Rockwood begins transition to Canvas

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Rockwood begins transition to Canvas

With the arrival of Canvas, teachers have begun to switch their classes from Google Classroom to this new platform.

With the arrival of Canvas, teachers have begun to switch their classes from Google Classroom to this new platform.

Makayla Archambeault

With the arrival of Canvas, teachers have begun to switch their classes from Google Classroom to this new platform.

Makayla Archambeault

Makayla Archambeault

With the arrival of Canvas, teachers have begun to switch their classes from Google Classroom to this new platform.

Corren Tipton, Assistant News Editor

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At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the Rockwood School District (RSD) began transferring classes from Google Classroom to Canvas. 

Brian Reed, Director of Online Learning, has done research along with the rest of the district to determine the best program for RSD schools to use.

We hosted a series of presentations from multiple companies, narrowed it down to Canvas and a couple of others, and then after extensive research Canvas was selected as the Learning Management System (LMS) in which RSD was going to invest,” Reed said.

Not all teachers have chosen to use Canvas, but it is available to all K-12 teachers in RSD. However, Google Classroom is still an option for teachers to continue to utilize.

We have a number of teachers already using Canvas with students, using most or all of the features,” Reed said. “Some teachers are straddling using Google Classroom while they slowly dip their toes into Canvas waters. Others have not used it with students yet and are learning all they can about it before trying it with students.”

Chemistry teacher Scott Haxton is one of RSD’s teachers to have tested out the new program.

“I update my Canvas pages for chemistry and honors chemistry every day. Canvas allows me to present supplemental information and allows my students to have 24/7 access to my course calendar,” Haxton said.

In order for teachers to learn more about the program, RSD offers professional development sessions to explain the ins and outs of the program.

I believe this training will allow me create better organized modules for my students,” Haxton said.

Another one of its benefits is that Canvas or programs similar to it are also used at many colleges, so exposing students to the program now can help them in the future.

Compared to Google Classroom, Canvas has overall more features for teachers to utilize. These features mainly enable teachers to communicate with their classes as a group and in easier, more efficient ways.

However, there is an adjustment period for the programs to switch over if a teacher decides to do so.

“Just like other technologies, there is always a learning curve when learning something new,” Reed said. “We are trying to scaffold the way in which we expose staff and students to Canvas. Offering smaller chunks of learning and encouraging users to start slowly, we can ensure a solid, confident implementation.”

Outside of RSD’S training sessions, Canvas also has help available anytime for those who need it.

Language arts teacher Dawn Indelicato-Faw has also begun to use Canvas, along with technology that has replaced Turnitin.com. It was revealed that Unicheck would be used instead of Turnitin.com at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

“Unicheck is embedded within [Canvas], so kids have one place to upload their work. I also like that it can be synced with Infinite Campus,” Indelicato-Faw said.

Canvas has also presented a set of challenges with coordinating new technology and using the program to its full potential. 

“Canvas is a little clunky and not always user-friendly.  Unless you know coding, your pages are going to look pretty boring and plain,” Indelicato-Faw said. “Since I gave up Google Classroom, I don’t have an easy way to notify my students of any announcements. Announcements just sit on the page, which may or may not be noticed by students; however, in Google Classroom, students were immediately notified that I had sent out a message.”

Even though Canvas has its flaws, RSD is staying up to date and learning how to fix any issues that arise. 

“We have been tirelessly working to stay at the forefront of online and blended learning and having a strong partnership with Canvas has allowed us to do just that,” Reed said.