Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip: Accessing COLE 3.0/Schoology on a Mobile Device

We've spent most of our time as a district talking about using COLE 3.0/Schoology in its web-based version, but teachers, students, and parents can also access our digital learning environment with Schoology apps for iOS and Android (available in the iTunes App Store for iOS and the GooglePlay store for Android).

How to Log In Using the App: 

Because we are using Single Sign-On (SSO) as a district to manage usernames & passwords, logging into the app version requires that we choose "Username Login" instead of "Email Login."  This is true for all users (parents, staff, & students).

Regardless of which mobile operating system you're using, you'll be presented with a screen like the one on the right. Once you click on the "Username" option, it will ask for the school name. Hint: Typing in a zip code will bring up a more relevant list, but you can type in a school name as well (just be aware that this searches for all schools in the entire Schoology system, including international locations).  After choosing your school, you'll be re-directed to a login screen for my.cherrycreekschools.org.  Staff and students will log in using Active Directory while parents will need to use the email account that they used for CCSD Online Parent Forms.

Using the App:

iOS View
Once the app launches in either Android or iOS, you'll see the "Recent Activity" and "Upcoming Events" feeds.  To access other areas of COLE 3.0/Schoology, click on the icon in the upper left-hand corner (looks like 3 lines in iOS, the Schoology logo in Android).  Currently, the Android app doesn't have a separate calendar view, but iOS does.

One of the nice things about using the app is that you can upload photos or videos from the Camera Roll (iOS) or Gallery (Android) into assignments & posts and you can also record directly into assignments or posts using the built-in camera.  When in a materials area (like Assignments or Discussion Boards), a "+" sign in the upper right hand corner of the screen allows you to upload, take a picture/video, or add items from resources.

Functionality differs slightly between Android & iOS, but students can do most things using the app (including taking assessments).  If you're a teacher, it's a great way to post a quick update or add video or photos from a mobile device.

Logging out of the App:

Android View
When using shared devices (like a cart of iPads), it's important that you log out of the app on the device.  On the Android, you can do this by getting to "Settings" in the left menu and choosing "logout" (using the icon in the upper left hand corner to view the different areas in the app).  On an iOS device, you'll see "Logout" at the bottom of the left hand menu list.  If students are in a 1:1 environment, they can either log out or leave themselves logged in.

If there are things that don't work the way you need them to work in the app, remember that you can always access COLE 3.0/Schoology on the mobile device browser.  Certain things in a course are probably easier to accomplish using the web version, but there are definite benefits to having access on the go.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip: Differentiation using grading groups in COLE 3.0/Schoology

One strategy that we often use in the classroom for differentiation purposes is grouping, ideally in a flexible and dynamic way (Heacox, 86-90).  Teachers have different ways of accomplishing this in the face-to-face classroom environment, but we also need to consider how to best utilize groups for differentiation in our online or digital classroom environments as well.

When using COLE 3.0/Schoology, this strategy can be employed using what Schoology calls "grading groups."  In the "Members" area of any course, you'll see an area on the right hand side of the screen for "Grading Groups."
You can create as many groups as you want, and students can be in more than 1 group to allow for flexibility.  Upon creating a group, you will see a list of students in your course.  Clicking on the student names will add them to the group.  If you need to edit the group after it's been created (like if you need to add new students), you can edit the group using the settings wheel pull-down.

Once groups are created, you can really start to differentiate the content in your course and do progress monitoring, either on an individual or group level.  

When making an assignment, an assessment, or a discussion board look for the icon that looks like 3 dots in the triangle -- it's the tool that allows you to assign something to a specific student or to a grading group.  Students in that group will see the item while others will not.  If you create different assignments for different groups, COLE 3.0/Schoology will create each assignment in the gradebook for you.

And, speaking of the gradebook, creating grading groups also allows you to filter your gradebook assignments to see how different groups are doing on assignments.  Using the pull-down where it says "All users" will let you choose to view only certain students in a group.  If, for example, you have students who need accommodations due to a 504 or IEP, filtering your gradebook can help you see just that group.

For those schools using PowerSchool's gradebook, you can also create groups in PowerSchool for similar purposes;  however, COLE 3.0 and PowerSchool don't communicate with each other in terms of groups.  But, if a group assignment is created & graded in COLE 3.0/Schoology and pushed to PowerSchool, it will only record grades for students in that group.

* from Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom, Diane Heacox, 2002

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip: 3 Ways to Support Writing Instruction with Schoology

As we begin to think about ways to address the Colorado Academic Standards for writing, conversations are naturally turning to digital tools that can help support the writing standards.  As our students are supposed to be writing routinely in varied time ranges, we have several options for doing this in a digital learning environment.

Assignment Activity: Online Journals or Reading Logs

Whether your students are writing shorter explanatory pieces, arguments, or narratives, you can use Schoology/COLE 3.0 as a way for students to submit their ideas in a digital format.   One option for this is to use the Assignment activity.  
  1. Add an "assignment" to your course, being sure that the dropbox option is enabled in the settings.
  2. Type the prompt in the description of the assignment.
  3. Have students use the "Create" tab in the dropbox area to compose their writing and submit.
  4. Assess and give feedback, using whatever rubric or grading scale you wish.
One of the best parts is that you can assess the writing using assignment-specific rubrics or common rubrics (like for 6 Trait Writing).  This gives the student specific, criterion-based feedback which can be used to refine writing, even through several drafts.  All student revisions are captured digitally for the teacher, and separate feedback can be given on each revision.  Drafts can also be saved and revised before final submission, giving the student a chance to edit and refine.

Test/Quiz Activity: Essay or Short Answer Response

If you want students to respond in writing as part of an assessment (either as a standalone question or as part of a larger, mixed assessment), you can create a question type for short answer/essay responses.  
  1. Add a "test/quiz" to your course, and add a short answer/essay question to the assessment by writing the prompt into the description area for the question.
  2. Decide if you want students to have a character limit or a time limit (helpful for helping students get used to these types of assessment situations).
  3. Make the quiz available or visible.
  4. Assess and give feedback.
Unlike the journal activity mentioned before, grading based on a rubric is not as easy with an assessment.  However, like other activities in Schoology, the individual test question can be aligned to CAS (Colorado Academic Standards), or teacher-created Learning Outcomes.  Submitting multiple drafts is also not as easy with an assessment, but this is a great way to add shorter writing components into tests and quizzes.

Discussion Board Activity: Online conversations and group interaction 

In addition to individual or private writing opportunties, our students are also supposed to use technology to collaborate, interact, and publish.  Teachers can use a Discussion Board to create an activity that supports this standard.
  1. Add a "Discussion Board" activity to your course.
  2. Type in the expectations for the Discussion Board in the description area.
  3. Decide if the grading will rely upon a rubric or another point scale.
  4. Create a "post" under the Discussion Board for student responses.
  5. Assess and give feedback.
Students can include pictures, audio, and other rich formatting options in the response, making this a more dynamic experience than your typical blog comment or response.  Teachers can also make sure that students cannot see each other's responses until posting one of their own.  

Finally, for longer selections that are composed using another word processing tool (like MS Word or GoogleDocs), students can upload (or link to) their work electronically in the dropbox area for assignments, where teachers can grade against a rubric, provide audio comments or feedback, and collect further revisions or drafts.  This means that work can be created outside of Schoology while employing some of the powerful feedback tools provided in COLE 3.0/Schoology.

If you are looking for options to provide varied writing experiences for your students in a digital format, COLE 3.0/Schoology is an easy way for both teachers & students to use digital tools as part of the writing process.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip: Recording Audio and Video in COLE 3.0/Schoology

Using audio and video to help students understand or explain concepts or give feedback is something that is being utilized with increasing frequency as technology becomes more widely accessible in our classrooms or even outside of the school building.  In addition, the inclusion of speaking & listening skills in the CAS for English Language Arts means that we should be providing multiple opportunities for students to practice these skills, both in face-to-face and digital learning environments.  If you wanted to record your own audio or video (or wanted students to have that ability), you can use COLE 3.0/Schoology to do so.

COLE 3.0./Schoology has its own built-in tool for recording directly into the system, and it's available for almost anything you want to create.  For example, when creating an update, you'll see a microphone icon, which lets you either record audio or video into your update.
You'll see that icon in a variety of activities, including assignments, test/quiz directions, test/quiz questions, and discussion boards.  This means that you could record an audio or video version of your directions or questions for students who need audio in addition to written instructions or directions (and it's a great tool for students who are just learning to read).

Students can also record directly into the system, either in response to discussion board topic or as part of an assignment or quiz.  They will see the same icon when that option is available, and they can either choose audio or video.  Giving students a choice in how they respond best is a great way to differentiate how kids can show what they know.

Finally, teachers can also give audio feedback to students who submit an assignment digitally into COLE 3.0/Schoology.  In the assignment dropbox area, you'll see a way to add audio or video comments as a feedback method.  Clicking on the microphone icon will work in the same way as it does for other items in the system: you can choose video or audio.
Keep in mind that audio responses are limited to 11 minutes and video responses are limited to 10 minutes.  If you find that those times are not sufficient, you may want to explore another web-based option that you can embed into your Schoology items or create something on the computer and upload the file (.mp4 is best for video, .mp3 for audio).  As long as the files are smaller than 512MB, you can upload them into COLE 3.0/Schoology.