At Edmodo, a K-12 social learning network with over 30 million teachers and students worldwide, we witnessed the power of teacher connections firsthand this past year.
Edmodo’s annual professional development event, EdmodoCon, saw a spike in attendance as we hosted 27,000 educators from 170 countries--up from 11,000 in 2012. Educators exchanged ideas, learned new ways to integrate effective teaching methods into their classrooms, and discussed how to enhance student achievement.
Additionally, 2013 saw over three million Edmodo teachers making new peer connections; 63% of those teachers joined groups with fellow educators on Edmodo—further evidence that teachers want to learn from one another and translate those learnings into classroom successes.
This past year, we also saw teachers collaborate by connecting with classrooms in other countries. First, second, and third graders at Meadowlark Elementary in North Carolina created videos and blog posts, and shared information with a class at Pt. England Primary School in Auckland, New Zealand. We also had a math teacher from Ithaca Senior High School conduct a geometry project with a class in India.
“Students seem to really enjoy these projects because they focus on global issues,” the teacher explained. “They are always surprised by how similar they are to students in other schools. It turns out that adolescence transcends national boundaries.”
As I look back over the past twelve months, there were great advances in education technology--namely, in the development of digital content, the proliferation of mobile devices in the classroom, and in how teachers connect with their peers to share innovative best practices and improve the student learning experience. These trends will drive how education (and the technology that supports it) evolves in 2014.
The role of mobile in the classroom is effectively changing the way students learn, as well as the way teachers manage their lesson plans, by taking learning beyond the classroom. This past August, we launched our native iPad app to expand Edmodo’s accessibility on commonly used devices—devices that make learning more social and dynamic—so that teachers and students can complete assignments or collaborate on projects anytime, anywhere. In fact, overall mobile use of Edmodo was up nearly 50% for students, and we also saw an increase in teacher usage. With the influx of mobile in classrooms around the world, students will be better prepared for the workforce of the future, where mobile technology is ubiquitous.
From my perspective, 2013 demonstrated that teachers are more connected than ever before. These connections give teachers the ability to build relationships and share content worldwide, including app recommendations, alternative approaches to lesson plans, links to videos, and more—all of which save them time and augment student comprehension of subject material. As the industry determines how to define success in education, it’s important to allow educators to lead the dialogue. Teachers are the ones shaping today’s youth, one student at a time, and much can be learned from the ways they collaborate. In 2014, we’ll see how much these connections positively influence student success.