As internet and various portable devices take up a more important role in our lives by increasing proximity, convenience, and information availability, many traditional domains of human life are challenged with finding ways to adopt to the growing technological scene. Education is no exception. Over the past decade formal education has been making use of the possibilities for connecting, communicating, sharing created by technological advancements. Online learning management systems available today make a great supplement to classroom instruction or may serve as self-sufficient learning environment. Either way, to benefit from the potential of online management systems, educator has to make informed decisions about what functionality would create the most benefit for the class. Having examined the functions offered by Schoology, I selected groups, badges, and personalized analytics as functions I would most definitely rely on in managing the students.

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The first function of Schoology I would make use of as a teacher is the opportunity to create groups. This function allows to unite stakeholders into communication and work groups with separate discussion board, in-group material sharing, and notification about the updates. First of all, this function will come in handy for engaging students in team work on specialized group projects. Having a separate group will mean that students in this group have their own work space where they can share resources, communicate, divide responsibilities, and make sure that everything is on track. This will also give a teacher an opportunity to keep an eye on group’s progress, offer relevant advice, and provide timely feedback on group’s performance. Secondly, this function may be used for communicating with parents of students who are taking the course to provide them with updates, home assistance suggestions, as well as to address any concerns they might have in a timely manner.

The second function of Schoology I would integrate into my teaching is an option of awarding students badges. Badges serve as mini-titles awarded to students for their efforts and accomplishments in the class. The available badges include titles such as leadership, participation, good listener, perfect attendance, etc. They allow to acknowledge students’ strengths and encourage them to invest effort into learning. This function offers a great way for introducing a bit of gamification into the course. Gamification is an effective way to add some fun to the learning process and to introduce additional extrinsic motivators for students to learn while also engaging with their intrinsic motivation (Tu, Sujo-Montes, & Yen, 2015). After all, the challenge of collecting the next badge may serve as a powerful incentive for going an extra mile for many students. Challenges and quests like this make learning more playful and fun, especially when it comes to online learning that often lacks opportunities for personalized communication and fun that comes from interacting with others.

The third function of Schoology I would rely on in managing my class is personalized analytics. This feature allows the teacher to retrieve information about how much time has each student spent reviewing course materials, participating in discussion forums, and completing assignments along with the number of discussion posts this student made and the time of the last login. This information offers a deeper insight into student’s efforts and engagement in the course than the mere review of completed assignments does. Social scientists claim that mastering certain field of study or a limited subject is not about merely getting all the tasks done. Instead, the quality of knowledge depends on the amount of time the student has spent practicing in this particular field (Gladwell, 2008). Hence, knowing who spends the most and the least time mastering course materials allows the teacher to look for personalized approach to these students to motivate further efforts or to help deal with obstacles.
All in all, Schoology appears to efficient and intuitive tool for managing online learning experience. As a teacher, I would definitely use an opportunity of creating groups, the function of awarding badges, and access to personalized analytics for managing my classroom.

    References
  • Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: the Story of Success. Little, Brown & Company.
  • Tu, C-H., Sujo-Montes, L.E., Yen C-J. (2015) Gamification for Learning. In Papa R. (eds.) Media Rich Instruction. Springer.