10 Easy Approaches to (Start) Using Schoology

I’m always looking for ways to maximize the tools that I have at my disposal. Schoology is one example of this. As an LMS, it’s so rich. I’m always finding new ways to put it to use.

While there are a lot of great web-based, tech tools out there, I find it better when I don’t have to learn something new, when something that I already own will do the trick. That way, I keep my students where they have comfort and a degree of literacy, my technology director is happy we’re getting the most from what we’ve paid for, and those I coach don’t get overwhelmed with another new thing.

No matter if you are a seasoned Schoology user, or perhaps looking to get a foothold, this post has something for you.

1. Updates

Updates is probably the feature I use most in Schoology. These are quick reminders for students about a homework assignment, a poke about a field trip permission slip, or a clarification on a project that you want to make sure everyone gets.

Screenshot 2018-03-06 at 4.33.07 PM

I like to keep a running list of updates so that I have a record of what I’ve posted, and when I use the announcement button, which is defaulted in Schoology so that parents automatically see the update, I know that all my stakeholders are getting the information.

Here’s my weekly “Tech Tip” on course updates:

2. Course Options Menu

Most teachers seem to overlook this juicy little nugget. That’s too bad. It’s got great stuff in it. Take some time to orient yourself to what’s there.

Screenshot 2018-03-06 at 4.43.04 PM

3. Send Message

This feature is relatively new to me. Mistakenly, I thought that “Send Message” did the same thing as the message button on the main toolbar. When I use “Send Message” everyone in that class–students, parents, other admins–get an email message. For years, I’ve been using the Campus Messenger feature in Infinite Campus to give updates to parents. Now, I’m going to start to switch over to “Send Message.” You can see this feature under “Course Options” in the image above.

4. Messages

This is probably the second most used feature. All of my outside of class communication with students now goes through these messages.

5. Hyperlinks

Using hyperlinks, and teaching others to use hyperlinks, is my mission on earth. Here’s why: hyperlinks create a user friendly design experience. Your audience doesn’t need to be told to go and look at something, because when you hyperlink, you give them direct access to what you want them to look at.

The link to my YouTube video gives some instruction on using hyperlinks.

6. Embedding

Like hyperlinks, embedding content creates a slick looking design and keeps your students inside of your assignments and pages. You can embed almost anything into Schoology: Youtube videos, Google Docs and Slides, even Smore newletters! (Click here to see my post on this).

7. Shared Folders

Do you work on a grade-level or subject area team? If so, as you are creating course materials and content, you’ll want to share this with those you collaborate with. Don’t make a group to share materials.

That’s an okay solution.

Schoology Groups are great when you want to have discussions online and in an asynchronous fashion, but when you want to share, it’s hard to find where these materials are in resources. Instead create a shared folder in Resources. Watch my “Tech Tip” on how to get this done.

8. Public Resources

Looking for something new to do with your students when those March doldrums hit? Check out the wealth of materials that teachers share in Public Resources. While there’s a lot of junk in these resources, you can find gems that will give you ideas about how to use Schoology to work for you.

9. Links

Schoology doesn’t do it all for me. I use tools such as Padlet and Flipgrid in my classes. To get my students to the right place on the web, I share links to these spaces, so they post, create or share where I want them to.

I use Padlet quite a bit when students are submitting digital media or web-based projects. They simple provide a link to these projects, and I can access them. Why don’t I have them turn these links in as a Schoology assignment? Sometimes I do, for sure! But, when I want students to look at their peer’s digital making, I have to have a way that they can access these creations easily. Padlet provides this affordance.

10. Publishing/Unpublishing

Remember that Schoology is an LMS or Learning Management System. You control how your students are going to consume content. To help with this, use the small, green circle in the editing windows to hide or make available materials.

In closing…

There are a lot of great tools out there, but an LMS such as Schoology provides a number of simple tools that will provide teachers with great ways to connect with students and families, provide ease of access to course materials, and collaborate with peers.

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