Connecting teachers, students on a new level

Laguna Beach Unified School District is pushing forward a social media platform that connects teachers with students outside of the classroom.

Victor Guthrie, district director of Educational Technology and Information Services, said the program — Edmodo — is essentially Facebook for the education world.

"It reaches [students] the way they reach out to their peers," he said of the program. "Everyone is connecting on some sort of digital media and, historically, education is slow to adopt it."

LBUSD wants to change that.

Edmodo, a nonprofit, has been used by a small group of district teachers over the past two years and is now used by 32 teachers and 842 students in the district.

Carl Nelson, a Thurston Middle School social studies teacher, first starting using Edmodo in 2010, according to a news release. He's used the program as a teaching tool by posting videos, pictures, audio and messages to students on the website. Nelson's sister works for Edmodo.

Thurston math teacher Stacy Quirarte said her students enjoy using Edmodo to work together on difficult math problems and share their distinct learning perspectives.

Teachers have the opportunity to send messages to their students — individually, in groups or as a class — as well as post assignments and additional materials.

Students can have discussions about anything they're working on and not only get feedback from peers, but from teachers who are constantly tuned in and reading what their students are chatting about.

Eventually, Guthrie said, parents can take on an "observer status" in Edmodo and will be able to check out what is going on their child's classes. It will give parents who can't always pull up a chair in the back of the classroom a chance to connect to their child's education.

All teachers have access to Edmodo but not all are using it at this time, Guthrie said.

Twitter: @joannaclay

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