Battle of the Apps

Contrasting opinions after contrasting opinions are shared after asking many teachers and students what their honest thoughts are about switching from Google Classroom to Canvas.


As we all know, Google Classroom has been tossed to the side by a new app called Canvas.  The reigning question is, does anyone actually like it? Or would some rather turn back time to the days where Google Classroom was the headmaster of Westminster during the 3 months of quarantine? 

Along with the shock to students that Classroom was not going to be a part of the classroom dynamic anymore, it also came with a shock to teachers as well.  A tremendous amount of teacher training went into learning about this app and all of its moving parts.  

“40 plus hours of online training before August, and a week of training classes before normal teacher training.  So we had to come back a week early, and had 40 hours of training online before,” said Brian Maloy, Westminster business teacher.

Many students, even teachers have made it clear that if they would have had it their way, they would have stuck with Google Classroom.  Canvas just does not do it for them.  Here Maloy speaks for himself as well as advocates for the students who are not part of the Canvas fan club.

“Not a fan, I get that it has a lot of potential, but the pros do not outweigh the cons for me.  With Google Classroom, integration was so much easier for my class and all of the assignments I’d created.  It was also easier for students,” said Maloy.

There are many different questions students have about Canvas, one of them being, why did we switch to Canvas the first place?  During the COVID-19 pandemic, while students were in quarantine during April through May, Google Classroom was the home base for all classes.  It seemed to go over well, many people liked google classroom.  However, Reilly Brophy, junior, has inserted her opinion about how she would prefer Canvas over Google Classroom.

“Yes, I like Canvas better than Google Classroom.  I think it’s more organized, and easier to keep track of assignments,’ said Brophy.  “Canvas has a “to-do” section and all of my assignments for every class show up so it is more organized and easier to keep track of my homework.  On Google Classroom, you had to go into each class to see the homework which was extra work and was more inconvenient.”

Although both Canvas and Google Classroom are used for the same job, they differ at the same time.  Google Classroom is usually used for the elementary school level, whereas Canvas is used mostly at college level. 

“Google Classroom served its purpose, and was good while it lasted, but I think canvas is better for kids doing online school because of its organization.  I think it is good timing to use canvas this year with the pandemic and uncertainty of online school,” said Reilly Brophy, junior.

The decision to switch to Canvas was partly due to the fact that students need to be prepared and equipped for college level learning, as Westminster is a college-preparatory school.  Another reason was because of the amount of students staying at home and learning online, and Canvas is more efficient for these circumstances. 

Micah Gall, head of academic development, was one of the individuals responsible for the decision of switching to Canvas.

“One of the main reasons we decided to make the switch is because Canvas has the capability to do more than Google Classroom.  Given the circumstances and the potential that we would have some or all students learning from home, we wanted a more robust system that would allow us to improve upon the way we conducted remote learning in the spring,” said Gall, head of academic development.

Nothing is ever set in stone anymore.  More and more students are switching to at-home learning daily.  Some are home for 2 days, 2 weeks, or the rest of the semester because of the learning from home option given to everyone.  Canvas is able to be more flexible for these times of uncertainty than Google Classroom was for the quarantine that took place before spring break.  

Gall and a few other members of staff went into this last minute change over from Google Classroom knowing that it was going to be difficult for kids and staff to grasp at first.

“It was a tough decision, mainly because of what we knew we would be asking of our teachers and students.  We’re seeing some of the difficulties that have come from this decision now.  There’s certainly an adjustment period for teachers (myself included) and students alike.  These required adjustments come with certain frustrations, frustrations that are understandable and merited,” said Gall, head of academic development.

Through these times of daily change and uncertainty, teachers will always stick with the learning option that is more flexible because of the ever changing circumstances and the constant unknown of what the future will hold.