BrightSpace is not the user friendly platform it claims to be

BrightSpace is not the user friendly platform it claims to be

Kellyn Meadows, Design Editor

Brightspace, the supposedly amazing, dynamic, and easy-to-use learning management system is a topic of particular distaste for many students of Anne Arundel County, including myself. 

BrightSpace is a new learning management system that AACPS students and teachers were presented with coming into the 2021-2022 school year. This was a shock. We had previously used Google Classroom, another learning management system that was not at all new to both students and teachers. We used that system a lot more last year than ever due to the pandemic. It was a familiar system that was easy to navigate. I cannot say the same about Brightspace.

On October 29 in a press release board president, Melissa Ellis, and superintendent, George Arlotto released statements countering those from the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County(TAAAC). In itself this press release is ridiculous. The language used seems to gaslight and blame both students and staff. It can and should be noted that they utilize the word specious, “meaning superficially plausible, but actually wrong,” as defined by the Oxford dictionary to detail the claims made by the TAAAC. They also refer to their responses to the allegations made by the Teacher’s Association to be a reality. Which I would argue to be completely and utterly false. Especially regarding Brightspace.

Ellis and Arlotto stated that Brightspace as a “new learning management system provides an awesome opportunity to enhance teacher communication with students and families…” To start off here, the communication between teachers, students, and families is virtually nonexistent through Brightspace. Access through Brightspace is only available to students unless a specialized parent account is created.

The Brightspace help tab says this: “For parents and guardians to access the Brightspace platform, administrators must create parent users who have relationships with their children.” If you are claiming that your LMS enhances communication with families, a specialized account that administrators need to create for parents is ridiculous. What’s even more ridiculous is that this information is not given to students. I had to look this information up. We were not informed of the possibility of having parent accounts whatsoever.

Although “TAAAC does not seemingly appreciate the value of Brightspace,” as Ellis and Arlotto claim, I would argue that altogether there is no value to be seen in Brightspace. The supposedly easy-to-use LMS is quite the opposite. Many students and teachers have found struggles with it. 

Sophomore Cailee Aten said “It’s hard to maneuver and we were so used to Google Classroom last year and how that worked and moving to Brightspace was so different. Nobody knows how it works and honestly, nobody cares to learn.”

Students and teachers have overwhelmingly expressed their preference for Google Classroom and their frustrations with Brightspace. Sophomore Charles Owens expressed his frustration with the functioning of Brightspace as well saying “When you went on Google Classroom it had a really easy assignments list there all the time and you don’t get that on Brightspace…” This is a point of much frustration for many students. Not having a “To-do” list makes it difficult to keep up with assignments across all eight of our classes, having to click into each course individually to see assignments. 

The board also made the claim that “Countless hours of professional development have already been provided to staff to ease this transition.”  Yes, there was training put into Brightspace, it clearly is not enough. 

Teachers have expressed to students that they don’t know how to use the LMS to the fullest extent and in the beginning of the school year some didn’t know how to use it at all. A junior who wished to remain anonymous told me this in regard to their thoughts on Brightspace:

It’s complicated and there’s not a lot of instruction or training put into it and teachers kind of just set you to do whatever without much instruction.”

 Students can tell that teachers have little to no clue what they’re doing when it comes to Brightspace and it’s not at all helpful when they are the ones we look to for guidance.

Overall the claims Ellis and Arlotto make, especially regarding Brightspace are to me, entirely false. Brightspace is not the new, shiny LMS that the board wants us to believe. It is inconvenient, difficult to use and overall garbage.