Tri-School Transitions to Canvas

By: Matt Smith

There are numerous distractions that come up every night for students while completing their homework. From text messages, to phone calls, to eating dinner with the family, there are many sources of redirecting one’s attention from the task at hand to something different. One cause of distraction that many students of our tri-school community do not often think about is that having three different online learning platforms leads to more time being wasted and the quality of one’s work decreasing.

As juniors and seniors began the new year with their coordinated classes at either RPCS or Bryn Mawr, they had to learn not only how to navigate the unique style of their teachers during the school day but also how each of them conducts his or her  teaching outside of the classroom. Tyler Witherspoon, a junior who takes both a class at RPCS and Bryn Mawr, says, “The amount of time I spend every night changing between MyRPCS, Canvas, and Moodle really begins to add up throughout the course of my week. I tend to find myself paying less attention to my assignment at hand, and switch my focus to other non-academic material.” A study at the University of Minnesota reinforces Tyler’s concerns, as it discovered that having multiple tabs open on students’ computer screens at once resulted in all of the tasks being completed less efficiently than students with only one tab open. Enforcing all teachers across the tri-school community to use one common online platform would certainly increase the productivity and efficiency for many students like Tyler.

Mr. Tye Campbell, Director of Technology, and the technology department at  Bryn Mawr have already decided upon Canvas to be the core learning platform for the two schools during the 2018-2019 school year. Joining Bryn Mawr and Gilman onto one learning platform will help students decrease the number of distractions they face, but there is still a gap between all three schools of the tri-school community. Ms. Elizabeth Knapp, one of Gilman’s tri-school liaisons, states, “One of the most important aspects of being part of a tri-school community is not only coordination, but also cooperation. I believe having a single learning platform would be incredibly beneficial, because it would keep the girls (RPCS and Bryn Mawr) on the same track as Gilman.”

The transition to a singular online learning platform among the tri-school will not only benefit students, but also significantly affect teachers. Mr. Cody Miles stated that as a teacher, one of his most  time-consuming tasks is grading. As Mr. Miles has transitioned from Moodle to Canvas this year he has greatly increased his efficiency in grading through one of Canvas’s tools, Speedgrader. Speedgrader allows teachers to leave comments, total points, and examine a student’s work all while on one computer tab.

Speedgrader, along with other tools like linking to one’s Gmail account, and text and email notifications, shows that Canvas is the best option for the tri-school community. The uniform implementation of Canvas in the tri-school community would allow all students, teachers, and members of the faculty to become more organized and manage their time more efficiently.