Tuesday, August 4, 2015

We interrupt this summer for a bit of teacher training time.

It is the 4th of August.  Our district's first teacher day, technically, is August 24th, with students starting on the 26th, yet a large portion of the professional staff reported promptly this morning for teacher training on Schoology. 
While my computer doesn't recognize this is a real word, it is the ONLY learning system that my district will be using this year to communicate with students.  Gone are Moodle, Blackboard, and, I suppose, Googledocs, as primary collaboration tools.  Schoology looks like social media's Facebook, without the advertisements.  There's an integrated calendar, the program talks to Powerschool, allows the creation of tests and quizzes, with grades posted immediately to the gradebook.  

It's revolutionary.

Once it's set up, and the operator feels competent enough to operate it.  Hence, today's training.  

It was exciting, a bit refreshing, and darned good to see colleagues, brainstorm, and start to wake up the hibernating teachers in all of us, outlining courses, collaborating, designing, and choosing really good photos to be our profile pictures for both our profiles and our classes.  

Admittedly, the success to using such a system hinges upon the students being as excited about the continuity and organizational possibilities as we are.  (Or even a fraction as excited, because, let's face it, Facebook is so YESTERDAY to high school students at this point...)  The unified effort of all teachers using a single platform allows us all to see calendars, understand when kids have quizzes and tests in other classes, and gives access to anyone with internet access.

Do I have a concern about students without internet at home?  You bet.  Is this a big problem in our district -- surprisingly, no. It seems that there are enough hotspots in town, that kids are doing well finding access.

And, since Twitter is the new normal, we've already linked Twitter to Schoology.

So we're excited, refreshed, and hip.  For at least the next ten minutes of technology.