It seems as though most teams are using Schoology this year as their main portal for students and parents. If you have questions on how to do certain things with Schoology, Derek and I are here to help. Stop by our classrooms (309 and 311), send us an email, or use the OMS Staff Schoology group to ask for help from other teachers as well. Kate L. and Elin D. are also Schoology experts. We plan to offer some after school help in the near future as well!
Schoology uses both “courses” and “groups”. There seems to be some confusion between the two, so I hope this post will clarify the differences for you!
Your courses have already been set up for you. Whether you’re using Schoology or not, your students can see your course. This is because they are synced with PowerSchool. If you gain new students throughout the year, they automatically get added to your course. If students withdraw, they are removed from the course. You can see my current classes in PowerSchool in the left image below. Those same classes are represented as courses in Schoology.
The one drawback to this is you end up with a lot of courses that you don’t need. As an 8th grade teacher, I have five Science courses. Four of them are “sections” and one is includes the whole team. I only use the team course because all 110 students can then access my homework and handouts. Unfortunately, there is no way to delete the other courses because they’re synced with PowerSchool.
Within a course, you can do the following:
- Add materials (documents, websites, videos…practically anything!)
- Add updates (where I post most of my day to day homework)
- Assign, collect, and grade assignments. These automatically get added to your Schoology gradebook.
- Have student discussions
- Create and award badges
One very important thing to note about courses…please read!!
Students see updates from all classes in their newsfeed. They also have access to all of the materials each teacher has shared with them. However, other teachers cannot see the updates and assignments that you share in your course. If you want another teacher or aide to be able to view your updates and handouts, you must add them to your course. Once you do this, you must make them an “admin” for the course. If you do not make them an admin, they will be bumped out of the course when Schoology syncs with PowerSchool that night!
Unlike courses, groups are NOT synced with PowerSchool. Therefore, they are NOT created automatically for you.
Within a group, you can do the following:
- Add updates
- Have student discussions
- Create photo albums
- Add resources (this is very similar to the “add materials” in a course but a little different.)
Within a group, you cannot do the following:
- Assign, collect, or grade assignments.
- Create and award badges.
Why might you want to set up a group?
Some middle school teams have created a group that includes all of the students, teachers, and aides on team. This isn’t where you would post homework (that should be done in the respective courses), but you can…
- Share updates related to general team information, such as reminders about iPads, field trips, etc.
- Share team resources (permission slips, team schedule, link to the OMS website, videos, etc.
- Create polls for students to vote on team stuff. Last year, this is how we chose our team theme, chant, and other spirit day events.
- Share photos from class and field trips. You can even adjust the settings so kids can share photos too.
- Foster student discussion about the all non-academic stuff. They can discuss everything from possible fundraisers, team field trip ideas, and student elections.
Aside from a team group, you could also create a group for various clubs and activities. I had a group for my science fair club last year and used it to share reminders, documents, and upcoming agendas with the students. I could see this being really useful for something like the Yearbook Club or the school musicals.
If you’re interested in creating a group, please email Brian L. He will create it for you (you cannot create a group yourself), but you will then need to add students to the group. The easiest way of doing this is to share the group access code for students to see. They can then type in the code to join your group. It only takes a minute. If you only have a small number of students, you could also add them manually.
If you have any further questions about courses and groups, feel free to leave a comment below!