As an EL teacher at an elementary school, I work with several groups of students in multiple grade levels and in various subject areas......so, as you might expect, the management of student materials, resources and papers can be (in a word) overwhelming. In an effort to streamline the management of these materials and provide students with an interactive and accessible virtual classroom space, I have been trying out edmodo.com and schoology.com with different groups of students.
Both edmodo.com and schoology.com offer a variety of important features for students and teachers, including:
- a network of educators who use the site (including discussion boards for groups of educators)
- searchable public resources for different subject areas
- safe, invite-only virtual classroom spaces, managed by a teacher
- online student discussion boards, quizzes, and assignments, as posted by the managing teacher
- online progress monitoring, managed by teachers, but accessible by students and authorized parents
- linking to/embedding other sites, such as Google Docs, School Tube, Youtube, etc.
- uploading and storing documents and PDFs (teachers)
- embedded app stores for easy access to featured and other apps for learning
- accessible 24/7 by students and teachers
While all of these features are helpful, I came to realize that I have a few, more specific features that I am looking for in an online platform to really cater to my needs and the needs of my students:
- teacher can include visuals in posts to students
- students can interact via real time discussion boards
- students can create and maintain a blog as a part of the same online platform
- students can immediately view the results of quizzes, and can be given the option to re-take the quiz when they are ready
- teachers can upload existing quiz questions from other mediums (ExamView)
- teachers and students can link their account with their school Google Docs account
Based on my experiences so far with edmodo.com and schoology.com, I have found schoology.com to be a better match for my students and I (schoology.com includes all of the specific features I was looking for...and more!). With that said, I feel like edmodo.com is, at this point, more established and has more public lesson resources available for teachers. So, there are certainly pros and cons to both sites.
Here is an example of a reading comprehension activity I posted on schoology.com for a group of 6th grade English learners:
I got the non-fiction passage and questions from readworks.org, posted the reading to schoology.com for the students, and then inputted the 5 questions and correct answers into a quiz format. schoology.com grades each student's answers when they are submitted and will transfer them to my gradebook. Voila!!
Do you use an online platform with your students? If so, what do you use and why do you like it?