Schoology LMS Review (2024)

Educational learning management system (LMS) software has traditionally served higher education. But over the past decade, several companies have rolled out K-12 versions. Some have even begun to cater explicitly to K-12 institutions. Edmodo, which I previously described as one part education LMS and two parts academic social media network, targets primary and secondary education. Schoology bridges the divide between the two with offerings for K-12 and higher education. You could call it one part Blackboard and two parts Edmodo.

Similar to Blackboard Learn , Schoology (Visit Site at Schoology) offers a next-gen API and Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) support, custom branding, granular role creation, advanced assessments, and detailed analytics, for a fee. Like Edmodo, however, Schoology employs a familiar Facebook aesthetic with gamification features, mobile apps, and parental accounts. Its freemium pricing model is also comparable to that of Edmodo. Students, parents, and teachers can play for free, but admins will pay for premium add-on features. With the face of a social network and the foundation of an enterprise LMS, Schoology hits the sweet spot for K-12 learning management.

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Interoperability and Integrations

Schoology features interoperability customers might expect from a flagship LMS such as Blackboard, Instructure Canvas LMS, D2L Brightspace, and Moodle. Similar to Google Classroom or Edmodo, Schoology integrates with school districts' Student Information Systems (SIS). However, thanks to support for the LTI standard, administrators can go a step further and connect it with an existing LMS. In my view, this makes Schoology viable in post-secondary institutions, where many colleges and universities have invested deeply in homebrew LMS.

Last June, Schoology expanded that support to include the IMS Question and Test Interoperability specification (QTI), through which administrators can import various third-party question types and learning objectives into the system. Recent partnerships with SAFARI Montage, Nearpod, and BrainPOP further expand educators' access to external resources and curricula. Perhaps most significant for K-12 educators, however, is the platform's deepening integration with Google and Microsoft. In addition to single sign-on (SSO), students and teachers can now access Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive resources without leaving Schoology, and use Google and OneDrive resources as templates. Instructors can use the new Google and Microsoft Assignment apps to assign and provide feedback on Docs, Spreadsheets, Slideshows, and Drawings without leaving Schoology.

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Roles and Calendar

Schoology employs what it calls a user-centric design. In practice, that means you will only see what's relevant to your role. Whether you sign in as a student, a parent, a teacher, or an administrator, you see a Facebook-style feed of recent activity related to your courses, groups, and school. Recent Activity is particularly useful for teachers and administrators, who can use it to post updates, assignments, and events.

From the right column, all users can see upcoming items from the calendar. A teacher, however, can use that column for one-click access to assignments. While the activity feed invites more student collaboration, it can also distract them from their courses. Thankfully, Schoology has anticipated that concern and updated the homepage dashboard so that when students sign into the platform, they automatically arrive on the homepage of their course. They still have access to the activity feed, but they have to choose to enter it, rather than having it on their homepage by default.

The left-aligned navigation bar varies based upon role. Students can access class grades and attendance (Grades/Attendance), student performance (Mastery), a school directory (People), and private messages (Messages). To this, educators gain the ability to add students to classes (Manage Users); monitor mentee attendance, enrollments, grades, and schedules (Advisees); and access instructional and management applications (App Center). Finally, administrators gain tabs for settings and integrations (System Settings), advanced analytics (School Analytics), and options to import and export data (Import, Export). For obvious reasons, I performed most testing from the administrative account.

Before I turn to course assembly, I want to take a moment to highlight one particularly useful tool in Schoology. As an aggregate of assignments, discussions, events, and quizzes, the Calendar provides an aerial view of everything happening in your class or school. Thanks to filtering and color-coding, I could also imagine that regular users might use it as a personal calendar. Educators can even edit due dates by dragging and dropping items.

Course Basics

While I suspect most K-12 educators will use Schoology to create blended learning environments, the platform supports one-to-one, self-paced, and fully online classes. You would think that such generous support would make the LMS much more difficult to use than Edmodo (Visit Site at Edmodo) , but Schoology scaffolds the process. For example, after you create a course shell, the LMS prompts you to add materials with both textual directions and screen grabs. Whatever materials you add—Assignments, Discussions, Tests/Quizzes—can be reordered by dragging and dropping.

Schoology LMS Review (12)

A good place to start is with folders, which Schoology uses as course units. Those units can be made visible to students, hidden, or be made available at certain dates. With Student Completion Rules, educators can affix requirements to folder items. For example, I could require students to post a response to a discussion before they move to the next assignment. Schoology also recently released a Course Objectives tool, which teachers can use to correlate a course's learning objectives with the standards of their school, district, or state. The only caveat is that a school administrator must enable that feature in order for educators to access it.

Assignments and Discussions

Nearly every item in Schoology can function as graded or ungraded classwork or homework. (One idiosyncrasy is that Media Albums cannot be graded.) With Assignments, educators can enable comments, submissions, or grades. Setting a due date pins the assignment to the calendar. When students submit assignments, educators needn't leave their Web browser (or iPad) to annotate documents. Schoology automatically converts submissions into PDFs. The company also offers annotation tools via native mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. Educators can even attach private comments for students, ideal for essay end comments.

Discussions are one way to encourage students to engage one another. Each discussion supports threaded comments so that students can respond to individual posts. Students can even leave video comments via webcam, thanks to integration with BigBlueButton. Should a teacher want to grade a discussion, new comments are tagged with a blue dot, and grades entered at the thread automatically populate the Gradebook.

Assessments and Grades

Out of the box, educators can assign individual tests for instant results. Tests/Quizzes are uncategorized, and thus ungraded. Educators can either import questions from an existing test bank or create their own. (More on this below.) Tests/Quizzes also support time limits, attempt limits, randomization, and question review. Educators can use Categories to organize graded items. For example, I created separate categories for homework, quizzes, and tests, though there's no cap on the number of categories you can create.

Teachers can grade using either scales (based on percentage of points) or rubrics (existing or custom). K-12 administrators will appreciate that assessments can be aligned with state standards for easy reporting. Educators will appreciate that assessments can be submitted from either the Gradebook or the assignment submission viewer. Schoology has revised its assessments tool to support enhanced question types (e.g., Fill-In-the-Blank, Short Answer, or Shared Passages) and technology-enhanced questions (e.g., Highlight Image and Hotspot, Highlight Text) that it will make available via its the Enterprise plan.

Assessment Management Platform (AMP)

Also available to Schoology Enterprise customers is Schoology's Assessment Management Platform (AMP). Whereas many institutions rely upon a standalone system for versioning and item banking, AMP is fully-integrated inside the LMS, which spares school districts from having to pay a separate vendor. Once enabled, AMP appears in the Resources menu. In addition to automatically saving questions as they're created, the Question bank includes rich new types. Students can drag and drop bar graphs (Chart), place text on an interactive number line (Numberline), or answer various types of question about a single passage (Shared Passage). One of my favorite additions is Highlight Text, which educators can use to make parts of a passage clickable, a feature that ought to prove useful for grammar, spelling, or translation quizzes.

While educators can maintain their own question banks, versioning makes collaboration more appealing. Any item can be linked to rubrics and learning outcomes, and saved as being in a draft, active, or retired state. (The LMS retains "retired" data for reporting). Because AMP is integrated into the LMS, changes to assessments flow out to courses. That is, if I update the text of a Shared Passage, it will automatically update all instances of that question. When it comes to reports, admins can assemble assessment teams using a host of granular roles. Reports can aggregate data from across a department (useful for a nursing program) or from across multiple school districts (ideal for common assessments). This past July, in fact, Schoology released a new set of analytics (Item Analysis) with which administrators can take a deeper dive into question-level detail. Admins can even sort and filter data by school, instructor, or learning objective in order to identify best practices that they might want to promote across a program, a school, or a district.

Groups, Group Resources, and App Store

Until now, I've talked about resources that instructors create and save to personal filing cabinets (Personal Resources). But educators can also use Groups to share resources. Schoology users have groups for clubs, sports teams, grades, and even departments. Educators can take advantage of these organizations by searching for and joining groups related to their interests. For example, there are more than 7,000 members in a Language Arts group and 17,000 members in Flipped Classrooms. Once connected to a group, you can explore its resources. For Flipped Classrooms, there are folders with HTML tags, cooperative education forms, and folders full of diagnostics. Even if you don't use materials verbatim, you can approach them as templates for your own resources.

Finally, Schoology offers a robust App Center. Through third-party integrations, educators and administrators can enable external applications in their courses and schools. For example, I added apps from Khan Academy and TurnItIn, though a K-12 teacher might gravitate instead to BrainNook or Common Core Mastery. In addition to educational resources, third-party services for Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and Microsoft OneDrive allow users to draw from other repositories inside Schoology. My one quibble is that there isn't a quick way to jump among apps you've downloaded (My Resource Apps) and the App Center.

The Sweet Spot

Schoology earns an Editors' Choice award—which it shares with Moodle (Visit Site at Moodle) and Canvas (Visit Store at Canvas LMS) —because it provides an LMS simple enough that students and parents will want to use it, but sophisticated enough that administrators can control the nuances of that learning experience. While I wish Schoology was more forthcoming about pricing, the company bundles enough features for free that many users won't need to consider upgrading. Despite this review's length, I still haven't discussed the platform's gamification features (custom badges), generous file support (LTI-compliant content), and instant messaging—all standard with the free account. Instead, I encourage interested students, parents, and teachers to sign up and see for themselves.

Schoology LMS

4.5

Editors' Choice

See ItVisit Site at Schoology

MSRP Free

Pros

  • Free for individuals.

  • Granular role creation.

  • Intuitive, full-featured course assembler.

  • Rubrics and standards alignment.

  • Web-based grading and annotations.

  • App Center.

  • Assessment Management Platform.

  • Extensive interoperability.

ViewMore

Cons

  • Minor UI idiosyncrasies.

  • Premium features entail an undisclosed fee.

The Bottom Line

With the face of a social network and the foundation of an enterprise LMS, Schoology hits the sweet spot for K-12 learning management services.

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Schoology LMS Review (2024)

FAQs

Is Schoology a good learning management system? ›

Schoology is an all around great tool, if you are looking for an LMS, it would be a mistake not to consider Schoology. In my current role, I provide more professional development support. I am working with teachers on their implementation of Schoology and other tools.

What are the disadvantages of Schoology? ›

Cons of Using Schoology:

Compared to other LMS, Schoology's customization options for the visual design of courses may be relatively restricted. Though Schoology offers multiple pricing plans, some educational institutions might find the cost of premium features prohibitive.

Is Schoology better than Google Classroom? ›

Google Classroom excels in seamless integration with Google Workspace, streamlining workflows. Schoology is great for blended and remote learning, with effective communication and centralized course management. Organizations Prioritizing Data Security and Analytics.

Is Schoology or canvas better? ›

Canvas supports 76.3% and excels at Collaboration, User Management And Gamification and Content And Course Management. Schoology has an analyst rating of 86 and a user sentiment rating of 'great' based on 972 reviews, while Canvas has an analyst rating of 89 and a user sentiment rating of 'great' based on 5605 reviews.

What LMS do most schools use? ›

Some of the popular LMSs used by education institutions include Moodle, Blackboard Learn, and Schoology. Corporate LMSs used for online training of employees can also be called learning management systems, or eLearning/eLearning portals.

Is Schoology owned by Microsoft? ›

PowerSchool, which owns a suite of other services including systems for school HR and student registration, bought Schoology in late 2019.

Why are schools switching from Google Classroom to Schoology? ›

James Conley said. “Schoology is going to provide more interaction with teachers, parents, and community members.” Google Classroom does not feature any student discussion boards and it does not enable teachers to design new content within the tool, which is why it is not considered a learning management system.

Why do teachers use Schoology? ›

Schoology is an online course management system that allows teachers to create and manage academic courses for their students. It provides teachers with a method of managing lessons, engaging students and sharing content.

Does Schoology cost money? ›

There's the free and the enterprise version, in which pricing varies per implementation, the cost per student being $10, and it is a one-time fee. Schoology is free to educators in K-12 public and private schools, colleges and universities worldwide.

Do universities use Schoology? ›

Millions of students, faculty, and administrators from over 60,000 K-12 schools and universities worldwide use Schoology to shape learning experiences and improve student outcomes.

What are the three main areas of Schoology? ›

Navigating Schoology

From this navigation bar, you can navigate to the three main areas of Schoology: Courses, Groups, and Resources. You can return home at any time by clicking Schoology in the left corner.

Is Schoology good for students? ›

With Schoology, educators can easily communicate with families, manage events and assignments, collect feedback, generate discussions, and facilitate formal assessments. Students benefit from Schoology by accessing course materials, assignments, study materials, and participating in interactive class discussions.

What are the strengths of Schoology? ›

With Schoology, educators can easily communicate with families, manage events and assignments, collect feedback, generate discussions, and facilitate formal assessments. Students benefit from Schoology by accessing course materials, assignments, study materials, and participating in interactive class discussions.

Which classroom management is best? ›

Authoritative

An authoritative classroom management style includes high control and high involvement. This means that teachers with an authoritative style value discipline and order while also valuing student connections and learning more about their lives, hobbies or interests.

What are the disadvantages of LMS in schools? ›

While learning management systems may lead to extra administrative costs for organizations, they can become a technological barrier for untrained teachers, and a social barrier for students who are reliant on one-to-one interactions to fully benefit from the learning process.

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