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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Schoology vs. Edmodo, Round 2 - Also, why Schoology solved my iPad workflow woes

In a previous post from December, I wrote about how I was (sadly) switching from Edmodo (my long-time LMS love) to Schoology. Of the 25 schools I support, 33 classes of students are using a Learning Management System. Since my December revelation, 26 have switched to Schoology and the remainder stayed with Edmodo. I myself maintained both an Edmodo group and started a Schoology course for the twice-weekly after school Student Innovation Team I lead. This, combined with the 33 classes, was a great way for me to learn more about the differences between the two platforms. I've learned a lot, and wanted to share it with you! Below is a quick overview of what we've learned when it comes to Edmodo vs. Schoology.

Why they both rock...
  • Full Collaborative LMS. Both Edmodo and Schoology are full-fledged Learning Management Systems, including assessment building tools, discussion platforms, assignment creators, scheduling tools and announcement boards.
  • Google Drive Integration. Both platforms allow students and teachers to connect their Google Drive accounts. As more and more districts are turning to GAFE (Google Apps for Education), this is becoming more and more necessary. Students can get Google Docs as resources from their teachers, or turn in a Google Doc for a project or assignment. It is simple to link and easy to access in both systems.
  • Interface. Both Edmodo and Schoology feature a Facebook-like interface that is clean, appealing to students and fairly easy to use. Unlike some of their competitors whose interfaces include visually unappealling spreadsheet-like screens and and cluttered menus, Edmodo and Schoology's teacher dashboards and student interfaces are brighter and include clean icons.
  • Free. Both Edmodo and Schoology are free. While some may say that Schoology charges a fee, it is free in all the same ways Edmodo does. They both allow an unlimited number of teachers and students to create accounts and use their system at no cost. They both have app stores, where you can pay to connect third-party apps, websites and programs to their platform. The one place that Schoology does charge is for Enterprise support - i.e., connecting to your district School Information System (such as PowerSchool) and important student data, login information and grades. However, this isn't required and these features are above and beyond what is free in Edmodo as well. So, in essence. They are both equally free.
  • No Email Required. Neither Edmodo nor Schoology require an email account and they both have a simple student-self-sign-up-system (say that five times fast). They use alphanumeric codes (Edmodo's is a bit easier as it's only 6 characters vs. Schoology's 10)

Where Edmodo edges out Schoology...

  • Professional Learning Community. Edmodo has been around longer - about a year to be exact. Perhaps for that reason - or perhaps because of a different company focus - its professional learning networks are more mature and active than those in Schoology. I myself am part of quite a few Edmodo groups and find them helpful to connect with other educators and get ideas. The "discover" link on your page is also a neat tool to find great resources that you otherwise might not come across.
  • Small Groups. Schoology's platform allows for the creation of different classes, and even the ability to invidivually assign quizzes or assignments, but you cannot create small groups. In Edmodo, you not only have the ability to do this, but the tool is easy and intuitive. Moreover, it is possible to have the same students in multiple small groups - a great feature when creating multiple project groups or ability-based scaffolded groups.
  • Badges. This is another great feature available in Edmodo but not in Schoology. If you want to give your students incentives for different achievements, check it out!

Where Schoology has Edmodo beat...
  • iOS App / iPad WorkflowThis was the biggest win for me. I should have honestly put this one first and could write an entire post on it. Instead, I'll just bold the subtitle and make the font red so hopefully you continue to reading to here. The Schoology iPad app solved (almost) all of my iPad Workflow issues. It's a one-stop solution for turning in students' digital work directly to Schoology assignments - from almost every productivity / creation iPad app we use (without having to first put it in a backpack or another file repository as Edmodo requires). It works with any app that allows you to either save the video or image to your photo roll, or open the file into another app. Some examples: Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie, Puppet Pals, Popplet, PaperPort Notes, iAnnotate and Doceri / Explain Everything (the screencasting apps we used to replace Educreations / ShowMe / ScreenChomp). Once the work is submitted it is easy to grade, in Schoology's no-need-to-download-the-files web-based viewer and give student feedback. Students can also turn in unfinished assignments, then access their drafts at a later time to complete their work. The additional submission shows up as a "revision" while maintaining the original file for reference. Needless to say, this sure beats the email, Dropbox.com or WebDAV solutions we'd all be stringing together in the past. 
  • More on the iOS app. Moreover, the Schoology app is more intuitive and developed than the Edmodo app. It allows students to create media (video or picture) to embed in assignments or discussions, open assignment attachments such as PDFs or pictures directly into another app. The functionality of the iPad app is so clean and easy to use that some of my 1:1 iPad teachers who were against trying out an LMS (because they found Edmodo's app difficult to navigate) are now in love with Schoology! Check out this page with support on how to use the Schoology iOS app, and my video to the right with a basic walkthrough of its main features. 
  • Discussions. Schoology has a slew of discussion features not currently available in Edmodo. As there are many, I'll simply bullet my favorites below. For more information on discussions, read this article and check out this video.
    • Discussions are their own category - In Edmodo, if you want students to have a chat discussion, you simply post a note or assignment and allow them to reply to that. However, in Schoology, discussions are their own category that are both gradeable, and assignable. 
    • Reply threads - Students can directly reply to one another's comments in Schoology, and their comments show up as a reply thread (just like in Facebook). This is not possible to do in Edmodo.
    • Media embedded in comments - Students can comment in a discussion with video and pictures - both on the desktop version and the iOS version. This is especially helpful when they are discussion a math problem and they want to share a their written work.
    • Student comment spotlight - Teachers can use a "filter by user" tool to see which of their students participated in the discussion, how often they participated and where their comments are in the flow of the thread. 
    • Shared discussions - Teachers can share a discussion with another course to allow students from multiple classes to join in the same discussion.
    • Comment moderation - Teachers can also moderate comments before they are published.
  • Assessment building tool. Schoology also offers some advanced assessment tools in its assessment builder:
    • Embedded Media - The Schoology assessment builder allows teachers to directly add video and images - even formulas and rich HTML text - to both question and answer portions of an assessment. The result is the ability to have a student match pictures of animals to their appropriate classification. Or polygons to their names. Or even watch a video clip and name the genre. (In Edmodo, you can embed links but not media itself.)
    • Ordering / Sequencing questions - This is another question type available in Schoology. 
    • Assessment Settings - Schoology's assessment builder provides additional settings such as: resumable assessments, timed questions (in addition to timed test), result statistics, and question alignment to state or Common Core standards. 
  • 5/2013 Update: Grade with a Rubric. Schoology also now allows you to grade assignments an assessments with a self-created rubric. Boo-yeah. 
  • Analytics. Schoology also allows the teacher to view a myriad of analytics about student behavior on the platform - including time in course, last time logged in, assignment pageviews and more.
  • Attendance. This LMS also has an intuitve attendance feature that includes commenting and messages to parents.
  • Updates feed. When logging into Schoology, students only see updates (course messages from their teacher) on the left panel and all of their assignments, quizzes and discussions are on the right panel. This helps students to differentiate between what they need to do and coure announcements. Many teachers I work with are using the updates to give the kids an agenda for the day. That way when they log in, they see the period agenda on the left and the to do list on the right. In Edmodo, both types of messages are blended into the same news feed, so students often have a difficult time dileneating the two. While they could look at their notifications, or updates, at the top right of the Edmodo page, the Schoology update feed is still easier for most of my students (as many have commented in the past month).
So who won this round? Schoology. The discussion features, iOS app, and assessment tool were knock outs for us. However, as we say, there are no long term relationships in EdTech. Edmodo has a new app update coming soon, and we're excited to try it out and see what new features it brings. We are all here to find the best tool to meet our students' needs. Hopefully this healthy competition will only drive LMS innovation at a faster pace. So here's to looking forward to round 3.

For more Schoology vs. other LMS platforms, check out this great post by Alice Chen!

53 comments:

  1. Jennie,

    Thanks so much for this! I just discovered Edmodo this year and am LOVING the upgrade from my old LMS, Moodle. However, I had heard of Schoology, but not explored it. I'm glad to have your analysis as a resource for any future decisions, discussions, or recommendations I may make. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hey Brianna! Glad to help. I love Edmodo too - this was a hard switch. But I just had to do what's best for our kids and right now, this seems to be the better tool. Excited to see what Edmodo comes up with next!

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  2. Great post - thanks! We are looking at perhaps moving away from Moodle, and Schoology is one we're exploring. I really liked the ability in Schoology to embed audio or video into any part of the course. That's pretty attractive as we're trying to find ways to support more speaking and listening activities for CCSS and world languages.

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  3. Thanks, I have my classes signed up with Edmodo this year but I was looking for something else so that when I posted a question and students reply, I could reply directly to their post instead of my reply showing up at the bottom of the general thread. Thanks!

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  4. Thank Jennie. I have a few interested teachers lined up to try Schoology next week. Several of us tried out Edmodo after your visit to Maine, but as you so eloquently put it, in iPad classrooms Schoology makes more sense. Looking forward to a better work flow!

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  5. Thanks Jennie. Your comparison and conclusions are spot on with what we are experiencing with our 1:1 iPad pilot. While not perfect, Schoology is closer to the one-stop-shop for full learning management. Our district just purchased the enterprise version of Schoology and we are hoping to integrate our SIS and data management pieces into a single Schoology dashboard. We are presenting Schoology at ICE and ASCD in the coming weeks. In addition, we are in the planning stages of hosting Schoology's first user-group conference. (THSD 211 - Palatine, IL). Stay tuned!

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  6. Thanks for writing this post. I have been an Edmodo user for 3 years now, but have begun to be frustrated. One of my biggest issues is actually with the parent view. Parents can't send messages to teachers so the parent view becomes just one way communication. Can parents message teachers in the Schoology parent view?

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    1. Yes, they can :)!
      http://help.schoology.com/parent-guide

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  7. At our school we were looking at Edu20 and Edmodo. We will definately take a look at Schoology. Have you looked at Edu20? I would love to hear your comments on it, as it seems to offer a lot for free, and even more features for practically nothing per student. Thank you

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  8. I appreciate the in-depth analysis. This year I have been using Edmodo, but with all of the other features, and our school just getting some Ipads, it looks like I'm going to work with Schoology next year. Thanks for keeping us up to date

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  9. My hesitation with switching is that I have spent many hours creating tests in Edmodo. I would hate to have to do all of that work all over again. Is there a way to transfer the tests from Edmodo to Schoology?

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  10. Our district is wrestling with this very issue. We have a third system thrown into the mix, however: OpenClass. Anyone care to weigh in on this option compared to Edmodo and Schoology? Thanks, Jennifer. Your article was extremely helpful. We are going 1:1 next year with Chromebooks so having a consistent LMS is going to be necessary.

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  11. I hope someone can point me in the right direction.
    Teachers need to send their students into my computer lab to take a test. I need to assign each student a different test. Then, we need to be able to print out the test results for each student so the student can return the results back to the teacher for review.
    I need to print out a copy of the test with the correct answers, as well, for the teacher. And, if we have more students than computers or the lab is down, I need to have hard copies printed out, without answers, that can be run off.

    LANSchool - cannot assign different tests to students at the same time
    Edmodo - Cannot print the results of the test
    Schoology - Cannot print the test or the results

    Yes, I could do a print screen for each question, but that would mean a print-out of more than 50 pages for each student not to mention the time involved.

    Does anyone have any sites or software that will work for us?

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    1. Have you tried a Google form graded with Flubaroo? You can print the form with the questions only, but student submissions would go to a spreadsheet for the teachers who assigned the test.

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    2. Our team of physics teachers had the exact same issue. We ended up writing our own solution in php/mySQL/HTML5. Key features:
      -Teachers create a question bank with all items tagged by learning objective
      -Teacher selects which objectives they want and how many questions per objective
      -Students take assessment, each student receiving a completely different exam that is automatically randomized with the appropriate number of questions
      -Performance on each learning objective is immediately displayed on screen, with a copy emailed to teacher and student
      -Reports are available for whole class or for individual students

      Our system isn't available to the public, but if you have a programmer you can talk to about creating it, I'm sure you will be very popular.

      As an alternative, there are always things like braingenie.ck12.org. The questions are already in the system, but each student receives a randomized quiz and teachers can easily track each student's performance.

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  12. Hey thanks for the great post, your work and examples are always great ! I think we have a mutual friend Jay Atwood. We both work together in Singapore.

    We are looking at Schoology as a possible learning platform moving forward so these resources are very useful. The Google Drive integration is ok, but from my first look it looks like the navigation within the drive is really weird. Hard to find folders or even access shared items (which is not maybe so important) Have you had the same issues, do you know if this is something that Schoology is working on improving.

    Also do you know of anyway to get away from using just numeric grades on assessments within Schoology? We would love to link criteria or rubrics to assessments, rather than pure %. Anyway look forward to reading your future posts.

    Andrew.

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    1. Hi Andrew - tell Jay I said hello! Yes, the Drive integration can be wonky at times, but it works well for us and for what we need. We use it in our Chromebook 1:1 classrooms and it gets the job done.

      You can change the numeric grades to letter grades, but as of yet they don't have a rubric grading option... I believe it might be on the horizon though. You can email help@schoology.com and give them that request though - they are super open to ideas/suggestions and feedback!

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  13. Thanks so much for the GREAT info! I got excited about Edmodo until I realized the quiz tool's media limitations weren't going to work for me as a music teacher. It sounds like Schoology might! What I'm really looking for is the ability to allow kids to take the "same" assessment multiple times on their way toward mastery. IMO, a fully-functioning online quiz application would allow me to create "buckets" of related questions, then create quizzes that were triple randomized...a certain number of questions from bucket A and some more from bucket B, random question order, and random multiple-choice answer order. If you come across something like this, I'll have a fundraiser to pay for it!!!

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    1. Schoology allows you to take the same assessment multiple times and save entire assessments, or individual questions, to banks so as to create differentiated assessments in the future - or redeploy the same one.

      Also, now they have the ability to grade via rubric!

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  14. Jennifer, this is an awesome article. Many districts are feeling the pressure to adopt Blackboard as an LMS as a step toward college readiness, but I have only heard of frustrated user experiences. Do you have any comparison insites?

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    1. Sadly not - I only used Blackboard casually but in my personal experience do prefer Schoology as an LMS!

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  15. Thank you for this gret information. We, too, are searching for a workflow solution tht will work with our 1:1 iPad initiative. In Schoology, is there a way for teachers to provide written feedback and edit/annotate a student submission? This is a key part of our workflow.
    Thank you for your help.

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    1. Yup! You can annotate over it and give feedback from the assignment view on a computer. Right now the kids can't see the annotations from an iPad, but I believe they are working on that...

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  16. Jennie,
    Thanks for this excellent analysis (and all the other great work you do on Twitter, your podcast, etc). I am new to Schoology but have found it very intuitive and easy to use. I am using it to build out an online Digital Citizenship curriculum for our incoming Freshman for next year (about 250 students). Does the free version have any limitations on # of students who can access your course? Ditto for parents, if we have a piece for parents to work on. I couldn't find any info on this, but wanted to check before I got too far in the development. Thanks for your help, Neal Sonnenberg

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    1. No limits, Neil. Mind you, I didn't check about 250!. You can go to the help section, the community forum, search there or simply ask. Someone will come along with an answer.

      I am completing my first year of using Schoology and I cannot possibly recommend it highly enough. I has changed my classroom, and allowed me to only use 20 pieces of paper this semester. And that feels good!

      We need to institute something on Digital Citizenship. Is there a chance I could view what you are doing? Thanks for considering that request.

      MrsB

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  17. Great assessment of both platforms. Thank you. I do want to clarify one thing you said about embedding in Edmodo. You can embed the actual video or whatever you're linking into Edmodo now, not just embed the link. This may be an update because I had linked some videos previously that didn't embed, but at the end of the year, I was able to embed the actual video!

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  18. I have used Edmodo in the past, but it was clunky and ended up being more of a hassle than a help. I'd never heard of Schoology until I saw this post. Thanks for introducing me to something I've been looking for. I'm going to play with it over the summer, and see if it fits the bill.

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  19. Great post! We are deciding between schoology and haiku. Has anyone had experienxe with haiku? The schooka I have spoken to, love it

    @jffrothman

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  20. Great post, Jennifer!

    Do Schoology's Grading Groups function similarly to Edmodo's Small Groups? Seems like that would work, but I don't know if you can have the same students in multiple Grading Groups per Course.

    Just found out at #ISTE13 that our District is investing in the Enterprise, and giving schools the option to switch from Edmodo. My campus is the only 1-1 (netbooks with iPads likely next year) out of 34. If teachers switch, this will be the fourth change in five years: Blackboard, Moodle, Edmodo, and Schoology. Ugh!

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    1. The change will be sweet.. Schoology rules! The groups are slightly different, but I think changes are coming soon!

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  21. I forgot to mention that I've used your blog post, a few other sources, a little of my tinkering to create a comparison chart for my teachers.

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  22. Thank you for this! This just saved me so much time.

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  23. I'm a new teacher and looking to set up a LMS site for my middle school classes. While I prefer Schoology to Edmodo because of the discussion threads & rubric generators, I can't seem to figure out if it allows students to create their own blogs. Does anyone know if it has that capability? There seem to be teacher blogs...

    Also, my district uses powerschool for grades & attendance. While I'm not really planning on using the platform for attendance, I would like grades to be up-to-date...however, I'd rather not have to enter them twice. Is there a way to sync from Schoology to Powerschool (or vice versa)?

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Rachel. Jen from Schoology here, just happened to see your comment and don't want to take over the blog post but I have answers for you!

      re: student blogs: http://community.schoology.com/schoology/topics/blogs_on_schoology

      re: Powerschool, this integration is only available to our enterprise customers.

      You can always ask questions on our community support forum! Hope this clarifies things for you.

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  24. Hi Jen,
    Great article! We have been using Schoology for a little over 3 years now and we love it too. In case you missed it, there are now achievement badges on Schoology (and they are sweet)!

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  25. Ive used Edmodo for years, but as more teachers in the building switched to Schoology, I followed suit. I am finding it unwieldly and not intuitive at all, and customer service is non-responsive. Despite the advantages to Schoology - and there are several in layout in particular - I might be heading back by close of business today.

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  26. I would love to do a learning management system with my very young students (K and 1) -- mostly for the kids to share their work and posts with parents and each other. I also like the badge idea. However, neither Schoology not Edmodo take the needs of very young children into consideration. For example, I reach an immediate stumbling block when my students are expected to join the class themselves. I need an option for me to add the students. Is there a management system that is geared to much younger kids?

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  27. Jen, how did you get parental permission for your 4/5 students? According to the Schoology privacy policy students under 13 must have parental permission.

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  28. Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for the great article. I'm wondering- do you choose to use schoology in your classroom for free, or does your district have a paid enterprise version. Does your gradebook link to the SIS system to communicate classroom grades to report cards etc?

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    1. Hi Maeve,

      We use the free version, which doesn't link to the gradebook or SIS. The enterprise paid version does, however :)! I wish we could get that!

      Delete
  29. Hi
    Do you have an updated comparison between the two with the new Edmodo features? Have you communicated with Edmodo about the benefits to Schoology and possibly having them enhance their features.
    I use Edmodo but some of the teachers are looking into Schoology. I really want them to make an educated decision.
    thanks

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    1. I believe most of these still hold true... I have spoken with Edmodo about these features - hopefully we'll see something new soon :)!

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  30. Great information. I just received an email from Educlipper that they have added an assignment and collaboration feature. Are they moving into the LMS world too? And how does Haiku fare among the choices? Thanks

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    1. I'm not aware but look forward to exploring!

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  31. Sorry about the post as "princess of darkness" - old handle - must change!!

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  32. Thanks Jennifer, I just stumbled across your blog. Very insightful. I have a few questions. 1) is Moodle ‘dead’? I’m sort of locked into using Moodle within 2 different organisations. (Very hard to move away from the Moodle monster after investing lots of time into it!) After 5 years I know enough about Moodle to advise a school not to use it but I have not had a solution to confidently recommend for a school to use - hence your blog is timely. Somewhat telling that Moodle doesn’t get any sort of mention in any of the comments. I suspect moodle will die a long slow death. 2) My understanding is that with Edmodo you start a year with pretty much a blank ‘page’ and then the ‘page/course’ populates as the year progresses. i.e. an Edmodo ‘course’ is tied to a class. Then at the end of the year that course ‘dies’ and you start again. Is this correct? If yes, is this the same for Schoology? The reason for the question is I work with secondary maths teachers who have a need to create ‘flipped mastery units’ where students can self-navigate through the content of a unit. The content is video heavy with explanatory notes and other resources. Much of the content is ‘image-driven’ i.e. hyperlinked images leading to videos, other pages of the course, etc. This is pretty easy to set up in Wikispaces, Weebly, Google Docs, and also Moodle. I understand that Edmodo (and Schoology??) is ‘forum driven’ and more Facebook-like than a traditional LMS - and with obvious educational benefits. However if Edmodo/Schoology cause the teacher to start over each year then they are not the ideal solution for anyone wanting to create the type of flipped unit I described above. HOWEVER I’m thinking the best of both worlds could be achieved by building the flipped mastery units using an alternative tool and then simply link the units into the Edmodo or Schoology page. And re-link for subsequent years. Does this make sense? (Sorry for the long post!) Are my assumptions correct? Or is it possible to use Edmodo/Schoology to create flipped mastery units which carry over to subsequent years and be added to along the way? Thanks in anticipation for some clarity! Richard.

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    1. From what you're asking I think you can still use Schoology. You'd save your quizzes and make your quarters extend beyond the one year. You're right that they are "in the moment" posts so having a static unit wouldn't be through assignments... you'd probably need to use the Pages section where you can add content there and set up micro-webpages.

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    2. Thanks Jennifer ... and so Edmodo would not work so well in regard to setting up micro-webpages which last beyond the year? Tanks again.

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  33. Thanks for a great read. As Steve Jobs said : “Innovation is what separates leaders from followers.”

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