I am an Instructional Technology Specialist/TOSA 1:1 Project Manager for the Yorkville Unified School District in Yorkville, Illinois. In my position, I am responsible for training teachers and students to use various technologies that have to do with our 1:1 Chromebook initiative. I am happy to say that one of these technologies is Canvas. Our 1:1 initiative was rolled out this year to all 4th Grade students and 7th-12th Grade students. Students from 7th Grade through 12th Grade use Canvas to access their courses. Getting our teachers to fully embrace Canvas has been a bit of a struggle, but they are definitely moving in the right direction.
Over the past few months I have been showing our high school and middle school music departments how to use Canvas Media submissions to turn in video recordings of their students performing scales or music pieces. The departments loved the idea! The only problem was that the Chromebooks onboard microphone was horrible. The mic picked up all sorts of ambient sounds and made the student performance sound horrible. Teachers and students were frustrated with the poor quality of the recordings. I had many calls and complaints. Teachers were requesting microphones to be purchased for the students or maybe next year we have USB microphones added to the school supply list for band and orchestra. As I started thinking about the best way to do this, I saw a student walk down the hallway talking about how he used his iPhone to make a video of himself while he was playing his guitar. It hit me! Most of our students have smart phones or tablets. What if they shot the videos on their smart phones or tablets and then loaded them through the Canvas Mobile app? The HD quality and microphone quality on these types of devices are way better than those of a Chromebook.
I went home and recorded my own 7th grader playing her flute both on a Chromebook and on my iPhone. The sound quality of the iPhone was infinitely better than that of the Chromebook. I then downloaded the Canvas Mobile app from the App Store. As I walked through the set up process, I took screenshots of each step and turned them into a Google Slides presentation. I went back to the music department at the middle school and presented to the band and orchestra teachers. At first they were concerned as to all of the steps involved in having students take the videos and get them to their Chromebooks so they can be loaded to Canvas. I then explained to them that students did not have to go through the Chromebooks, they could move the videos from their phones and tablets directly into Canvas by using the mobile app. They were intrigued. I showed the teachers the Google Slides presentation and had them load the app to their phones to see how simple it would be. They were hooked! The following week we scheduled time during band and orchestra classes to go through the presentation and have students load the app and use it that night to record themselves playing. It worked! The following week I did the same thing at the high school and since then the mobile app has moved through our school choirs as well.
I’ll be honest, if it had not been for the poor mics on the Chromebooks, I never would have looked into the Canvas mobile app. Now that it is on my radar I am suggesting it to all of my teachers and students and it will become part of training for incoming students.