I’ve been a Moodle user for several years. I found it to be a relatively good repository for class materials and posting class projects and assignments. I have even used it for my students to upload their assignments so I wouldn’t have so much paper on my desk. One thing I’ve found about Moodle, though, is that it is cumbersome. It takes a few steps to upload documents to the site. I tried the online quiz feature that was so unwieldly, I vowed never to try on Moodle again. Not to mention it’s not particularly easy on the eyes. Yet, it was a good way to organize my course materials and have my students download handouts and other class materials without me having to make copies constantly, draining our departmental budget with copy costs.
So I began searching for other tools. I wanted something integrated so that I wouldn’t have to use a bunch of different applications because that, for me, would not help in my seemingly never-ending quest to become more organized.
In December 2010, I discovered an online learning management system that far surpassed Moodle – Schoology (pronounced schoo´-lo-gy, not schoo-ŏ ´-logy). According to the Schoology website:
“Schoology is an easy-to-use, easy-to-implement online learning, classroom management, and social networking platform that enhances student engagement and improves learning through better communication, collaboration, and increased access to curriculum and supplemental content.”
Here is a screenshot of the main page after you create your teacher account:
Here is a screenshot of the updates page:
The first thing students say when they see it is, “It looks just like Facebook,” so the interface isn’t unfamiliar to most students. But what’s exciting is the capabilities for teachers. Here are some of the things you can do with Schoology (and things I’ve done with it so far):
- Create separate courses with the ability to copy assignments from one course to another with a click (not possible in Moodle)
- Generate course updates that automatically generates an email to each student registered for the course (no more, I didn’t know about the assignment excuse)
- Easily upload documents for student access (with much less effort than in Moodle)
- Assign papers/assignments using Dropbox feature so that students can upload their work (good if you don’t want stacks of paper on your desk)
- Easily create online quizzes and tests that can be easily copied from one course to another
- Set up gradebook, (again, where assignments/tests/papers can be copied from one course to another) where students can check their own grades when they want to (no more, Mrs. Solomon, what’s my grade?)
What I plan to do this upcoming year is supplement my courses with blog postings (teachers don’t have to set up a separate blog; feature is embedded) and class forum postings/discussions using Schoology. And the Schoology developers have just recently added more functionality by providing a resource center where you can gather your documents to reuse and share at any time, Google Docs integration and iCal feeds (to sync external calendars with Schoology events you set up). They’ve also added Spanish language capability. And best of all, this application is FREE!
Schoology is easy to use and easy to set up, just as the company claims. Students like its interface, and I can’t think of a feature that I’ve wanted to use that isn’t in this one online application.
Oh, and if you’re a Moodle user, you can import all of your Moodle courses to Schoology with only a click.
Easy-peasy, as my daughter would say. Give it a try!
Update: Schoology has gone mobile. There’s an iPhone app for that! But not yet for the iPad or Android.