Teachers beginning to embrace Schoology

Schoology, a website used for students to do schoolwork and keep track of assignments, was introduced to Cedar Falls High School in the beginning of second semester along with the Chromebooks. The school administration was excited for the possibilities it offered to enhance classes and schoolwork, and, although some teachers use it more than others, many teachers and students are getting used to Schoology and enjoying its benefits.

Chemistry teacher Brad Baker uses Schoology in his classroom quite a bit. His students use the site for practice sheets, which involve things like study guides and practice calculations for gas laws, and he said he believes that although some units in chemistry are not appropriate for Schoology, several units “lend themselves very well” to the site.

Baker finds Schoology to be helpful from a teacher standpoint because the site can give students immediate feedback on questions they answer on worksheets. However, he believes that the students have had somewhat of a harder transition because some students seem to really like Schoology while others seem to feel confused when trying to keep track of which assignments are paper copies and which ones are on Schoology.

“I think some students really like working on Schoology, and some would rather have paper copies. However, I think that it is normal for some to feel more comfortable with what they are used to. Change can be painful for some. Hopefully, the more we use it, the more comfortable all of our students will be with it,” Baker said.

Overall, Baker said he believes that integration of Schoology into the curriculum has gone very well. He has found that it is very beneficial to both teachers and students. “I do think we should continue to use Schoology. It offers a location for students to have all of their assignments as well as notifications of when long term projects are due. It allows teachers to quickly grade assignments and provide quicker feedback for our students.”

French teacher Brittan Engels uses Chromebooks and Schoology about weekly, sometimes more, within her classroom. She utilizes Schoology as a review for tests and quizzes, a practice of communication with the discussion feature and a way to listen to see how students listen and respond orally, which helps her to take less time to assess each student individually.

Engels said that Schoology has its pros and cons. For the most part, she has been successful in integrating Schoology into her classes, but occasionally runs into trouble with the recording feature when the students find themselves unable to record. She has also found that Schoology is not always efficient when students turn in a simple worksheet or sentences that they could have done on paper. However, Engels has found that Schoology is very helpful for discussions and quizzes where students can freely display their knowledge of the French language to both her and each other.

From what Engels has seen from experience, she said she thinks that her students enjoy the use of Schoology, but that could change. “They seem to like it but could eventually get bored if they are simply doing the same thing over and over with it. Hopefully, we will be able to constantly find new and different ways to use Schoology in the classroom,” Engels said.

Though it has its occasional faults, Engels said she enjoys having Schoology as a resource. She said that a lot of the success she’s had with it is due to how it works with Google because it alphabetizes documents she receives and puts them in one place. This often makes them easier for her to grade, although Schoology occasionally makes grading exercises take longer. However, Engels said there are many advantages to Schoology. “The benefits are that the students have one place to get all of their information for all of their classes. This will hopefully help with their organization and time management skills. Also, I have noticed that the types of activities students are doing on Schoology forces them to create. They can’t necessarily copy from another student or a book, which is a huge benefit. I do think that we should continue to use it,” Engels said.

English teacher Courtney Lubs is a huge fan of Schoology. She uses it for practically anything she can think of: submission of assignments, discussions, formative assessments, course calendars, announcements and a place to post handouts and other resources. Lubs uses the sites for so many things that she uses it constantly. “Honestly, [I use it] every single class period of every school day. And on weekends for grading and feedback on assignments,” Lubs said.

Lubs said she believes that integration of Schoology into the curriculum worked very well. She said she thinks that she is doing well with the site due to a lot of training and experimenting and continues to learn from other teachers about what Schoology can do. Lubs also appreciates the help her classes have been in learning how to use this site. “It has worked really well. Students have been so willing to try and offer great suggestions for what’s working for them and how I might better use the technology to assist their learning. I appreciate that they are a part of the process.”

In fact, Lubs has found that her students are very willing to embrace this new change. She said that they have been “wonderfully willing” to attempt to become familiar with Schoology. Her students have asked her all sorts of questions involving the site and let her know what is and what isn’t working for them, along with providing several positive comments. “I’m impressed with how quickly they’ve caught on,” Lubs said.

As a teacher, Lubs loves Schoology. She thinks that it’s easy to learn, creates many opportunities for teachers and is a convenient way for students to keep track of all of their coursework and important information. “Of the two learning management systems we tested, for me it was the clear choice.  It isn’t perfect; there are little aspects I’d prefer were different or features I wish it had, but our district technology integrationist is in contact with our Schoology representative to communicate our needs/questions. I think we will continue to utilize more and more of its features. As teachers learn and discover its potential, we will grow in capacity over the next few years,” Lubs said.

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