100% of Students Choose Canvas
Springfield Public Schools
Springfield Public Schools is the largest accredited school district in Missouri, with a tradition of academic achievement and leadership in teaching and learning. The district pursues innovation by giving students access to modern tools.
Students regularly score higher on state and national assessments, which illustrates the district’s commitment to excellence. The district is also part of the League of Innovative Schools, a network dedicated to solving challenges in public education in the United States.
Six years ago, Springfield administrators needed to provide online courses to high school students internally instead of using for-profit vendors, and they recognized the need for a learning management system (LMS). Teachers used a variety of websites, but nothing that was uniform. Dr. Nichole Lemmon, now the director for blended learning for Springfield Public Schools, was working as the coordinator of e-learning at the time. Administrators asked her to find an LMS because, among other reasons, parents and students currently had to access several websites and memorize different logins. “We were telling teachers to blend instruction. But they had no place to deliver that to students. It was an injustice,” Lemmon said. She researched the LMS market and made recommendations for an LMS that would support online courses for high school students and make digital content more accessible for students, staff, and parents.
Our teachers were all using different platforms, different software, and Canvas allowed them to be unified. Parents were happy, students were happy, and faculty were happy.
Nichole Lemmon, EDD
Director of Blended Learning, Springfield Public Schools
Springfield Public Schools has a motto of “Every learner, every day,” and administrators want to provide a high-quality personalized learning experience for students in 52 schools.
In the winter of 2012, they began piloting two LMSs with high school students. The students unanimously chose Canvas for its clean design, mobile device capability, and the way they could navigate the user interface. “Canvas is so easy, even our teachers can use it!” one student commented. Springfield picked Canvas as its LMS soon after.
Springfield’s technology team tackled implementation. They made the transition to Canvas and had their first online class up and running in less than a month. Admins built training modules for teachers, who were already excited to begin using the LMS. “It was amazing to see how easily it was implemented when I got out of the way,” said Lemmon, who also called the process an “engineered collision” to encourage Canvas adoption among all teachers and students. The result was a sharp increase in usage over the first year.
As it has grown with Canvas, the district credits the LMS with engaging students, saving teachers time, and making teaching and learning easier. They use Canvas for “pretty much everything we can,” says Lemmon. That includes curriculum, digital libraries, professional development, student courses, and most recently, as the platform for their new virtual school, Launch. Every textbook and database start inside Canvas. Canvas supports the district’s 1:1 initiative. “I can’t imagine a 1:1 without a platform for delivery. Without Canvas, this Chromebook is just an expensive pencil,” Lemmon said.
Springfield also uses Canvas as their credit recovery system. MasteryPaths is a feature that allows teachers to differentiate instruction and serve up content relevant to students’ academic level. If students fail a course, they can retake the parts they struggled with, and bypass the lessons where they’ve already demonstrated mastery.
This past year, Springfield began development on a virtual school, Launch, with all teaching and learning done through Canvas. They began offering courses in fall 2017, and with plenty of courses in development, plan to oer more than 70 by 2018. Students in other Missouri districts can enroll in and take courses through Springfield’s virtual school. “Moving to Canvas has really unified Missouri districts, as they are primarily using all of the same resources.”
Springfield administrators and faculty say they enjoy using Canvas because it has helped them advance teaching and learning in the district and offer higher-quality instruction to all students. Lemmon loves that Canvas is continually getting better, which is important because education is continually changing. “Canvas is one simple package with all the tools and resources that a teacher needs. It’s an all-in-one, out-of-the-box solution.”
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