by Emily Siansky ‘22
In the past few years teachers have had the option to choose which classroom platform they would use for their class: Google Classroom or MyMCPS Classroom. However, as MCPS goes all virtual for the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year, it is required that all courses must be on the MyMCPS Classroom platform. MCPS bought the rights for the platform from the company Canvas whereas Google Classroom was free.
Media Specialist Stephanie Flaherty is a point person at Sherwood in the integration of MyMCPS Classroom. “In my role as librarian, I provide resources that students and teachers can use to support instruction. The resources contain information that teachers can use in lessons, and information students can use to complete assignments,” said Flaherty. Teachers that had never used MyMCPS Classroom were able to turn to Flaherty as early as the spring for guidance through the process.
Like any new piece of technology, there have been ups and downs to learning how to use the platform. MCPS did provide training over the summer on the program, but many teachers reported that it was scattershot and left the teachers with the burden of wading through materials on their own. Glenn Miller, Sherwood biology teacher and At-Large Director on the Board of Directors for the Montgomery County Educators Association (MCEA), argues that teachers were not given the right training and resources for integrating a new platform. “I believe that MCPS demonstrated a lack of clear vision for how teachers were to use the platform,” said Miller. “This put pressure on teachers to try to learn features of the platform that they weren’t familiar with or ready to use. In some cases, MCPS put that pressure on teachers as they put forth curriculum requirements.”
That being said, Flaherty and Miller both see advantages of MyMCPS Classroom for a virtual environment. “I think for teachers, the ability to embed content from other tools and platforms, such as creating an assignment using Nearpod or direct link/embed to a Google document, along with its ability to directly grade and synchronize those grades into the gradebooks system,” said Flaherty. Miller also commented on the clear organization of MyMCPS Classroom, as it helps him distribute resources better to his students.
Teachers have had less than optimal training and teachings through this process of going to virtual learning. Some may be proficient in the software, while others are trying it for the first time this semester. There will be glitches and hard spots the entirety of the time that teachers and students are online together. As Flaherty points out, “We all have to be patient and not panic–students, teachers and parents. There are going to be issues with connectivity, synchronization, flubs with assignments and the tools.”