Tag Archives: LMS

Infinite Campus will Replace PowerSchool in 2021-2022 School Year

We’re excited to announce that the Iowa City CSD School Board approved a transition from our current PowerSchool student information system to Infinite Campus. Infinite Campus is used widely across the state, including by many of the larger districts with which ICCSD collaborates most frequently, including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Sioux City, Davenport, and others

Infinite Campus, like PowerSchool, will house grades, attendance information, students’ schedules, assessment information, and other demographic and academic information. In order to protect this data, Infinite Campus is compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and implements industry-standard practices related to student data privacy and security.

Parents and students will be able to access Infinite Campus through parent and student portals using a web browser on any device or a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet. ICCSD will be sharing more information, including instructions for parents and students to use the Infinite Campus portals, as we approach the 2021-2022 school year. Parents and students who want to get a jumpstart on learning about Infinite Campus can find videos and other support resources here.

The ICCSD student data team has been working with staff groups over the past few months to learn and implement Infinite Campus, including a successful experience with our first official use of Infinite Campus during Kindergarten registration. As with any large rollout, training is being targeted to groups such that staff who need to use Infinite Campus have received training prior to using the system. At this point, building secretaries, counselors, administrators, and other groups have received training related to student registration and scheduling tasks that are completed during the spring. Teachers and other groups will receive training as we move through summer and toward the start of the next school year.

We’ll have much more information to come about Infinite Campus and the transition in the coming months. In the meantime, please read on for answers to some common questions we’ve received about our move to Infinite Campus.

Continue reading Infinite Campus will Replace PowerSchool in 2021-2022 School Year

Canvas info overload!

Canvas is an incredibly powerful learning management system (LMS). The amount of customization available for courses is incredible and the basic functionality of the system is fairly intuitive. But sometimes having all this choice and information thrown at you can feel kind of overwhelming. For this reason, the Technology and Innovation Department is going to publish a series of Canvas info guides and how-to’s in an effort to help make sense of the feast of options we have available in Canvas, but don’t always know what to do with.

We have data about how we, as a district, use Canvas. While that information isn’t always relevant to a teacher’s or staff member’s day-to-day routine, perhaps knowing a little more of the big picture will help put your own usage into a larger context.

Since Canvas was first introduced at ICCSD in the Spring of 2017, we have seen its use at the secondary level increase exponentially. This can be measured by several different metrics including number of courses in which Canvas is used, number of teachers or students using it, number of assignments or discussion topics within all courses, and even number of files uploaded to the system. However, the most relevant statistic to overall activity within Canvas is the number of page views. Counting page views gives us a sense of the number of users, frequency of use, length of use, and depth of use all rolled into one number.  The patterns that arise in the numbers of page views can give us insight on Canvas usage from year to year or even from day to day.

Take Canvas use at West High School, for example. Here is a graph of daily page views at West between Oct. 14 and Nov. 15 of this school year. Can you spot the weekends?

This regular pattern emerged over time but didn’t exist at the onset. At the beginning of our Canvas implementation, between May 18th and June 2nd 2017 there were approximately 2000 page views total at West. This isn’t a high number, which makes sense. It was the end of the year when this new system came online. 7 teachers, teaching 196 students, decided to dip their toe in the water and created a handful of assignments in Canvas.  Each of those students clicked on a page about 10 times over the course of 2 weeks. Everyone was just trying this out.

At the beginning of the 2017-2018 more teachers at West were ready to hit the ground running. Starting on Aug. 23, for the first two weeks, the school averaged about 30,000 page views a day. The activity tapered off a bit after that as some teachers, having tried Canvas, decided to go with a more traditional content organization format. But by the end of the 1st Trimester the school had racked up 1.6 million page views across several categories including content pages, assignments, quizzes, files, grades, announcements, collaborations, conferences, groups, and other general pages.

The 1st Trimester the following year, 2018-2019, West saw about the same amount of Canvas usage as the previous T1, approximately 1.6 million page views. It looked like there was saturation and that perhaps this was the most use the school was going to get out of the system. But as the year went on the Canvas usage grew steadily. In the first full week of the 2019-2020 school year, the page views at West exceeded 60,000 for 3 consecutive days. It was clear that the school had entered a new phase of its Canvas implementation.

This was also apparent by the fact that the Helpdesk was getting inundated with requests for help with Canvas like never before. It was somewhat perplexing until we took a look at the data and realized that the Canvas usage across the district was much higher than it previously had been. This put all the help requests into a new context. It was good that people were needing help. It meant that there were more new users working to implement Canvas in their classrooms.

By the end of the T1 this year West High School alone had clocked in at over 2.8 million page views, a 75% increase from the previous T1. Given approximately the same number of students, this represents an increase of about 800 additional page views per student over the course of the trimester. This pattern is consistent with usage at the other high schools in the district, including significantly increased usage at the Junior High level as well.

There are multiple factors that contribute to this odd pattern of usage stagnation and then explosive growth. One interesting factor is something that is happening behind the scenes which we can tease out by looking at our data on manually created courses. These are Canvas courses that are created by teachers and students (yes, student created content!) rather than being imported through PowerSchool. These include ‘sandboxes’ where teachers try out new features and functions before implementing them in their classes, PLC courses where teachers and coaches are teaching and learning about Canvas or other teaching tools, and even some courses created specifically for student collaboration. The graph below represents district wide page views of manually created courses between August of 2017 and now.

During the first year, as a district, we averaged about 2,000 page views a week for courses of this type. In the second year that doubled to about 4,000 page views a week. And in the third year, this year, it tripled to approximately 12,000 page views a week! The amount of teacher and staff learning about Canvas and through Canvas has been increasing dramatically. This shows that even during times when it seems like there is stagnation in usage, teachers are still collaborating and developing their Canvas skills, which then serves to launch our Canvas community to the next level during the following academic cycle.

So regardless of whether you are just starting out on your Canvas journey and aren’t sure where to start or you are a veteran, daily Canvas user, you are part of a vibrant and growing community of users at ICCSD. There are many opportunities for collaboration and to receive assistance whether its from the Helpdesk, a neighboring teacher, or an instructional coach. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Welcome to the Tech & Innovation Blog!

The district recently distributed a survey regarding educational technologies to parents district-wide, and one parent reached out with questions regarding where they could get more information about our technology programs.  This, combined with the fact that we recently published our 100th article and have been going strong for just over one year, leads me to conclude that it’s about time to reintroduce the Iowa City Schools’ Technology & Innovation blog!

We have over a thousand subscribers to the Technology & Innovation blog, but that obviously represents a very small slice of our larger school community, including parents, students, and other community stakeholders.  It’s my goal that awareness of and access to this resource be spread to as many people as possible.  With that in mind, I’m posting this reintroduction, including links to some of our highlights below.  I’d encourage you to share this post via Twitter, Facebook, and email with anyone who might be interested.  

Continue reading Welcome to the Tech & Innovation Blog!

Q: What happens to Canvas courses at the end of the first trimester?

While I’m amazed that we’re already nearing the turn of the calendar to second trimester, I received a question today that reminded me that I needed to get some information to ICCSD teachers and students regarding what to expect.  Specifically, what happens to Canvas courses at the end of the first Trimester?

A: All teachers and students will continue to have access to Tri 1 courses – whether they are yearlong courses or single-trimester courses – until midnight on June 30th, 2018.  This will allow teachers to work on grading, students to reference previously-submitted work and materials, and so forth.  

Since the courses will no longer be current, their status will change to “Past Enrollment” and won’t appear – by default – on students’ and teachers’ dashboards.  Instead, users will need to click the “Courses” button on the left side of Canvas, and then “All Courses” to show both past and current enrollments.  This area will also show teachers their future courses.  

If you’ve read about Canvas, you may be aware that this is not the default behavior; we modified the access end dates to ensure that students and teachers can seamlessly use and reference previous course content until the end of the year.  

Technology Annual Report

Each year, I provide a report to the board that provides a high-level view of our technology program, through the lens of particular projects completed, underway, or planned.  This will certainly not be the most riveting content I’ve posted to the blog, but for those of you who are interested, I’m posting a summary of that report here.  

The 2016-17 school year was one of transition in the Iowa City Community School District’s Office of Technology & Innovation.  As we move into winter of 2017-18, we have completed a number of major projects and still have significant initiatives underway or in planning stages.  Our departmental performance metrics have generally improved slightly, though I’m excited to see how our work in terms of specific initiatives and in targeted locations will manifest itself in the coming year’s technology program evaluation.   Continue reading Technology Annual Report