work for others to see it easily. 18 th Mar., Pace and Speed of Teaching and Learning For the pace of learning and teaching, the diary extract below shows that all students could work on their own pace without interrupting other students in their class.

7 I changed my class to be a writing workshop again. Every team brought their data and worked via Edmodo and Google to fill their data into the note-recorded form. While my students were working, I was checking their work online. Some students were transferring their interview audio files from their mobile phones to submit me by uploading them onto Edmodo. There were some teams that had not finished their interview, so I asked them to interview their interviewees outside class and bring their data in class. I liked the writing workshop via Edmodo and Google Docs because it could help me manage my classes flexibly. My students also kept on working according to their steps without interrupting other students in their class. 25 th Jan The following diary extracts also show that Google Docs and Edmodo could help the teacher and the students work faster. I found out that Google Docs and Edmodo could help me work faster checking students work and giving feedback and suggestions. 18 th Mar., 2013 These two weeks were the study break at my university. However, there were no problems because my students could work online and I could track their work online, too. 19 th Mar., Chance for Learner Development For the last change, the researcher thinks that it is the most important thing because weak students could have a chance to develop themselves and work better in their physical class since they had a chance to study the lessons online in advance and review the lessons after class. On the other hand, good students could also do much better in the physical class, too if they studied the lessons online before coming to class and after class. The diary extract below shows the teacher s idea toward the chance for weak students. This week I taught note taking for a long talk in class. One of my students told me that before coming to class, he worked on the listening exercise on note taking from a long talk from the exercise and the audio file which I had posted via Edmodo. He said although he listened to it twice, he could fill in only half of the note exercise. I was so glad that my weak student studied the listening exercise before coming to class. 1 st April, Students Perceptions towards Edmodo and Google Docs The fourth finding is about the students opinion. The table below shows that the students liked using Google Docs, submitting their work to the teacher, and working with members of the small group online in real time via Google Docs and Edmodo very much. They also liked studying how to write and edit the work from the teacher s feedback online very much. However, for other activities, they revealed that they just liked them, especially using Edmodo as an online classroom community.

8 The finding on the students perceptions towards using Edmodo as an online class community may be further explained by the pie chart above. It shows that 44% of the students stated that they did not have any problems using Edmodo and Google Docs, while 39% of them indicated that they had a problem about Edmodo and 17% about Google Docs. For Edmodo, they stated that the only main problem was why the teacher did not use Facebook because they accessed it every day. For Google Docs, the only one problem the students mentioned was about sharing. They stated that if they did not set up, share, the teacher and their team could not work on the same document. The reasons for the above complaint might be because the teacher overestimated her students. Since her students were technology and engineering students, she believed that they should have studied how to use Edmodo and Google by themselves without any needs for an explanation or demonstration as shown in the diary extracts below: I gave my students their group codes, asked them to join the groups, and study the lessons, sound files, and exercises I posted via Edmodo without explaining how to do so because I thought that it was easy and should not have caused any problems. 7 th Jan., 2013 I asked my students to study how to use Google Docs from the Power Point presentation, which I posted via Edmodo, by themselves. 14 th Jan., 2013 Suggestions To conclude this study, some crucial suggestions should be stated as follows: 1. Teachers who would like to use Edmodo and Google Docs to change their traditional classrooms may have to think of a workshop introducing these two tools for students before starting using them. They may consider the necessity of individual classes because some classes may not need any demonstrations while other classes might require a simple workshop.

9 2. Teachers may also use other functions of Edmodo like a quiz, an assignment, and a progress which shows students marks from the quiz and the assignment because Facebook does not offer these functions. Accordingly, their students may have no doubts using Edmodo anymore. 3. Teachers might also encourage students to study the lessons they posted in the folder function more often in order to help them develop themselves better- both weak students and good students. 4. For a chat function and an active notification that indicates who is online in real time, Edmodo might develop them later if the designers get the requirement from teachers and students. References Arroyo, C.G. (2011) On-Line Social Networks: Innovative Ways towards the Boost of Collaborative Language Learning. online.net/ict4ll2011/ common/ download/paper_pdf/ CLL FP-Gonzalez-ICT4LL2011.pdf Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture (Vol.1) Oxford: Blackwell. Dalton, A. (2009) Teaching and learning through social networks. April 27, Jarc, J. (2010) Edmodo a free, web 2.0 classroom management tool. August 24, Lipsett, A., (2008) A third of teachers' struggle with technology' January 28, Millward, S. (2013) Thailand Now Has 18 Million Social Media Users (INFOGRAPHIC) May 13, 2013 Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf, October, 2001

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