A Beginner's Guide to Using Schoology: The Back-to-School Essentials
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.
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:
- Left Side Navigation—Allows you to access your personal calendar, messages, apps, and the like.
- 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.
- Reminders—This area can help keep you quickly informed of student homework submissions, ungraded items, etc.
- 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.
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:
- Left Side Navigation—This contains your Materials page, Updates, Gradebook, and more.
- 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.
- 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:
- Left Side Navigation—This enables you to switch between your Personal, Public, and Group Resources
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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