I will admit, I am a long time LMS (Learning Management Software) user and spent some of my
out-of-the-classroom time training for a LMS creator who no longer sells under that name. However, it wasn’t until about 4 years ago, I discovered a game changer, Schoology! When the exploration began, my teaching team and I worked with a few freebies and found two that met our needs. We loved both Schoology and Edmodo. In fact, I wouldn’t knock Edmodo. I think their product is great, too. However, Schoology wins my vote hands down. If you are interested, Jennie Magiera, wrote a blog post in 2013 that really analyzes the differences.
Below are my reasons for loving Schoology! I will let Jennie’s blog do the measurement and comparison for those that are interested. However, you will notice similarities in both of our lists.
1. Ease of use/Training Students
We all know that when getting students to learn something, they will try to exploit the holes to find the area they can blame for not getting work done. The time in training is very minimal. Schoology has made it very simple. It’s designed inline with the user interface of Facebook. Class pages are almost like fan pages. Thus, students are mostly familiar with the layout and interface. As long as you keep an organized page, they will be able to find things easily without excuses.
Doubly, this serves the parents, too. Most of them are Facebook users so they are usually familiar with the layout. You can provide parent codes for them to connect to their student accounts.
2. Discussion Posts
The discussion feature in the classes is far superior to any that I have seen. They have even amped this up by adding the capability to share and link discussions in other classes. Have you ever had that one class discussion that you wish your other students could have heard? Sure, now you can link it from one class to the other if one section having a great discussion so the others are separated by distance and time.
Discussion boards are such an important way to give all students a voice in the class. Some students just need a minute to process the information and mold their words. Having them craft a written response allows them processing time. I learned this right away from my shy students who were just a bit more creative. They often had insight, but lacked the confidence to jump right in with the verbal students who would debate a topic to death. This gives them a chance to participate asynchronously and addresses their need for “think time.”
3. Comments on Assignments
I love that my students can ask a question on the page where the assignment is posted. They don’t have to email me. We cultivate a knowledge community in our classroom. If you have a question, look around, there are experts everywhere. Therefore, online, they can simply post their question(s) and others in the class can answer them in the comment section. If it is bad advice, I can chime in, but I find that most often another student or two will chime in and correct it before it gets too far. Now, parents and students can get help 24/7 from our learning community!
I won’t lie though; this took a bit of training. I also had to redirect emails for quite a bit of time before they were all trained well…you Pavlov and stuff!
Not to mention the rubric grading is so simple and providing feedback is a snap. Although, Kaizena has them beat in this arena. So my students upload to both places.
4. Video Processing for Flipped Classrooms
I love the fact that I can make my videos for the flipped classroom and upload the raw video file to Schoology. They will process it and play it in their own player…so now YouTube! This is great for placed that filter YouTube content. It also removes a step from the process of uploading the videos to a video server.
5. New Interface Designs
They are right on target with a new folder and color-coding system for the class materials. I now have blue folders for information, Green for learning modules or chapters and red for projects. This makes the interface user friendly and easy for students to find work.