Pre-Service EFL Teachers’ Perception of Edmodo Use as a Complementary Learning Tool

Pre-Service EFL Teachers’ Perception of Edmodo Use as a Complementary Learning Tool

Parlindungan Pardede

parlpard2010@gmail.com

Universitas Kristen Indonesia

Abstract

Various recent studies have shown that the use of Information and Communication Technology to provide online learning as a complementary tool for encouraging and empowering independent learning and innovative teaching is becoming an essential part of education in the 21st century. One of the widely used online learning sites employed to complement English classes is Edmodo. However, the number of studies focusing on the use of Edmodo as a complementary tool for learning in EFL teacher education classes is still limited. This study focuses on the perception of pre-service EFL teachers of Edmodo use as a complementary learning tool. Employed a mixed methods research designed, quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 54 students of the English Education Department of Universitas Kristen Indonesia Jakarta. The finding revealed that the majority of the participants they are ready to use Edmodo as a complementary learning tool in English classroom considered the use of Edmodo is a beneficial learning tool to supplement traditional face-to-face classroom settings, and had a positive view on their experiences in using Edmodo.

Key Words: Edmodo; online learning, face-to-face interaction, EFL

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INTRODUCTION

The exponential growth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) during the past three decades has been revolutionizing education. Innovations in ICT provide an expanding range of possible solutions for improving teaching and learning inputs, processes, and outcomes (Pardede, 2012). ICT now offers plentiful devices for developing and conveying audio-visual products, multimedia presentations, visual materials and end-user software which could be easily applied to create new learning and teaching practices. Those tools have offered an authentic learning environment making classes more motivating, pleasant and appealing to students and promotes learner interaction by engaging them in a wide variety of communicative tasks (Elliot, 2009). They also offer a variety of tools to educators who are looking to extend learning beyond the classroom (Haygood, Garner, & Johnson, 2012). As a result, more and more ICT tools have been incorporated into the classrooms to create a varied learning environment to enhance teaching and learning process and to address students’ individual differences.

One of the most widely used online learning sites employed to complement English classes is Edmodo, a free and secure learning platform that is structured as a social network. Edmodo looks similar to Facebook but is much more private and safe for a learning environment because it allows only teachers to create and manage accounts, and only their students, who receive a group code and register in the group, can access and join the group (Majid, 2011). Edmodo provides teachers the opportunity to communicate with their students via private and public messages, send alerts and announcements, award badges, post assignments, discussions, polls, and quizzes, assign grades, share resources, layout course calendar and create small groups for projects. Via Edmodo, students can connect easily to their teachers, send questions, upload files and links to their backpack (e-library), submit assignments, take quizzes, collaborate, share, discuss, and participate in polls. Edmodo use depends heavily on the teachers and on the features they utilize in their teaching process.

Various studies have been conducted on various aspects of Edmodo use in education. Enriquez (2014) focused on the introduction and usage of Edmodo in education; Balasubramanian, Jaykumar & Fukey (2014) dealt with student’s preference and determination in the use of Edmodo; Batsila, Tsihouridis, Vavougios (2014) focused on teacher opinions; and Looi & Yusop (2011) investigated the benefits of using Edmodo to the teaching and learning of reading.

Although Edmodo has been investigated in a variety of fields, studies focusing on students’ perception of its usage and effectiveness in EFL teacher education is very rare. This study was carried out as an effort to fill in the gap. The results of this study would hopefully give language teachers or educators insight on learners’ attitudes toward a technology-embedded instruction and valuable information to advance new practices and methodologies containing social networking tools for making a difference for learning in today’s pre-service EFL teacher education.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Social Networking Use in Education

The dramatic development of ICT over the last three decades has been providing new opportunities and avenues for students to interact with their teachers virtually using computer-mediated communication technologies (Li & Pitts, 2009). Social networking sites offer an increased choice for people to choose to contact with anyone in their daily life and provide great potentials to enhance teaching and learning. Although many educators question the use of social networking in educational field due to their fear that such applications compromise and disrupt young people’s engagement with traditional education provision, the use of these online tools has been exponentially growing, particularly in college campuses (Schroeder & Greenbowe, 2009). According to Ferriman (2013) a survey conducted in 2013 revealed that comparing 2012 to 2013 the use of social media among students and educators increased 21.3%. It was also found that faculty are becoming more interested in the ability of social media to facilitate engagement with course material and to encourage the learning process, and the most used social media include blogs and wikis, podcasts, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Various studies focusing on these social media use, particularly in EFL fields, indicated that they could be effectively used to foster collaboration and develop learning outcome. Sun (2009) and Lee (2010) reported that integrating blogs to the classroom to develop writing skills foster a sense of collaboration and community develop a sense of voice and nurture critical and analytical skills. Pardede’s (2011) study on student teachers’ interest and perception on the use blogs as an additional component in writing skills development revealed that a majority of the respondents basically viewed the use of blogs to develop writing interesting and effective. Usluel, Mazman and Arikan’s (2009) study on the use of wikis, blogs, and podcasts in language learning, showed that pre-service language teachers need training in using the internet applications for language learning/teaching purposes. The study of Manan et al. (2012) conducted with 535 adolescents of different EFL classrooms in Malaysia, they found out that Facebook was a powerful pedagogical tool that helped students to improve their English language skills.

Edmodo

Edmodo is now one of the most widely used social networking site for educational purposes. Since its inception in 2008, Edmodo, an online learning site which looks like Facebook but was designed to protect the privacy and security of students and teachers by providing a closed, private platform in which they can collaborate, share content, and leverage educational apps to augment in-classroom learning (Business Wire, 2014), has been used by millions of users worldwide, including teachers, students, and parents. In 2011, it had more than 35 million registered users (Tate, 2014). It provides a simple way for teachers and students in a virtual class to connect and collaborate. It also organizes an online global educator conference known as EdmodoCon that attracts more than thirty thousand virtual attendees annually (Business Wire, 2014). Due to its popularity and effectiveness, Edmodo was elected among the best complementary tool for learning on internet by 500 professionals from 48 countries (Enriquez, 2014), recognized by the American Association of School Librarians in 2011 as one of the top 25 websites that fosters the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation and collaboration (Habley, 2011).

The creators of Edmodo, Borg and O’Hara, believed that social networking geared towards the needs of students like Edmodo could have a profound impact on how students collaborate and learn in their world, rather than the school setting their teachers grew up in (Bruce K.G. 2013). Teachers have noted that Edmodo even strengthened the relationships between students, and led to a stronger classroom community (Mills, 2011). Students can also share content, submit homework, assignments, and quizzes, receive their teacher’s feedback, notes, and alerts as well as voting on polls (Jarc, 2010). Hence Edmodo can be seen as a Learning Management System (LMS) which can facilitate teachers to set up and manage their online classes easily (Witherspoon, 2011).

Several recent studies have confirmed various advantages of employing Edmodo in learning. Kongchan’s (2012) study on the teacher’s and students’ perception towards using Edmodo in EFL classroom showed that Edmodo is a user-friendly social learning platform which is so simple that even a non-digital native teacher can make use of the site to set up and run online classes without a need for support from a computer technician. Enriquez’s (2014) study focusing on the students’ perceptions of the use of Edmodo as an accompanying tool for learning a social science course revealed that Edmodo is a good tool for learning because it allows students to advance their learning through active participation in online discussions and tasks. Pop’s (2013) study on the use of Edmodo assignment feature as an ePorfolio of EFL student productions and progress showed high levels of students’ satisfaction of working with Edmodo because it facilitates the students to share ideas with friends, to keep pace with class progress, and to choose tools offered to revise their productions for increasing their learning and grades.

Considering the discussion above, it is clear that integrating Edmodo as a supporting tool into face-to-face interaction is beneficial as it offers several pedagogical benefits and could be used by present-day students quite easily. However, although Edmodo is widely known, it is not broadly used at educational institutions to efficiently support teaching, particularly in the pre-service EFL teachers’ classroom. Hence, it is interesting to know pre-service EFL teachers’ readiness to use Edmodo as a complementary learning tool in their classes and what advantages and disadvantages are provided by Edmodo viewed from the students’ perspective. The problem addressed in this study is the perception of pre-service EFL teachers toward the use of Edmodo as a complementary learning tool. To be more specific, this study tried to seek the answers to the following   questions:

1.  Are the pre-service EFL teachers ready to use Edmodo as a complementary learning tool in their English classroom?

2.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Edmodo as complementary tool for learning?

3.  What is the pre-service EFL teachers’ view on experiences in using Edmodo as a complementary learning tool in their English classroom?

METHOD

This study employed the explanatory sequential mixed methods design (Creswell & Clark, 2011). To answer the research questions, quantitative and qualitative data were collected in two phases. The quantitative data was collected in the first phase, and the qualitative data was obtained in the second phase.  The population of the study was the whole students of the English Education Program of Universitas Kristen Indonesia Jakarta who were active at the time this study was conducted. The sample was the 54 students attending Research Methodology and Cross-Cultural Understanding classes in the even semester of the 2014/2015 academic year. The class of Research Methodology was attended by 28 students and Cross-Cultural Understanding, 26 students. Those classes were basically taught using face-to-face approach. However, in order to address the students’ individual differences and to enhance their engagement as well, Edmodo was employed as an additional tool. In addition to the weekly face to-to-face interactions, teaching and learning process was also held in Edmodo. The handout, power point slides, videos, quiz and exercise or case study related to the topic being studied were uploaded to Edmodo, and each student should access and process them according to their respective rules and due dates. Edmodo was also employed as the media for asynchronous online discussion and the place to which students should submit every assignment.

To obtain the quantitative data in this study, a closed-ended survey questionnaire consisting of 26 statements was made by adapting the questionnaire developed by Enriquez (2014). Some modifications were made in order to address the research questions. The questionnaire was a 5-point Likert scale survey questionnaire consisting of four dimensions: (1) perceptions about students’ readiness to use Edmodo, (2) perceptions about the advantages of using Edmodo, (3) perceptions about disadvantages of using Edmodo, and (4) views on students’ experiences in using Edmodo in the courses.  To gauge the data, the participants were asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement to each statement on a 5-point Likert scale that ranged from strongly disagree, score 1, to strongly agree, score 5. To examine the questionnaire’s reliability, it was tested using the Cronbach’s Alpha Test. The result showed that the overall Cronbach Alpha Coefficient of the questionnaire is (r=0.81) indicating the instrument is reliable.

The questionnaire, which was created in the form of Google Docs and should be returned by the students through Edmodo, was administered in the first phase to collect the quantitative data at the end of the semester (January 2015). To get more insights for clarifying and elaborating the obtained quantitative data, qualitative data was obtained through a semi structured open-ended interview. It involved nine participants randomly selected from the sample. The interview was carried out two weeks after the first phase. The quantitative data was analyzed using the descriptive statistical operation in terms of percentages and means.

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

The findings and their discussions are presented into four subsections following the central themes appeared from closed and open-ended questionnaires. The central themes are pre-service EFL teachers’ perceptions about readiness to use Edmodo as a complementary learning tool, pre-service EFL teachers’ perceptions about the advantages of using Edmodo as complementary tool for learning, pre-service EFL teachers’ perceptions about the disadvantages of using Edmodo as complementary tool for learning, and pre-service EFL teachers’ perceptions about experiences in using Edmodo as a complementary learning tool in their classroom.

Perceptions about Readiness to Use Edmodo

Regarding to the first research question, the findings from the questionnaire related to the participants’ perception of their readiness to use Edmodo as a complementary learning tool in their class are presented in Table 1.

As shown by Table 1, most of the respondents were ready to use Edmodo as a learning tool. In general, more 75% of them “agreed” and “strongly agreed” to the statements revealing that doing the learning activities in Edmodo is easy. Overall, the mean scores of their responses to the statements are high (4.0 or more). This indicated that most of the participants were familiar with the features of Edmodo and were able to operate them. The qualitative data obtained via the focused semi structured open-ended interview provided further clarification on this finding. All of the nine interviewees stated that they had no problem to operate Edmodo because, in addition to the fact that Edmodo was one of the topics they learnt and practiced in the ICT class they had attended, Edmodo is very easy to operate.

However, when they were asked why their readiness to participate in doing group projects through Edmodo was a bit lower (as indicated by the mean score of 3.86) than to do the other activities, three of the interviewees replied that it did not concern with a technical matter but with “substantial problem” related to the project, as indicated in the following excerpts.

“For me, how to take part in the group projects in Edmodo is not a problem. The problem is what I should contribute to the projects.” (Interviewee C)

“I have no problem in the way to participate in team projects through Edmodo. What great ideas to contribute, that is the question! (Interviewee F)

“Using Edmodo is as easy as using Facebook. Engaging in the projects through Edmodo is easy. However, I am often worried if my ideas are not good enough.  (Interviewee H)

Based on the findings above, it was clear that the participants’ were ready and confident to use Edmodo as a complementary learning tool in their class. For them, Edmodo is a user-friendly learning tool so that, seeing they have no problem to use it seeing from the technical aspects. This must be closely linked to the fact that they were parts of the millennials who are generally very familiar with ICT. This confirmed Akande’s (2008) description of the millennials (those who were born after 1980) who are internet savvy, phone-addicted, and digitally conscious, which is supported by Oblinger & Oblinger (2005) who claimed the millennials are dependent on communication technologies for accessing information and for interacting with others. This finding confirmed the result of Kongchan’s (2012) study which showed that Edmodo is a user-friendly social learning platform which is so simple that students could use it without a need for support from a computer technician.

Perceptions about the Advantages of Using Edmodo

Regarding the second research question, the findings from the questionnaire concerning the participants’ perception of the advantages of using Edmodo indicated their positive views on the social networking educational site. For the majority of the participants, the aspect of flexibility was the advantage the appreciated most. As shown by Table 2, seeing from the mean scores, the opportunity to learn anywhere and anytime, the possibility to submit from anywhere, and the accessibility of references, respectively, are the first three advantages they liked most in Edmodo. The next advantages they appreciated were the online quizzes and the possibility to share ideas which improved their mastery of the subject. Al of these made the more than three-fourths of them “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that activities in Edmodo enhanced learning helped them to prepare for the face-to-face classroom activities. Therefore, more than 77% of them “agreed” and “strongly agreed” (see Table 2).

The qualitative data obtained via the focused semi structured open-ended interview clarified this finding, as indicated in the following excerpts.

“Edmodo makes learning more effective. Just by using my mobile phone, I can study the handouts and other materials anytime and anywhere. I can also submit my assignment just by clicking and sending through the website.” (Interviewee A)

“By using Edmodo, I can study anytime and anywhere. What I need to do is just accessed the files online and learn it. Isn’t it cool?” (Interviewee B)

“In my experience, the comments or feedback posted by my classmates often helped me to prepare myself in the face-to-face sessions. The quizzes are very easy to take, and they help me evaluate my understanding of the topic I’m learning.”   (Interviewee G)

This finding, that the participants perceived Edmodo as an advantageous learning tool because it provides it provides many advantages that face-to-face learning approach cannot offer, such as the opportunity to learn anywhere and anytime, to submit assignment from anywhere, and to access references, to do online quizzes, and to share ideas from anywhere and anytime, and all of these improved learning is in line with Enriquez’s (2014) finding showing that Edmodo is a good tool for learning because it allows students to advance their learning through active participation in online discussions and tasks.

Perceptions about the Disadvantages of using Edmodo

The obtained data concerning the disadvantages of using Edmodo as a complementary learning tool revealed that poor internet connection and the possibility to access and copy other students’ answers were the most possible factors. Although some of them responded “agree” and “strongly agree” to the statement that the activities in Edmodo are time-consuming, the percentage is very low, i.e. 35.2%. The majority of the participants also “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” to the statements that Edmodo procedure is difficult to follow and that it does not support learning (see Table 3).

The qualitative data obtained from the interview clarified this finding, as indicated in the following excerpts.

“Of course it’s annoying when you were doing certain activities in Edmodo and the internet slowed down or your quota ran out. However, such annoyance should not be blamed to Edmodo. It’s another factor of learning you should manage” (Interviewee B)

I don’t think doing learning activities in Edmodo is time-consuming. Doing a quiz requires only up to 20 minutes. You can do it faster if you really have mastered the topic very well. Submitting an assignment could be accomplished in seconds. Participating in the discussion could be done asynchronously. No reason to say they are time-consuming. (Interviewee I)

“Copying other students’ ideas are very easy in Edmodo. If students are not honest, they may be tempted to break ethical issues of cheating. In this case, the lecturer should find an effective way to prevent it. ” (Interviewee D)

Dealing with activities in Edmodo is time consuming? Well, it depends on how we see it. It requires time, indeed. To learn well, we should invest our time in it. Although Edmodo is supplementary, I’m ready to devote 30 minutes up to one-hour learning in it, because its use really enhances my learning. (Interviewee E)   

Students’ Views on their Experiences Using Edmodo

The obtained data revealed that based on their experiences in using Edmodo, the possibility to access and study the learning materials was regarded as the most positive aspect for the participants (M= 4.13). The second most positive aspect was the availability of the quizzes and the benefits obtained from them. What came next was interaction with classmates and lecturer, followed by the increasing engagement in the subject (see Table 4). 

This finding, that almost a half of the participants (46.3%) preferred to ask questions using face-to-face interaction rather than through Edmodo (item 4) and did not actively participate in discussion in Edmodo (item 12), seemed to be inconsistent with their positive response (M= 4.17) to the statement “Being able to share and access other students’ comments or feedback help me improve my learning” (see item 10, table 2). If they believed sharing ideas through Edmodo improved their learning, why did many of them did not actively participate in the discussion in it but preferred to ask a question in face to face interaction? The

The qualitative data obtained via the interview shed a light to this discrepancy. The participants’ tendency to discuss in face-to-face class rather than in Edmodo was due to language anxiety, psychological aspect, and cultural factor.

I prefer to participate in the face-to-face class because if I put my comments on the wall of Edmodo, It will be there forever, and everybody can see them. Since my writing is not good, I’m worried my classmates will laugh at me. (Interviewee F)

 “What we write in Edmodo’s wall remains there for a long time. Nobody can prevent some of the class members see it frequently. Since my writing skills are not good, I’m scared if my bad expressions are frequently seen. Won’t it be shameful? (Interviewee I)

I’m willing to post my ideas in the discussion wall of Edmodo when I’m quite sure the ideas are good. But when I’m not sure, I decide not to share them. I’m afraid, if my ideas are wrong, my friends will mock me. (Interviewee C)

Frankly speaking, I tried to limit writing comments in Edmodo because I’m worried my comments will contradict my friends’ ideas, and it can hurt their feelings (Interviewee C)

The response of Interviewee F and I above indicated how language anxiety, i.e. inadequate writing skills, had caused the participants’ tend to discuss in face-to-face class rather than in Edmodo. Their feeling of writing incompetence made them “silence” in the online discussion in Edmodo. The response of Interviewee C represented the case of how a psychological aspect prevented the participants to be active in the online discussion in Edmodo. His fear of looking stupid prevented him to be active in the discussion. The cultural aspects causing the participants’ tendency not to actively discuss in the online mode in Edmodo was indicated by Interviewee C’s response. In order to save classmates’ face, she decided not to put her ideas often in the wall of Edmodo.

CONCLUSION AND SUGESSTION

Based on the findings and discussion above, it can be concluded that for the participants in this study, Edmodo is an effective tool for learning site because: (1) it is a user-friendly learning tool so that students have no technical problem to use it; (2) it provides many advantages that face-to-face learning approach cannot offer, such as the opportunity to learn anywhere and anytime, to submit assignment from anywhere, and to access references, to do online quizzes, and to share ideas from anywhere and anytime, and all of these improved learning. Despite that, the participants also perceived two disadvantages: (1) poor internet connection; and (2) the possibility to access and copy other students’ answers were the most possible factors.

Referring to the finding that language anxiety, psychological aspect, and cultural factor could hinder the students from using Edmodo optimally as a learning platform to supplement the face-to-face classes, future studies are recommended to include a focus on participants with various background, including these three aspects. Additionally, studies concerning the most appropriate learning styles that work best with Edmodo and other social networking educational sites are also recommended.

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Note: This article was presented UKI English Education Department Collegiate Forum held on Friday, June 12, 2015

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