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A brief look into the history behind Schoology + the truth about how to pronounce it

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Art by Lily Hoagland

Schoology, the simple blue toned website that we all know and love, has been used at ERHS for years as a way to manage courses and integrate technology into the classroom. Then, with the switch to online learning in March 2020, its usual responsibilities of organizing grades and assignments were amplified to the greatest degree.

At this point, it acts as something like an online campus. Despite our incessant use of Schoology’s features, most people draw a blank when it comes to its origin.

Surprisingly, the ongoing joke that Schoology’s interface is reminiscent of Facebook leads the way to the beginning of the story. Schoology’s founders thought that modeling the layout after social media would make it more appealing and user friendly for students.

Not only that, it was designed by recently graduated college students, drawing another parallel. In 2009, Jeremy Friedman, Ryan Hwang, and Tim Trinidad began developing Schoology after graduating from Washington University. Friedman’s friend, Bill Kindler, was also involved in Schoology’s emergence. At first, their aim was to create a way to easily share notes. Their ideas quickly evolved into the foundation of the education platform we know today.

By 2011, it was being used by hundreds of schools across the US.

During a 2012 interview with Edtech-Digest Friedman, who is Schoology’s current CEO, squashed the rumors regarding the pronunciation of Schoology. “One thing we find amusing is how frequently people mispronounce ‘Schoology’ as ‘School-ology’,” he says. So there you have it, the age old debate has been settled. But don’t feel too bad if you’ve been referring to the site as “School-ology.” Apparently, it was an early name option, cast aside because it didn’t quite roll off the tongue.

Although Schoology first sealed the deal with LAUSD in 2015, most ERHS upperclassmen don’t recall the switch to Schoology happening until about 2017 or 2018. Before then, teachers and students at Eagle Rock mainly used Google Classroom as their learning management system (which is actually what the acronym “lms,” found at the beginning of Schoology's url, stands for).

Around 2017, Schoology Plus, a browser extension mainly geared at improving user experience for students, was introduced by a third party organization. Its most notable features include the ability to customize the appearance of Schoology’s home screen and input hypothetical grades to get an estimate on the impact an assignment will have.

In late 2019, a larger company known as Powerschool bought Schoology. This parent company holds shares in a variety of education based businesses including Performance Matters, InfoSnap, and PeopleAdmin; all of which act as tools for either students, teachers, or parents.

Even after becoming successful, Schoology’s original creators still remain heavily involved in the company. They’ve delegated the most high profile positions amongst themselves and work together at their headquarters in New York City.

When quarantine hit, Schoology was caught off guard by website traffic. As a result, connection issues sporadically appear to this day. Hopefully in the future Schoology will continue to update its website with new facets to improve online learning for the education community.

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