Schoology: teachers adapt

While “creative, accessible, innovative and intuitive” are the words that have been fed to teachers and students about Schoology, stakeholders have endured their fair share of qualms. Since the introduction of Schoology, which has been fully implemented in Baltimore County Public Schools since the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, Dulaney has managed to navigate the complex new learning system.

The management system continues to bring in mixed reviews from both students and teachers. For English teacher Meekah Hopkins, the program has potential, but has proven difficult to implement.

“I probably know one tenth of what Schoology can do, simply because I don’t have time to learn the rest of it,” Hopkins said. “If you came back to me in a couple of months, I might be raving about it, or I might continue to be as confused as I am now.”

BCPS’ contract with the previous learning management system, Engrade, expired at the end of 2017, leading the county to make the switch to Schoology. The new system brings interactive, fresh features—including groups, resources and apps— to the grading and learning platform. It focuses on communication and collaboration through the use of media and the internet.

English department chair Jason Bowman hopes to use the platform to cultivate a more engaged classroom environment for both students and teachers.

“I’m doing different things with it…I’m making my students turn in late work through Schoology. It gives me a time stamp and allows me to keep track of it,” Bowman said.

The introduction of Schoology came without much instruction or direction, leaving students like junior Emily Bogdanowicz in the dark.

“Compared to Engrade, [Schoology’s] much more complicated…I don’t think Schoology is worth the learning process and money,” Bogdanowicz said. “It is too much for students and teachers to handle at the beginning of the school year.”

After several weeks of trial and error, teachers seem to be adapting well to the new system. From uploading documents to creating online quizzes, there are a variety of new elements.

“People are used to our old system, [so any change will] put us out of our comfort zone…now a month in, I feel pretty confident in navigating Schoology, as opposed to the uneasiness most of us experienced in the first week,” Bowman said.

Despite new features and better accessibility, the constant change of systems has led to both agitation and confusion for students.

“I, and many other [students] would like to have a page with classes and grades all on one screen, rather than clicking on each class individually to see each grade,” junior Vivi McGroder said. “It’s not necessarily harder to use than Engrade, but there are some aspects that are not ideal.”

According to BCPS, there is a seven-year contract with Schoology, including a three-year extension. This will take students to the year 2028 before the next learning management system change.