Circa 2008ish, the word was Moodle. Everyone buzzed about the platform’s ability to transform education by creating the best connection between the classroom and the world. In other circles, it was Blackboard. Then, a few years ago, Edmodo hit the scene, with a Facebook-like look and feel, and again, educators raved about the way it connected students to the worldwide classroom. I’ve loved them all. And I’ve left them all. My new love is Schoology. Allow me to introduce you:
Schoology.com is similar to other learning management systems (LMS) in that it allows for online assignment submission, updating of posts, hosting links, creating assessments, and other related online learning tools. What I really like about Schoology is that it does what the others do by embracing the middle ground. Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Infinite Campus, and the like are very large and powerful platforms. They require a fair amount of training to use effectively, and they are generally system-wide platforms that entire institutions can use. Moodle is also a very powerful platform that can be used by individuals and systems alike, but still requires a modest amount of training and know-how to use well. Edmodo’s user-friendly interface and simplicity of options is popular among faculty and students because it can be understood and effectively used with only a few minutes of basic training. Schoology is better, by being none of these.
Schoology took the best of all of these LMSs and built a crossover program with a lot of features with a very low learning curve. The assignments and quizzes are richly designed with the same, and even sometimes superior, features as the big formats, but offers them in a very sleek, uncomplicated interface that users at all levels can understand in minutes. It is free for individuals, offering that flexibility, but can be subscribed to as a whole institution, which give the best of both worlds. The mobile app is as good or better than the desktop interface, which none of the others can boast, and it is available on all platforms.
As more and more schools work with progressive education practices such as flipped learning, project-based learning, and even online education, the LMS choice is a key consideration. It is the linchpin of any of these movements, because it is the necessary cohesive medium to bring these new learning opportunities to students. Having worked extensively with all of the LMS listed above, I can honestly say that I would not hesitate to recommend Schoology over any of them. At least for now.
As many of us have become aware, the market for LMSs and similar platforms for learning are ever changing. Will I ever abandon my current love for another? Probably. I am not held to any product loyalty or commercial interest. Bottom line: if it is good for my students and my colleagues, I am interested in taking a close look. For now, I have my choice, and it is, in my opinion, the best one available for my students today. I look forward to seeing what the future will bring.