As students returned to a socially distant school, Belmont Hill parted ways with Google Classroom, and Veracross and Canvas, the new school information system (SIS) and learning management system (LMS) made their debut. While students and faculty become accustomed to these new systems, The Panel decided to analyze the changes and positive advancements made to our online platforms. Veracross is 100% web based, fostering school communications that make life easier for faculty, students and parents. Now, parents have access to a range of digital tools including their student’s daily schedule, attendance, news related to the student’s respective grade levels and much more. This year also marks the first time Belmont Hill is using an online invoice system to collect payments, saving time, money, and paper for the business office. One point of improvement for Veracross would be to activate more digital tools in the portal for parents, but especially students. The student portal really only contains a student’s current class schedule and upcoming calendar events across the school. If possible, the school should try to utilize Veracross as a student information centre. They could use it to keep all important information and forms to enable students more control of their Belmont Hill experience.
Another new digital website introduced at the beginning of this year is Canvas, a site similar to Google Classroom which allows students the chance to keep all classwork digital, a much needed solution in the age of COVID. Canvas centralizes students’ coursework in one site, with tools such as a personalized calendar, system of organization for all assignments, and a convenient area to post announcements. Canvas serves as an overall upgrade. However, just like any other new learning system, students are still adjusting to some of the unfamiliar and perhaps unideal aspects of Canvas. For example, difficulties have arisen regarding the ability to submit Google Documents to Canvas. While students over the past few years have become accustomed to this method of submitting essays, worksheets, and other assignments, Canvas’s technological makeup limits its ability to easily process Google Documents. As a result, submitting documents through Microsoft Word has become the preferred method of turning in assignments. However, Canvas does present some dramatic improvements in other aspects of assignment submission. For example, with the easily accessible Canvas digital app, submitting videos has become much easier than before. Useful for courses throughout the school, features such as these save much time and effort for both faculty and students. Although unfamiliar in certain aspects for some students, the relative quantity of inconveniences associated with Canvas is minor in comparison to the vast benefits the website provides. Thus, with just a few more weeks of practice and exploration, students should have no problem navigating Canvas for the future.