Teachers and Students Struggle with Canvas Switch


Adjusting to Canvas, the new learning platform mandated by Prince George’s County Public Schools, has proved to be a challenge to students and teachers alike. Initially, ERHS used Google Classroom to submit assignments and do online work, but while some teachers started using Canvas last year, most students are unfamiliar with the platform. Many students and teachers believe that Google Classroom is more efficient and effective than Canvas. 

Since teachers had a choice between Google Classroom and Canvas last year, senior Ellie Kim attributes the shared difficulty to the removal of the “important option” of choosing a preferred learning platform. Kim stated that “Trying to keep up with this barrage of assignments has always been a challenge, but it’s gotten so much tougher trying to stay organized using Canvas.” According to Kim, her teachers are also “going through the process of adjusting to the unfamiliarity, which has made things like grades and progressing as a class difficult for everyone involved.” 

Olivia Gills, junior, noted, “Canvas doesn’t send notifications if I have an assignment due soon.” She would have preferred Google Classroom over Canvas, and she explained that “You can get to your assignments quicker, it sends notifications if you have something due, and allows you to upload documents without having to download them.” 

However, Gills reflected that she is adjusting well to Canvas. “Some of my classes used it last year,” Gills said. “It’s definitely different from Google Classroom because in Google Classroom, all of your assignments are in one place and you don’t have different tabs to get to your assignments.”

Junior Ashley Etabong publicly expressed her disapproval of the switch by creating a petition to return to Google Classroom. Etabong is concerned about Canvas’s functionality, stating that the change to Canvas “made things more difficult for teachers and students than better.” She highlighted that her main qualms with Canvas were that the “process of creating announcements and assignments on Canvas is more laborious compared to doing so on Google Classroom.” Etabong was inspired to create the petition because of her “strong dislike for the mandatory aspect” and because of the “many students and teachers that voiced their disapproval for Canvas.” 

Teachers had a hard transition this year when they had to completely learn the new learning management program in just a few weeks. Dr. Mark Oram, a Chemistry teacher, shared that “students find it more confusing to navigate and to know which assignments are due, and this has already caused some delayed or non-submitted work.”

The county has also made promises to teachers that grades will automatically be imported directly into Schoolmax but has not followed through on that promise. “The perk the county promised is not currently functional,” says English teacher Ms. Ashleigh Richman. “If the county eventually makes the grade importing possible, it will be awesome to have the ability for quizzes to be graded and uploaded to Schoolmax automatically.” She believes one major issue a lot of teachers and students have struggled with is that “not all assignments designed for Google Classroom interface with Canvas easily. For example, if you use Google Forms there is an additional step to submit assignments, you can’t just click ‘submit’ once and have your response recorded.”

Change is hard to adapt to overnight, so make sure to pace yourself and remember that this is something that the whole school is getting used to, not just you. As the year goes on, we’re determined that every Raider will get familiar with Canvas, and even though it feels hard right now, it’s okay to take some time to adjust.