Edmodo: Fresh Look, More Social

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Oh, it's just like watching a kid graduate from elementary school and saunter off to middle school. Today (Wednesday), Edmodo, the social networking site for teachers and students shows off a fresh look and beefed up functionality.

Two features top the bill: First Edmodo is now offering new ways for teachers to "discover" content relevant to what they are teaching. For instance, Edmodo materials are tagged with "topics" such as "genetics" or "mitosis." A biology teacher can consequently see what kinds of materials other teachers working on "mitosis" are also using.

Edmodo devoted its taxonomy of terms with help from its teacher community--but also widened its sweep to include topics from a broad array of areas such as current events or even novels. CEO Nick Borg says he expects Edmodo will release an API that will enable others to connect to its taxonomy over the coming months.

The second new feature Edmodo is serving up is called "Insights." These tools aim to give teachers a quick read on students' reactions to teachers' posts, assignments or quizzes. Teachers can also give comparable feedback on the materials students submit. "Insights lets teachers gauge the overall mood of class," Borg says: "And you can merge performance data with activity data--literally connect the dots." Were students confused by the material? Was it tough? And how did that trend correlate with how they did on subsequent quizzes?

The features sound promising. EdSurge's interface mavens still are hoping to see a cleaner look on the overall Edmodo interface. It's true teachers are busy--and that means all efforts to declutter their desktop are particularly welcome.

It's business model is also still a bit opaque. So far, Edmodo, which reaches close to 1 million teachers and 10 million users overall, continues to offer all its tools and resources to teachers for free. It charges companies that offer their products through its platform: Crystal Hutter, Edmodo's COO, says that more than 250 publishers are offering free or premium apps through the Edmodo platform. That seems to promise a lean living so we continue to watch for the evolution of other, premium-style offerings.

Edmodo executives are mum about any other revenue plans. "Our focus continues to be on building out the platform," Hutter declares.

That makes teachers happy--so much so, in fact, that second grader teacher, Angela Eller, at Dillard Street Elementary in Winter Garden, FL, recently told Edmodo that her husband wrote--and recorded--an Edmodo rap. (Check it out here.) As he says:

"...Be responsible, being mean is expensive
It could cost you friends and Edmodo permissions
And you don’t wanna miss out on secret missions
Teachers will assign, offline you can’t see them..."

Sweet.

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