“Schoology” Comes to Goochland

The following entry was contributed by Dr. John Hendron, GCPS’ Director of Innovation and Strategy:

Summary: Goochland County Public Schools has adopted a new learning management system called Schoology that will be implemented over the course of this year. Our primary focus with Schoology at the onset is to support our 1:1 computing initiative. In the coming weeks, we will begin professional development with teachers. Teachers have the option to use the legacy WordPress blogs for parent communication or the new Schoology system. As always, parents can find links to all blogs—no matter where they are—on our teacher pages at each school website.

What is a learning management system?

Just like PowerSchool manages our record keeping with grades and attendance, Schoology manages learning activities and interactions in a virtual space. We have previously used Edmodo and Moodle to provide this type of support in the past. However, with the advent of mobile devices, and our emphasis on deeper learning connected to our 1:1 program, we’re interested in using a more sophisticated system with our teachers and students. It will take us some time to get everyone trained and everyone on board, but our first priority is to integrate the system with PowerSchool and to support our 1:1 teachers. Then, we’ll begin using the system with other teachers who have an interested in “blending learning” with online resources and support.

Schoology offers a number of great features:

  • a dedicated account for your child, with sign-on to the system using their Goochland-provided Google account,
  • the ability to access a course calendar that records assignments, due dates, and assessments,
  • a standards tracker for teachers to see how students are progressing with both the Virginia SOL and additional standards we may reference such as twenty-first century skills,
  • a communications platform for students to privately message teachers for help,
  • an assignment engine that includes support for teacher rubrics and feedback with comments, voice, and video feedback,
  • integration with Google Apps for Education so students can seamlessly turn in work from their Google Drive,
  • integration with PowerSchool so that courses are pre-created and populated for teachers,
  • curriculum resource sharing for teachers — so that putting together new lessons can be easily done using a shared catalog of lesson ideas, assignments, quizzes, and more.

We believe integrating Schoology into our school division, primarily for grades 3-12, will be a multi-year process. Nevertheless, we’re starting this year and wanted to tell you how this new system work.

How Does Schoology support our 1:1 program?

Among all the learning management systems available, Schoology had the best support with a mobile app for iOS and Android. This will become the space where class discussions are held, students can collaborate easily, and where assignments can be submitted and checked. Schoology is a secure environment, but it’s also social and provides a platform for developing digital citizenship and empathy as students work on projects in teams.

The free app can also be used by students on their personal devices, including Android and iOS phones.

Schoology Updates and Schoology Blogs

Like Facebook, Schoology provides support for microblogging, with short updates. Updates can be sent by teachers to one or more classes simultaneously. These updates might be words of encouragement, a reminder about an upcoming quiz, or a question for students to respond to (via comments). In addition, every teacher can have a Schoology blog. The blogs are independent of a course.

For all of our new teachers this year, we trained them on setting up a Schoology blog. This week we are updating our teacher lists on school websites to direct you to these public blogs. In the coming weeks, we will also be adding these links into PowerSchool as a secondary reference point. Either way, you will be just one click away from a teacher blog.

Veteran teachers can elect to start a new Schoology blog, or to maintain their previous WordPress blog. Again, these links will be provided on the teacher lists on each school’s website.

After we become better established with the new system, we will open up parental access in Schoology. This feature will require parents to sign in. The benefit for parents is that they can see more detail within courses that is not public, such as access to their student’s assignments, teacher feedback, and access to course updates. We will be very clear across the division with all stakeholders when this feature is ready and how to proceed.

Enhancing our Capabilities

We are excited about what this new platform will bring to learning in your child’s classroom. We want all parents to know our interest in adopting a new platform is not only to more deeply engage students in their learning, but also to provide efficiency for our students and teachers was carefully considered. Schoology is only going to deepen the level of transparency and communication between our classrooms and our students homes across Goochland.

As always, parents can request hard copies of content that is shared in teacher blogs to be sent home with students on a regular schedule.

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about Schoology‘s capabilities as a learning management system, you can read more on the Schoology website.

If you have questions, please direct them to Dr. John Hendron, Director of Innovation & Strategy (e-mail, 556-5623).