Story by Ian McConnaughey
The school of Forrest Bird Charter High has gone through numerous separate systems of computer systems to run the assignments and keep track of homework. Last year, there was the less-than-successful attempt at using EdModo, which ended in disaster. This new year, the website Canvas became the new platform for the school to moderate the student’s work on. The new system is frustrating, because by the time the students have adapted to the latest system, the school has a new one already started and paid for.
This year, Canvas was not met well. The system was very confusing, and not at all user-friendly. The confusing system combined with the fact that Canvas is a very slow website did not increase popularity. Quite recently, the internet at the school has been slowed to a mind-melting point. Now add that plus the already slow Canvas, and you have a school that barely runs.
Canvas is, like any other site, rather glitchy. Many students receive low grades because the teacher-end versus student-end update at separate intervals, where a student turns in an assignment and the teacher does not see it for days, or the same problem with the teacher creating the assignment.
Furthermore, Canvas could do with a little decorating. The original format is a little…plain. Boring. The design could use a little spicing up.
Difficulties with assignments, though, are not always the fault of the site, as teachers quite often forget to place a “TURN IN ASSIGNMENT” button on pages, and the whole class loses credit because of that. Annoying as that is, it doesn’t get as bad as when an assignment gets turned in, but the inbox for the teacher has been cluttered up and the teacher does not notice that late assignment that had been just turned in, resulting in a zero-point grade.
Most users of Canvas have grudgingly learned to use it. The slowness of the site, as said before, makes it difficult and frustrating, and then we get to the matter of the less-responsible crowd. Everyone in the school knows that one person who plays games or YouTubes during class and study-hall, which diminishes the bandwidth dramatically. When we attempt to load Canvas to see or turn in an assignment, we have, quite annoyingly, often been met by the “Connection has Timed Out” page.
Another problem with the Canvas system is the unwieldy properties of links. Several links do not work properly, or if the link is supposed to show something in the main page, the user may have to refresh the page multiple times to view said link.
Canvas, as a whole, is riddled with difficulties, errors, glitches, slow-responses, delays in updates, and the occasional Administrative Error left when a teacher forgets a button or link. Perhaps at a later time Canvas may become a popular and useful sight, but quite obviously it is not now.
All in all, Canvas may not have been the best choice in the list as what to use, but it appears we are stuck with it, whether we like it or not.
Canvas: Why Should We Invest?
Story by Mark WebberPhoto by Mark Webber: Screen shot of US History 1.1 Canvas page
Over the past two months, there has been fewer complaints about Canvas. Teachers at first looked at Canvas with a suspicious eye. Was Canvas eventually going to replace classroom instruction? Was Canvas Forrest Bird Charter School’s desire to be an online school with children boxed into cubicles instead of a classroom? Or, was Canvas something much more valuable than the teachers realized?
Last year, each teacher had their own websites to communicate information to their students. Blogger, Wix, Googlesites, and Edmodo were all being used, depending on the teacher’s comfort level with these free programs. Since they were free, teachers used the program that worked well with their classroom instruction. However, this did not always translate well with the
students and parents. Many parents and students became confused on where to find assignments, due dates, and directions since each teacher was different.
Thus, enters Canvas an answer and alternative to the random diversity at FBCS. Canvas allows teachers to post their assignments in modules. Photo by Mark Webber: Screen shot of US History 1.1 Canvas pageStudents can then access those assignments easily during study lab, classes, or even at home if they have Internet access. Students can also submit their assignments online guaranteeing the teacher will not lose the digital copy of that assignment. Canvas allows teachers to give feedback and comments to students instantaneously while they grade, so the students may see the comment immediately instead of waiting for a paper to be handed back. Some teachers are even using Canvas to allow students to take quizzes online, allowing Canvas to grade the test for them, so students know how well they did by the time they finish the last question of the test.
Even though Canvas has caused a few headaches this year for some, the learning curve has been steep. As teachers and students become more experienced using Canvas, the ease of doing classwork and getting teacher feedback quickly will make it all worthwhile in the end. Try and be patient and eventually the results will surprise you.