This is a topic that although I am intrigued by Learning Management Systems, I find them extremely difficult to implement with so students. First, I have over 300 students and even if I just focused on one grade, that is still around 60 students. Second, many of my students do not have Internet access in their homes. Lastly, my teachers are not using these tools so I wouldn’t be able to collaborate with them.
Several years ago, I tried using Edmodo with my 5th and 6th grade classes. I added assignments, quizzes, and allowed them time to chat with each other. My students loved the social aspect but had a difficult time following the rules that were discussed: no bullying, no foul language, no personal discussions, and no changing profile pictures unless it was copyright free. By the end of the year, I received an email from a mother wanting to know who was responsible for watching over the site because her daughter was being bullied. Of course, this parent never bothered to read her daughter’s posts or she would have discovered that it was going both ways and her daughter actually started the whole thing. I ended up disabling all student accounts and haven’t used it since. Not the outcome I expected.
In my short exploration of Schoology, it seems to have a similar interface to Edmodo. I liked how easy it was to create a task, quiz, and also on the flip side, how easy it was to take a quiz or submit an assignment. The fact that students can submit an assignment and update it and you still have a copy of each version is a great way to show evidence of the process students take when writing.
One of the things I didn’t like about Edmodo was that my comments and interactions integrated into all of the comments and many times students missed what I sent because it was buried by other comments. Schoology seems to have fixed this problem by having messages from the teacher separated from all other discussions.
Sometime in the next year or so, several of my classes will have 1 to 1 iPads. The team is currently reviewing learning management systems and other programs to use in implementing this program. Next time they meet, I will suggest they look at Schoology. In the meantime, I have an upcoming research project with 6th graders on volcanoes — maybe I will give Schoology a try.