Home News COVID-19 Situation Tech difficulties emerge as remote learning starts

Tech difficulties emerge as remote learning starts

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The first day of virtual classes for Roswell Independent School District got off to a rocky start thanks to technical problems with its learning management system that continued Friday.

The Canvas management software worked when tested, RISD superintendent Mike Gottlieb said Friday morning between visits to school buildings. But once actual student schedule data was loaded, it didn’t work.

“We knew there would be some trouble, but I didn’t expect this,” Gottlieb said.

Canvas is a secure system that allows teachers to load lessons, videos and other material into the platform for students to download. Likewise, students can upload their questions and work to their teachers. It can work with other education software that teachers and students are already familiar with, such as Google Classroom.

The student data could not be loaded into the system until it went live for the first day of classes, Gottlieb said. The software creates schedules for every student. As an example, he said Missouri Avenue Elementary, with around 400 students, had 38,000 schedules.

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“For every class that you have — math, science, social studies, P.E., art, library — all those different things that you put in develops a schedule for that kiddo,” he said

“When we did our test runs, it ran fine, but we didn’t have 10,000 kids loaded with how many hundreds of thousands of schedules,” he said.

“It’s seeing the teachers, it’s seeing the schools, it’s seeing the classes, but it’s not picking up the kids,” he said.

The software has been able to recognize some students, but it might “see” only half or fewer students in a particular class.

The district is also using Zoom video conferencing software, so students have been able to sit in on virtual classes that way, Gottlieb said.

“The teachers have been very creative,” he said. “I’ve been visiting schools and I saw teachers doing great stuff. I see them with all their kids on their video screen so teaching is still going on.”

The majority of teachers are working from their classrooms, but some have chosen to work from home, he said.

The district has six IT staff members who worked overnight Thursday into Friday along with staff from the Public Education Department and Canvas examining the program’s millions of lines of code, Gottlieb said.

The district partnered with the PED on implementing Canvas as the overall learning management software, with plans from the PED to roll it out for all public schools in the state, Gottlieb said.

In addition to the Canvas issue, Gottlieb said new student passwords also caused some issues logging into Clever, essentially a portal for the district’s educational software.

Gottlieb said the district was able to provide a Chromebook for every student that wanted one. About 1,400 are still on backorder, however.

He could not say how many families have used the internet hotspots the district is providing in school parking lots. Installation has not been completed at all schools as some parts are on backorder, Gottlieb said.

Only district devices such as the Chromebooks can access the parking lot hotspots. The Chromebooks can be used with other public or home internet access, and students can also use other devices for remote learning.

The district has provided a list of questions and answers about computer use for remote learning on the Recent News page of its website, RISD.k12.nm.us.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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