One of our initiatives underway this year is a pilot of Schoology, an online social network for schools in by which teachers and students can communicate and collaborate, and manage their courses. About five of our teachers are using it, and, particularly in the middle school, we are finding good success with it.
One of our teachers working with it, Corinne Bancroft, who teaches 6th and 8th grade English, offered a session recently with her colleagues to showcase her usage and encourage others to come aboard. The slides above are from that talk, and she provided the comments below.
I do think Schoology is the best free solution to get our students’ homework all in the same free place, consistently organized. … I believe that Schoology is more appropriate for middle school. My students’ parents value the privacy and safety of Schoology. My students find it easy to use, and the sixth graders think it is cool because it is like facebook (which they for the most part are too young to have).
Schoology does not have the more complicated functions that [high school teachers may wish to ]use (but that’s fine for middle school). One has used moodle successfully for a few years, which is also free; Moodle worked better for her, but she thinks it is not as intuitive and would not be so easy to figure out for younger students. Finally, the other cool thing about schoology is they recently added a parent membership. Middle school parents can now create their own accounts.