Friday, October 10, 2014

Schoology - Your Classroom's Digital Hub

Earlier this year we launched Schoology, a learning management system that is sort of a marriage between your traditional teacher website and Facebook. Schoology it is extremely flexible, making it a powerful digital learning hub regardless of which academy you call home. It is also a great tool for connecting in-class and at-home learning using blended learning principles.

While we officially launched Schoology this year it is a resource many teachers have been using for the past three years. The company provides a free version for teachers that is very similar in terms of features to the enterprise version.  Currently, Schoology is being used by Leading Edge, VLA, and PACT's Project X program along with teachers in PFAA. In working with these staff members and students here are five reasons I've noticed that might entice you to make the switch to Schoology as well.

1. One Stop Shopping for Students

Schoology makes an excellent learning hub for your classes. Have a Google presentation or screencast you want to share with kids? Post it in your Schoology course. Need a digital dropbox for students to submit work electronically or a place for them to discuss a topic? Schoology provides those features as well. Through a Schoology course you are able to provide a single point of entry for all student learning materials.

2. Parent & Advisor Access

In Schoology every student account is linked to a parent code families can use to keep track of student progress. These parent accounts basically shadow a student, allowing a parent or guardian to view past and upcoming assignments, grades that were posted in Schoology, and any messages that were sent by the teacher to the class. Schoology also provides an Advisor feature that is available to teachers and administrators. Using the Advisees tab teachers can look up students and see their progress across multiple classes.

3. Workload Planner

One of the reasons we switched to the enterprise version of Schoology is the Workload Planner. This tool allows teachers to see how many assignments students in their class have already been assigned in other classes. This feature allows teachers to plan out assignments that correspond with student calendars and it is built right into the system.

4. Sharing Curriculum Resources

Let's say you and another teacher both teach a class - 8th grade Physical Science. In Schoology you can create curriculum resources together through a shared Resource collection. This tool will actually let you build out an entire class together and then with a few clicks copy all of the content to your own individual classes.

5. Preparing Students for Educational Life Beyond NCS

As we have all heard from many of our graduates, online learning is a foundational component of education after high school. Some students enroll in completely online programs while others take classes that make some use blended learning through a learning management system. Using Schoology allows students to build effective online learning skills while they are still in middle and high school. These are skills that they can turn around and immediately use in college or career training programs.

If you are interested in getting started with Schoology I am currently leading workshops every Tuesday from 3:15-5:15pm on the Main Campus or would be happy to schedule a 1:1 appointment with you. Additionally, I have posted a host of resources on the NCS PD Portal Schoology page including this Getting Started Guide and Tips & Tricks for Launching Schoology with Students.


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