Combining, streamlining educational websites would reduce stress on students

Not being able to get to your homework is a great excuse not to do it. Fortunately (or unfortunately) all teachers at Paly will be posting all homework on the newest site adopted by the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), Schoology, by the end of the year.

Constantly changing the websites used for posting grades and homework is disruptive to both students and teachers. Schoology, Infinite Campus, Turnitin and are some of the online resources students and teachers use every day to check homework, view grades, post written work and download documents.

Paly students are struggling to keep up with the many online mediums that they must use to do basic school work. The multiple online resources often cause confusion among students.

“It is really confusing to have a bunch of sites and it would be easier just to have one site,” junior Angela Pomeroy said. “Schoology is trying to make things simpler by trying to look like Facebook, but it’s actually really confusing because some teachers use Schoology and some teachers don’t so you still don’t have one place where you can find all your work you need to complete.”

Aside from having a different place for grades, homework and work submissions, teachers often have their own websites which simply add to the copiousness of sites students must navigate through to get their assignments.

“There are definitely some teachers that don’t put up the assignments online at all and even if there are some teachers that do put information up it still doesn’t help because it is too confusing to find,” Pomeroy said.

Finding homework assignments is essential for excelling in school. With the difficulties in understanding how to use Schoology, students have begun to turn to Facebook as an easy alternative.

“Facebook is really great,” sophomore Grete Saue said. “Sites like Schoology are really hard to navigate and find out what the homework because it is sometimes unclear but on Facebook you can chat any of your friends and ask them what the homework is or you can go on one of the Facebook groups because people make groups with people in their class and they post the homework and notes that can help you.”

According to senior Shina Kim-Avalos, students typically try to avoid distracting sites like Facebook while doing homework.

However, the pressure of having to find out homework often leads students to spend more time looking for homework and getting distracted.

“[Not being able to find out] homework on Schoology has disrupted my academics because you have to ask all your friends what the homework is because you can’t find it alone and it would be easier if it was easier to find,” sophomore Kelly Swanson said. “And all the folders in Schoology don’t make sense and they are kind of just random. It doesn’t make sense when the homework is due and when it is assigned.”

The district is working to improve PAUSD’s online sites.

“The district is working on getting a single entrance point,” Assistant Principal Kathie Laurence said. “Schoology is our new student communications system. Infinite Campus does not the capability to do what Schoology does. So we have two separate systems, we have [Infinite Campus to] hold all the information, addresses, phone numbers, grades and attendance. [The other system, Schoology,] is the communications piece. It is really replacing InClass. It has taken a few years to figure out what we want to do. But this is what the district wants to do.”

Regarding the frustration of students about having to search all over the web for homework, the district plans to reduce the confusion by reducing the amount of tools that students use.

“The goal is to have everyone using Schoology by the end of the year,” Laurence said. “[Schoology] may be a place where [teachers] link to their own webpages, Libguides or whatever else they are using, but no matter where you go, you can go into Schoology and see all your coursework.”

The district has concluded that Schoology will be the site it wants to use exclusively.

“It’s disruptive because every year you have to learn new things,” senior Justin Zhang said. “Two years ago it was Infinite Campus and actually they were trying to try out a beta version of Schoology last year and it is just a huge trial and error thing. It’s a very big pain even for the teachers.”

Teachers deal with Paly’s online resources even more than students do. Because of this, teachers are also upset about the mass of sites teachers are required to use.

Because of the ample amount of time teachers spend on the set of websites, some want a simpler system so that they can do their job more efficiently.

Although people think that it is the administration’s fault, the administration is simply trying to streamline the process of moving to Schoology, possibly too slowly, which is affecting student academics.

Thus, a user-friendly technological program is important for the district. When Paly students have a simple setup of websites that are updated consistently and simple to use, they will be happy.

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