Schoology Introduced to Milton
by Rajiv Ram on Friday, September 19th, 2014
Over the summer, the ATS Department worked to transition Milton to Schoology, a collaboration-oriented social network designed for teachers and students to create, manage, and share academic content. The addition of Schoology to campus ended the community’s use of FirstClass, the online conferencing application used previously at Milton for student-teacher communication and assignments.
According to ATS Chief Information Officer Bryan Price, the shift to Schoology was made for two reasons. First, many teachers requested systems with more functionality in communication, such as the real time collaboration feature present in Google Drive. Second, Price said FirstClass offered an unacceptably poor user experience on mobile devices, and, given the large percentage of students and faculty with smartphones, a transition to a better system was necessary.
With the addition of Schoology, the ATS Department hopes that students will have a more consistent experience understanding assignment expectations and due dates through the new collaboration network. In addition, Price said, “Having access to class materials should alleviate the stress of losing or forgetting papers.”
Although students were not involved in the transition from FirstClass, they are generally appreciative. Caleb Rhodes (III) said, “Most students think Schoology is an improvement over FirstClass, which was outdated and at times finicky.” He claimed that FirstClass, a relatively older email client, was “not as functional,” as often times “students would [spend] more time than was necessary trying to find out what the homework was.”
When students want to check their assignments for the next class period, they can access the Schoology site or mobile app, and their assignments are automatically organized by class under convenient drop-down menus. Students can also access resources (handouts, PowerPoints and links) as well as submit their assignments online. Jam Smith (II) enjoys the “new modern, intuitive interface that makes the mobile app excellent.” Students also appreciate how the new Gmail system is linked to Schoology, allowing students and faculty to log into Schoology without having to manually type in a username and password.
Faculty, too, have enjoyed the transition to Schoology, learning how to use the new software quickly and efficiently. Teachers now have the ability to enter assignments several nights in advance, allowing diligent students to get ahead with the coursework and organize their week more effectively.
However, some teachers and students are still slightly unfamiliar with Schoology. Sarah Wehle, the Chair of the Classics Department, says that “figuring out how to enter assignments online has added many hours to [her] preparation.” Similarly, even some relatively tech-savvy students such as Faith Pang (I) have struggled with the transition. She said, “At first, the new interface was confusing, because I had been used to FirstClass for the past three years at Milton.”
Schoology is not restricted to student-teacher collaboration and assignments. Mr. Price also believes that the software has the potential to be an invaluable platform for groups, clubs, dorms, teams, and activities to plan their schedules and organize events. With a user-friendly appearance similar to that of Facebook, Schoology seems well equipped to handle far more than simply academic matters.
Used by more than two million students at 35,000 K-12 grade schools in over 100 countries, Schoology is a rapidly growing education platform. With most students and faculty now accustomed to this latest technology, the Milton community can soon expect anything from dorm activities to team meets to be integrated and managed efficiently on Schoology.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=6247