By Nancy Azzam
One student is sitting in her English class where her teacher expects her to be working on her benchmark, but the assignment is not there. Another student can’t figure out how to upload their Google doc to Canvas. A history teacher is waiting for his students to begin their online discussion, but the discussion is only visible to half of the class. Teachers receive several emails from students complaining that they cannot see their grades or that a link on Canvas no longer shows up.
All of those feel like normal complaints compared to last week when students were mysteriously dropped from all their Canvas classes and not able to see or submit anything.
This new learning management system (LMS) is definitely not one we are used to as it is much less user-friendly and organized compared to Google Classroom, when it works. Also, it is extremely difficult to navigate through.
As a school, especially after the pandemic, we seem to have relied heavily on Google Classroom and Google Docs, but Canvas seems disconnected from the Google apps we are used to.
“Canvas is a lot more difficult to use or learn than Classroom because it takes three steps to get to the assignment instead of just clicking the link and taking it straight there,” junior Tony Ramirez said.
Not all assignments show up in the “dashboard” of Canvas, which can lead to students missing work simply because it was hidden under seven other assignments in the sections “modules” or “discussions.”
In Google Classroom, everything conveniently went into our “to-do” lists with the rest of the work we had to do. Students even received an email when something was posted for a class. I never thought I would miss an email for school so much.
Also, it takes too many clicks to do the simplest of actions on Canvas. This happens especially when an assignment is connected to websites such as Google Docs or Slides. Instead of clicking the big rocketship, which would seem obvious, you have to click the three small dots. Then you have to press “open to attach and submit” to first be able to open the link of the assignment, obviously do the assignment, and then finally press the “open to attach and submit” button once more to submit the assignment.
On Google Classroom, when an assignment is connected to Google you could just press submit on the actual assignment, and you were done. There was no confusion or difficulty.
Along with students, teachers are struggling too. Teachers, who have to create all the content and manage the system, were only trained over the summer and then encouraged to fully immerse themselves and their classes in the Canvas platform a month or two later.
Teachers sometimes find it difficult to create an individual copy of a Google assignment for each student. Whereas with Classroom, this was not as much of a problem. Now students must make a copy of the assignment and attach it themselves, many of whom do not know how to do this.
Plus, many teachers have to struggle with also having to individually upload assignments for each of their classes, unlike Google Classroom where they could upload the same assignment to multiple classes in one click.
All these inconveniences with Canvas can take time away from class when the teacher has to fix the issue or work with students to fix their own issues, causing students to leave class more confused about what to do and how to do it.
Maybe this new LMS was introduced to teachers and students too abruptly, leading to a lack of practice for teachers to familiarize themselves with the uses and functions of Canvas. Perhaps there should have been training for the students as well before it was really adopted.
It has become such a strenuous task to just submit or create an assignment. If teachers aren’t comfortable with operating Canvas, how are students supposed to be able to complete their tasks?