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Wasteful Resources?

Companies and businesses are always trying to invest money into what they consider progress. The real question is: what is progress?

Unfortunately for many large companies, progress is getting a consumer to pay millions of dollars for products and services that actually may not be better for the people that the company is serving, but only better for the company’s own pocketbooks. Consumers see this repeated via misuse in politics and tax dollars; where companies receive huge tax credits and that same company spreads fear and uses tactics to play upon people for their own political gain in order to pad the pockets of big companies and politicians. 

These changes are made all in the name of progress. For example, the fear of natural resources being depleted and the big push for solar panels and electric vehicles. They might seem environmentally friendly, but after many studies have been done, they actually deplete more natural resources while producing them and are very costly for the average customer.

In July of 2020 at FHPS, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on a learning management platform called Canvas. This purchase was made at a time when schools across the country switched to online or hybrid classes amid COVID-19; the platform was intended to replace Google Classroom. While some have seen it as progress, others suggest Canvas is a waste of money and much more difficult to use. 

In my conversations with some of the teachers, opinions vary, but one teacher was very happy that I was writing this article. He told me that he “hoped that I could be [the teachers’] voice and promote change.”  He confided in me that, “Canvas is a very expensive bucket for Google Classroom, it is very cumbersome.” He began to explain the difference between Canvas and Google Classroom by comparing the two to a PC vs a MacBook, saying that “A PC is very technical, but a Mac is very user friendly and much easier than a PC to navigate.”

Another teacher I spoke with stated he loves Canvas. “I did not like it in the beginning because of the confusion I had in using the site, but once I figured out how to navigate its angles I found that it is a great resource for myself and my students as there is just so much more you can do.” 

Another teacher added, “Google Classroom is just a more efficient system for the schooling that we have now vs when first Covid hit.” She continued to explain that there are several additional steps for teachers to complete that are simple tasks, yet on Canvas are very tough to navigate.  This is true not only the teachers but for students and parents as well. One parent indicated, “I wish the school system would have just stuck with what works and what we all already know how to use. It’s tough when a new system is introduced, and the ‘older generation’ is not as tech-savvy.”

Another parent has voiced that they do not even look at Canvas to try to keep track of their student because it is frustrating to relearn a system when their daughter only has six months left of school. To her, it was a waste of time to learn a whole new system that appeared more complicated. 

9 out of 10 students when prompted prefer Google Classroom, with one saying that “it does not make sense that we have to go to Clever to get to Canvas when all of our school work is already done through Google.”  A second student suggested,  “I think Canvas is good college prep as many colleges use Canvas or systems similar to it; this is the only reason I am not as annoyed as most of my peers.” 

The question then becomes: why would the school spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to improve something that already works? Is this not a waste of money? Couldn’t they have found other places to have spent thousands of dollars, like enriching their students with more art programs, real-life classes, or outings that would stimulate their brains and inspire them?

Since the district signed a three-year agreement with Canvas on July 28th of 2020, I believe there is a chance we could make real progress in the decision between Canvas and Google Classroom. Not just a decision made by a district committee, but a decision made by the students, teachers, and parents who use this system every day. Could the decision-makers possibly leave the decision up to the people who use the system most frequently? Or the teachers who spend countless hours giving their lives to teaching their students? 

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