Over the course of this first semester of using Schoology, we have learned many new things about Schoology–including all of the wonderful benefits, and the unfortunate shortcomings of the platform.
One of the things we have learned is that it can sometimes be beneficial to link sections of our classes. For instance, linking sections can allow us to share materials with our classes once, as opposed to multiple times, alleviating the necessity of sharing the materials with other courses once we have posted them. Linking sections also creates a single course from which we can facilitate learning.
The Requirements for Linking Sections
There are some requirements for linking sections. First of all, the sections need to be for the same course as it is configured in MiStar. For instance, you can not link a section of Biology 1 with a section of a course titled Chemistry 1. You probably wouldn’t want to do this anyway, but some teachers have courses with much more closely related curricula that might be tempting to link. Second, the sections must have a unique set of students. So sections that have a student that also appears in another section can not be linked. Third, sections must have the same “Admins” designated. Finally, sections must be from courses from the same school. So, teachers who have student from other buildings, as is the case with some of our secondary programs, are unable to link courses. Still, there are some cases in which sections can’t be linked for which we have not found a direct cause.
Timing is Everything
Linking sections has also caused many problems for teachers. One such problem has occurred when teachers link sections after they have added multiple resources. This merges many of the resources and creates a large group of students, but in the process it can not merge all student work and data. Therefore, Schoology forces teachers to download a .csv file with all student grades. This is a good thing that Schoology has done. However, the actual student work may be lost. For good. Therefore, it is highly recommended that if teachers decide to link sections, that they do so before any materials are added–essentially before the course begins.
Whatever You Do, DON’T DO THIS
As with many things, sometimes, it seems our familiarity with other ways of doing things clouds our perception as we try to learn something new. For instance, in most cases while we are using technology, it’s ok to try things out because we usually don’t break them. We’ve gotten used to the “undo” (CTRL-Z) function. However, not all software works this way. It seems that changing our mind about linking our sections is one of those instances. Many difficulties have arisen in cases where teachers have linked their sections, then subsequently unlinked the sections. If we are going to link sections, it’s kind of a commitment; the consequences of withdrawal are dire. To save ourselves much aggravation, we’ve learned that once we link your sections, we should NOT unlink them.
Should we talk first?
It may be a good idea to discuss whether it’s advisable for you to link your courses. The Tech Coaches are here to assist you in making decisions like this and others, in addition to talking about instructional strategies using the various technological tools we have at our disposal. As always, we’d love to have you contact us!