25 May 2015

LMS Heavyweight Smackdown: Schoology vs Edmodo vs Google Classroom


My house is so much neater since I discovered Learning Management Systems. Well, I mean, it would be if it weren't for the first grader and pre-schooler I share it with. But you get my point: no more piles of papers sliding off various surfaces, and my little paperclip stash is no longer strewn throughout four different rooms.

Suffice it to say, Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Schoology, Edmodo, and Google Classroom have changed my life for the better.

But which LMS is better?

I've tried all three of the platforms above, and there is no denying that I have my preferences. Let me give you a little insight as to what they are and why

WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR
There are basically eight things I'm looking for in a Learning Management System:

  • Schoolwide integration
  • Assignment delivery to students
  • Assignment collection from students
  • Messages/reminder relay to students
  • Grade tracking and feedback
  • Mobile access
  • Setting customization (ie gradebooks weights and grouping)

And above all, it must be a FREE platform.

An LMS can also earn brownie points with me for things like having a hopping educator community, possibly communities for students. I'm also a big fan of badges, but I've got workarounds if they're not built into the LMS. Integration with other web apps is another big bonus.

Things I, personally, don't care much about are quiz functions and forum options. The closest thing I've given to a quiz in the last year or two is an EDPuzzle IPA listening section, so integration with sites like EDPuzzle is a lot more useful to me than self-grading quizzes I have to go back and score with my AAPPL rubrics anyway. Also, I try to keep interpersonal exchanges out loud as much as possible, though I think blog comments are a good place to "talk" to each other online.

EDMODO VS SCHOOLOGY
The fight was rigged. I got a taste of Edmodo, but then moved to a school that already had all of its students on Schoology. I could have rebelled and made my class join yet another site, but schoolwide integration is a Big Thing for me because it means that students are on that site getting notifications daily one way or another. Also, they've been suffering from login overload already, the poor dears.

And so I used Schoology for two years, albeit grudgingly.

I've got to say that the assignment delivery for Edmodo and Schoology were comparable, but the student turn-in for Schoology was slightly more complicated. You'd THINK syncing with Google Drive accounts would make things easier, but mostly it left kiddos dumbfounded as to what to do if it didn't work for whatever reason. And there were so many ways to turn something in.
Actually, on both Edmodo and Schoology, kids would often leave a comment instead of turning in, which was vexing when I was trying to quick check who had submitted something and who hadn't.

The gradebooks on both of these sites were pretty nice, though Edmodo's was more navigable, and Schoology's was more customizable (handy in a district with six-week grading periods, . The ability to highlight, doodle, and add comments on documents for both sites was AWESOME, especially when I was teaching Creative Writing (although Schoology's fickle highlighter caused me a few hours of cumulative frustration those semesters).

What I missed most with the transition from Edmodo to Schoology, though, was the communities on Edmodo. AmigoWeb was a cool thing for students to practice with each other across the country, and there were also some cool communities for educators to connect and find each other. Schoology's communities have been growing lately (I still get the notifications) so there is that, but it's harder to connect students to each other or find random language teachers with whom to collaborate.

The badges were pretty cool on both (until Schoology made it a PAID feature!!), but Edmodo definitely has it all over every other LMS for integration--they're almost a baby Google with how many ways you can post to and from Edmodo! Plus their app was SWEET. I could casually grade assignments from my phone, either as I walked around or tried to stay awake during boring whole-school assemblies. Schoology's was pretty handy, too, but opening files to score on the phone was not as easy.

Schoology totally lost me, though, when access to the school roster of students became a paid feature. A school of under 250 does not need to fork over enough for a whole school account, sorry.

GOOGLE CLASSROOM
But then Google Classroom came along. We were already a Google school, so slam dunk for schoolwide integration. And, yeah, Google "targets your interests" with ads, but personally that doesn't make me feel squicky or double-plus bad, so FREE. Plus the push notifications from both the site and the kids' Google e-mails makes it more likely the young ones will get their assignments. In fact, my kids would rather have a Classroom class to coordinate our after school club than a Facebook page! Now, you can't trick out the assignment itself with so much as an underline, but you can attach a Google Doc with all the italics and bold and formatting you want.

And Google? Google IS integrated with everything. Although I'm still disappointed that the it's mostly just log-in level at this point, that much is a godsend to the memory-deprived among my young ones. Still, I wish ForAllRubrics and Google would work out a deal so Classroom could use their badges too, like Edmodo does.

But the assignment collection COULD NOT BE EASIER. And I LOVE being able to see how many have what turned in at a glance (and of course being able to send them a quick "can I help?" email). The Drive integration is less convoluted, and students can turn in files and even links to other sites (hint--they know they can turn in a link instead of submitting from their Drive if they don't want you to see their revision history, ie work completed after due date/time). Also, they have a glaring red LATE mark that they can't get rid of until they click Turn in.

And while I KNOW Google is continually improving, I'm still a little cheesed about not being able to GRADE from my mobile app. Also, I would kill for a Google gradebook--there simply is no spreadsheet functionality to see a kid's grades for multiple assignments. So you can forget about setting up grading periods or weighting (although that does make it easier to give feedback in forms they're used to without sullying your standards-based gradebook).

CONCLUSION
I'm a Google girl. I'll wait for my app accessibility and just keep using Classroom on browsers to grade in the vet's office. I'm required to enter grades in PowerSchool separately anyway (Schoology's PowerSchool integration? PAID.) I do occasionally miss Edmodo interactions and easy badging, but there's no substitute for the familiarity, the ubiquity of the Google machine when it comes to helping kids.

#1 post of 2015

9 comments:

  1. This is perfect post. I have dabbled a bit with Edmodo and Schoology in the past (and I say have to say that my preference is Edmodo, and that was before they apparently made their features paid features). Our school is also a google school, so I think I will likely adapt that for the upcoming school year.

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  3. This is an interesting article, but I do have one beef with GC. I would like to be able to see all of the assignments for one particular student on one screen. I don't use a gradebook, and so to be able to see an overview of one individual students assignments over a period of time would be really helpful. I would like to be able to evaluate things like timeliness of assignments without having to click on each individual assignment for each individual student.

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    1. I'm with you, Allison, but I'm confident that that will be coming down the pipeline--hopefully sooner rather than later!

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  4. Thanks for this article - I am currently looking into which LMS I want to use next year with my 5th graders, and have been leaning towards Google Classroom. Your insights and experience were great to hear! My biggest roadblock right now is that I only have 13 Android ASUS tablets, and they are locked by my tech administrator to only allow one account to be assigned to a device, which made it impossible to use last year. I am hoping to convince him to modify this so that I can make the transition to Google Classroom from Edmodo - I am also a Google girl and love all of the integration!

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  5. Google classroom will make this school year difficult for schoology and edmodo.

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  6. I have to grade ~600 students. Only Schoology's gradebook can handle what I need--I couldn't even consider something without a robust gradebook. My 3rd graders & up turn in their assignments from their integrated Google drives just fine. I tried Edmodo twice and no go. Found Schoology, was up and running in a couple weeks, students loved it, and saves me hours upon hours of work. If in a few years Google Classroom is as functional, that'd be awesome, but until then, it's Schoology, no contest.

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    1. Totally agree with Schoology being the way to go!

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  7. Very enjoyable article with great information. I really appreciate how you broke down each of the 3 LMSs into specific comparable features. I'd love to hear an update about your thoughts on Google Classroom now. Also, Edmodo has had several feature upgrades in the last year, so I wonder if you have examined those yet.

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