The Washington Township Public School district has announced it will use a new program called Schoology during the 2020-2021 school year to teach students in both a hybrid and remote setting.
“Schoology is one of many learning management systems (LMS),” said Dr. Steve Gregor, director of secondary education. “It’s high in popularity, not done very often. It’s just something that was recommended to us years ago, but we were just not in the position to acquire it.”
The district previously used a program called PowerSchool, but made the switch in late spring when schools moved to remote learning. According to Gregor, the new program is more user friendly and has the same feel as a social media website like Facebook.
“It’s really one-stop shopping,” Gregor said. “The student logs on, clicks on the course, clicks on the day and there we have a learning target, possibly a video, from the teacher to do a single lesson. Then whatever other resources teachers can design to reinforce the content is available. Even many of the digital textbook platforms we use at the secondary level can be embedded.”
The program can interface with many of the platforms the schools already use, including FlipGrid, Seesaw and NearPod. Teachers are able to embed textbook links, projects and videos, as well as teach students synchronously. They can also measure learning and enroll students in courses through Schoology.
Teachers have spent the summer taking three- to nine-hour courses about the new program. During the first few weeks of school, teachers will in turn train students, who will get grades, turn in work, video chat and livestream with peers and teachers through Schoology.
“We created a very detailed and robust training plan this summer,” Gregor explained. “We feel really positive about teachers’ ability to retool their courses this fall through Schoology.”
Some students were able to get a head start with the program over the summer, including those taking AP and honors courses as well as the summer financial literacy course.
The student information system has also acquired Schoology, which has made the transition easy. More than 73,000 students and 700 teachers will use this program across the district.
“It’s really highlighted the need to personalize education,” Gregor noted. “It will enable us to deliver Tier-2 interventions virtually, so teachers can seek out students who are at risk … and arrange for remedial instruction and reassessment to ensure that they have maintained the student learning standards.”
In order for students in the district to access the program, kindergarten through second grade students will receive iPads. Students in grades three through 12 will receive laptops.