The School’s online learning management system, eBackpack, filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy over the summer, failing to notify administrators of the situation.
This forced the administration and technology department to scramble to find a replacement online program for teachers to post grades, assignments, and electronic resources, leading to the School’s subscription to Canvas, which has over 500,000 users, including prominent colleges and universities, according to its site.
“It was unfortunate that the process was truncated, but Canvas was already on our shortlist of potential replacements due to its functionality and how its being leveraged in higher education,” Upper School Head Joshua Neudel said.
Director of Technology Michael Langlois said that he was caught by surprise, especially as eBackPack, which had serviced the School since 2013, reached out to students and parents, but not to him or his department, about its impending closure.
“As far as Brimmer knows, no other clients were notified by eBackPack about their imminent closure,” Langlois said.
The Gator was unable to contact eBackpack, and its company website is no longer loading. However, several other schools have shared online the note that the now-defunct company emailed to its parent and student users.
“We regret to inform you that this 2018-2019 school year is the last year eBackpack will be operating,” part of the note reads. “We will not be accepting any renewals going forward and we will not be providing any services past July 31, 2019. All services will be terminated on that date. Please download and save to your own devices any data prior to July 31, 2019.”
While eBackpack’s sudden closure caught the School by surprise, Langlois also said that his department was already searching for a better replacement option.
“We had to accelerate our decision making process very, very quickly,” Langlois said. “Canvas was on our list and finding the appropriate system was not too difficult, but doing the implementations in a short period of time has been challenging.”
Most schools are able to roll out a change like this over a 6-12 month period, according to Neudel and Langlois.
“We expected there to be bumps in the road,” Neudel said. “However, we are up-and-running and continue to be patient as students and teachers figure out the new tool.”
Langlois said that Canvas is more flexible than eBackPack.
“Teachers are also able to customize environments more readily,” Langlois said. “Even working in a common framework, a teacher’s personality comes through with how courses and material can be presented. Canvas also has a more adaptable integrated grade book, if teachers decide to use it.”
Before students returned to School, the technology department lead several workshops to help teachers learn and post material to Canvas. Before traveling overnight to Camp Wingate*Kirkland, students were also introduced to the new system.