Using Schoology for Project Based Learning in a Blended Environment

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Schoology is not a new tool. Originally created for college students in 2009, for the purpose of sharing lecture notes, Schoology quickly became a staple in the K-12 education learning environment. With its easy-to-use interface and robust grading system, it’s a wonder how we ever survived without it! Teachers in K-12 quickly began to use the schoology platform in order to create blended or fully-online learning environments with their students as well as to distribute assignments, administer assessments, and to collaborate with other teachers and/or students online. Soon, Schoology became a safe place for administration to share information to the school community and staff and used it as a model to house online staff professional development (ISTE for Educators 1, 2, 3, 4).

Another not so new term- Project Based Learning (PBL), has been receiving quite a bit of recent attention since educators, administrators, and parents are discovering that children need another way to learn, other than rote memorization and high-stake testing.

The Buck Institute for Education defines Project Based Learning as:
“Project Based Learning (PBL) prepares students for academic, personal, and career success, and readies young people to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit.” (Source)

There has been a great deal of research as of late on the promises of PBL. You can find much of that research here at the Buck Institute for Education.

As a former teacher, {who admittedly taught using PBL not knowing it had an official name} I often tied in a LMS such as Schoology to assist my students (and myself) in the progression of a project.

So, how does one use Schoology in a Project Based Learning environment?

First, it is all about organization. Having your students being held accountable for their own learning is considered to be at the forefront of any 21st century learning technique, {I know it is this century- sorry, I have to say it}, pedagogy, (ISTE for students 1). Using a LMS, since Schoology assists students in a collaborative atmosphere that is measurable; which means, you can track who contributes to what. When you couple that with Google, this blended online PBL environment is a sure-fire way to have students collaborate safely online in one space.

How can this be accomplished? There are two ways to make this organization and collaboration happen:
By creating Groups within Schoology. This way anybody can contribute and add material freely. Click to learn more about Schoology Groups.
Creating folders within a course with specific group names and linking in Google Docs, Forms, and Slides for collaboration. Advantage? Students can see what other groups are working on (ISTE Student 3).

In addition, using Schoology as a tool for PBL can also increase a student’s awareness of being a positive digital citizen. I highly recommend discussing with students about maintaining their positive online interactions, digital footprint, and netiquette. You should also be prepared to lay-out ground rules and expectations for your PBL blended environment, (ISTE Student 2). By allowing your students to freely interact with one another in an online environment implementing Schoology, it will afford them the opportunity to practice their own online presence in a positive way and it will hopefully translate into an out-of-school positive social media interaction. Of course, this means that you need to lead by example. Make sure to check in regularly by participating in the online discussions. Ask questions and check-in on your students both online and in person. Use the Schoology calendar for project checkpoints. Incorporate tools such as Padlet, Google Forms, and Slack to check for student independent and group progress.

Example of Schoology Course

Example of Schoology Course

Modeling of Schoology in an online environment for professional development of PBL can ensure proper use by educators. Typically I would have teachers partake in a face-to-face workshop on PBL, and then go online to reinforce what they have learned and/or build upon their previous gained knowledge. In this online learning environment, I specifically build modules that reinforce my expectations for a student-driven blended PBL learning environment. The teacher then receives first-hand experience living out the online PBL blended learning environment.

About Aimee Bloom

I am a run-on sentence. I typically am thought of as someone who is a forward-thinking with innovative ideas. ​ I am also an educational technology coordinator and a computer technology teacher. My passion is coaching and training teachers and administrators on the use of educational technology in their curriculum. One of my favorite pastimes is searching for a technology tool to met a teacher’s needs and the other way around. I coach the teachers in my building and travel to various schools to aid in the endeavor of educational technology. Because of my newly-added position as a student services coordinator, I began to use a Flip for my teacher trainings and recorded screencasts for the teachers to reference. It’s like Rent-a-Bloom. Not a 100% ideal situation, but I make videos as they are needed to either supplement the fact that I may not meet with them as often as they require, or they “heard from the grapevine” that I showed Mrs. XYZ how to use an {innovative} {collaborative} {communicative} tool. In the latter, the videos then served as a tool to get them started. The best part is, and the teachers that I coach will agree, they can fast forward me at anytime. ​ My second passion is sharing the love and sparking a fire. I hope the resources that I leave you with creates some interest in you. I would love to know that I started a blaze.