Finding ways to update my classroom to meet the needs of the 21st century learner is very exciting, but also presents some challenges. Although there are a myriad of ways to display and discuss videos and other student digitally created work, very few of them provide the ease of use and privacy controls needed in a primary classroom. Additionally, teachers in my school district are allowed to use only “district-sanctioned Web-based services” that are “hosted on District servers behind the District firewall.” Currently my school district provides Moodle as the internal networking site. This has not been well utilized and they are hoping to change to a different site in the near future. As a part of my research I found Schoology, a social networking tool with an incorporated learning management system for administrators, teachers, parents and students.
Basic accounts are free and can be used on an individual teacher basis (there is a verification process). However accounts with greater design features, greater support and more extensive upload capacity (100mb available with the free service) are available for a premium paid institutional access (pricing was unavailable). The interface design is familiar (similar to facebook).
Teachers can use Schoology to manage class blogs, upload assignments, communicate with students and create discussion boards. All course profiles have privacy settings, and there is a homework drop box. Additionally teachers can create custom tests/quizzes which students can take online. One of the features I like most about Schoology is that the program is growing to fit the needs of teachers who integrate technology into their classes, with frequent updates. For me, use of this will depend upon district approval.
Look for a review of Blackboard here soon.