PAUSD switches from InClass to Schoology

Alex Warner and Callie Walker

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The Palo Alto Unified School District is getting used to the switch from InClass to Schoology in an attempt to create a standard website for all school information.

According to Ann Dunkin, the head of Information Technology for PAUSD, the district chose Schoology, a company a little over three years old, over several other options because it has an “intuitive user interface, a platform that supports integration with other tools (google docs and turnitin.com), a strong social component, dropbox, parent accounts, the ability to create school-wide courses, and a workload management tool.”

“The founders were willing to work with us to customize the product to meet our needs,” Dunkin said. “JLS and Paly asked for a student workload management tool and Schoology built that tool in the spring of this year, rolling it out in March 2012.”

Ever since she’s worked at PAUSD, Dunkin says she has seen problems with InClass, the previous online tool for teacher-student-parent communication.

“The most recent upgrade of InClass resulted in what people saw as a reduction in functionality, including the loss of a real dropbox,” Duncan said. “Teachers moved away from it in droves.  About six months before I arrived, InClass crashed and the database was not recoverable.”

The change started with student grades being posted on Infinite Campus two years ago, and after the success of that switch, the district continued its plan of ultimately getting rid of InClass permanently. The district will continue to use Infinite Campus for the time being, but its ultimate goal is to make Schoology responsible for announcements as well as grades.

The main difference between InClass and Schoology is Schoology’s social media-like atmosphere. The homepage features a news feed where teachers can post their assignments, links and announcements.

Despite Schoology’s many applications, teachers and students have mixed reactions.

Math teacher Natalie Docktor found some difficulty in using the new site.

“Initially it was pretty good, I was able to upload assignments and show all my quizzes and tests for the entire semester, and I thought that was pretty neat,” Docktor said. “But now that I’ve done that and have told my students to log in, they aren’t seeing what I’ve posted. I have students who can’t log in, and now I can’t log in.”

Junior Corbin Dodd sees the potential benefits for Schoology, but does not like when teachers use it as a replacement for annoucements during class.

“I think that it’s best for me to see the homework written on the whiteboard and then go back onto my computer and check in.” Dodd said. “I like [Schoology] as long as it doesn’t overreach.”

Dunkin understands the confusion with the switch, but encourages people to use Schoology.

“We do not see Schoology just as a replacement for InClass,” she said. “For us, we expect it to be the core learning platform for the district.”