Selling edmodo


Show summaries to give to your boss
The moodle argument

As a former marketer, I use the word "selling" unashamedly : we do sometimes need to do a sales pitch to our colleagues and supervisors. This page for links to resources and ideas specifically aimed at encouraging others to come onboard! See the Parent page for discussion about communicating to parents.

Short summaries to give to your boss

Your boss is busy - manage up by giving them a brief version of the story!
Deb Hogg and friends prepared this for their team: http://bit.ly/mJ1sz4

Nordin Zuber used this document (based on material from many sources) for his school executive Exec Summary Edmodo

The moodle argument


In favour of edmodo
In favour of moodle

Some opening remarks:

  • The edmodo-vs-moodle debate has a tendency to descend into partisan-style and sometimes emotional debate. We need to resist the temptation to be drawn into this.
  • I think we need to always respect our moodle-evangelist friends and recognise they have led a long hard struggle over many years getting moodle into schools. It is easy to see how edmodo may appear to them as a light-and-fluffy social networking application taking the limelight.
  • Be clear (and honest) about the limitations edmodo : it is not an online course management system. You will not be able (easily) to implement a highly structured e-learning platform in edmodo - that's what moodle is for.

Arguing FOR edmodo

  • We need to recognise moodle and edmodo are very different applications. I liken it to the difference between a power station and a fireplace: which one do you need to heat up your (currently freezing cold) classroom? One is very powerful, but also requires major infrastucture (cost, training, planning, ongoing development) to run. The other has much lesser aims, but is blindingly obvious how to use and easy to start immediately.
  • As a former sysadmin at a large tech company, I suggest having two systems at your school is unwise - too hard to manage and just too many mixed messages. If your school already has moodle, use it. However, if your school is using moodle but you have the situation where 90% of your staff don't use it, then you have a challenge and need to consider why this is the situation. Do you need to do more work on the moodle implementation or in school training, or does your context need a simpler solution?
  • Evaluate where your school is at on the ICT scale in terms of infrastructure, support, teacher and student skills. If it's early days (and frankly it is at most schools), and you don't currently have moodle up and running at your school, then if your goal is to get the most utility for the most teachers in a reasonable time at a reasonable cost, edmodo is the answer. Unless you are prepared to make a major commitment to moodle and have strong moodle advocates at school with the technical skill and time to make it happen, try edmodo first. A school can start using edmodo in the classroom after a few hours (if that) of teacher professional development - or a few spare periods of time to play with it.
  • Some say: "But if you go edmodo first, teachers will never move to moodle later... so we better take that big hit now". It's a valid point - but I suspect that many teachers would use so few moodle features that edmodo will meet most of their needs. Furthermore, given the low entry barrier, they are much more likely to actually use edmodo. Teachers who wish to build their material into an online learning package will find emdodo lacking in key features, but I suggest they represent 1% of teachers. (Although I would concede that many more would use and/or modify existing packages)
  • To summarise : If your school doesn't already have an effective moodle system in place, edmodo is most definitely worth trying out first. edmodo is so easy to set up, so easy to use and has more than enough features of immediate use to teachers and students you just have to try it. Try it with a class for a few weeks - you have nothing to lose.

Disclaimer: As a moodle end user at university for two years (2009/2010), I saw first hand how a poorly implemented moodle system results in a system which doesn't achieve anything more than edmodo, as well as being rather sad looking. Most students at my faculty only used the moodle when they were forced to - and most lecturers did not have appear to have the time or the skills to use moodle as a true CMS/LMS. On the technical side, I am concerned that moodle2 remains written in the PHP scripting language (see commentary on PHP at http://tnx.nl/php.html and here ) and the upgrade from moodle1 appears to be a serious effort. In contrast, I've seen how easy edmodo is to use and how students take to it like ducks to water. If I saw a well functioning moodle system, embraced by a school community (and they are out there - just not near me) I might well decide the cost-benefit is more balanced.

Nordin Zuber, May 2011.

Arguing FOR moodle


Here are some things you could do with moodle that you cannot currently do with edmodo:
  • Direct support for multi-question online quizzes (Is there a service which could be embedded into edmodo?)
  • Student grade book monitoring
  • Attendance system

Moodle evangelists : add your thoughts here. Speaking of Moodle Evangelists - one of the best at the NSW DEC, teacher Paul Ganderton responds:

If I have no resources/knowledge/time I'm for Edmodo. However, if you have a better set up, then a well designed Moodle will win.

The argument put above, that a specific Moodle was poorly designed, is not an issue of Moodle but an issue of design by people poorly trained/skilled/motivated in design or e-learning principles! Moodle can be a very boring and clunky interface. There are also masses of blogs out there with no merit either in terms of design or writing. Moral - think about what you are doing first!!

Leaving aside those features currently not supported in Edmodo, I'd suggest the advantages of Moodle are looked at in a different perspective:

  • Generally, Moodle is hosted on your own server which means any changes in design or operation can be carefully evaluated before being put in to place. There is much more security of operation - no work resides in the "cloud" on someone's server
  • Support for Moodle users is first rate. There's contextual help (although, in fairness, it could be better in places), a massive and active forum base where the most complex of questions are answered quickly and clearly, often by those who designed the system;
  • Moodle can be customised to suit any environment and is scalable from a few courses/students to hundreds of thousands. This means that the basic engine will not fail. New components can be added in safety (although I hope anyone would try a test Moodle first!). You can integrate Moodle into your school system e.g. school logo, colours etc.;
  • Moodle supports learning not a specific way of working. Some argue that Edmodo is easy for students because it looks like Facebook. Moodle can be customised like that (it's called social format) very easily. This supposes that social media is the only way to communicate/learn. You can always have Moodle and a social network platform to teach students about diversity in software applications. Given the lifespan of some software (who uses Netscape now?) teaching students the use of a generic computing platform rather than a specific product may well have learning advantages;
  • Moodle, being the front end of a database and not and .exe file can be linked to a host of other features such as library requests, parents evening forms, staff contact forms, payments for school plays, excursions etc.
  • Moodle allows e-learning plans to be put in place according to the context of your situation not the context of someone else's software choices. Often, people just assume Moodle will work and throw a few items on their course. This will fail! However, backed by a carefully thought-out e-learning strategy, Moodle will enable you to achieve your needs more effectively;
  • In addition to the standard Moodle package, there are hundreds of specific modules and plugins you can add. This means it would be quite rare to find something standard that isn't catered for. Being open source, you can also write your own!

To which Nordin Zuber responds:

Main thoughts:
  • I agree 100% with "Often, people just assume Moodle will work and throw a few items on their course. This will fail!". In my experience (and it is limited), organisations and people who want an e-learning system are just not prepared to make the long term cost and technical commitment required - which makes Moodle less likely to succeed for sites not currently experienced in using online systems.
  • The core strength of Moodle is the ability to design an actual e-learning plan - something that edmodo does not do (a teacher could use edmodo to try to implement one, but it would not be automated to any significant degree) - that's because edmodo is really just a safe communication tool for classes - it's not an e-learning system.
  • So I guess "edmodo-vs-moodle" is the wrong tagline - the real question - which unfortunately most people don't begin to understand when this debate arises is : "Do you want an e-learning platform (which will require you to think about re-structuring your course for e-learning), or is extending your classroom conversation online, with some resource sharing enough?"
  • So it's not really a case of which is better, but rather, "What does your school need, and what is it ready to work with this year?

Minor quibbles:
  • I don't buy the "safer, better if you host it yourself" argument. A DIY approach means the local organisation requires much more, and more expensive technical support and infrastructure. I eventually (reluctantly) bought the outsourcing IT argument in my past life - unless it's your core business and you need a non-standard solution, don't do it! Fortunately there are moodle outsourcing organisations. There is nothing wrong with the cloud, so long as you can import and export your data and configurations onto secure backup services you control.
  • Agree the cosmetic Look-and-Feel is a minor point - and can be addressed. But is it actually addressed in most implementations?
  • Customising a million+ line PHP system sounds like something to be considered very carefully - unless such modifications were put back in the main community versions, the long term maintenance cost could be very high - especially once the guru who made the changes has moved schools. Danger Will Robinson, Danger!