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Schoology comes with opportunities, learning curves

Bethany Hansel, Manging Editor

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The board of Virginia Beach Public Schools announced in the summer of 2018 that all Virginia Beach Public Schools would switch from Google Classroom to Schoology as the primary online program they would be using in schools.  

Students at Ocean Lakes’ Math and Science Academy helped create the Schoology tutorials that all Virginia Beach City Public Schools use to figure out Schoology. Patrick Meinen, a senior at the Math and Science Academy who helped create the tutorials, shared some of Schoology’s assets.

“Schoology is really simple to use once you get used to it, and it has a lot of benefits over Google Classroom. It’s is nice because files are a lot easier to upload from hard drives and materials are way easier for teachers to organize. The organization of it all allows students to easily keep track of what they have done, and it’s nice that you don’t have to scroll a lot to find stuff; it’s all right there. It’s also way easier for students to communicate with each other and with teachers, and I like how you are automatically enrolled in all your classes and you don’t have to enter any codes to join them,” explained Meinen.

In a survey conducted by the Roaring Gazette, 68% of Tallwood students, teachers, and faculty members said they preferred Google Classroom over other online school systems like Schoology, which received 30% of the votes, and Edmodo, which received only 2%. Some students explained why they prefer Google Classroom over Schoology.

“I like the potential behind Schoology, but I do not like how not-user-friendly it is to the students and teachers. To improve Schoology for me would to be to make it easier to access your assignments and to turn in those assignments,” stated Deshone Miller, Tallwood Student.

“Schoology isn’t as easy to navigate as Google Classroom, but it has more potential to do things like quizzes and links to other sites and whatnot, so I think it’s better for teachers, but it’s just not as easy,” added Andrew Hansel, Freshman. “With Google Classroom, everything’s all there and it’s super easy to access and I find it simpler. While it is more organized in Schoology like with the folders and stuff, you still have to click through a bunch of different links and that’s just annoying.”

Understanding the frustration at having to learn another system, Ms. Johnston, Tallwood English teacher and Schoology Champion, shared some of her advice to students who are frustrated and struggling.

“I know [students] get bombarded with new technology and expectations all the time, and Schoology might seem like the next thing on the list. I suggest learning to use it as best as you can, and like all school-related things, figure out how to learn with it and from it,” stated Johnston.

Despite some of the hesitation that some are feeling over switching to a new program, those who have already gotten the hang of it appreciate what it has to offer.

“I think Schoology has the potential to transform learning experiences for both teachers and students,” stated Johnston. “When compared to Google Classroom, Schoology offers a wider range of options for assignments and assessments. I personally enjoy the options for integration in terms of Google Drive, YouTube, PlayPosit, Images, and other features that make assignments more engaging than a traditional worksheet. Additionally, I think Schoology allows students and teachers to collaborate and share information in ways that were previously not possible or quite challenging.”

Although the assets that Schoology offers might be substantial, some students simply don’t like how different it is from Google Classroom.

“Schoology can be confusing…I would go back to Google classroom because it was simple and I was used to it,” stated Caeleb Smith, Tallwood Student.

Teachers acknowledged the learning curve that comes with Schoology as well, but Ms. Johnston shared some of the ways she tackles any issues she runs into.

“I have definitely had to play around with formatting and creation so that the assignment makes sense for the content involved. Student feedback after trying something new helps me revise for future assignments. The big challenge is to avoid making the format of the assignment so complicated that the learning objective gets lost in the process. Above all, using Schoology should enhance the learning experience, not hinder or overcomplicate it.”

Ms. Johnston also explained why she believes it’s important for students to embrace this new program, and all that can be gained from giving it a chance and working with it.

“As with all new things, there is a learning curve and room for improvement on some features; however, I do believe that Schoology offers learning experiences that prepare students for life after high school. Technology, synthesis of information from multiple sources and formats, creation, and collaboration are all expectations for adults. College students, working professionals, military personnel, and even stay-at-home parents all use the internet, all analyze information to make informed decisions, and all have to interact with others, often to achieve a goal or complete a task. The sooner students learn to do these things responsibly, the better prepared they will be once they leave the “practice zone” of high school.”

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