should we keep canvas?

When Covid hit, our lives were turned upside down. Then in September 2020, we went to full online school with Google Classroom. But next year the county has decided to change from Google Classroom to Canvas. This has caused a lot of controversy among students, but before we see how others feel about the switch, the differences between Google Classroom and Canvas must be explained.

Google Classroom was written using the GO language, a coding language developed by Google; they then built the Google Classroom API (application programming interface) to build Google Classroom, which they launched in September 2014. Google Classroom’s smooth UI, user-friendly nature, brand name recognition, and better funding meant that it was leagues better than anything anyone else could offer at the time. Google Classroom swept the LMS market dethroning Canvas, which was released in 2011 by Instructure Software as the leader in the LMS market. Between 2014 and 2020, business was great, but once the Covid pandemic hit, Google Classroom was doing even better. With schools being forced to go online, everyone was using Google Classroom. Google Analytics had Google  Classroom averaging over one hundred searches a minute. However as online learning increased, so did complaints. Google Classroom’s ease of use was of benefit to students but a detriment to teachers. Google Classroom was never programmed to integrate test or assignment grades with regional grading programs like PowerSchool. This meant teachers had to go in and re-enter every grade into PowerSchool. Other complaints were that the UI didn’t work on tablets and mobile phones and had a very bad notification system.

Canvas was launched in 2011 by Instructure Systems and was written in the Ruby language, but because of a clunkier UI, the program failed to reach major widespread use. However, unlike Google Classroom, Canvas could integrate with grading programs like PowerSchool and had a very customizable screen for teachers. It also allowed teachers to make separate classes, but they could access them as one large group making assigning things easier.  Some of the complaints around Canvas are the still clunky UI, the difficulty to find your assignments,, and the overloaded servers.

Many students want Google Classroom back, citing reasons like its easier UI, better integration with Google Drive, and lack of trust in Canvas. But all the teachers I interviewed said that they liked Canvas more. They all cited the integration with PowerSchool, ease of assigning things, and better systems to stop cheating with Canvas. However, some teachers also think some of the complaints students have about the Canvas UI are very valid and think Canvas should work on making its UI less clunky.

I think that Google Classroom is better for lower grades where not much technology is required. But in high school Canvas is better; its high degree of customizability makes it better for the specialization high school classes require.

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