BOLIVIA, N.C. -- A North Carolina school district is gaining national attention for its use of social media. In October of last year, Brunswick County Schools launched Edmodo, which is a free and secure social learning network that's quickly gaining popularity with teachers, students and parents.
For Brunswick County students, social media is part of their classroom community. Edmodo resembles the popular social media site Facebook.
"It's pretty much just like it so you just hit the ground running," said student Alex Tate.
The students create their own profile and if their teacher uses the platform, they can find assignments, participate in discussions and check their class calendar.
"I use the discussion forum a lot because if I have a question or someone else has a question and I know the answer to it, I can just post it right there," said student Samantha Skipper.
While the world of social media is unfamiliar to some teachers, they said this tool is easy to use and effective.
"I think it actually helps our student relationship," said Kimberly Adams. "There is a certain dialogue that can occur online that you don't get sometimes in a classroom."
And just like other social networking sites, Edmodo can be accessed via a cell phone and teachers and students can get text message alerts.
"I get alerted when assignments are turned in or students post on the wall any kind of questions," said teacher Al Zay.
Though Edmodo can be accessed off school grounds, teachers said it's secure.
"They can monitor the system and they're aware of everything that's going on," said Adams.
School officials said this year nearly half of the teachers in the district use the tool, prompting a quarter of the student population to sign on. School officials said their usage growth gained them national attention.
"The more we can get them into a subject and do it through technology, I think we can maintain an interest for them," said Adams.
Brunswick County was one of two school districts in the nation selected to present best practices for Edmodo in a webinar hosted Wednesday afternoon.