Saturday, November 28, 2015

LOA Diaries - Edmodoing Again

I am back on the train and that six a.m. alarm seemed incredibly early. +Edmodo invited me to come back and work on a new project so literally and figuratively I am back on board! My job this time around is to help increase awareness and use of an open education resource hub which is part of the Edmodo product suite. Spotlight is free, though teachers can sell resources if they choose.

Ever since my first year of teaching, I have seen the need for teachers to have a way to share resources. At each of the three grade levels I taught, I started a wiki where my district colleagues and I would, I envisioned, share resources such as lesson plans, unit plans, projects and the like.  I was shocked when one teacher I worked with said she didn't want to share anything because, 'what if I shared and no one else did, then I wouldn't get anything!' This, coming from an adult! It was an uphill road, one I never fully conquered within my districts. But many of the teachers I've worked with did see the value and contributed to our collections.

But then an interesting thing happened on the way to the classroom, teachers discovered the Internet. I began to connect with like minded teachers across the country who wanted to share ideas, questions and resources! Eureka!

Fast forward a few years to what was one of my worst years teaching. Edmodo unveiled Spotlight and I couldn't be bothered. It's not that I didn't want to share, I just didn't think anything I had to contribute was worthy of sharing. And honestly, I could not bear to add one more thing to my plate.

A year later, I found myself consulting with Edmodo and was asked to meet with a user experience specialist, +Kul Wadhwa,  to talk about why I, a long time user of Edmodo and an Edmodo Ambassador for goodness sake, didn't use Spotlight. This is how disconnected from the product I was, I wore my Snapshot (a different Edmodo product) shirt to the meeting! I didn't even know what we were meeting about!  I was brutally honest with my feedback. Kul was unflappable, took it all in and asked me to give it a try so I could give him user feedback.

Some of my barriers to entry were it looked confusing, I didn't have time or energy to try something new and I didn't think I had anything to offer. Kul started me off with simple searching using filters. Aha! I hadn't noticed the filter ability before and it made searching for resources oh so much easier. As I was looking at resources, I realized that hey, maybe someone might be interested in our Twitter Tuesday routine, or our Regions of the US project, or, or, or.... I started seeing how I could make that wiki dream part of reality, on a global scale!

So I agreed to upload one 'product'. I started simple with a presentation I'd given at a tech conference, Writing for the Real World. That was easy! So then I got brave and created a few more, using projects I'd done for years in my classrooms.  I started asking my Edmodo communities for feedback and their comments and suggestions were invigorating. The more feedback I got, the more I wanted to share.  

Later, when Edmodo wanted some help igniting its Spotlight Luminary (super user) program, I was invited to step in. There is an irony in that I was slow to adopt, and still haven't earned my Luminary badge, but like a reformed smoker, I've found I am quite the evangelist.  And I am not alone. We just launched an incentive program and many of the Luminaries are creating their own challenges. Ms. Osborne has challenged herself to review one product from every person who has submitted content! Ms. Collins challenged herself and others to upload one holiday themed product for the next four weeks! They are making my job easy!

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