Another day spent looking at web based tools, this time it was Schoology. Schoology is according to their web site "is the ultimate way to manage lessons, engage students, share content, and connect with other educators." It's seems to me to be a combination of online elearning tools, course management in a Facebook type interface.
From what I can see it's a free service for individual schools to use, but there are costs associated if we wanted to run and organise this from the local authority. I really liked the look and feel of the interface. Easy to use, clean and some very useful tools. Some of the features are probably aimed more at secondary schools but I think it could still be used very effectively by KS2 pupils too.
Why am I looking at this? Well, the online tool that we have been promoting across Newport for the last 7 years or so has been ThinkQuest. ThinkQuest is a free, online teaching and learning environment developed by Oracle and run by their educational foundation. It allows teachers and pupils to interact and collaborate with each other and with schools and pupils from across the world. I personally felt this was a fantastic tool to extend opportunities for learning with children, especially with primary school aged children.
Several of our primary schools are active users of ThinkQuest and we used it with some success as the communication and collaboration tool in our recent British Council funded project between schools in Newport and Leuven, Belgium (see my earlier post about this). However, ThinkQuest have recently been in touch to say that they are closing down, according to them there are now many freely available tools out there that do similar things to ThinkQuest and they are going to close. So that is the reason we are now looking for something to fill the void that will be left in a years time. It's a shame that they are going, and I've yet to see a system as primary school friendly, and that can link so easily with other schools around the world as ThinkQuest, but that's where we are and the search will continue.