Adaptation Of New Learning Management System Schoology Meets With Largely Positive Reviews

Photo by Ryan McPherson

Photo by Ryan McPherson

The King's College's replacement of the CAMS learning management system with Schoology—officially implemented at the beginning of the spring semester—has prompted mostly enthusiastic reaction from The King’s College community, faculty and students alike.

“Our new LMS, Schoology, is more seamlessly connected to CAMS, and it is far more powerful than either CAMS or our old LMS for LMS functions,” said Mark Hijleh, Provost and Professor of Music at The King’s College. Hijleh is credited for the school’s change to the system.

Hijleh distinguishes between a Student Information System (SIS) and a Learning Management System (LMS). The former, he says, is for student data — such as enrollment, transcripts, contact, and billing information — while the latter contains course materials and activities along with professor-student collaborative features. CAMS is mainly an SIS with a limited LMS and has performed both of these functions, yet utilized both prior to the Spring 2018 semester.

By and large, King’s students acknowledge that Schoology is easier to operate than CAMS, which many claim did not have the user friendliness of the new system.

“I don’t see a problem with it, personally,” said freshman Marisol Santana. At the same time, she is not excited, as some are, about a new LMS.

She also noted that Schoology is simpler. “I think it’s laid out a little bit better,” Santana said, referring to CAMS. “It’s easier to submit things to.”

Senior Lance Gocke finds himself ambivalent about the change to Schoology. Gocke is confused over the switch, and unsure about the future of Schoology as an LMS for The King’s College.

Another negative, according to Gocke, is that students “have to go through the entire Schoology system to get to TKC,” something unnecessary with the previous system.  

“I feel like the previous system kind of works,” Gocke said regarding CAMS, though he believes switching to Schoology may be “a wiser decision” in the long run.

Gocke said he is displeased with the timing of the change, which complicates the process of completing coursework and figuring out the mechanics of a new system. It is harder on business students who have to work on multiple websites for coursework.

Another negative, according to Gocke, is that students “have to go through the entire Schoology system to get to TKC,” something unnecessary with the previous system.  

Though dissatisfied with the change, Gocke said he prefers Schoology of the two.

“I think it will be worthwhile,” he said, though he predicts The King’s College will make another LMS change within seven years.

Gocke added that he disagrees with the educational attachment to computers and finds such “over-digitizing,” disagreeable. For Gocke, the old fashioned way is the ideal method for recording grades, storing course information, and conducting other class exercises. Such a way may be more tedious, though certainly much less complicated.

Faculty Assistants at The King’s College, responsible chiefly for grading the coursework of professors and posting  grades online, utilize the LMS frequently. Some of them have been startled by the abrupt change, having to adjust from the “language” of the older CAMS, to the much newer Schoology.

Sophomore Micah Paulec, who is currently a Faculty Assistant (FA) to three professors, finds Schoology an easier system to use from the viewpoints of both student and FA. He was an FA during the previous Fall semester when CAMS still functioned as the college’s LMS.

“I believe the change was made because of glitches and inefficiency in the previous system,” said Paulec.

The glitches appearing frequently on CAMS made the acts of grading and posting more difficult for professors and faculty assistants alike, inducing some of them to irritation with the old system.

“I’m pleased with the change,” he said. “While there were certainly redeeming, quality elements of CAMS, there is nothing from my observation that we have lost by moving to Schoology.”

When performing tasks proper to a Faculty Assistant, Paulec said he enjoys the convenience provided by Schoology for  students who happen to be in his position.

“It is nice as an FA to be able to access your personal student information and your faculty information in the same place,” Paulec said.  “The old system required a separate login for each.”

His fondness for Schoology is revealed additionally in having all “grades in one place, as opposed to only being able to see grades together after midterms and finals,” a useful feature for students as well, according to Paulec.

Juliarose Childs, a Faculty Assistant to Professor Loconte, said she prefers Schoology over CAMS; its only drawback is the issue of “professors who don't do good with new systems and technology.”

She said it will suffice regarding its role in the future, though she said she wishes it would integrate course registration for students.

Though it has been replaced by Schoology as an LMS, CAMS will remain in use by the college as an SIS. Hijleh notes that final course grades, which are “the only official, legal record of a student's academic performance in a course,” will be stored in CAMS as part of the student's transcript.

For Hijleh, the only disadvantage in this conversion is having two systems that perform separate functions.

“Schoology cannot function alone as an SIS,” Hijleh said. “So, we need both.” He is unfamiliar with any school that uses one system for both of these functions.

Several professors have found that Schoology is much easier and enjoyable to use.

“I think Schoology is good because it looks like something easy to interact with,” Lisi said.

Professor Alissa Wilkinson pinpoints the reason why the switch was made.

Wilkinson said she believes the old system “doesn’t do things very well.” The school was looking for a system that satisfied the needs of students and professors with fewer difficulties: leading to the choice to switch to Schoology.

The King’s College’s newest Associate Professor of Journalism, Clemente Lisi, is excited with Schoology, noting its similarity to Facebook and app-like appearance, making things easier for a 21st-century faculty and student body.

“I think Schoology is good because it looks like something easy to interact with,” Lisi said.

He said the easiness forces “students and professors to communicate more.”

Lisi found the old CAMS system to be “clunky,” and difficult to understand; it was “not as intuitive.” Schoology’s user-friendliness “makes everything easier” to conduct a college course and provide essential academic resources for students online.

Hijleh said that the decision to convert was recommended by him, as a Provost, after a three-year period of LMS evaluation—including faculty and student polling—and was made official by the summer of 2017.

Hijleh said Schoology’s usage by other collegiate institutions led him to this decision.

“Schoology is quickly becoming an LMS of choice for colleges and universities because it promotes academic collaboration and community,” Hijleh said. “[It uses a] simple, intuitive interface with access to powerful tools at a very competitive price.”

He is confident in the role of Schoology as a long-term LMS for The King’s College. “I predict it will serve us well for quite some time to come,” Hiljeh said.