Students, teachers switch to new learning management system, adjust to Canvas

Junior+Kayla+Bruce+uses+Canvas+to+look+at+their+English+assignments.+Sophomores%2C+juniors+and+seniors+accessed+the+Canvas+technology+training+asynchronously+on+the+first+day+of+school.

Photo credit: Audrey Chang

Junior Kayla Bruce uses Canvas to look at their English assignments. Sophomores, juniors and seniors accessed the Canvas technology training asynchronously on the first day of school.

By Audrey Chang, News Editor

For all returning students, the Powerschool Learning Hub has been used as their learning management system throughout their journey at Archer. But, this year, all students and teachers have started adjusting to a new system called Canvas.

The Archer technology department sent an email to students on the first day of school, Sept. 6, announcing the switch to Canvas since Powerschool no longer supports the platform. Learning management systems are hubs for learning where students access their assignments, daily class agendas and grades.

Canvas and Powerschool vary in layout and ability. For example, Canvas includes a section for modules where teachers can post activities for classes and has a dropbox that allows students to choose and turn in assignments from a greater variety of formats, whereas the Learning Hub has separate pages and tabs for each class, assignment or grade.

The Oracle sent out a survey to returning students to see how community members feel about Canvas versus the Powerschool Learning Hub, and 157 students responded.

When asked which platform they prefer, 49% responded Powerschool, 24.8% responded Canvas and 26.1% responded that they do not have a preference. Students were also asked to rate their comfortability with Canvas on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most comfortable. Most students chose either 3 or 4, with 27.6% of students responding 3 and 36.5% of students responding 4.

I enjoy the layout [of Canvas], but I was so used to Powerschool that transitioning is definitely a hard obstacle.”

— Julianna Hatton ('25)

“I think working in Canvas is really easy,” junior Jullie Cach said. “But I don’t like how, when I click on something in Canvas, it leads me to another tab, and then there’s just so many tabs building up from one.” 

Junior Lila Paschall also prefers Powerschool because of the way it formats assignments in a long to-do list.

I prefer Powerschool because I don’t like the to-do list on the right side of the Canvas page because it’s extremely overwhelming,” Paschall said. “It makes me feel like I have too many things to do… but PowerSchool just had a calendar of things I needed to do each day.” 

Upper school students had Canvas technology training Tuesday, Sept. 6. Freshmen had training in the library, while sophomores, juniors and seniors accessed the lesson asynchronously, which included videos of how to use Canvas for different purposes. Middle school students had Canvas technology training Wednesday, Sept. 7.

“The training was really helpful, but I didn’t really necessarily need to do it because it was very easy to navigate,” junior Lucia Ponti said. “I think [Canvas is] incredibly practical… and now I have a planner through the Canvas app, which is really convenient.” 

The Canvas dashboard shows the classes the student is taking, and they can view their class agendas, modules and assignments by clicking on them. Upper school students had Canvas training the first day of school to learn how to navigate the site.
The Canvas dashboard shows the classes each respective student is taking, and they can view their agendas, modules and assignments by clicking on each class. Students had Canvas training the first day of school to learn how to navigate the site. (Photo credit: Audrey Chang )

Teachers had to create entirely new class pages due to the switch, and Math Department Chair Maggie Cenan said that she prefers Canvas because of its efficient ways for students to turn assignments in.

“Before, I used the Learning Hub page as a place to store resources, and now I’m able to embed Google Docs and have the students submit Google Docs,” Cenan said. “As a teacher, it’s making it a lot easier because I don’t have to have them share [work] with me, it’s just automatically on there, so I like [Canvas] a lot better.” 

Sophomore Julianna Hatton, like Ponti and Cenan, has come to prefer Canvas over Powerschool due to its efficiency and more clear visual aspects.

“I think, yesterday, I would have said the Learning Hub [is my preference], but I think after using Canvas in class every single day, I’ve become more comfortable, and I’ve actually come to appreciate things about it,” Hatton said. “For instance, it’s much quicker at loading, it doesn’t log you out every time and you’re able to see the teachers units more clearly than you were able to in the Learning Hub.” 

According to Cenan, teachers were provided with resources to learn how to navigate Canvas, and she said she thinks this helped create a smooth transition from the Powerschool Learning Hub.

“I view it more like a puzzle, and I’m just trying to figure it out a lot of it as I go,” Cenan said. “We were set up with a lot of professional development with resources, but I think it’s just going to take time to really figure out or become comfortable with it because it’s one of the things you just have to practice.” 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Additional reporting by Surya Patil and Zoe Gazzuolo.