As the 2018-2019 school year brings new students to KSD, it also brings a new online education network. The district has implemented Schoology after administration felt eBackpack failed to meet the demands of the district.
“In particular for high school, some of our needs were a little bit different,” sophomore class principal Jessica Vehlewald said. “The whole process of learning, not just for assignments but also for assessment and feedback for kids, or just communicating.”
Vehlewald evaluated prospective companies as part of a district-wide team to find a new online education network. This team initiated a request for information asking companies how they would meet district demands. The top three companies then gave presentations to a focus group of teachers, students, administrators and parents.
Lucas Ravenscraft, social studies teacher and focus group member, said Schoology was set apart by its ease of use and communication capabilities. However, while he believes Schoology is effective, he thinks the transition from eBackpack could have been smoother.
“I think many teachers would say they have not received very much training on exactly how to use [Schoology],” Ravenscraft said. “I know it’s been a frustration, so hopefully more teachers will feel they’ve got more training on Schoology and that continues throughout the year.”
Teachers received formal training on how to use Schoology Aug. 31, over two weeks after school had started. The lack of instruction created confusion and opposition among some teachers.
“Some of my teachers are opposed to Schoology; instead they use Google Classroom,” Max Mobley, junior, said. “My only teacher who really seems to like using Schoology is my Biology teacher.”
According to Vehlewald, training sessions were offered this summer and will continue throughout the year. Teachers are expected to meet certain qualifications such as using the calendar feature, but can take the rest of the program at their own pace by posting links in Schoology to programs such as Google Classroom.
Ravenscraft and Vehlewald agree there is a learning curve with the new program, but believe the long-term benefits outweigh the current costs. To limit the confusion among teachers, Schoology’s gradebook is not currently being used in the KSD.
“Right now the gradebook component is supposed to push grades into Infinite Campus, but that’s new,” Vehlewald said. “Whenever there’s something new we take it slow, because there’s sometimes hiccups with it. To be honest we’ve had a few hiccups, but that’s why we’re not using Schoology completely as a gradebook at this point.”
As part of the recent training, teachers learned to give assessments through Schoology. The program has capabilities of locking down other applications on the computer during an online test and provides teachers with quick feedback. Ravenscraft believes teachers will use this feature more often as they become comfortable with Schoology.
Schoology opens many new possibilities the district did not have with eBackpack. Now the school must adequately prepare teachers to use these possibilities.