Inside L-S: Schoology > Moodle > Edline; a history of the LMS at L-S

Schoology. Perhaps the bane of many students’ (and teachers’) existence tired of a revolving door of learning management systems (LMS) -- online portals through which teachers can post links, provide dropboxes for assignment submission, collaborate with students, etc. -- the District has utilized over the last several years, it seems that District has found the horse it will continue to back for years to come.

The original LMS employed district-wide was Moodle, which was an open-source software that was free to the District, but lacked troubleshooting support, and thus was challenging. Although some teachers still maintain Moodle pages, this will be the last year that will be permitted.
A sample Schoology page with names blacked out for student and staff privacy

Two years ago, Edline was implemented district-wide, which coincided with the new district website. Perhaps the most maligned LMS, even Mr. Bill Griscom, technology director at L-S, concedes that Edline was not the best choice.

“Edline was a struggle,” he says.

The root of that struggle was that Edline’s primary focus was on the website, and its LMS was simply a side package in which it dabbled, but obviously did not excel.

Upon hearing of Schoology last year, the initial reaction of many students and staff was in the vein of “here we go again” with another LMS, but in this case, both Griscom and staff members seem positive about its future.

“Ease of use,” says Griscom, is the primary factor that makes Schoology such a valuable tool. It is also integrated with PowerSchool, includes tech support for the District, and, again in Griscom’s words, “is consumer driven”, meaning that the tools are designed with the user in mind. It has a feel similar to Facebook, which fosters comfort among many users -- students, staff, as well as parents, who can have an account to monitor what is going on in their children's classes.

Teachers at all buildings are receiving professional development training on using Schoology to enhance their classrooms.

Mrs. Christy McCanna, the social studies department head at the high school, has high praise for Schoology.
"[F]rom a teacher's perspective, switching platforms has been challenging over the past few years, but Schoology is definitely the best one yet. It is user friendly and easy to learn. There are a lot of great features and transferring material from Moodle to Schoology was actually quite easy. It is nice that Schoology syncs to PowerSchool, but it's not a perfect system. I think that Schoology is a great tool for students and teachers but I don't believe that it is really designed for parent involvement, at least at the high school. It would be great to be able to use it on snow days in the future! It is also useful for students who are absent. Probably the biggest drawback right now it access to computers in the classrooms which limits how much teachers want to really use Schoology."
Mrs. Jennifer Braas, an art teacher at L-S, agrees that Schoology looks "slick", but asks, "I can post all of the materials/resources through this platform, however if students don't use it what's the point?

Griscom feels that the technology department has found its footing with Schoology, and is excited to move forward with all its initiatives, a key underlying component of which is the launch of a new District website, which Griscom hopes will further improve communication, which has perhaps been the department’s biggest challenge in the past.

“We’re excited to go to the new website.”

Editor's Note: This is the final installment of our series Inside L-S: Technology in the Classroom. You can view the remainder of the series on our Inside L-S page. We thank Mr. Bill Griscom and Mr. Andrew Hoover for their openness and candor in providing access and information for this series. You can follow them on Twitter @EdTechBill and @AndrewRHoover respectively to get continuing tech. department news.

--Benjamin Pontz, Editor-In-Chief

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