Schoology has been one of the best additions to my teaching this year. It is a learning management system that integrates social media connections into classroom and flipped instruction. Let’s start with some of the basics. Schoology is free for teachers. Districts can sign up for paid services if they choose. You can create as many classes as you’d like. Students register with an access code and then log in as needed. There are iPhone, iPad and Android apps for students to connect on their mobile devices. Lessons can be designed in a number of ways. I’ve used graded online discussions for asymmetrical learning outside the normal classroom dialogue. I’ve also used discussions for students to collaboratively help one another with questions, comments and suggestions. There’s an online test/quiz feature that is very versatile. Teachers can also have students complete assignments using a dropbox feature, so that work can be done on multiple devices. Schoology allows teachers to take attendance as well as get analytics concerning student access, grades, and more. In essence, it has been a very useful tool, and even better, it looks just like Facebook, so students can intuitively grasp the format and functions.
Social media is ubiquitous. To prepare students for skills needed in their immediate future, sites like Schoology are very effective tools to facilitate learning in all subjects. Freshmen next year will be graduating in 2015. Those in kindergarten next year will be graduating around 2024. How will these students be prepared by their school and class to adapt to the evolving demands of the future? Social media is a tool to use to build those skills.
So, I’ve been learning about Schoology from my Twitter professional learning network recently, and I decided to sign up and give it a look. My first impression from the video tour on the website is that it is modeled specifically on Facebook. It is Facebook for schools and teachers. The differences are that there is an online component for attendance and grading assignments. There are other advantages, but I really want to reflect on my vision and objectives for next year. How will Schoology help students learn US History? Will it build needed 21st century skills?
These questions can be answered by looking at the benefits of social media, but only in the context of the students that are learning in front of me. Social media, like all teacher tools, is not, and cannot be, a one size fits all approach to facilitating lessons. It has to demonstrate adaptive change in order to meet the individual learning needs of students. So do I.
explore the past | analyze the present | create the future | live