Educational App of the Week: Edmodo v Schoology
Ask any teacher what’s the second thing that they lack the most, and the response that you will get is “time.” I honestly wish that I could have logged in all of the hours that I spent planning and grading on my own time in order to make myself a more effective teacher. What I really needed was a way to organize my classes and find a way to connect with those students whose higher functioning time occurred outside of normal school hours. Luckily, I happened across a Course Management System (CMS) or, if you prefer, a Learning Management System (LMS), that would suit my needs. I chose one that was available to me at the time, but since I’ve found another that could also be useful.
I’ve been using Edmodo successfully for more than two years now, and I have to admit that one of the features that students like most about it is that the interface resembles Facebook. When I first started using Edmodo, it was extremely limited in what it offered, but it did allow me to connect with other teachers in my school as well as across the globe. I could separate each of my classes into their own groups, and a unique code was generated so students could access their groups. Without the code, access was denied. A year later and with more updates, I was able to make more connections and even apply for a free district account to connect all of our schools.
I use Edmodo to post discussion questions and to offer a platform for my students to upload their work for grading or, in the case of media assets, for sharing with classmates. A calendar is also provided, and alerts can be generated via email or text when assignments are approaching the due date. When students upload their work, it can be graded within platform, and comments could be added to provide student feedback.
This past year, Edmodo offered unique codes so that parents could have access to their child’s work without seeing what other students were doing, which would essentially create a confidentiality issue. Edmodo also offered the opportunity to connect with Discovery Education, Glogster, Dreambox, Khan Academy, NBC Learn, 3rd World Farmer, and other education-based companies. What was nice about this feature was that users could gain support from and promote the products of the companies featured on the organization’s profile pages.
Edmodo released an update on July 6 for their iPhone and iPad apps that allows for greater connectivity with other teachers using the Bump feature. Teachers can now share their individual profile information with other Edmodo teachers with a bump of devices. This update also allows better playability of teacher embedded YouTube videos and better access to all student groups and comments.
While searching the Web, I came across a success story of a school in Australia that used Edmodo as a platform for their CBL project. The instructor behind the project even claimed that Edmodo was the driving force behind its success.
I have not had the chance to test drive Schoology from a teacher’s vantage point, but luckily, one of the members of my PLN was kind enough to invite me as a student to work on a summer enrichment course that she had set up. In preparation, I also downloaded the iPhone app to see how Schoology works on the go.
Schoology, at first, appears to look like Facebook but operates like a more user-friendly version of Moodle. The combination of the two would definitely appeal to my students. What’s nice about Schoology is that it is a true CMS in that you can create tests and quizzes within the platform or import test items from Blackboard that will also be graded for you. Analytics are provided so that users can also examine the results of test questions to identify the validity of specific items. Coursework that is set up for students to complete is placed in folders that students can access by the order in which they are due. Videos can be linked or attached as a downloadable file, but on the iPhone app, those links are sadly missing under the “Upcoming” tab. Hopefully, that’s something that they will add with a future update (the app was last updated on December 29, 2010).
Schoology also has an attendance log to help keep track of student absences and a gradebook that can be exported as an XLS/CSV file. There is also an analytics section, which provides the breakdown of page views and discussion participation by group and by individual user. Schoology also allows for text and email notifications and provides blogs for individual users. There is also an option for teachers and administrators to set up parent accounts so that they have access to their child’s grades. One of the latest updates was to add the ability to upload Google docs in-platform, instead of exporting from Google and then uploading.
I suggest that you investigate both platforms and see which you prefer. What’s nice is that neither requires you to set up an additional server, since they are cloud-based. You might want to consider having your first lesson on either platform concerning issues of “netiquette” since students will be able to converse with each other outside of the classroom. Both platforms have features that are appealing, so I encourage you to examine both to see which offers more to suit your individual needs.
Check out these links:
Edmodo lesson plans from our community:
Schoology lesson plans from our community:
I’d be interested to hear about your success and use of either or both platforms. Please leave a comment below to aid others in making a decision between which platform to choose.