Next school year, Loudoun County Public Schools is implementing the new learning management system called Schoology. The process has been in the works for three years and Schoology has the capability to allow both students and teachers to have an organized platform where everything is available in one place.
Schoology “allow[s] teachers to find instructional resources,” said Tina Howle, the Director of Instructional Programs for LCPS. Schoology will help to be a solution to teachers not being able to find their learning materials on the current platform of Google classroom. The program also “allows teachers to be able to use it for instruction, as well so [teachers will] be able to design instructional experiences for students,” Howle said. The platform allows students to have digital portfolios and it is able to have all their teacher’s assignments in one place.
Howle said, “We were able to create assessments, and put assessments in there for students to be able to use, so teachers can use it for that. It is also a place for us to create courses so that students can go in and access the materials and the resources there,” which is similar to what teachers can make for students on the current system of Google Classroom.
Schoology will also be the solution for other systems to be more easily connected. As Howle explained, “Let’s say a teacher wants you to watch a video on BrainPop, then what happens with Google Classroom is they can put that video in, but then when you click on it, you’re going to have to log in to that other system. With Schoology, you no longer have to do that. Now it just pulls it up. ”
The process of the implementation of Schoology has been in the works for about three years. The School Board has “been hearing these complaints from teachers that [they] don’t know where to find these resources,” Howle said. Both students and their parents have had issues with the many platforms teachers use in Loudoun County, such as, “If [they wanted] to check [their] child’s classes, [they would] have to go to Blackboard for one class, [they would] have to go to Google Classroom for another class, [they would] have to go to Vision for another class, [they] would have to go to all these different places, and students were saying that as well,” Howle said. Schoology is intended to be a convenient platform for educators, parents, and students.
Teachers have expressed concern about switching from Google Classroom to Schoology. Teachers will still be able to connect their gradebook to Schoology and can easily transfer all of their lessons into the new system. Also, Schoology will allow teachers across other divisions to share their lessons to other educators.
Schoology offers a feature that resembles Google Classroom. “The biggest thing for students and parents is not having to go to three different places to access your classes and so that’s what’s going to be really, really convenient.” Howle said. She has personally had a struggle with Google Classroom for her children, as she said, “Now parents are going to be able to see [that students] have upcoming assignment[s].” Howle added, “I have a sophomore and a junior at home and I go on Google Classroom, but it’s like I have to click every single class to see what assignments are upcoming. This tells you all in one place all the things you have coming up that are due right now.”
The Google platform was free, however it is not a learning management system. LCPS has been budgeting for Schoology for three years. “The cost is going to be incremental because we are not doing everything at one time,” Howle said. “We’re going to train teachers in the spring and we’re going to train all the IFT’s to be able to turn around and support the teachers as well.” This year, LCPS is spending $70,000 on the platform. Howle said, “We will be using money from some other platforms, such as VISION, for Schoology, so that will offset some of these costs.”
Howle believes the switch “is going to be easier than people think.” Fairfax County Public Schools is also implementing Schoology next school year as well. “It’s for the students, what’s best for kids, this is what’s best for kids is to have all of it in one place,” Howle said.