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A Beginner's Guide to Using Schoology: The Back-to-School Essentials

By Dylan Rodgers · Aug 5, 2013 · Best Practices

 

 

It's that time of year again—the time for you to begin getting reacquainted with the Schoology platform in preparation for the new school year. But don't stress about that. Even though we've added some new features, getting back into the swing of things will be just like riding a bike, especially if you followed our End of Year Best Practices.

For those of you out there who need a little refresher, and for those of you just starting out (Welcome, by the way), we've put together a quick overview of the platform that will be available here on the blog and in our Help Center.

Navigate Schoology Like a Pro

If you look up at the top of your screen, you'll see four different "profiles" on the left—Home, Courses, Groups, and Resources—and some icons and your name on the right. This top navigation is always available, no matter where you are on the site. Make sure to familiarize yourself with it, because you'll be using it a ton.

And keep in mind that Schoology streamlines navigation. There are multiple ways to get basically anywhere you want to go, so don't hesitate to try something new and see what happens.

Home Page

Your Home Page is where you will start every time you log in to Schoology. Why? Because it's the best way, as you're having your morning coffee, to catch up on all the important happenings that relate to you, your courses, and your groups. Your Home Page is perfect for sending mass messages, posting updates, making calendar events, and simply preparing yourself for your day.

There are four main components to your Home Profile:

 

Nearly everything on this page is clickable for quick and efficient navigation, so click away.

 

  1. Left Side Navigation—Allows you to access your personal calendar, messages, apps, and the like.
  2. Central Column—This column shows the page you are viewing based on the left side navigation. You'll always start on the Recent Activity Feed, a condensed feed of posts that relate to you, your courses, and your groups. It enables you to post updates, announcements, and polls with files and links attached.
  3. Reminders—This area can help keep you quickly informed of student homework submissions, ungraded items, etc.
  4. Upcoming Feed—All your assignments, due dates, and calendar events are organized in chronological order.

For more information on your Home Page, see this help guide article.

Course Profiles

Next to the Home button is the Courses dropdown menu. Click it and you'll be able to create and join courses, navigate to your existing courses, and even see all your active and archived courses. If you have one made already, it might look something like this:

 

 

Your courses are your virtual classrooms. This is where you will instruct, grade, and communicate with your students. Your courses contain all your instructional materials (e.g., files, assignments, and assessments) along with communication and organizational tools strictly associated with the course.

You can set up and organize your courses in many different ways. You course materials can be set up by week, section, topic, whatever. You can even set up in what order your students must complete each item using the Student Completion feature for a self-paced approach to learning. However you decide to do it, consider one word of advice: Organize everything with folders. Trust me, you will thank yourself later.

As shown above, there are three main parts:

  1. Left Side Navigation—This contains your Materials page, Updates, Gradebook, and more.
  2. Central Column—You can set this column to land on your instructional materials or course updates, whatever you deem most important to view first, from you Course Options menu on the left.
  3. Reminders and Upcoming—Same function as on your Home Page, though they are more closely related due to the fact they are associated only with one course.

You can learn more about courses from our Help Guide articles.

The Resource Center

The Resource Center is a centralized place where all of your instructional and professional development materials are kept. It is closely tied to your courses (the main reason I'm addressing it before Groups in this blog) and is a place where you can manage all your files, assignments, assessments, learning outcomes, and badges.

You can import files, create new resources, and copy or move them into any or all of or your courses quickly from the Resource Center. You can also share resources with your groups and download them from our Public Resource Library. Any course materials, folders, and even entire courses can be copied in your resources for use on a later date.

If you use folders to organize everything in your courses, they will stay just as organized when you move them to your resources. If you don't, everything will be loose and much harder to find and repurpose.

 

 

The Resource Center has three main sections:

  1. Left Side Navigation—This enables you to switch between your Personal, Public, and Group Resources
  2. Collections—These are your personal and shared resource collections (one step above folders organizationally) and integrated external resources such as Google Docs and Khan Academy.
  3. Resources—This is where you can create, view, edit, and manage all your instructional resources.

  You can learn all about your Resource Center in our Help Guide article.

Group Profiles

Your Groups dropdown menu at the top of the screen allows you to navigate to, create, and join Groups: collaborative spaces to share ideas and resources, organize events, and connect with others. They are a great way build or expand your personal learning communities (PLCs) on a global scale.

Groups can be used in many different ways from professional development to book clubs, so the best way to learn about their potential is simply by joining some opens ones.

 

 

You'll notice that your Groups look very similar to Courses. Groups are more about communication and resource sharing. They can be set up for students, but they are most often used for educators to connect with other educators, enabling you and your peers to work together to improve education on a variety of levels.

You can find out more about Groups from our Help Guide article.

Messages, Requests, and Notifications

Any time someone sends you a message, wants to connect, or does something that pertains to you or your affiliations, it will be made easily accessible in the top right corner of your screen. Everything is chronologically ordered and clickable to make managing them simple.

 

 

Learn more about how to manage Notifications in our Help Guide article.

Personal Profile and Account Menu

In the top right corner, you'll see your name and the Account menu—the downward facing arrow. Using these, you can modify your personal and account settings such as profile picture, privacy, notification settings (email, text, and push notifications), and more.

 

 

You can learn more about managing your Account and Profile in our Help Guide articles.

 

***

 

That's pretty much all you need to know to get started using Schoology like a pro. There is always more to learn so don't hesitate to reach out to your peers and our support team via groups and our community forum.

Also, make sure to check out our Help Center with step by step info on using the platform.

 

Image credit: insidenorthpoint.org

40 comments · liked this
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Profile picture for Charlene Chausis
Ms. Chausis
Thanks for the great walk-through. Very timely since we will be setting up our courses this week!
Profile picture for Linda Hoffman
Linda Hoffman
Very helpful, just in time for the training we will be presenting.
Profile picture for Kelly Baker
Kelly Baker
Is there a way to copy this blog post to my resources?
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
You can save the URL to you resources as a link. If you copy and paste into Word or something, it will require quite a bit of formatting to make it presentable.

Hope this helps!
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Ms. Baker, this blog is now a PDF and is attached to the post. This way you can use it how you want.

Thanks!
Profile picture for Jeanie  Smith
Jeanie Smith
Thanks, Dylan-- a great guide for first-timers. Would be even better if it were also available as a PDF... :-) Now, where can I find a run-down of all the NEW stuff for us experienced users?
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Thanks, Jeanie!

First of all, I will consider making this a PDF. There seems to be some demand for it.

Secondly, there are a couple ways you can find all the new features:

1) If you go to your Subscriptions page and then click on "Schoology Blog" in the right column, you can then filter by post category on the right. Choose "Site Updates and New Features".

2) You can read more in-depth how-to articles in our Help Center via support.schoology.com. All the newest articles on features are easily accessible in the "Announcements" area.

Thanks again!
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Well, Jeanie, I took your advice. I turned it into a PDF and it is attached to the blog. Enjoy!
Profile picture for Tony Tolbert
Tony Tolbert
I am not a new user. I just have a couple of questions. I would like to use my existing classes I set up last year but I will need the new sign up for this year. Would I just add a section or would I have to create the class and resources all over again?
Profile picture for Tony Tolbert
Tony Tolbert
I forgot to say I did save my course to resources. Do I just then do????
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hello Tony!

You should never have to recreate all the same resources you had already. If you did, we'd be breaking our promise to help make your life easier!

So because you saved your course to your resources, all you have to do is create a new course and add your resources (by folder) to your new course.

Another (and faster!) way is, if you want to keep everything exactly the same as before, select the "See All" button at the bottom of your Courses dropdown menu.

From there click "Archived" and then click Add Section button or the Copy Section option using the Gear icon. Select the correct grading period, and voila, it's all there.

Check out this post for more info: http://sch.gy/17Ay5ra

Hope this helps!
Profile picture for Mary Jean DeSocio
Mary Jean DeSocio
Thank you! Great overview!
Profile picture for Carter Eash
Mr. Eash
Is there a way to attach a document to an assignment? For example, I have some paragraphs for students to read that I attach when creating an assignment. The student opens the document to read it before answering questions they can submit into the Dropbox. Thank you.
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Absolutely! If you are creating or editing an assignment, you'll see your attachment options at the bottom of your Rich Text Editor, the big text field where you fill in the assignment's description. You can attach files, links, resources, and more.

Thanks!
Profile picture for Dan Ruff
Dan Ruff
When creating courses, do you recommend making one for each section? Ideally, I would just have one English 2 Advanced course, and students, when they signup or enroll, would somehow select which section of English 2 advanced they're in: 1st, 2nd or 5th block.
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hello Dan!

Creating one course per section is the classic way to use the platform. It works well and is easy to keep everything organized separately.

Some instructors are creating only one course and using the Grading Groups feature (http://sch.gy/17LEqQB) as their sections. This would require you manually putting students into each grading group/section with the added benefit of being able to assign the same graded items throughout your sections at once. I cannot, however, speak to the success of this model.

A good way to find out other practices is to ask your peers in Groups; Schoology Educators being a good one.

Hope this helps!
Profile picture for Dan Ruff
Dan Ruff
And, how do we get parents to enroll in a course as parents vs having them enroll as students. Does it ask when they enroll if they are a parent or student?
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
You can find out about that in our Help Center article: http://sch.gy/1cL0bqP.

Look at the Green Access Code Box and see the Parent Access Codes.

Also, if you have any other questions, the best places to go are support.schoology.com (first) and then community.schoology.com (second). This way our Support Team can help you out.

Thanks!
Profile picture for Derick Singh
Derick Singh
Can we send updates to multiple groups at the same time?
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Absolutely! From your Home page, you can create an update and select any number of your Courses, Groups, or Schools to post it in by using the "Post To" field.
Profile picture for Jane Klembarsky
Jane Klembarsky
Thank you for still answering questions. My students blog every week about their progress on a project. However, a some students have begun posting silly, off-topic comments and, as their teacher and administor for the course they are enrolled in, I would like the power to delete blog posts just like I can delete "wall" posts on the home page. However, I do not get the cog wheel when hovering over the right side of their blog posts. It doesn't matter if I'm in their whole blog or just that one blog post or on the wall it shows up on because I subscribe to all my students' blogs. How can a teacher delete a student blog post?
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hi Jane! I'm happy to help.

Blogs on this platform are directly tied to personal accounts. That means that the only people able to moderate blog posts are the ones who've created them.

The blog function can be turned off for users, but so far there is no way for you to delete posts that you didn't write. If you want, you can submit a feature request for blog moderation here:

https://support.schoology.com/anonymous_requests/new

One idea would be to use an Assignment as your "journal" tool by leaving it open (no due date) and allowing an unlimited number of submissions. This way your students could continually submit their progress, only you could see/moderate it, and your students wouldn't the incentive to be silly.

I hope this helps!
Profile picture for Abby Kahara
Abby Kahara
How can I add students that are younger that 13? When I attempt to add students to my courses that are younger than 13 is states that users must be 13.
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hi Abby,

This is something our Support Team can help you with. It may require an override that I cannot conduct. Please contact them via our help center: https://support.schoology.com/home

Thanks!
Profile picture for DrB Mason
DrB Mason
Thanks for still answering if you are - how can I disable student-to-student messaging? Thanks!
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hi Dr Mason,

By default, student-to-student messaging is inactive. You would have to talk with your school or system administrator to disable it in the Permissions area under the Edit Users tab.

Thanks!
Profile picture for Rebekah Stoll
Rebekah Stoll
I can't figure out how to allow my students to comment on my updates. Can you please help me with this?
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hi Rebekah!

If you go into your Course Options menu (right below your course's profile picture on the left) and select Edit Privacy/Course Settings, you'll see an area entitled Other Settings. You may need to simply switch the ability to "Comment on Course Updates" from Course Admin to All Members.

If it is already enabled for all members, then you should reach out to our Support Team via support.schoology.com, or more specifically our Community Support Forum, http://sch.gy/19neFq7

And for any other questions you have, please direct them to our Community Forum. It is simply the best place to get the right answers.

Thank you!
Profile picture for Grace Kuehl
Mrs. Kuehl
Could someone tell me how to edit the name of a course section that I've already created? Thanks!
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hi Mrs. Kuehl,

I'm terribly sorry for the late response on this. I must have overlooked your comment, but I hope that you have found your answer already.

If your course is not designated by section (e.g., English 101, Section 1), then you should be able to use the "Course Options" menu directly below your course's profile picture to Edit Course Settings/Info.

Otherwise, you'll have to use the Courses dropdown menu and select "See All." From there, you should be able to edit your course name using the gear icon.

For more info check out this community post (https://support.schoology.com/hc/communities/public/questions/200801786-...) or our Help Center (https://support.schoology.com/hc/en-us)

Thanks.
Profile picture for Casey McIntyre
Mr. McIntyre
Is there a way to "dismiss" notifications? I want to use my notifications as reminders of what I need to grade. After I finish grading an assignment, I don't need to be notified of the submissions anymore. Can I "Clear" them somehow? I am coming from Edmodo, where it was super easy to click "Dismiss Notifications"

Thanks!
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hello Mr. McIntyre,

We keep a running list of notifications by date and time to allow you look back at them later if you need to. That said, you can always put in a feature request to have a "notification dismiss option" here:

https://support.schoology.com/hc/communities/public/topics/200056073-Com...

We take these very seriously and will consider this request for future releases. Plus if you get other educators to vote for it, it helps to push it along. Submitting it this way also enables you to follow it and know its progress at any given time.

Now if you get multiple email notifications or push notifications on your mobile device about submissions you have already dealt with, then you should reach out to our Support Team via our Community Forum:

https://support.schoology.com/hc/communities/public/topics/200056053-Com...

Thank you!
Profile picture for Erik Hauser
Mr. Hauser
Is there a way to do a mass delete of "wall" posts. I want to do this because the class ended and I unenrolled all my former students and am using the same class again for the next school year.
Thanks.
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Hi Erik,

Check out this best practices blog (http://bit.ly/1lQJDBg) for a much easier way to reuse your existing courses, because no, there is no mass delete for updates.

You have a few different options here:

1. Copy your course (materials, settings, et al) to a new course.

2. Saving your course to resources and then adding those saved materials to a new, empty course.

I would suggest number one because you are able to keep the sequence and settings of your course.

If you have any other questions on this, go to support.schoology.com and searching "copy course section" in the search bar.

Thanks!
Profile picture for Rose Ruback
Rose Ruback
Hello,

Is there a way to make students' comments on updates or discussions private/viewable only by the instructor?

Thanks!
Profile picture for Becca Mitchell
Mrs. Mitchell
I am a homeroom Elementary teacher with 30 students. I teach all subjects and will be using Schoology's gradebook feature. Should I create multiple courses for each subject? Any recommendations on setup? Pros Cons?
Profile picture for William Randall
Mr. Randall
I am looking for a way to turn a student into "read only" for discussions. Is there a way to do that?

Profile picture for Maggie Lukens
Maggie Lukens
Is there a way I can erase what I wrote on a document the student turned in?
Profile picture for Dylan Rodgers
Dylan Rodgers
Yes. Turn on annotations (if you're on a mobile device) or open the document in your doc viewer (if on the web). Select the annotation you want to delete and a trash can icon should pop up. Click it and save.
Profile picture for Colleen Newman
Colleen Newman
This is a great resource.
I am doing a training for teachers tomorrow and would like to access my course as a student as well. I have tried multiple times but I keep getting a response that my district will only allow enrolled members to join classes. Does anyone know a way around that?