High school students will use Canvas as the platform of choice for the 2020-2021 school year.
Like Google Classroom and other digital learning platforms, Canvas allows teachers to create a course and add assignments for students to view and complete. It can be used as a fully online class or to supplement face-to-face instruction. However, this online learning platform is more appropriate for the high school grade levels as it provides more of a college-like experience.
“Canvas is an effective, efficient, and comprehensive learning management system,” Harlingen High School AP/Dual Enrollment English and Psychology teacher, Michelle Everett said. “My experience with Canvas has been excellent.”
Although this type of program is also used at the college level, teachers and students find that the platform is user-friendly. Canvas also helps students to stay focused on their work by providing multiple tools in one place.
“It’s the perfect way to deliver content to students and to create, evaluate, and grade assignments,” Everett said. “The way it is designed, students can stay in Canvas to do their work, which helps them stay focused and not get lost. They can go over a lesson again if they need to, and they don’t have to find a hard copy because it is also portable. The student app is great for on-the-go.”
This learning tool allows students to take online courses from any computer. It also provides plenty of ways for students to connect, ask questions, and get ideas from peers. Some of the most helpful tools include the capability to respond to email, save their work, and have group discussions without ever leaving the webpage.
“The communication tools are superb,” Everett said. “There is an inbox system in Canvas that links to their email, but they can respond from within Canvas. The discussion boards are also a great way to engage students in real conversations on significant issues.”
Teachers seem to enjoy the tools and resources that the program provides for the students and educators.
“There are comment boxes on assignments, and I can reply in writing, audio, or even video,” Everett said. “A teacher can also customize an assignment or due date. I can just click on an assignment in the grade book, and it automatically generates a message to anyone who has not turned it in yet. That is very convenient.”
Initially, the need for using online learning platforms was inspired by student alumni who came to a Recent Graduate Luncheon, an event that the district hosts to get feedback from previous students that they use to continue to improve HCISD. One of the ideas shared was the need for online learning platforms at the high school level to better prepare students for college.
Canvas was used last year at Harlingen School of Health Professions and by students taking dual enrollment classes with Texas Southmost College.
Now due to the current COVID-19 situation, the district began to expand the use of online learning platforms to all schools and grade levels.
In preparation for next year, a group of educators began training this summer. The group will continue to teach others throughout the school year to ensure that high school teachers throughout the district know how to use the system.
“Additional courses are being offered every week to allow teachers to get a jump start on their learning,” Teaching and Learning Specialist Jennifer Maldonado said. “Campus Innovation Team members, along with curriculum writers, are using Canvas to build Master Courses this summer. These lessons will be shared with all teachers so they can select lessons to teach in their courses this year.”
Whether used in the classroom or from home, Canvas will be a great resource for students to use next year, and it will reduce paper handling which will prevent the spread of germs.