The other day I was working with a colleague who was getting Schoology courses setup for the start of the year. At Canandaigua, we’ve done away with teacher webpages, so all teachers are using the LMS as their web presence for students and parents.
In our old system, Schoolworld, my colleague had a notable website. Particularly because it was a clear reflection of her personality–lots of pictures to share her passion for video games, like the Zelda franchise, classic rock and Harry Potter. Students and parents who went to the site not only knew the course, its materials, but also were instantly connected to this dynamic teacher.
As we were working to create a page in Schoology for parents, she lamented that the pages in Schoology were, well, boring, with little ability to liven them up with colored backgrounds, or other design features that students and parents might find visually appealing. Below you’ll see what I mean. It’s my “Parent Page” in each of my Schoology courses.
There wasn’t much I could tell her.
Then, light blub!
At home later in the day, I started playing with Smore–a web-based flyer and newsletter designer–as part of a project to aggregate blog posts from our student and teacher bloggers into a weekly newsletter to help them build their audiences.
I happened to notice that one of the sharing tools was an embed link. I quickly copied it off the flyer I was working on, went into my Schoology resources, opened a practice page, and embedded the link.
It worked, and the Smore flyer was there on the page.
There are some advantages to this approach as I see it.
First, there are a lot of design and layout features available in Smore that are eye-catching and visually appealing. Second, these modifications could be furthered to use Smore for personalized student playlists or assignments with lots of links. Already looking around Smore’s “Educator Hive” you can find example of teachers who have used this approach. While I’m fully committed to using Schoology as my content delivery system, I’m thinking of using Smore to help give me another option in my playbook.
While these advantages exist, there are some drawbacks. Smore is another tool to learn. Teachers who may already be overwhelmed with trying to learn a new LMS, coupled with a smattering of apps, could easily throw their hands-up at you.
Still, for tech-savy teachers looking to keep their parents and students in Schoology, and looking to spice up the look of their pages, embedding Smores into the pages provides an interesting option.