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The Study Hall

Daly Dispatch: February 2021 Edition

Hello Canvas Family, and welcome to the Daly Dispatch, my monthly update on all things Canvas.

Supporting Teaching & Learning at Scale

We recently sent a proposal to the Biden-Harris administration to engage with their education transition team about how we can support digital learning together. Our letter outlines the government support needed to provide equitable access to the resources and training required for high-quality teaching and learning—from educational technology to professional development. We asked government officials to prioritize the following considerations:

  • Providing additional local and state-level funding: Many schools, districts, and states used CARES Act funding to acquire digital learning platforms, but without sustained funding, schools will struggle to maintain access to the tools and resources they need to support learning, whether it be face to face, remote, or a hybrid.
  • Staffing the Office of Education Technology: States need strong leadership at the national level to provide guidance and support to educators as they continue to navigate the shifts in education.
  • Embracing formative assessments: States should move away from high-stakes summative assessments and towards formative assessments at the classroom level so teachers can gain immediate insight into student understanding and adjust instruction to mitigate learning loss.
  • Investing in educators: Educators have been asked to do so much in the last year, from transitioning to remote learning in less than two weeks to adopting new tools and learning new ways to teach. They have felt the burden of quickly pivoting without proper resources and training. That’s why we're urging officials to fund professional development that will help America's educators prepare for the next pivot, whenever it may be.

Connecting With State Leaders About Stimulus Spending Plans

The most recent stimulus funds package has presented another opportunity for state leaders to support teaching and learning. To help state leaders leverage these funds, our Executive Director of Government Affairs, Dr. Tracy Weeks, hosted a webinar with key state leaders to share insights on how to best use these resources to adopt the right technology tools. 

We were fortunate to be joined by US Representative John Curtis, who represents Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, to hear why he thinks these funds are so important.

He specifically pointed out that “in this last package, schools will be able to use the money in many ways, including upgrades to safely reopen schools like improving ventilation, buying technology to support remote programs, allowing items to also include things principals need to address their individual needs.”

One topic that received a lot of attention is the challenge that rural schools and districts have faced in gaining broadband access. Tammy Van Whye, Director of Innovation and Excellence for Alaska, shared the challenges her region faced throughout the pandemic: “Anyone who has looked at the map and is familiar with Alaska's geography and just how challenging education can be in our state because of the many, many rural and remote locations we have, you know at a glance what a challenge it is and must be to support all of our students in all of our educators across the state.”

As she shared, using stimulus funds to acquire learning tools helped educators reach every student. It was essential to Alaska’s statewide vision of “providing an excellent education for every student, every day.”

“A big step that we took with some of our emergency relief funding was to enter
into a partnership with Canvas. And I use that word 'partnership' because that
really and truly is what it has felt like and what it has been,” said Van Whye.

We are honored to continue partnering with state leaders to provide the tools they need to meet student needs. Perhaps now more than ever, we have an opportunity to amplify the power of teaching, intensify its impact, and inspire everyone to learn together.

Keep learning,
Steve Daly