Oh so coology

Lydia Sheehan, sophomore, can relate to countless other students who struggle with organization. She dreads having to visit multiple online platforms each night to turn in her assignments, especially when her teachers post these assignments somewhere else. Luckily, the introduction of Schoology has made it easier for students to keep track of assignments and stay organized.  

“I really like Schoology, especially because it has all seven classes there,” Sheehan said. “You don’t have to go to different locations to find what you need for homework.”

Schoology is the new learning management system implemented by the Kirkwood School District, and the first step in improving student organizational skills. According to Jessica Vehlewald, sophomore grade level principal, learning management systems are technological programs that allow teachers to house curriculum. Using Schoology, teachers can communicate with their students through feedback on assignments or other things posted on their class page, in addition to creating lessons, assessments and other activities. This way, students no longer have to visit three or four online platforms each night just to reach their assignments. They can simply log onto Schoology and click under the “Courses” tab to access what they need for homework each night or for class each day.

More students like to turn in their assignments through Schoology. Will Rives 

Reza Behnam, English teacher, uses Schoology in his classes to post handouts, in-class essays and to inform students about upcoming assignments. “I find [Schoology] a very useful tool.” Behnam said. “I can’t wait to see it develop and grow.”

At KHS and other Kirkwood Schools, Schoology is still in its infancy and still has a long way to go before teachers are able to use it with the ease they use other online platforms, such as Google Classroom.

“No software, no application is ever going to be perfect,” Behnam said. “But I think that Google Classroom is about the closest one out there.”

Behnam, along with other teachers in the English department, has used Google Classroom for years, which may explain part of why he has such a high opinion of it. Although Google Classroom does share some of Schoology’s abilities, like allowing teachers to grade assignments, upload documents and post other announcements, Schoology has so much more potential. As a district-wide platform, it allows administrators to extract data through the system to better evaluate teacher and student performance. This is the main component of Schoology that sets it apart from other platforms.

The platform has proved to both faculty and students that it’s worth the time, money and effort.

Each Monday after school KHS faculty meets up for what they call “Schoology IP” in order to help faculty members use Schoology successfully. During this time, teachers have the opportunity to discuss the progress they have made and to ask questions. Schoology training session topics range from using a rubric to grading tests. Although implementing a platform like Schoology comes with a price tag, the platform has proved to both faculty and students that it’s worth the time, money and effort.

Teachers have reported that training sessions have been beneficial for them since they can more easily implement their training in the classroom. Staff development meetings are held on half days almost every month, in addition of each Monday after school, but teachers estimate that a little less than half of that time is dedicated to Schoology. By gradually letting teachers transition, most of them don’t feel overwhelmed by the steep learning curve. According to Vehlewald, KSD sets expectations for each year Kirkwood uses Schoology, so that in time teachers will become more comfortable using it.

“Our only expectation this year is that they’re using the calendar to post.” Vehlewald said. “[And that] they give their common assessments through the piece to get data and to try at least one formative.” Vehlewald said.

Administrators, teachers and students should expect to have a bit of trial and error the first year of using our new learning management system, but it’s worth the effort because of how Schoology has improved organization districtwide.