An Open Letter to Schoology / PowerSchool (Basic Accounts, Enhancements, & Communications)

DanTalvi
Journeyman

An Open Letter to Schoology / PowerSchool (Basic Accounts, Enhancements, & Communications)

While I am unsure if this is the most correct method to reach out and contact the PowerSchool and Schoology teams, I believe it was important to openly post my concerns in hopes that it might be passed along to the appropriate parties as I believe I am not the only long-time Schoology user with the concerns listed below.

 

My name is Daniel Talvi and I have been a long-time advocate and user of the Schoology LMS for over 8 years. I began using Schoology long before the influx of users due to COVID-related hybrid and remote learning and was a proponent and leader for many other instructors in my school who migrated to this system when teachers were forced to find a new method for delivering content to students when in-person learning was not an option. When I first began using Schoology, this platform was innovative and an amazing resource for educators in all areas of education— from vocational technology (CTE — like my program) to special education.

 

As I'm sure you are well aware, many school districts across the nation have seen an unprecedented influx of new instructors, including (but not limited to) teachers, assistants, aides, and integrated staff since schools have returned to normal operation post-COVID. As such, many new teachers are still in search of a platform that they may be able to use to manage their own instructional materials, collaborate with others within their departments or districts, and rely on other teachers/professionals in their content areas through a singular, unified platform. Many districts have already begun to adopt unified, district-wide platforms such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and (in some cases) Schoology Premium— but that is not the case for all districts and organizations.

 

There is a vast number of instructors (such as myself) who do not have the benefit of a district-wide LMS that is as robust as Schoology, nor do they have the influence to persuade their districts to spend the prohibitive costs to implements the Schoology LMS, nor do they have the individual budget to upgrade to the cost-prohibitive Premium tier for a single classroom or department— just to have access to basic LMS features. Furthermore, as stated before, Schoology was ripe with innovation upon it's launch with fantastic support and impementation of new features, such as Badges, Student Completion rules, and a proficient quiz/test and assessment feature. That said, the innovative side of Schoology has come to a halt, with many popular feature requests (such as automated badges, automatic "missing" grade filters upon due dates, better grade reporting/layouts, etc) beign ignored or stuck in development limbo without any updates or new information.

 

In summary— will Schoology ever re-open the ability for new users to register for a Basic (free) account? Will Schoology provide more clear communication to users (both instructors, admins, and parents) regarding feature development and improvements? Or, should I as an instructor who relies heavily on inter-department collaboration with a need for other instructors to be able to access my courses, start looking at alternative LMS systems?


With Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams becoming more prevalently used, with many of their features quickly matching and surpassing those available on the Schoology platform (with Google Apps for Education being 100% free for non-profit educational institutions with an easier user interface), I am finding it incredibly hard to justify and advocate for using the Schoology platform. The lack of development and restriction of access to a platform that has been free to use for years behind a payway is deeply concerning. I have spent near the past decade building curriculum around this platform with the hope of continuing to do so for the next 30+ years I have left of teaching before I retire. 

 

While it would be an unfortunate and tedious process to migrate elsewhere, I believe I am not alone in my frustrations regarding the state of the Schoology platform and are anxiously awaiting PowerSchool's next steps so that we as the frontline instructors can determine ours.

1 Solution
DanTalvi
Journeyman

Thank you for your recommendations:

 

As a media arts instructor, Canvas Free is unfortunately not a suitable replacement as my program utilizes large media files on a regular basis and the 500MB cap for free users is insufficient for my content area needs.

 

Thankfully, my school/organization is assisting us with funding to migrate to Google Classroom with the Learning and Teaching upgrade (which will cost my program approximately $200.00/ year compared to the $5000.00/ year quoted by PowerSchool).

 

That said, this entire experience is inexcusable. Basic users had the rug pulled out from under them with very little time to make adjustments. If PowerSchool knew this was the direction they wanted to go in, they should have provided instructors enough time to either migrate to another system or make pleas to their districts to persuade them to migrate/upgrade to Schoology. Six months is not enough time to sufficiently migrate 10+ years of materials, many of which exceed the data cap for automatic migration/download tools.

 

Based on this experience, I can guarantee that I will actively advocate against using any PowerSchool product for my classroom or district for the foreseeable future.

View solution in original post

8 Replies
ParitoshT
Community Support Expert
Community Support Expert

Hi @DanTalvi,

 

Good Day! Thank you for reaching out to the Community. We understand your concern.

 

With an increasing number of schools and districts relying on Schoology Learning to support their organization-wide blended, hybrid, and distance learning programs, PowerSchool is committed to ensuring that these schools and districts have our full support to deliver a smooth back-to-school experience during this critical time.

 

Therefore, we have temporarily turned off the ability for new instructor accounts to register for Schoology Basic, the free classroom edition of Schoology Learning. Existing Schoology Basic users will continue to have access to their accounts – and can rest assured that their students and parents will still be able to sign up for Schoology Basic at www.schoology.com.

 

Schoology Basic users will also notice some differences in their user experience within the platform, as they will no longer have access to the following functionality:

 

Menu notifications 

 

Users will still be able to click the bell icon to see their Schoology notifications, but the counter will not populate. A green dot indicator for new notifications will still be displayed.

Reminders and Upcoming Events 

 

Reminders and Upcoming Events on the Homepage, Courses, and Groups will not automatically load on the right sidebar. Users will be presented with the option to refresh Upcoming Events or Reminders to load any that they may have.

Test/Quiz

 

Users will continue to have access to their previously created test and quiz materials but will not be able to create new tests/quizzes. Schoology Basic instructors will still be able to create a test or a quiz just using Course Assessments and will also be able to convert their existing test and quiz materials for use in Course Assessments. 

Individually Assign

 

Schoology Basic instructors will no longer be able to select the option to individually assign a given material to a student. The three-dot icon in the material creation modal will no longer appear.

Student Completion Rules

 

Schoology Basic instructors will no longer be able to assign completion rules to course materials. 

Course folder navigation

 

Schoology Basic instructors will no longer have access to the Next and Prev buttons to scroll through materials in a folder. Users will have to use the course materials breadcrumbs at the top of the screen to return to the folder they are viewing.

 

For more information, refer to the Schoology Learning Product Help page.

 

ParitoshT

Community Moderator 

DanTalvi
Journeyman

Unfortunately, you have not addressed any of my concerns.

1) You use the phrase "temporarily turned off the ability for new instructor accounts to register for Basic". It's been 2+ years since new instructor account registration was deactivated. That's not temporary.

 

2) As one Schoology's early and long-term adopters, I am very aware of the functionality that has been removed for free users— that's the problem. The functionality you list has been taken away from long-term users. Furthermore, I have no control or ability to upgrade from basic to a paid subscription as there are no reasonably priced classroom upgrade tiers that instructors can budget and purchase to restore these functions on an individualized level when their entire district has no intention to migrate to Schoology from their current LMS.

 

3) There are many, many community feature requests and recommendations that have been made for years, pre-PowerSchool merger, that other Schoology representatives had previously said were in the works. Since those updates, several of these upgrades have still not yet been rolled out.

 

As reluctant as I am to migrate to another platform (based on the amount of time I have used Schoology and the amount of content I have developed specific to this platform) I do not foresee myself continuing to use Schoology, or any other PowerSchool service, going forward. There appears to be a significant disconnect from PowerSchool and the needs of individual instructors who do not have the pull to influence an entire district to shift platforms; this is especially true since instructors who might be interested in advocating to switch to Schoology can't even make a free account to trial the software to make an appeal.

 

I will be looking at making the switch to Canvas for the 2023-24 school year.

Thanks. 

ggutierrez90
Recruit

What recourse do I have as a long-time user of a district-managed Schoology account to continue using Schoology in my new district that does not have Schoology as their LMS?  Am I just now locked out of using Schoology, since I didn't have a Basic account already created (I did before I merged it with this current district-managed account)?  Will I just lose access to all of the Resources that I have carefully created and curated over the last 5 years?

 

I appeal to PowerSchool/Schoology to find ways forward for long-time users who are moving districts.

ParitoshT
Community Support Expert
Community Support Expert

Hi everyone,

 

Good Day! After much consideration, we made the decision to end Schoology Basic to focus our energy on building innovative features and user experiences within Schoology Learning, our enterprise-level solution.

 

If you have questions about this notification that are not answered in our FAQs (link below), please email schoology-basic-customer-inquiries@powerschool.com.

 

Please note, we are only taking questions from Teachers with Schoology Basic accounts.

 

· If you are an Enterprise user, please reach out to our support team directly.

· If you are a parent or student, please reach out to your teacher/course administrator.

 

Please expect a response time of around 10 business days to your form submission. Should the inquiry be incomplete, the team will not be able to respond to the request.

 

Link to the FAQs: https://www.powerschool.com/faq-schoology-basic/

 

ParitoshT

Community Moderator 

Dr_Phil_Pulley

They are killing Basic in October. Put your materials in well-organized containers in your Resources and export those. Then add them to a free Canvas by Instructure account.

SunvalleyBilingual

I just can't believe this is happening. Please keep us posted for any updates or other LMS-free options.

Dr_Phil_Pulley
DanTalvi
Journeyman

Thank you for your recommendations:

 

As a media arts instructor, Canvas Free is unfortunately not a suitable replacement as my program utilizes large media files on a regular basis and the 500MB cap for free users is insufficient for my content area needs.

 

Thankfully, my school/organization is assisting us with funding to migrate to Google Classroom with the Learning and Teaching upgrade (which will cost my program approximately $200.00/ year compared to the $5000.00/ year quoted by PowerSchool).

 

That said, this entire experience is inexcusable. Basic users had the rug pulled out from under them with very little time to make adjustments. If PowerSchool knew this was the direction they wanted to go in, they should have provided instructors enough time to either migrate to another system or make pleas to their districts to persuade them to migrate/upgrade to Schoology. Six months is not enough time to sufficiently migrate 10+ years of materials, many of which exceed the data cap for automatic migration/download tools.

 

Based on this experience, I can guarantee that I will actively advocate against using any PowerSchool product for my classroom or district for the foreseeable future.