I spent a good part of my summer creating my online classes using the Schoology website platform.   I developed just the first semester of curriculum, and now that I have a better feel for the ins-and-outs of Schoology - and plan on developing second semester this fall.  Having spent several weeks working on Schoology, I have a decent idea of its features - both the good and the bad.
Pros:
- Free
- Any school can create an account with Schoology
- Resembles social networking sites so it's easy for those familiar with Facebook to navigate
- Crisp, clean layout is easy to follow
- Allows you to structure your curriculum in an organized, hierarchal format with main folders, sub folders, and so on
- Has a running sidebar of upcoming assignments/due dates on the right side of the screen to serve as reminders to students
- Teacher and students can create a profile complete with photo, mini bio, interests, etc. to help participants get to know one another
- Teacher and students can post updates and share links to relevant articles and YouTube videos
- You can develop quizzes and tests with a variety of selected response templates, not just multiple choice 
- Students can submit work privately through DropBox or publicly by posting a link to a discussion board
- Schoology tracks the students' grades
- Every assignment is automatically accompanied by a comment box - similar to a Facebook wall - where students can ask questions, you can clarify instructions, etc.
- You can set individual due dates for assignments, unlike some online learning platforms where the entire class is due at the end of a semester.  Setting individual due dates will help keep students on track to complete the course at a comfortable pace.
- You can create folders for whatever purpose you want.  I have ordered folders for all of my units, but I also have a "Resource" folder with lectures on convention rules and essay writing.  That way, students don't have to sift through an entire unit's content for a refresher on how to structure a body paragraph.

Cons:
- Not visually dynamic
- You can "hide" unit folders and then "unhide" them, but it unhides them for everyone.  You can unlock folders on specific dates which is better than nothing, but students work at different paces, and it would be more helpful to have the Unit 2 folder unlock automatically for students after they complete Unit 1.  Instead, you  have to either set an unlock date or manually unhide the following folder for everyone once one student gets close to completing to present unit folder.
- If you've already ordered the assignments for a particular unit, know that if you edit an assignment's point value or due date, the assignment gets bumped to the bottom of the list, and you have to reorder the folders all over again.
- Once you create a title for a class, it's stuck that way.  And you have to give your class a title in order to create a class space.  This was an issue for me because I created a stand-in title of "American Government" until I came up with a better name, "Civics & Citizenship", but the class is stuck with the stand-in title.  
- You can't develop all of your class's content on Schoology.  I don't mind this, but it's good to know.  You'll have to develop hand-outs in Word, design web lectures using programs like Prezi or Educreations, etc.  Schoology is more a space to upload files you've already created, a place to design tests, than an end-all be-all for class development.
- You can't copy and paste quiz questions from one quiz into another.  For example, I'd like to pull questions from all of my unit tests to plug into the midterm exam.  That's not currently an option with Schoology.  So instead, I have to open two tabs: one with the quiz that I'm copying questions from, and the second with the midterm I'm creating to paste the content into.


All-in-all, using Schoology has been fairly painless.  Only a few frustrating days but never to the point of wanting to use another - and ultimately costly - platform.  The cons are glitches and oversights more than intentional choices, I think, and therefore I expect most of them to be ironed out in the coming months.  I'd recommend teachers of all subject areas to check out Schoology, not just to develop an online class, but to use as a supplemental tool or for flipping the classroom.  Teachers could post video lectures of basic content (like convention rules and structuring an essay), design remedial or advanced activities for those lower and higher achieving students, and create a space for the class to share out resources and ideas.

    About Me

    A lover of literature and the arts and an advocate for global awareness and active citizenship, I spend my days with high school English and Social Studies students exploring why it all matters and how they can have a voice in the world.  This is my space to document and reflect on my practice, note happenings in education, and share my appreciation for the arts.

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