The Golden Times

The New Technology in Town

Jadan Willis

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The 2017-2018 school year marks the beginning of a new era; one without Moodle. Why you ask? Because “the only learning management system (LMS) that connects all the people, content, and systems that fuel education” has taken its place — which is the description for the new and popular Schoology.

After a few teachers started using the program last year, Solanco fully transferred over to Schoology.

Within the site, you are able to view your upcoming and overdue assignments, assignment submissions, and graded work. In addition, you are notified when your work has been scored and you can easily edit and resubmit assignments. Teachers are even able to make tests and quizzes using the program.

When you plan to submit an assignment, you are given a few different tabs; upload, create, and resources. You can upload a document or documents saved on your hard drive, type up a response, or even link an outside program containing your document. Under the resources tab, you are able to connect, for example, your Google Drive account, to Schoology so that you can mark files you would like to turn in. Some other Schoology features include polls and comment boards.

Mrs. Shelton teaches four classes at the high school; Marketing, Personal Finance, Photoshop, and Graphic Animation. She estimates that roughly 75% of her assignments are on Schoology. For her Graphic Animation and Personal Finance classes, nearly all of the work is on Schoology. While she may not have all of her classwork on the site for every class, she has begun posting rubrics on her page. For her Photoshop and Graphic Animation students, they are able to hand in small projects through Schoology.

For the pros of Schoology, Shelton says, “If a student’s absent, it’s easy for them to go to the calendar and see what they missed, if it’s a Schoology assignment. They can find their work and they can do it at home.”

“When I grade now, it’s connected to Powerschool,” adds Shelton.  

Under the older version, teachers had to manually transfer the grades from Schoology to Powerschool.

 

Lastly, she appreciates that everything is all in one place.

“All the work is together. I don’t have a student saying, ‘You lost my paper’ and I can grab my laptop and go. Plus, it keeps it all together for the kids. If an assignment was submitted and I need them to look over it, I don’t have to say, ‘Dig in your bag and find the paper.’ We can open the assignment and look over it if we want to.”

 

Schoology seems to have a great foundation, but there are some downfalls.

For example, students can get tired of working on the computers, says Shelton. A poor wi-fi connection can also be an issue.

Schoology has the Microsoft OneDrive app as an option as well. This allows students to connect their Microsoft accounts to Schoology so that their documents update on Schoology as they edit them within Microsoft 365 or on their hard drive. However, this option does not always work.

Shelton says, “I think OneDrive is something they [Schoology] will tweak, it’s new to them. I think by next year it’ll be better.” To add, Shelton believes that students do not look over their graded work they like would have if they had received a hard copy.

 

She thinks that we, as a district, should explore all that Schoology has to offer. She claims that the website offers interactive activities, such as puzzles.

Overall, Mrs. Shelton is a fan of Schoology.

 

Students weigh in

 

From a survey conducted, it seems the student population is pretty evenly split on whether we like Schoology or not. What I did find was that students are very adamant in their opinions of the program; they either love or hate it.

Azra Mutapcic, a junior, writes, “Schoology is terrible and an inconvenience. Google Classroom works a lot better and Moodle was better than Schoology. The format of the site looks super old school and it’s just harder to use than other sites.”

Another students says they enjoy the ability to see all of the due dates for every assignment.

Bethany Tipton, a junior, says, “[Schoology has a] nice format, is organized, makes it easier to contact teachers, and is easy to use. I really like how it’s similar to Moodle but the aesthetics are a lot better. I also think it’s easier to use than Moodle, but it is really similar to it in a way that Schoology isn’t totally foreign. I don’t have a lot of bad things to say about it.”

 

A different idea

An alternative web service designed for schools is Google Classroom. A handful of teachers at Solanco have used this program as well. Mrs. McRobbie, who currently teaches Advanced and Academic American Literature and AP Research, is a frequent Google Classroom user.

 

She uses Google Classroom in all three of her classes. For her American Literature students, necessary

 resources are available on Google Classroom. This would include literary pieces, linked YouTube videos of her talking through notes, and more. In addition, major assignments, such as essays, are submitted through the site.

As for her AP Research class, both resources and assignments are located on her Google C

 

lassroom.

Mrs. McRobbie appreciates all that Google Classroom has to offer. For one, it connects to your Google Drive.This is a particularly convenient feature because students use Google Docs and Google Slides on a regular basis.

McRobbie goes on to say, “I find from the teacher perspective that it’s [Google Classroom’s setup] a really clean look. So when I look at my classes, they’re all organized. When I go to make an assignment or announcement, I can make it go into multiple classes at the same time, I can create groups, and I can create topics and have them grouped. For me, it’s very streamlined. It almost reminds me of a social media feed because it kind of works most recent to least [recent]. Just in general, I find Google to be very reliable; you know Google’s gonna be up.”

Furthermore, McRobbie states, “I can reuse these classes later and just reuse posts as I feel…I can do Google Forms on here, I can do a quiz if I want, and I can do a Kahoot through a Google Form…It’s pretty basic to use.”

What some teachers may see as a downside, McRobbie sees as an advantage. “It doesn’t hook up to our gradebook, which I find to be a pro because I like to still do my grading on paper and then enter it. I don’t trust the technology to do everything.” McRobbie points out that some classes would benefit from Google Classroom being connected to grading if there are clear cut answers for assignments.

One con to the program is the low number of teachers that use it. McRobbie says, “Kids will say, ‘Well how do you use this? I don’t know how to use this.’ They know how to use Schoology because so many more teachers use it. Other than that, I don’t see many other cons because for me; it does exactly what I need it to do.

Another feature that Google Classroom boasts is the ability for teachers to use the Google Calendar and have it sync up to the student calendars.

On Schoology, Mrs. McRobbie states, “One big thing this year was that I know some people whose gradebooks got messed up because of some tech glitch. Not everyone keeps paper records. I keep grades [in the form of] paper records. Every time you turn in an assignment to me, I write it down on this grade sheet. If anything were to happen, I can go back later and just find your grade.” With a laugh, she adds, “I kind of hoard them, but it’s because in the past, I learned that you have to…Certainly making sure the gradebook is as secure as possible [is a priority]  because for the teachers that don’t use any backups, it’s bad. [Grades] are these kids’ livelihoods.”

Something else McRobbie suggests for Schoology is “having more options for rubrics and the ability to pull rubrics in, which I can do with Google Classroom.”

While she may not use Schoology for her classes, she does use it for something else. “I do have a Schoology for my department; it’s great for that. I put links on it; it’s great.”

Schoology is still pretty new to the entire school. Only time will tell how students and teachers use Schoology and what they think of the change.

Improvements and adjustments will definitely be made on the school and website’s behalf as we acclimate to Schoology.  

 

The student news site of Solanco High School
The New Technology in Town