Transition to Canvas needs backup

September 21, 2016 — by Austin Wang

Junior discuess why Canvas needs alternative options in case of failure.

At around 10 p.m. one evening last month, juniors in history teacher Kim Anzalone’s AP US History classes panicked. The supplemental readings assigned a week earlier had just been posted on Canvas a few hours ago, and the APUSH Facebook group for Anzalone’s classes piled with comments and posts from students scrambling to find a pushed back due date.

Several stayed up until 3 a.m. or later finishing the assignment only to find out that Anzalone had pushed back the due date by two days because she had trouble getting the assignment to show up on Canvas.

This year, all teachers have transitioned from individual websites and Aeries to Canvas in order to better organize school resources and student grades. Although the Canvas transition has made checking homework and grades more efficient for both teachers and students, full reliance on Canvas is the equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket and leaves classes vulnerable to complete standstills if the Canvas site goes down or experiences glitches.

For example, as shown in Anzalone’s classroom, Canvas has stalled assignments and lessons due to technical problems and confusion with the new Canvas interface.

Equally bad, some students have had trouble with the newly installed Turnitin.com function, reporting that assignments will sometimes be marked as having been turned in without actually having a file attached, leading to several students’ assignments to be marked late.

Student dependence on Canvas can also leave them more susceptible to stress, as so much school work is placed on one site. Canvas glitches can leave students with no way to see their grades, check their homework or turn in assignments.

Although some technical problems are expected while adapting to any new technology, these issues show that there is currently a need for a backup.

Canvas should continue to be used as of right now, but email and Facebook groups should be maintained to contact students in emergencies. After the first technical problems with Canvas, Anzalone joined the APUSH Facebook group so she could alert students when Canvas is not working.

Despite the efficiency and all-in-one organization Canvas offers, Facebook and email groups have a place as reliable failsafes.

 
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