Late in 2019 we began a search for a quality online learning product. After consulting widely within The Department and speaking to schools in the Eastern States the decision was made to move our online learning to Canvas. This would allow us to make the most of the Flipped and Blended learning practices we have been developing in the Senior School.
We didn’t know it at the time but Canvas would become invaluable by the end of Term 1 and a central piece of our response to COVID, allowing us to maintain student learning both at school and from home. Online learning programs such as Canvas are used widely in larger schools and every University and higher education provider has a platform of some description, many use Canvas itself. Exposing our students to this style of learning is one way we are preparing them for a lifetime of learning, and a bright future when they leave our school.
Canvas for teachers…
For teachers, Canvas is a program that allows for the creation of online lessons. It has the capacity to link a range of software through one central location. Teachers create original work and select appropriate, quality online content that supports the normal explicit teaching they complete in class. Teachers are able to set quizzes and assignments that provide them with instant feedback on student achievement and progress against the Australian Curriculum or SACE. Canvas increases opportunities for staff to work individually with students whilst in the classroom to support and extend their learning as appropriate.
Canvas for students…
For students, Canvas is a powerful organisational tool. Every activity a teacher provides for them is listed on a personalised to-do list and there is a personal calendar that shows when all tasks need to be completed. Students have access to a huge variety of learning activities, many have real world links through the external content teachers provide.
When students complete tasks they are able to receive valuable feedback, in many cases instantaneously. This feedback can be used to identify where their strengths in each task lay and where improvement may be needed. The teacher created and online videos allow students to revisit information they are unsure of or that they may have missed in class, this is hugely valuable come assessment time. Students have the opportunity to take ownership of their learning as many tasks can be completed autonomously.
Canvas for parents…
For parents, Canvas provides a real opportunity to be involved in their child’s learning. The work is set with scaffolded directions and clear outcomes.
It is possible to track progress in each subject area and view student calendars to see when due dates are nearing. It is also possible to see how your student is achieving and to see the feedback provided by teachers.
At the moment it is possible to use your child’s login details to see the variety of work they have completed this term.
Where to next?
At CYS, Canvas was built and implemented in 10 days at the end of Term 1, this was a huge accomplishment as we originally expected it to take 6 months. Teachers have had to learn an entire new way of reaching students and it has been a very steep learning curve that has taken all of Term 2. Due to COVID restrictions we have had to learn as we go and it has been a very positive start, we have gained experience and improved our understanding of the technology and how to best embed it in the classroom.
As we move into Term 3 we have made some changes which will improve the student experience. We are also developing a parent portal which will allow parents to download an app and be paired with their children, there will be more information provided about how to access this portal early in Term 3, the student app is already available as a free download for both Apple and Android devices.
Online learning is an approach we have been using for a while in Years 11 and 12 with positive results. Canvas provides students with the opportunity to develop skills required for learning in a blended environment similar to what they will experience if they continue with tertiary education.
We will be developing a range of resources to help parents support their child’s learning on Canvas in Terms 3 and 4. In the meantime if you have any questions about your child’s Canvas have them demonstrate how they use them in the classroom or contact their teacher at the school.