Schoology: Google Classroom but worse?


We all know Schoology. It is the most important piece of our learning online- except perhaps Zoom. Schoology, however, is a big change from last semester. While there was no official plan because, well, no one really expected a pandemic, Google Classroom became the catalyst of learning for most teachers. My number of Google Classroom classes went from two to seven in the first week of March.
When this semester started, anyone who was involved in the Northshore School District wanted to know what the tools we were going to use would be. “Schoology” was not something that anyone really expected, and no one knew what it was. The biggest evidence of this was the amount of time it took most students and teachers to start pronouncing it correctly.
Even though initially we did not know anything about Schoology, having used it for 6 weeks now we have all gotten used to the system, and developed a large variety of opinions.
Moving to Schoology was a difficult transition for many throughout the Northshore School District. Teachers, parents, and students alike found it difficult to adjust to the new software on such short notice. BHS English teacher, Jody Lineman says that she “spent the first three weeks working 8 hours a day figuring out everything” and “had to go on YouTube and create a ‘fake’ class to test different procedures… the learning curve was steep”.
Many students are also frustrated with the system. When asked their opinions on the district’s decision to switch to Schoology from Google Classroom multiple students remarked that it “was not worth the switch” and said that the system was “buggy” and “difficult to navigate”. Out of 300 students surveyed, 61.7% of students said that they prefer the Google Classroom to Schoology while 22.9% said that they prefer Schoology and 15.4% have no preference. This partiality is only natural considering high school and middle school students in Northshore have spent the majority of their academic careers using Google Classroom and are accustomed to its simplicity. Schoology, on the other hand, is a much more diverse program that attempts to interface with a wide variety of programs including Google Docs, Synergy- also known as Studentvue and Parentvue, and various document formats.
However, students’ discontent goes far beyond simple resistance to change. Students have experienced a plethora of technological issues with Schoology in the last couple of weeks ranging from inability to upload assignments to complete site crashes. One student commented, “I used to hate Schoology. Now I’m okay with it but the bugs are still really annoying”. Similarly, Mrs. Lineman also observed that,“ I would say after learning to use it, it is easy but it still has many bugs within the program itself, especially in regards to grades. My goodness! The grading part of Schoology needs some real changes.”
Schoology is also frequently unable to properly sync with outside softwares it attempts to integrate in its platform. Issues with connecting to Google Docs are frequent among students, as are issues with the transfer of grades between Schoology and Synergy. Use of the system on mobile phones is reported to be wildly unreliable at best. One student complains that they “can’t even sign in on their phone” and they’re not the only ones. The Schoology app boasts a whopping 1.3 stars on the Apple App Store and it’s reviews often criticize it for being slow, buggy, and poorly designed.
Beyond software bugs, another issue that many students have with Schoology is the lack of consistency between teachers and how they utilize the site’s vast variety of tools. The main strength of a program like Schoology is its ability to connect a variety of platforms which allows a lot of flexibility for students and teachers. But this can be a double-edged sword as the lack of standardization between courses enables teachers to post resources in extremely different ways which can make it difficult for students to keep up and remain organized.
Schoology has an infamous reputation amongst Bothell High School students, and simply scrolling through any Northshore School District Facebook page will give you negativity about Schoology to last you until your deathbed (see right). Despite the widespread displeasure surrounding Schoology, so far we’ve made it through 9 weeks with it. Nothing about online school is ideal right now, and Schoology follows that model. Unfortunately, whether or not you like it, it appears to be here to stay.