Schoology adds to the stress of school return

Shift to new LMS often confusing for students, staff

Student using Schoology

Maya Bhatt, Monte Vista High School

Monte Vista High School Sophomore Luana Veras uses her Chromebook to access Schoology, checking her upcoming assignments.

There was no doubt that returning back to in-person school after 1-½ years of being online was going to be tough. For many, Schoology has been one of the hardest changes to get used to.

Schoology is the new online platform used for accessing assignments, grades, and course materials. It has been the center of much stress and frustration for many students and staff. With new and different features — from the announcement tabs to the way grades are viewed — learning how to use Schoology correctly has been an extensive process, according to students and teachers. 

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) said it switched from Google Classroom and School Loop to Schoology because it needed a comprehensive Learning Management System (LMS). In other words, the district wanted assignments, grading, and materials all in the same place. 

“As we progressed into a new school year, we recognized that it was complicated for students, teachers, and families to have multiple places to login to access curricular materials,” said Angie Corritone, assistant principal at Monte Vista High School. “It became increasingly apparent that we needed to establish one district-wide, uniform learning management system to deliver content, as soon as it was feasible.”

Corritone added, “In researching different learning management systems during the entire 2020-21 school year, the Learning Management Evaluation Committee landed on several important considerations including grade reporting, collaboration amongst colleagues, compatibility with Infinite Campus, and the ability to embed digital tools we had become accustomed to using during remote learning. Other districts were consulted about the effectiveness of the systems they use.” 

Schoology was chosen last April for all SRVUSD high schools. 

While the district said it made the switch in hopes of making students’ lives easier, it seems as though Schoology has actually caused more stress.

Luana Veras, Monte Vista sophomore, said she wasn’t particularly in favor of the decision. She said the “turn-in” function, the calendar, and many other features aren’t very user-friendly. 

“It is hard to know what assignments you did or didn’t actually turn in because the calendar does not remove the assignment when you turn it in,” Veras said. Schoology “is not functional and does not help optimize our time when it comes to schoolwork,” she said.

She said compared to other websites she used in the past, including Google Classroom and School Loop, Schoology comes in last in terms of usability.

“The way Schoology is formatted, I keep seeing … 10 overdue assignments, and it is scary because I feel like I missed those assignments which only makes me more stressed out,” Veras said. “Also, our teachers had to spend time teaching us how to use it which took away from our in-class learning time.”

Freshman Owen Brandeis said that Schoology made it harder to adjust to high school. Even though Brandeis feels he is quite tech-savvy, he said he still feels the pressure of having to suddenly learn how to submit assignments and check if they are submitted on time.

“It is just a completely different platform,” Brandeis said. “It was very hard to get adjusted to and if I could I would go back to Google Classroom.”

Some teachers also said they were frustrated with how dysfunctional Schoology is. Danielle Alm, a math teacher, said while it is a confusing enough platform to navigate as a teacher, she sees how complicated the platform is for her students.

“A lot of kids are just confused,” Alm said. “When you’ve got 50 different ways to do the same thing and all of the teachers are doing different stuff, the kids are going to get really confused.”

Alm said she found it hard to get adjusted and navigate this complex platform and feels as though Schoology has not helped with the transition back to in-person school.

“Google Classroom was not very quick with grading … but everything else about Google Classroom was better [than Schoology],” Alm said. “I would switch back to Google Classroom as a platform to post [assignments and materials] but not for grading.”

Corritone agreed there have been issues. “Even after a close review of the product last year, it turned out there were problems we did not anticipate, she said. “For example, we had not expected the grading/homework features to be as limiting as they are.” 

She added that “the unexpected need for huge amounts of support overshadowed the anticipated plan. Hopefully, we can move forward, but there is admittedly a lot to repair still along the way.”

This article was written originally for The Stampede, the student newspaper of Monte Vista High School in Danville.