Yorktown Sentry

The Craze Over Canvas

Arlington+Public+Schools++has+now+decided+to+switch+from+Blackboard+and+Google+Classroom+to+Canvas.
Arlington Public Schools  has now decided to switch from Blackboard and Google Classroom to Canvas.

Arlington Public Schools has now decided to switch from Blackboard and Google Classroom to Canvas.

Emogen Kelly

Emogen Kelly

Arlington Public Schools has now decided to switch from Blackboard and Google Classroom to Canvas.

Matthew Cornfield, Sentry Staff Reporter

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This year, a new learning system, Canvas, has been implemented. Previously, teachers used learning platforms such as Google Classroom or Blackboard, but Arlington Public Schools (APS) has now decided to switch to Canvas. APS is allowing teachers one year to continue to use Google Classroom or Blackboard, but after this school year concludes, they expect every teacher to be using Canvas.

The reason that APS decided to make this switch is somewhat unclear in the eyes of Yorktown teachers and students. Even though Blackboard and Canvas are similar, there are some new features to Canvas that have both students and faculty excited.

“I really like the calendar feature that allows students to see all of their classes’ due dates integrated into one calendar that can be hyperlinked. I also like that it has a lot of flexibility for how teachers can organize their information. It is convenient that we can integrate our textbooks directly into Canvas for a one-stop shopping kind of experience for our students,” Psychology teacher Kimberly Graver said.

“When you are giving feedback on an assignment, you can record oral feedback so I could just click on this red button, and say, for example, ‘Matthew I really liked your transition in this paragraph, but you need to work on this,’ and then you would have your feedback right there,” English teacher Jeffrey Bunting said.

“I like the fact that you can access all of your classes easily and see all of their assignments. I sometimes find it hard to figure out how to find certain things on Canvas,” junior Samuel Ellison said.

Various features of Canvas are more appealing to different departments. It is clear that Canvas has a lot to offer that Google Classroom or Blackboard does not have, but some problems come along with this change.

“One of the features that I like the most [is the] ability of teachers to choose how to organize their information… [it] can also make it hard for the students to navigate because every teacher’s site may look different or have different directions,” Graver said.

“The main thing I did not like was it says it is able to interface with Google Docs… what I love about Google Docs [is] you and I are able to see the document and work on it at the same time, Canvas does not allow that….It seemed like if you had not turned it in I did not have editing permission and once you turned it in then you do not have editing permission. Where as Google Docs lets both of us have editing permission,” Bunting said.

There are advantages and disadvantages to Canvas just as there were with previous learning systems. This is why some of the teachers, like Bunting, for example, have not made the switch to Canvas and instead continue to use Google Classroom. Comparing and judging which is better is challenging because the features for teachers and students vary, resulting in different opinions. This made it difficult for teachers to decide which learning platform they were going to use this year.

“It is so much more user friendly and flexible than Blackboard ever was….Canvas is much more flexible, but that means that it can be more complicated for some teachers and students….Canvas allows me to do many of the things I wanted to be able to do in google classroom, but couldn’t….So to answer more directly, I would choose Canvas,” Graver said.

“I found Canvas very cumbersome. I was getting lost inside of Canvas….Google Classroom, I find, is much more intuitive, much more streamlined….You just have three options: the stream, the about, and the classmates tabs. If they say Canvas can do everything Google classroom can do, then why purchase it,” Bunting said.

“I think Canvas is a lot better than Blackboard and has a lot more things you can do on it. I prefer Google Classroom [over Canvas] because it is a lot easier to submit assignments,” Ellison said.

It can be hard to change learning platforms after teachers and students have been used to using specific ones and understand how to do things quickly in Blackboard and Google Classroom. But as technology improves and new platforms such as Canvas offer flexibility and interesting features, it makes sense that schools will want to try the latest learning system.

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