Have you been asked these questions?
As teachers, we answer student questions all day. We want to answer questions regarding the class materials.
- “Can I get another one of those worksheets? I lost mine.”
- “Can you email me student X’s homework?”
- “Can you email me all the assignments student X is missing at the end of the week?”
- “Do you post your homework online?”
- “Can you let me know when the next test is coming up for student X?”
- “Student X is going to be out next week on a family vacation, can I have the homework/classwork in advance?”
- “Can you let me know if student X turned in his essay?”
I have lost count how many times I have been asked those questions over the years. I knew there must be a better way to organize my teaching life. I didn’t want to waste time answering questions that I already addressed before. I thought an online component to my classroom was a good solution.
Grades & Lost Time
My original plan was to use my school’s in-house Learning Management System (LMS). It ran our school websites and each individual teacher had his/her own page. I won’t say the brand name of the LMS but I can tell you the problems I had with it.
- I found it clumsy, time-consuming, and ineffective.
- It took too long to post assignments.
- There was no feature for automatically grading assessments.
- And did not have grade analytics.
- In summary: the service was useless.
Instead of saving me time, using the LMS the school bought actually made my life more difficult and less productive.
I wanted a way to quickly and efficiently respond to those questions asked by students and parents. I also wanted a way to more efficiently handle student paperwork. When students turned in assignments, I wanted to immediately know whose assignment was missing and whose was late. That way I could immediately intervene with those students who were falling behind. I wanted a place to give out assessments (formative and summative) and immediately know how students performed. Teachers always have tasks added to their to-do lists, but few things ever get removed. Why not push some of our organizational tasks off to technology?
That way I could immediately intervene with those students who were falling behind. I wanted a place to give out assessments (formative and summative) and immediately know how students performed. Teachers always have tasks added to their to-do lists, but few things ever get removed. Why not push some of our organizational tasks off to technology?
My Solution: Schoology
I decided that wanted a FREE, user-friendly, cloud-based, LMS. A cloud-based LMS would make sure that no matter what happened to the servers at school my school, the information would always be available. I also wanted a cloud-based LMS to upload and check material from home or at school. Because I run a BYOT classroom so I needed a platform that had a mobile app as well. There are plenty of free platforms, like Canvas, Moodle and Blackboard, that would have fit my needs.
I researched each of these and decided that Schoology was going to be the best fit. Schoology is an award-winning platform that technically is “freemium”. This means that users have to pay for some select features, like standards data-reporting. Nevertheless, I found that the free available features of Schoology exceeded my needs and expectations.
Your Solution: An LMS
If you are tired of having to hand out the same worksheets to the same students who lost the originals.
If you are tired of having to answer the same questions about due dates.
If you are tired of having stacks of papers but not realizing a paper is missing until after you have finished grading.
It is probably time for you to look into which LMS is right for you. The technology website Edsurge has a great search engine to help you find the tool you need.
For more information about how I organize my course, feel free to check out my quick screencast.
Question: What do you use to keep your students on track? Let me know in the comments!