Glen Rock schools look to replace School Fusion

School fusion has been used as the template for the Glen Rock Schools' website since 2009.

School fusion has been used as the template for the Glen Rock Schools’ website since 2009.

by Colin Morrow, Editor-In-Chief

Principals, administrators, and teachers have been researching different hosts to replace Glen Rock’s current school website administrator, School Fusion.

School Fusion has been used by teachers, students, and parents to stay updated on class information since its debut in the Glen Rock schools in 2009. However, after seven years, the website has become seen as dated, and the creators of the template have moved on to other products. This made the Glen Rock faculty decide that they needed a new template for the school website that was more up-to-date.

At the time, School Fusion was pretty advanced,” said Mr. Troy Kroft, who is part of the group deciding on the new template. “It was kind of cutting edge. Unfortunately, it’s kind of dated. Things have changed a lot in just a few years. We needed a website product.”

There are many factors that the group has been considering while selecting the new template. They wanted teachers to be able to post assignments and documents to their page, much like School Fusion, but in an easier way. They also required a website that would work well with the current database containing student information.

When the group first began the search for a new template about a year and a half ago, they were introduced to dozens of options. However, after taking the requirements into consideration and deciding which websites would have the potential to work the best for the students and teachers, the group was able to narrow the options down to two.

The first option is a template known as Canvas. Canvas is commonly used in colleges in universities as a way for professors to post homework and lead class discussions. Canvas is seen as especially beneficial to high school students, since it gives students a sense of how a college website is run.

Things have changed a lot in just a few years. We needed a website product.”

— Troy Kroft

“One nice thing about Canvas is that it communicates with Genesis, so teachers can grade projects directly into Genesis, and it’ll update grades into Genesis,” Kroft said. “So that means you don’t have to keep going to 12 different places all the time to get your info.”

The other option is a template called Schoology. Schoology is more commonly used in school districts at the K-12 level. Many of the Glen Rock elementary school teachers prefer Schoology, as it is easier for younger students to use than Canvas.

Since both templates show many characteristics that the group feels will help the students, they have spoken with other schools that use one of these websites and have received feedback about the advantages and disadvantages of using each.

Although the new website mainframe has excited many students, some find the claim that School Fusion is outdated to be untrue.

“I like to see all my assignments in one area and see when they are due,” Chris Theuerkauf (’17) said. “Also, it is a good resource to have because sometimes teachers post PowerPoints and notes that are helpful to study with. I do not feel that School Fusion is outdated. I think it is still useful.”

Many teachers currently use other websites in addition to School Fusion to post assignments. One of these websites is Google Classroom, which has gained popularity among teachers in recent years. According to Kroft, Google Classroom was in consideration for the new school template, but it failed to meet some of the requirements.

“The problem with Google Classroom is that it’s a bit limited, and it doesn’t share information with our database,” Kroft said. “The interface is just a little clunky. It’s very simple, but it’s limited in what it can do. We want something that’s a lot more robust, that let’s us use it for grades.”

The group hopes to have the new website being used in Glen Rock schools as early as the 2017-2018 school year. However, regardless of when makes its debut in the district, teachers will be given some time to get used to the new template before getting rid of School Fusion.

“Teachers that want to implement it with their classes can do that, or if they need a little more time to work with it. We want teachers to feel comfortable using it. We don’t want it to be confusing for the teachers, the students, or the parents. So we’re going to give teachers a little more time after we roll it out before it will be required, but probably by the middle of next school year, most teachers will be using some parts of it, but certainly by the end of next school year if all goes well, School Fusion will go away and you’ll just use this,” Kroft said.