Voices of Columbus City Schools: The Power of Canvas LMS in the Classroom

red text: columbus city schools image: school building

With approximately 47,000 students, Columbus City Schools is the largest school district in Ohio. Providing personalized teaching and learning for each student anytime, anywhere is the core of their mission. Before Canvas LMS, their instructional materials and communication lived on many digital platforms. With Canvas, they’ve brought everyone together and built a one-stop shop for all things instruction in the district.

"Canvas breaks down walls so that students are able to extend their learning." - Joe Hernan, Director of Learning Technology.

Teachers at Columbus City Schools use Canvas LMS every day in a variety of ways. They rely on it to meet students where they are. Hear teachers from across the district share their Canvas journeys in the stories below.

blue background with text that reads "revolutionizing world history by matthew thomas" with an icon of a globe

I teach 9th grade World History at Mifflin High School in Columbus, Ohio. The thing I love most about teaching is making connections with my students over topics in History. I was a member of the Northland Teaching Academy in high school and loved teaching others. When I graduated, I was given the opportunity to attend The Ohio State University for free if I agreed to return to Columbus City Schools and teach for five years. Twenty-three years later, I am still teaching in Columbus City Schools.

Before I discovered Canvas LMS, I faced a fundamental challenge: keeping students engaged with the material and providing them with the necessary resources to complete assignments. I spent a significant amount of time making copies instead of planning engaging lessons.

I discovered Canvas LMS through my involvement in the district selection committee, where I was impressed with its design and features that could help keep students engaged with classroom content. Initially, the district rolled out Canvas slowly during the pandemic, starting with virtual learning and moving to blended learning.

To implement Canvas in my classroom, I was selected by the Learning Technology department to create model lessons that could aid other teachers in utilizing Canvas in their classrooms. With a small team of teachers, we examined the state standards and designed lessons that were engaging and focused on helping students master each standard. 

While the students were initially reluctant to use Canvas, I explained to them how it provides access to the materials anytime and anywhere, and they soon saw the value of having one place for all of their assignments.

The impact of Canvas on student outcomes, engagement, and performance metrics has been tremendous. The various assignments helped keep students engaged with the material, and the multiple submission types allowed them to demonstrate mastery of the content in unique ways. As a teacher, Canvas has been a huge time saver, allowing me to create lessons and upload them much faster than I could with paper copies.

My favorite Canvas feature is SpeedGrader, which has made grading student work easier and more efficient. The ability to grade assignments online has significantly reduced the number of paper cuts I get and made the grading process much faster.

Overall, Canvas has significantly impacted my teaching by allowing me to prepare lessons and deliver engaging learning experiences more efficiently. I highly recommend other teachers and districts in Ohio to try out Canvas for themselves. It is a valuable tool that can improve students' learning and teachers' effectiveness.

yellow background with white text that reads "crafting creativity in art" by amy lehotsky and an icon of a student flying a kite

My mom and stepdad were educators, and my sister is a teacher. Being raised in an educationally focused environment and my love for making new things inspired me to become an Art teacher. I love seeing the creativity of my students and being able to help them build confidence and grow while learning.

Before incorporating Canvas, a significant challenge I faced was delivering consistent and comprehensive project demonstrations to students who were absent and needed to catch up. Additionally, the need for repetitive instructions consumed valuable class time, hindering my ability to provide personalized attention to students struggling with idea generation and problem-solving.

Introduced to Canvas during the pandemic's online teaching phase, I initially approached it with some skepticism. The district's transition to Canvas prompted me to understand and utilize this new environment efficiently. Concerns about its complexity and user-friendliness were at the forefront of my thoughts.

I integrated Canvas into my studio art courses after returning to in-person teaching. I created step-by-step demonstration videos for students, offering them a self-paced learning experience. My transition to teaching Computer Graphics allowed me to centralize all content, directions, and videos in Canvas, facilitating digital submissions and grading. Spending time familiarizing students with Canvas features enabled a smooth adoption and empowered them to work independently.

Canvas turned out to be a game-changer, providing a centralized hub for all of my learning materials. My students have benefited from easy-to-access content, assignments, assessments, and collaborative discussions. Canvas has supported absent students in catching up. Although there's an initial time investment for teachers in setting up courses, for me, Canvas has streamlined the process for presenting and sharing information and simplifying providing feedback and grading.

Canvas has offered a structured and accessible platform for my students and I. My advice to fellow educators or districts considering Canvas is to start gradually, focusing on critical components like Modules and Assignments, and see how those can benefit your classroom. 

red background with white text that reads "navigating the digital frontier as a canvas champion"

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, adopting technology has become crucial in enhancing the teaching and learning experience. 

Before embracing Canvas, my science classroom was utilizing Google Classroom. While functional and simple, it presented its own set of challenges. The process involved posting links and sharing Google Docs, which served a purpose during the pandemic. However, there was a need for a more efficient way for students to submit digital copies of their work without the constraints of external applications and a need for something more multi-media-friendly. 

What initially caught my attention with Canvas LMS was the user-friendly mobile app. The ability for students to easily capture images and scan documents directly through the app opened up new possibilities for handling lab reports and assignments, especially in subjects like physics.

Canvas streamlined the submission process and allowed for digital markup with its annotation features. No longer bound by the limitations of physical paper, students could submit assignments digitally, enabling me to provide feedback in a more interactive and meaningful way.

The Canvas Champion initiative in my district allowed me to delve deeper into the functionalities of Canvas. Initially enticed by the prospect of training sessions, I embraced Canvas and advocated its benefits to fellow educators.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Canvas Champion was assisting my colleagues in their Canvas journey. I encountered varying levels of hesitancy, but patiently guiding them through the process proved fruitful. The Canvas mobile app and its versatile modules became an enticing starting point for many.

Transitioning from traditional teaching methods to a digital platform is not without its challenges. However, through collaborative efforts and the support of the Canvas team, we successfully addressed concerns related to storage limits, video uploads, and technical intricacies.

Among the many features of Canvas, a few are my favorites: the organization capabilities of Modules, the engaging Discussion boards, and the annotation tools for PDFs. These features have enriched my teaching methods and created a more dynamic and interactive learning environment for students.

As a Canvas Champion, my journey with Canvas has been transformative. Canvas LMS has empowered me as an educator and facilitated a more seamless and efficient educational experience for my students. 

orange background with white text that reads "fostering connection & consistency by monique patrick" with an icon of a student sitting at a computer

Before Canvas came into my teaching, I grappled with various digital platforms. One significant hurdle was ensuring my students had access to the correct resources. The need for a centralized hub for students to refer back to was evident, especially for absences or late submissions. 

Canvas LMS emerged as the much-needed solution to my challenges. It addressed the issue of centralizing the correct links for my students and provided a seamless experience for students to access resources immediately. One of the game-changing aspects was the advantage new students gained, being able to join the digital environment without waiting for access codes or struggling with email verifications. 

Canvas became my one-stop solution, simplifying the process of starting class and ensuring my students were always on the right platform at the right time.

My approach to Canvas involves organizing content by unit and creating a dedicated Module for each. This structure ensures a clear, chronological presentation of lessons, with the most recent material at the top. I strategically reversed the module to reflect the dynamic nature of my teaching. The benefit of fewer clicks for students made navigation smoother and minimized frustration.

Canvas's integrations have become integral to my teaching strategy. I have a fondness for Quizlet, appreciating its vocabulary-building versatility. The seamless integration of Quizlet within Canvas allows my students to switch between flashcards and matching exercises without leaving the platform. I also applaud Canvas Studio's built-in capabilities, making creating and sharing engaging video content with embedded questions easy. 

I've experienced the benefits of Canvas in both physical and virtual classrooms. In both settings, Canvas is a centralized hub, providing essential information for new students and facilitating immediate access to resources. Maintaining consistency in communication becomes crucial to ensure every student understands where they are in their learning and what they need to do next.

If you're considering Canvas, my advice is straightforward: use it consistently. Hands-on experience is vital to truly understanding and feeling comfortable with it. Reach out to Canvas's support for assistance. Active use and exploration are crucial to unlocking the full potential of Canvas LMS.

Canvas LMS: The Key to Connection

Every classroom is unique. Canvas has the flexibility to be what every classroom needs as showcased in the stories above. Looking ahead to the future, Columbus City Schools plan to continue relying on Canvas to keep their classrooms connected.

To learn more about what an LMS like Canvas can do for your district, be sure to check out Your Guide to Choosing a Learning Management System.

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