3 Phases of Rollout: How Our School Transitioned to Schoology
Phase 1: Our Guinea Pigs
Bishop O’Dowd High School is a co-ed diocesan high school with about 1,275 students, 120 faculty, and 5 tech support staff. After implementing a 1:1 laptop program in 2007, we spent a significant amount of time, energy, and money to build an infrastructure that could support a bring-your-own-laptop program.
However, we found that in order to best support our students, teachers, and parents, we needed a learning management system (LMS) that was intuitive, flexible yet robust, and interactive—we needed a multidimensional system that enhanced teaching and learning and that acted as more than just a repository of documents.
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With the customer and technical service of our Tech Support team, the Chief Information Officer's willingness to purchase tools, and the support of the principal, we piloted Schoology's LMS with small groups of teachers over the course of Summer 2012, Fall 2012, and Spring 2013. These focus groups involved students, teachers, and counselors, which allowed us to learn how to better support our teachers in Schoology. Based on feedback from the teachers of each focus group, we decided to deploy the following minimum standards for all teachers:
- Teachers should post assignments to the calendar.
- Teachers should create folders to organize the course.
- Teachers should post a calendar event that summarized the class.
Phase 2: Implementing a Full Roll Out
Following a “train-the-trainer” model, we selected at least one teacher from each department to attend a paid summer Schoology training program. The purpose of this group of teachers was to create a core team of teachers who could support our colleagues when the official rollout took place in the Fall of 2013. In addition to learning technical aspects of Schoology, we placed a strong emphasis on grounding implementation in pedagogy, not just the technology. Thus, these trainers were expected to:
- Attend Schoology webinars
- Meet with the Associate Principal for pedagogical overview
- Meet with the Instructional Technologist for a demo of Schoology
- Spend 3 days in collaboration to develop Schoology resources
- Train colleagues during the 2013-2014 school year
At the start of the Fall 2013 school year, students, parents, and teachers were notified of our transition from our previous LMS to Schoology, our plan for implementation, why we made the change, and the benefits to them. As soon as we rolled out Schoology to the entire school, we embarked on an aggressive Schoology support and training campaign led by our tech support staff and teacher trainers. We offered drop-in sessions, instructional skill steps, videos, and professional development workshops that provided different tracks for various user levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Ninja.
We held numerous opportunities in hopes of allaying any fears and concerns teachers had about Schoology. Sample training topics included (but were not limited to):
- Basics: Adding folders, files, assignments, moving content over from our previous LMS
- Personalization: Adjusting notifications, personalizing accounts, managing members, re-arranging courses in the dropdown
- Teaching Tools: How to use rubrics, Grading Groups, Turnitin, etc.
Resistance almost always goes hand in hand with systematic change. To alleviate these fears, our school community adopted an essential mindset of collegiality by placing the focus on student learning and creating nonjudgmental spaces for conversations about teacher needs, fears, ideas, and solutions.
Phase 3: The Learning Never Ends
We are currently in our sixth year as Schoology enterprise users, and we don’t have any plans of changing our LMS anytime soon. While our teachers have mastered the basics of Schoology, we still offer continuous trainings throughout the year. These training topics are gradually shifting to more advanced topics such as new LTI integrations, PowerSchool gradebook syncs, streamlining workflow with Google Drive Assignments, etc.
To accommodate the needs of our students, we have all of our teachers follow a “Model Course” protocol in Schoology, which is our core infrastructure of supporting student success. Not only does the design of the “Model Course” focus on the student as the end-user, it is also the method in which teachers map their curriculum and a mode in which they can collaborate with colleagues.
Learn More from Stephanie in Her Schoology NEXT Session
Join Stephanie in her Schoology NEXT 2018 session, Three Key Components That Every Teacher’s Schoology Course Needs to learn more about the best practices we have acquired in the last six years. Participants also take away samples of model courses that demonstrate consistency, clarity, and organization from teachers of various departments.