Schoology deserves stamp of approval

Written by: Ben Atlas

While the networking system for
student-teacher interaction has been
in relative turmoil over the last few
years, Schoology provides a ray of hope
with its unprecedented simplicity.
Implemented this current school
year, Schoology is a Learning
Management System (LMS)
used to provide access to
grades, announcements,
calendars, assignments
and a host of other tools
for students, teachers
and parents. The system’s
simple interface,
impressive track record
and low cost make it
superior to other systems
used in the past.
Founded in 2009, Schoology
fused the concept of
social networking with online
interaction. Schoology’s defining
feature is its Facebook-esque layout.
Modeled after the hugely
popular Internet giant,
its intended audience
will find it easier to use
than its precursors at
Gunn, such as Blackboard Academic
Suite (InClass). Schoology has a messaging
service nearly identical to that of
Facebook’s, a similar notification system
and a profile page for each course and
teacher. Each course’s profile page gives
the student some rudimentary information
about the course and more importantly,
hosts any number of documents
the teacher posts online. Teachers are
also able to alert students of any updates
through Schoology’s own notification
system. The teacher’s profile page also
provides basic personal information as
well as contact info. These features make
it more appealing to students who are
much more likely to use a more recognized
layout. Regardless of the content,
a website that is ultimately not used due
to its lack of visual appeal or ease of access
is of less worth than one of
mediocre content but extensive appeal
and extensive usage.
Schoology’s track record and content
are certainly at or above the standard
past systems have set. Already encompassing
nearly one million users over
about 18,000 schools in three years, it
has grown by an average of a third of a
million each year, illustrating its growing
popularity. This is similar to Infinite
Campus, which boasts a growth rate of
330,000 new users per year. While Schoology’s
effectiveness at Gunn is yet to be
proven, its extensive track record seems
prescient of success. Schoology’s growing
popularity shows that it is meeting more
educator’s standards than what an LMS
normally entails.
On InClass, users often experienced a
deficiency of teacher-student interaction.
Teachers almost never made personalized
messages to a student or group of
students. On Schoology, such action is
the norm. A calendar is made out so
that each assignment a teacher adds
will be added to his or her students’
calendars. Students can even add
comments on assignments, which
can help to clarify any uncertainties
about a piece of homework or other
document.
Since Schoology is significantly
newer than other systems,
it comes at a cheaper
price. It costs only
$500 to brand the
LMS to a school
district, which is
nothing compared
to InClass’ costs
which exceeded
$10,000.
Given Schoology’s
ease of use, proven track
record, interactive nature and low
cost, the budding company is a good
investment for Gunn. It is able to
simplify and almost sugarcoat concepts
present in Infinite Campus and InClass
through its cutting-edge interface. As a
combination of social networking and
learning management, Schoology integrates
enjoyment and education into a
single medium for student use.

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