Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Source and Schoology

Here's the district's info on the new link to The Source.

The online student gradebook The Source and other student tools will now be one click away.
Beginning Sept. 9, the link to The Source will be replaced with “Student Portal” on the top right side of your school and the district webpages to access The Source and Schoology. See  yellow circle in the image to the left to see where to look for the link.
The Source is used by middle school and high school students, parents, and guardians to see student schedules, assessment scores, attendance, library information, and grades. 

Schoology is new for the 2015-16 year and offers teachers the opportunity to communicate with students, parents and guardians, about day-to-day coursework, such as due dates, assignments, and homework.

Here are some user reviews of Schoology from the website, Graphite:

From assigning to assessing to collaborating, tons of options to extend classrooms outside of school.  

Any content area teacher can use Schoology to push engagement and learning outside the class.

Overall, this is a great LMS option for either classroom or school-wide use and one which I recommend.


There's so much here that it can be overwhelming and cause usability/navigation issues to the uninitiated. 

There's no shortage of features, in fact, it's so loaded with possibilities that it can be intimidated and will require some tutorials -- both for teachers and students. But once the getting-to-know-you period is over, teachers can engage students in rigorous tasks, assessments, and discussions using teacher-designed and uploaded curriculum. It's a perfect platform for skill extension, content scaffolding, and time management, especially for more tech saavy high school students on-the-go.

Students with limited reading skills can also become lost at times within the site and may need added support as they become more familiar with the program and procedures.

Student Data Privacy

From Schoology:

Usage of Schoology by Students
If a student is under the age of 13, a parent or legal guardian must give consent for the child to use Schoology.

Schoology collects limited personal information from minor students only where that student’s school, district, or teacher has contracted with Schoology to collect personal information for the use and benefit of the learning environment.

Schoology requires schools, districts, or teachers to obtain parental consent from parents.

In order to create an account, Schoology does require that all users create a screen name and password, which is stored on the site, and collects personal information such as name, address, email, or other information if necessary, depending on the needs of your school or the service. If you are a student and register to use the site you will be asked to provide an access code provided to you by your school administrator or teacher. We do not sell, share, rent or trade your personal information with any third parties other than as disclosed within this privacy policy.

A child's participation or access to an activity cannot be conditioned on her providing more Personal Information than is reasonably necessary for that activity. Parents have the right to refuse further contact with their child by the site and have access to their child's information to have it deleted by contacting the school administrator.  

Parents have the right to consent to the site's use of the child's Personal Information without having to consent to its disclosure of that information to third parties by contacting the school administrator.

We may disclose your or your child’s personally identifiable information in connection with business transfers and purchases. As we continue to develop our business we may buy or sell business divisions or companies, we may merge or combine with another company, or our company itself and/or all or a significant part of its assets may be acquired by another company. We may provide any information we have to a potential counter-party in any such potential transaction. If such a transaction is completed, your or your child’s personally identifiable information may be one of the transferred and shared business assets. In the event that information is shared in this manner, notice will be posted on our Site.

We may also share de-identified and/or aggregated data with others for their own uses.

You have the ability to update your privacy settings at any time while using the site. You may do so by going to the “account” drop down and selecting “privacy settings” . Within this section of the site you have the ability to control who may view your profile, updates, media albums, courses, email address, blog and who may message you.

From the NY Times on this issue (this is from 2013):

SCHOOLS are also developing methods to protect student data. The Palo Alto Unified School District in California uses Schoology as a clearinghouse for course assignments in its secondary schools and a couple of elementary schools. But administrators prevent students from entering personal data, like e-mail addresses, in their profiles. They encourage students to upload an avatar, not a photo of themselves. And the district doesn’t post grades on the site.

“We take security very seriously,” says Ann Dunkin, the school district’s chief technology officer, “and one way to take it seriously is to limit the amount of information students can put into the system.”

I will ask the district about their agreement with Schoology and the minimum amount of information a student can enter in order to use the system.


Disgusted said...

I'm so disgusted. What are the costs of this bigger and better project?

dw said...

It's a perfect platform for skill extension, content scaffolding, and time management, especially for more tech saavy high school students on-the-go.

That sounds nice and shiny, but what about the less tech-savvy students. Households with no computer or internet access at home, immigrant parents or students with limited English ability, etc. ? Is internet access now a de facto requirement to be a student in Seattle Public Schools? Sure, there are computers at most schools, but access is always limited. You might be lucky enough to be within walking distance of a public library, but not necessarily, and it may or may not be safe to walk alone to get there.

A big problem with systems like this is that they are put in place with the notion that they are optional, but it's too easy for teachers and administrators to become dependent on them and they morph into the only means of communicating assignments, notifications, updates and all manner of information to students. How can we prevent this from happening?