By: Shannon Mann
Technology changes quickly and Neuse Charter School is keeping up with the times.
As classrooms become more global and information is found and shared in seconds, students and teachers are turning toward the virtual environment to aid in the face-to-face classroom experience.
Within the last few months, NCS has invested in a learning management system known as Canvas and is making a push for middle and high school teachers to implement the program in their classes starting in the New Year.
“We decided to pilot the program this year and to give teachers the first semester to get used to Canvas and see what they can do,” said Brad Williams, NCS technology and communication specialist. Williams said a few teachers started using the program the first day administrators rolled it out, but others are taking more time to understand the program before fully loading their courses into it.
Canvas helps teachers administer, document, track, report and deliver e-learning courses and training programs. Colleges and universities across the world use similar technologies such as Blackboard and Moodle. NCS chose Canvas because it interacts well with PowerSchool.
Currently NCS parents and students rely on teacher blogs to keep up-to-date with classroom assignments and to gather information, but instead of the top-down approach of pushing out information, Canvas allows for a much more interactive experience for both the student and parent with the teacher.
“Students and parents are able to have a calendar with all assignments across all classes, elect the methods in which they wish to receive notifications, and have online access to most assignments as well as the option to take tests,” Williams said.
A great feature of the new technology is that it allows parents and teachers to track analytics on their student(s). For instance if an English test is delivered using Canvas parents can see exactly how long it took their student to complete it…providing valuable insight for areas that might need further instruction.
“One of the greatest advantages to the program is that through Canvas, teachers and students can truly engage in education 24-7,” said Williams. “Canvas allows for teacher designed courses and content that is available to students outside of the classroom. Students can have options to take extra courses or get remediation and acceleration without having to physically stay after school or come early.”
If used to its fullest capacity Canvas can ensure quality learning even during inclement weather shutdowns and during teacher absences.
“Canvas allows us to break away from the traditional teaching model,” Williams said. “Depending on the class, students will be able to log in and review materials, complete assignments and interact with their teacher and peers.”
Amy Johnson, 7th grade science and social studies teacher, enjoys the enhanced benefits that Canvas brings to her classroom.
“I think the biggest advantage is for students to have easy access to materials that they might have lost that were handouts in class or supplemental material that I can post for students to see what goes along with our lesson,” said Johnson.
Canvas can load homework and test scores directly to PowerSchool, but teachers have the option to amend scores as necessary and ask for work through various mediums. While a multiple choice science test might feed scores directly to PowerSchool, a math test might ask the student to answer using Canvas, but require a paper copy of their work so a teacher can check for proper methodology. Teachers have the ability to change a score to award partial credit for answers.
Johnson notes that a huge benefit of the program is the instant feedback. Canvas provides.
“They are able to know their scores instantly when they finish their test,” Johnson said. “They can also see which problems they missed and what the correct answer should be. “
While Johnson admits there were some growing pains getting used to online testing, she says her students were quick to figure it out.
“They know now how to navigate the system and go back to ones they skipped or want to check their answers again,” she said.
Colleges and universities are using this technology not only for their online courses, but for their face to face courses as well. Teachers and professors are able to use limited classroom time to focus on instruction versus taking time to distribute handouts, readings, syllabi, tests, and supplemental materials. Students and parents are able to find everything needed for a class in one easy location.
With a strong focus on higher learning and education excellence, NCS is not only preparing its students for advanced academics, it is ensuring they have the hands-on experience with the tools they will use at that next level. A blank Canvas will soon be a masterpiece in their portfolios!
Parents can click here here to create their own Canvas accounts.