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Schoology: Cloud-Based Learning Management Systems

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by

Brianne Thompson

on 16 October 2012

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Transcript of Schoology: Cloud-Based Learning Management Systems

What is it? Presentation Communications Assessments Reports Instruction Schoology is a cloud-based, full-featured learning management system (LMS) combined with a variety of social networking features. It is offered to individuals, schools and districts FREE of charge! There are many school districts that use it. There are over 20,000 schools in their system currently. It's presentation style is similar to Facebook as well as common LMS' like Moodle. Content is located in the center of the viewing area or screen and is integrated into the LMS' overall design. You cannot customize the arrangement or "blocks" of features like possible in common server-based LMS', but the design is very predictable and professional in appearance. For teachers wanting to create courses that are of high quality, but do not possess a lot of technical skills, this online service is a great option. It possesses a lot of communication features. Its communications system is primarily located in the upper right corner of the application - similar in design to Facebook. Users can customize the types of communications they want to receive. User's are alerted to new mail, requests or notifications when small icons light up. The email system is integrated and allows users to send emails to members or groups, including the ability to attach a file, link or resource. It offers a sophisticated discussion forum that can be private to the course or open to all groups as well as other courses. SMS messaging is even available. From a strategic standpoint, the academic community is able to collaborate and engage at a high level with a wide-range of online communities all over the world. It doesn't possess an online chat feature, although it may be possible through the other online proprietary services that integrate well with its design. Real time opportunities or synchronous features may need to be improved for this LMS to support learning for all users. This LMS offers seamless integration with a lot of popular online instructional services. It allows Google Docs to be easily connected, advancing instructional opportunities to all of the features of Google's popular office suite of applications. The ability to search Khan Academy's resources is also seamlessly infused in the design with the convenient ability to embed their videos. It offers built-in social-media sharing features with all the major networks. Each student can maintain a blog. It offers a well-organized resources area that allows categories to be developed based on the types of resources available on the World-Wide-Web. Finally, Moodle courses can be exported and imported into this LMS, which allows for a simplistic conversion from a server-based solution to this cloud-based solution. The design above offers a care-free, integrated experience that allows interaction, collaboration and diverse motivational learning opportunities, in a single online service. The hosting company seemingly possesses a lot of leverage in terms of garning support from other online businesses. This is a different leveraging style compared to Moodle's online community of developers whom are responsible for thousands of Moodle plugins that really allow for endless customization of the learning system. As such, both LMS' offer relative advantages and disadvantages based on the differences in their inherent leveraging structure. A variety of assessments can be created from within this LMS, including true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, ordering, matching, and short answer/essay questions. Additionally, it offers the ability to integrate with an online suite of assessments tools called ExamView. It is even possible to align assessments to district standards. The built-in discussion utility also allows discussions to be graded and "liked". The grading system allows for many feedback opportunities. The assessments allow for images and other multimedia to be embedded which allows for a more dynamic assessment experience. There doesn't appear to be an opportunity to create diverse rubrics which would be a great feature to add to this very advanced assessment system. It is not clear how issues of
cheating and fraud are addressed. The reporting aspects of this LMS offers opportunities to not only adequately assess student learning, specific to content and the user, but allows the teacher to determine where a student spends most of his/her time. It is visually presented based on charts and graphs, which gives a teacher a great advantage in terms of processing the data. The reporting structure also lends itself well in terms of providing detailed information to district-level decision makers. Conclusion Overall, the Schoology LMS is a very impressive application. For school districts and teachers looking to integrate technology in the curriculum, this solution offers a low-cost, rapid opportunity. It doesn't require a technical team to implement and maintain a complexed system. It also doesn't require a high degree of training for teachers. Schoology is designed in a way that joins the acadamic community from a learning, teaching and district level. In general, it provides all the necessary features for a school to be successful in an online environment. However, Schoology offers very little customization. As such, it is not possible for it to appeal to everyone's needs, thus specific learning contexts and objectives may be best served through controlling the design, development, implementation and management of the LMS. To highly tailor the online learning environment, as well as brand a service, a server-based solution is optimal. To be afforded a plethora of add-on features and plugins, LMS' such as Blackboard and Moodle are better options. These solutions all come with a higher operational price tag, however. In general, many of the instructional aspects of this cloud-based solution compared to the server-based solutions are similar. The overall advantage goes to Schoology for its full-featured, predictable and user-friendly design which ensures a high-level learning experience in general.
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