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Social Media

A Back Channel for Learning

Edmodo, the secure social networking tool designed for education, is the official social media application of FETC 2012. T.H.E. Journal talked with Betsy Whalen, Edmodo's vice president of community engagement, to find out how attendees can get the most out of using Edmodo for their conference-going experience.on the most important elements of any sustainability effort.

Edmodo, the secure social networking tool designed for education, is the official social media application of FETC 2012. T.H.E. Journal talked with Betsy Whalen, Edmodo's vice president of community engagement, to find out how attendees can get the most out of using Edmodo for their conference-going experience.

T.H.E. Journal: Why did Edmodo decide to work with FETC?

Betsy Whalen: We really wanted to provide teachers with opportunities to come together to extend the learning of the conference. It's so easy for teachers to use Edmodo as a professional development tool with each other and to build their professional learning network while at the conference.

 T.H.E.: So give us three ways conference-goers can use Edmodo to enhance and extend their professional learning.

Whalen: The first way is to join the Edmodo FETC community at edmodo.com/fetc and use it before, during, and after the conference. There you can get conference updates, understand key events that are going on, and hear, in general, from other attendees about their experiences.

A second, and more personalized, way is to join the individual group for each session that you attend--there are 200 concurrent sessions at the conference. [Session numbers are listed in the program.] The reason for joining a group is so that you can back channel. Essentially what that means is that, as you are sitting in a presentation, you are able to comment on the things that the presenter is talking about, and hear ideas from other people sitting in the session, like, "Hey, I thought that was a great point. Here's a website that's relevant to what the speaker is talking about." It's that offline conversation that's happening during the presentation. It really becomes an interactive community. It's also a place for you to download the presentation materials and get links and other materials referenced during the presentation.

T.H.E.: What happens after the session is over?

Whalen: A lot of times when you go to professional development sessions you don't think of your questions when you're there. It's two days later and you're trying to apply what you learned to your classroom and you think, "Wait a minute. That tech shootout had some really great ideas, but I can't remember them." Well now, by having joined each individual group you attended, you can go back and ask questions of your fellow attendees and the presenters themselves. I recommend to presenters that they go back into their session for the next week afterwards and check their groups periodically.

T.H.E.: What's the third way to use Edmodo at FETC?

Whalen: At the end of each session we also want people to complete the evaluation for their particular session at edmodo.com/fetcevals. There's a drop-down menu where people can find the session they attended and complete the survey. Attendees will see QR codes and signs with URLs to the surveys all over the conference center. Obviously, the conference is only as good as the feedback attendees provide.

T.H.E.: Anything else?

Whalen: Download the Edmodo mobile app. We have a free app for Android and iPhone available from their marketplaces. You can join groups from there. You can get updates on the FETC community sent directly to your phone. If you don't have a smartphone, any phone that has a browser can access the site from edmodo.com/m.

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