Friday, January 22, 2021

Technology and Learning at Greenville City Schools – By Jim Hooper, Curriculum Director

School certainly looks different this year than in years past. Not only with students wearing masks and socially distancing, but also how teachers and students are using technology to continue learning. Students and teachers are using the learning management system Canvas to create lessons and submit assignments, and take tests digitally all on their iPads. Canvas is being utilized whether students are learning in-person at Greenville schools or if they are learning remotely. This has been especially helpful when students are absent, so that they can keep up on any assignments.

As the school year has progressed, the district has been monitoring the success of students using this platform, and has reached out to several students and staff for their experiences with this digital learning.

David Westfall is a 3rd grade teacher at Greenville Elementary School, and has been teaching for 41 years. Understandably, teaching using new technologies can be quite challenging. Mr. Westfall has embraced the challenge, incorporating digital lessons from websites, and using Zoom to connect with students who are unable to be in class. He says, “Canvas is easy and keeps me connected to students that are not here. Especially with Zoom meetings. It is also kid friendly and they love it. I was nervous at first, but now it is part of my life in and out of my classroom.” 

Students are also finding that having a learning management system is much better than communicating with teachers through email as they did back in the spring. Using Canvas, students are able to access all their courses in one website, view upcoming assignments, and submit them through a variety of methods. Using their iPads, students are also participating in something that many adults are now having to get used to – video meetings through such web services as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Teachers at the elementary school use an app called SeeSaw to send lessons to students as well as receive completed assignments. The app is also used to communicate with students and parents. As with any change, not all experiences have been good ones. Some students report that Zoom calls are  dropped; others report that some websites have been blocked or are not working. The district technology department has been working with students and staff who report such problems, and are usually able to correct them quickly. Should a student need help with their iPad or accessing their Canvas courses, they can contact the technology department by email at, or by calling 937-548-3185.

Whether this is the future of education or just a temporary means of learning until the end of the pandemic remains to be seen. But one thing is certain - our students will be prepared for life beyond school with the skills they have learned this school year.

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