Rototuna High Schools have been purpose-built to encourage collaborative and creative, cross-curricular learning. The choice of LMS has been fundamental to enabling innovative learning environments, as Melissa Moore and Paula Wine explain.
We were searching for a learning management system (LMS) with all the traditional functions, such as resource sharing between teachers and students, and enabling them to submit work. However, we wanted a solution that could also be a progress-tracking tool to encourage both students and parents to engage with learning progress and develop student agency.
What was needed was a platform for dynamic collaboration between teachers and students, as well as a delivery system for communication with family and community, about all things school life: learning, sports, arts and culture, opportunities, events, and notices.
Ultimately, we were attracted to the vast array of tools Schoology provides, particularly the multiple ways students can demonstrate their learning, and in the many ways teachers can give feed-forward and feedback. Everyone’s excited about Schoology’s soon-to-be-released new tools that will make it even easier for our educators to manage and support students’ personalised learning pathways, learning goals and self-assessment.
Schoology is fundamentally designed to pull all these aspects of our school together in one place and this has happened for us stress-free and quickly.
In a short time, we have noticed many benefits. These include flexibility in terms of what can be shared with students and the ways they can respond; improved workload and workflow when marking assignments; and the different methods teachers can use to give feedback to students – mark-ups, notes, comments, voice and video recordings, and grades. The discussion feature has been particularly popular, especially when graded. The rubric function has proved useful as Rototuna uses the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy to make learning visible and give feedback.
A key selling feature for us is the solution’s ability to integrate with other management programs, in our case the automatic import of information from our Student Management System KAMAR. Teacher and student accounts and their enrolment in courses are automatically synced with KAMAR markbooks, and update for us automatically on a daily basis (or manually at any time). This makes new enrolments or students changing courses a simple and automated process, helpful for us and any other school that does not have the time or on-site support to manually update all of our e-learning services. Exporting grades from the Schoology gradebook and importing them into KAMAR markbooks is also a simple three-step process.
Implementing a new LMS in our second year of operation was a big step for us but we just weren’t satisfied with the limited tools offered by our existing solution. Brad Friis and the team from GCT Education, which provides and supports Schoology, has been with us every step of the way, providing a strategic plan for launching and implementing the system, to ongoing teacher training and technical support.
GCT Education and Schoology offer on-site and remote training to Schoology administrators and teachers, as well as a range of tailor-made online courses in Schoology itself to learn how to best use the platform. The regular and instantaneous communication has made the switch as straightforward as it could possibly have been.
‘Agentic, collaborative, community-minded learners’ is our vision
– Schoology is playing a key role in getting us there.’
Melissa Moore and Paula Wine are Deputy Principals at Rototuna Junior High School in Hamilton. Opened in 20016 and 2017 respectively, Rototuna Junior High School (Years 7-10) and Rototuna Senior High School (Currently years 11-12) occupy a single campus in the Northeast of Hamilton. For more information on this fantastic school go to: www.rhs.school.nz