Staff editorial: Schoolwide switch to Canvas leads to many conveniences for students September 8, 2016 — by Amulya Vadlakonda Falcon Staff opinion on the online platform switch After hovering between two different grading systems — Aeries and Canvas — for over a year, the school has now switched all teachers over to Canvas. This change makes it easier for students to keep track of their grades and assignments, and the Canvas platform offers multiple useful features that Aeries lacks. As the Canvas learning management system was introduced at the school in the past few years, some teachers opted to still use Aeries for grading, while others took the plunge and chose to exclusively use Canvas as both a classroom site and a grading platform. For students, it was tiresome to switch between the grading systems and to remember which teachers used which platform. Aeries also couldn’t provide the same support as Canvas; there was no way of seeing potential grades or communicating easily with a teacher through Aeries. With all teachers now using Canvas for grading, students can keep track of all their classes on the same platform. Assignments for all classes now show up on the same calendar, which works like a planner. Announcements and other notifications are all visible on the dashboard, which makes communication between students and teachers very efficient. Parents can also join classes as observers through their own accounts, which is reminiscent of the Aeries parent account; this function is not lost in the transition to Canvas. Parents will be able to see upcoming assignments in their children’s classes, as well as their grades. This is especially helpful for parents of seniors, as the guidance department posts tips for the college admissions process throughout the fall. There are several functions of the Canvas platform that help students. Perhaps the most useful function allows students to enter in a possible grade for an assignment and see how it would affect their overall grade in the class. Because the weightage mechanism for each class is already programmed into the grading system, students can get a clearer picture of how their overall grade will change based on grades in different assignments such as major tests or essays. Aeries lacks these useful tool and many others. In fact, Aeries seemed simply designed to be only a way to store and report grades, while Canvas seems to be made more for the convenience of the student. In addition to the grade function, Canvas allows for teacher-moderated and supervised discussions, online quizzes, meaningful collaborations and easy communication between students and teachers, among other things. There was some concern that teachers would have a difficult time adjusting to the new platform. But the energy and time invested into moving the curriculum to an online platform ultimately makes it easier for teachers to distribute necessary papers, notes and forms for the class. As the school year has begun, teachers have already begun to transition relatively seamlessly. The long-term benefits of the switch justify the forced change and effort required to make it successful. This uniformity promotes the development of better organizational skills for students. While it is a big change for many teachers, it is, on the whole, a way to make the school more united and efficient for everyone.