I've been getting this question a ton the past month. The confusion is understandable. Courses and groups look eerily similar in Schoology. It's definitely important to figure out which is which before you start inviting others and building materials or resources. Here are the basics to help you decide which is best for you!
Simply put: courses are for instruction; groups are for collaboration.
Your student courses have already been set up for you. Whether you’re using Schoology or not, your students can see your course. This is because they are synced with eschool. If students are added or withdrawn, the changes are made to your course roster. The same classes you have in eschool are represented as courses in Schoology. You cannot add or remove students from your Schoology courses without having the change made in eschool. You can create or join PD courses. These will be a self-guided e-learning experience.
The students in your course have access to all the materials you post for their learning and can interact through assignments and discussions. Other teachers cannot see your content automatically, so if you'd like a colleague have access, you'll need to add them manually as an "admin." You can choose whether to "publish" instructional materials to students immediately or on a determined date.
With a COURSE, you CAN...
Unlike courses, groups are NOT synced with eschool. Therefore, they are NOT created automatically for you. YOU can create groups for ANYTHING and add or share the access code with whomever you want to collaborate! Groups are great for professional learning, team meetings, PLCs, book groups, collaborative lesson planning, shared learning goals/scales, student organizations, committees, anything you want everyone to participate in together!
With a GROUP, you CAN...
+5 Points - Navigating the Groups & Courses Tabs
1: Crown = You're admin! You can add others!
2: Create a new group/course
3: Join a group/course using an ACCESS CODE
4: See All - here's where you go to delete a group or find archives of courses
5: ORGANIZE! Click here for a list of your groups/course. Too many? Put the most frequently used up top!
How are YOU using Schoology groups or courses to enhance learning collaboration??
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Coordinator of Instructional Technology
Instructional Technology Coach