It was 1:46 a.m. when Seguin freshman Cynthia Williams received a notification from Canvas on Tuesday, Dec. 15 that read, “You joined Home Room Alternate Curriculum 3-Cox.”
Confused as to why she received this, Williams went to her Canvas app and saw that a new course was on her dashboard.
However, Williams wasn’t the only one added to the class by accident. About 50,000 AISD students and teachers were put on the Canvas course.
“I was so confused and I thought it was one of my teachers at first, but then people started to create discussion boards and I realized there were way more people than I thought,” Williams said. “However, I ended up making a lot of friends from it.”
Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos sent an email to AISD parents about the situation.
“It was discovered that many district users were added to a course section without justification,” Cavazos said. “Upon discovery of the issue, the course was disabled and an investigation into the cause is ongoing.”
At first, students spammed the discussion board questioning the course. Then the comments turned into students making banter, encouraging each other and connecting on social media.
“I decided to play around and make my own discussion board asking if anyone wanted to be friends,” Williams said. “I really didn’t expect anyone to reply, but to my surprise I got more than 50 replies. Talking to everyone was so fun, though, and I’m glad this happened because I got to meet amazing people.”
Students from different schools across AISD posted on this discussion board. This included elementary, junior high and high school students. In a week usually filled with stress because of finals, some said this mishap brightened their mood.
“I decided to join one of the group chats and I was planning on just doing college applications but everyone was very interesting so I was getting more and more distracted,” Arlington senior Carius Whitaker said. “Then we talked more and the jokes started rolling in and I started dying. It felt sort of nostalgic, like in-person school was happening. It was the serotonin boost I needed to make it through this last week.”
Several students made posts asking for their peers’ Instagram usernames so they could make new friends. Others asked them to introduce themselves and state what school they were from.
“Although no one knew what that class was about and why were all added, it was nice,” Sam Houston junior Kimberly Magallanes said. “I loved the energy and I felt really included. Everyone was so nice, and stranger doesn’t always mean danger.”
Students discussed the reasons why they were added to the Canvas course. Some students believe that it was created for a social experiment to see how students would react. Others think it will turn into an online safety lesson telling students not to talk to strangers.
“I think it may have been a social experiment,” Martin sophomore Sasha Wilborn said. “Since it’s the end of the semester, the district could have decided to find a way for all of its students to communicate. It definitely did because there has been a lack of interaction between students this year given the circumstances. Or, a teacher may have just really, really, really messed up.”
The AISD technology department disabled the course a few hours later. While there were reported inappropriate messages being posted, some students were thankful for the positive outcomes of the Canvas accident.
“I saw people in the discussion asking others if they are failing classes and many said they were,” Sam Houston sophomore Jessica Ramirez said. “It helped me find people who I can relate to, which made me feel less stressed and that I’m not the only one. I had some laughs too. I feel like I understand why many people say they find connections and friendships online more than in person.”