The Problem: Teacher Websites; The Solution: Schoology

One of my summer must-dos is to revamp and set up my teacher website.  I have used Weebly.com in the past and it has worked well.  My students always enjoyed it and it met my three requirements below.  However, this year, because I am trying to go more techy, there are limitations to what I can do on Weebly without paying for it and it can get frustrating.  I always have a few requirements for my websites:

  1. It must be free (teacher salary).
  2. It can’t be blocked at my school.
  3. It must look modern.

So lets look at how this is weeds out most of my options.

1. Any paid sites with cool modern set-ups and endless possibilities are out.  

2. All blogs like wordpress, blogger, and tumblr or sites like facebook or twitter are out because they are blocked.  They also make me nervous because a lot of my students already have accounts and most are not appropriate for school.

3. Now here’s where things get particular.  I am a super snob when it comes to the appearance of my website.  My philosophy is that the better it looks, the more students will be excited to use it and take it seriously.  Now, i know, appearances aren’t everything, but I also know that in my personal life I judge businesses on their websites.  If you have an outdated website for your salon that doesn’t look slick, I’m not going to your salon.  Period.  If your salon doesn’t have a website, there wasn’t even a chance I was coming to you.  The way I see it, is that if you’re not investing time into becoming accessible in the digital age and you’re not constantly trying to improve your reach to your customers, then I don’t want to go to you.

I think the same is true in my classroom.  If I am not trying to constantly improve the engagement of my client base (students), then I’m out of touch.  So, with that in mind, sites like wikispaces and moodle are out (don’t get me wrong you can do amazing things with these sites, I just can’t get over how 2005 they look).  Also, googlesites, although it would be perfect because we have the Google Apps for Education at my school, is just too ugly for me to bear.

So, after much obvious deliberation, I have decided to go with a free LMS (learning management system) called Schoology.com.  Why I love it:

  1. You basically have an online classroom that is perfect for blended learning.
  2. It looks and functions like facebook.
  3. The platform is relatively easy-to-understand if you have a basic understanding of social media.
  4. Kids sign up for your classes and consistently receive updates.
  5. It connects with so much (googledrive, googlecalendar, powerschool, remind101)
  6. You can easily share documents, videos, links and you can post them to one or all of you classes/sections.
  7. You can write posts, assignments, discussion boards, tests, and quizzes, and it all posts to a shared calendar automatically.  
  8. All upcoming assignments pop up in your feed as well as the students’.
  9. It is safe and private.  Students create accounts and then parents get a code to log into their child’s platform.
  10. If multiple teachers in the school use it, the kids can manage all their classes in one platform.

In short, it’s fantastic. I highly recommend using this free LMS in your classroom.  I have a feeling it will just get more and more amazing.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “The Problem: Teacher Websites; The Solution: Schoology

  1. I just signed up for schoology tonight to use as my classroom website this year with my 6th graders!! You are right-the look is cool and streamlined. Very visually appealing. Now I’m trying to figure things out like:
    1. Since I teach all subjects to one 6th grade class, do I create a different course for each subject or not?
    2. What is the difference between personal and public resources?
    3. What are the apps for?

    You wouldn’t happen to have answers for these would you? 🙂

    Shannon
    http://www.irunreadteach.wordpress.com

    • 1. Honestly, I think it would be easiest (for your first time using it and maybe just in general) to just make one course for your class. You can make different folders for your resources for each subject, and simply label your assignments with LA, Sci, Math, etc.–so the students can know what kind of homework they have on their calendar. It is really up to you, but then you would have to make different access codes for each section–a little too complicated for my taste.
      2. It is my understanding that your personal resources are the ones that you upload yourself. You can choose to share these with students or not. Each student even gets their own personal resources that they can share or not share with you. It basically works like any cloud-based system. The public ones are those that you have shared with the schoology community. The drawback to these personal resources (in my opinion), is that I wish any file I uploaded would automatically be placed in “personal resources.” I have to go back or tag it for it to be in there. I kind of would like that done for me. Oh well, the world isn’t perfect lol.
      3.The apps allow you to connect with different applications. They are very limited at this point in what kind of apps they provide. I think the Remind101 app is the best–you can anonymously text your students (without showing your phone number) reminders and homework. It is pretty cool, but maybe not something to use in 6th grade (more of a high school thing).

      Hope this helps! My kids are really liking it so far this year 🙂

  2. Pingback: You Have 5 Minutes? Use It Well… | The Wordy Teacher

  3. Pingback: I Need S’More Smore in My Life | The Wordy Teacher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s