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Karl Lloyd

LTI Advantage

Posted by Karl Lloyd Administrator Feb 20, 2019

Recently IMS Global Learning Consortium announced an unprecedented number of education platforms who have been identified as early adopters of LTI Advantage and have run through early certification testing. The next day Instructure issued a statement in support of this IMS announcement. I have to admit there was quite some time where I wasn’t certain we would get to this point. Looking back over the last 5 years I have been actively involved in the evolution of the LTI standards.  It has been a bumpy, but exciting road. In 2013, after a year of specialized Canvas integration work, I was offered the opportunity by Brian Whitmer to work with a super small team which was focused on supporting LTI 1.1. These were exciting times! Within my first year, we implemented an app listing repository, simplified tool installation in Canvas, polished up resource selection (which ultimately transitioned into the Deep Linking standard) and started to see exponential adoption right out of the gate.

 

Then came LTI 2.0. We were excited by the possibilities this next generation standard could bring to the market, but highly uncertain of the overall strategy and complexity of this new core standard. With my small team we worked on implementing as best we could for 9 months and I finally had to make a decision. Do we keep plowing forward or do we pause and take a step back? I chose the latter and decided to see what came from the market. Over the next 2-3 years, I fielded many questions about this new standard, but only a few vendors rolled the dice and implemented it. When it came to standards evolution, I felt like we were listening to a broken record, continually finding ourselves witnessing the same conversations over and over. It was exhausting!

 

Fortunately in late 2017, to IMS’ credit, they were listening to the industry regarding concerns about the continued use of OAuth 1.0a signing and LTI 2.x complexities which opened the door to have new conversations. For me, this is where standards work became exciting again. I started to witness unprecedented collaboration within the working group between various organizations. Many of these organizations are direct competitors in the market space.  It was awe inspiring to see the contributors from these organizations roll up their sleeves and work together with the goal to bring something great to the market.

 

Fast forward to today. IMS is on the verge of releasing the following standards to the market:

  1. A new core version of LTI (v1.3) built on top of an updated security framework using OAuth 2.0 and Open ID Connect. If these sound familiar it’s because they are widely used today by the software industry. Going forward in our industry we will now be able to focus on improving capabilities instead of figuring out how to authenticate with each other. This is a good thing!
  2. Deep Linking, which the 1.1 specification had before, has been updated to work with new core standard and has a ton of potential to be expanded to provide even better integration experiences.
  3. Names and Roles Provisioning Service will allow a tool to interact with Canvas to capture course enrollment data without implementing our API. This will be important to teachers as they won’t have to manage two separate course lists between Canvas and another tool. It’s also important to Administrators as this is a well known use case that necessitates a tool to use our API to enhance the integration. If tools only need roster data from Canvas API’s, institutions will be able to accomplish this without having to manage an additional API Developer Key for the vendor.
  4. Assignment and Grades Service has a ton of potential and sets a foundation in Canvas to allow a tool to have more options for returning results data. As mentioned in the previous service this is also supported without needing a Canvas API Developer Key. I am also excited to see where this standard goes in the future and how we can expand its capabilities for our Teachers and Students within the Canvas ecosystem.

 

In other exciting news, I’m witnessing an unprecedented amount of actual integration work being done by both our customers and vendors expanding Canvas capabilities with innovative applications. At IMS bootcamps I’ve seen engineers create a simple application within a day incorporating all the LTI Advantage standards using widely available code libraries and a great reference implementation tool IMS created. This definitely wasn’t the case previously. However, there is still a ton of work to do. If our journey was compared to a climb to summit Mount Everest we’re right between the last two camps and getting anxious about that last leg over the steps and the remaining ascent to the top. IMS still needs to wrap up remaining work and release the final standards to the public which are well underway. From the platform side, although we’ve been through early certification tests, we continue to collaborate with early adopter tools to harden and prove these new standards with our implementation work. In Canvas specifically, soon our customers will be able to beta test implementations with early adopting vendors. We are still working on extending deep linking support to provide parity with our LTI v1.1 extensions and are re-evaluating our current configuration experience.

 

The future is bright when it comes to education technology interoperability. As we look forward together, our goal should be to remove barriers and provide actual value to those who are most important. For Instructure, these are the students who are the future of our societies around the world. We have a stewardship to implement technology responsibly in the teaching and learning process. Standards development isn’t as glamorous as other really popular education initiatives but has the capability to support and allow us to implement these other ideas with more efficiency and as I look to the future this is where things get really exciting.

Last October we outlined a new security project for Canvas that gives institutions more control over the javascript that is allowed to run in their instance of Canvas through an updated Content Security Policy (CSP). We've been working hard to make this plan a reality and I'd like to post an update on our progress.

 

This project is comprised of three phases. The first phase changed the way we were serving up files in Canvas. The goal of this phase was twofold:

  • Make it clear that the files are not owned by Instructure, but rather by other Canvas users.
  • Limit how broadly user-granted permission was being applied. For example, if a user grants a file permission to access their webcam, permission will only be given for files in that course, and not for all files in that institution's instance of Canvas.

This first phase was deployed at the end of the year (view release notes here).

 

The second phase brings an updated CSP option to Canvas. The updated CSP will be opt in from a new Security Tab found on the account settings page. Institutions that don't opt in will have no changes made to their account. If an institution does choose to enable the updated CSP they will be able to restrict custom JavaScript (JS) that runs in their instance of Canvas based on domain.

  • This will be managed by a whitelist of acceptable domains. All JS that attempts to execute in violation of the whitelist will be blocked.
  • The whitelist has a limit of 50 domains. We recommend using wildcard domains (*.domain).
  • We will automatically add all necessary Instructure and Canvas domains, as well as any LTI tools that are configured on the account. These do not count toward the 50 domain limit.
  • Root account admins determine if sub accounts can manage their own whitelists. If so, sub accounts will have the option of either inheriting the whitelist from the parent account or managing their own whitelist.
  • Individual courses can be opted out of the CSP (for example, a computer science class that requires the ability to render student-submitted JS). Only account admins can opt a course out of the CSP.

This phase is currently in development. Our plan is to have this phase completed in the next couple of months.

 

The third phase adds a log to the UI which shows any requested domains that are in violation of the whitelist. This will allow admins to monitor activity and easily add new domains to the whitelist.

This phase is currently in the design stage and will begin development after phase 2 is released.

 

We're excited about the increased control this gives to institutions in managing the security for their instance of Canvas. As always, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know what you think in the comments!

We’ve had a few questions about the removal of the rating system in Commons, and we wanted to provide you all with some insight into our thought process.

  1. The rating system didn’t see wide adoption. Only 6.8% of resources in Commons had a star rating. Of those resources with a rating, 88% of them received 5 stars. We weren’t the only ones who noticed that the ratings weren't being used in a way that truly provided value. Here is an actual review of a resource in Commons:
    (rating: 5) "I'm going to give a five star rating to anything I find that is offtopic because nobody else is going to use the rating system in commons and that lets me game the system to ruin everything."
  2. Rating content in Commons is a lot of work and quite outside a normal workflow for most educators. It seems, for the most part, folks weren’t taking the time to import content into Canvas, evaluate its quality, and then return to Commons to rate the quality of the content. And this behavior is pretty understandable! That’s a lot of steps to take as a busy educator, when there is not direct benefit to your own process.
  3. We wanted a shorter route to surface valuable Commons content for you in Canvas. Commons contains some awesome resources to include in your Canvas course. Currently, that process requires that you launch Commons, locate the content, and then send the content to the Canvas course you were building.

 

So if ratings aren’t proving to be super useful for identifying valuable content, we asked ourselves: What could we do to help identify valuable content in Commons without requiring our users to do extra work? Taking that problem a step further… how can we help identify that valuable content and surface it in Canvas?

 

From Canvas, very soon you will see an option to pull up your list of Commons Favorites and directly import content that you’ve identified as valuable. First, we’ll give you that option in the Rich Content Editor (RCE). From the RCE, you’ll be able to choose any video, audio, images, or files that are in your list of Commons favorites and directly import them. Next, we’ll give you the option to add content from your list of Commons favorites on the Index and Modules pages. We’ll also be adding feedback about how often things are favorited and imported to each resource. “Most Favorited” and “Most Downloaded/Imported” will be added to the “Most Relevant” sort options in search results.


Because adding resources to your Commons favorites will allow you to keep track of your favorite Commons content and makes it easier to import content into your Canvas course easily and efficiently, we expect favoriting to see greater adoption than the rating system did. We also feel that number of downloads/imports and favoriting numbers provide a better indication of effective content than a subjective and poorly adopted rating system did.

You guys! We invented a thing!

Well, more specifically, our brilliant engineers invented a thing! Why? Because you asked us for it!

 

You asked for a way to see the contents of the resources that are shared in Commons before importing it into Canvas. We wanted to give that to you, but those Commons resources are stored as “Common Cartridge” files and a web-based “Common Cartridge Viewer” isn’t a thing that existed in the world. Our industrious engineers worked very hard to find a solution that would allow us to crack open those cartridges and show you their contents. And they did it! Seriously. They invented a way to extract and then preview common cartridge files in the browser. That means we will be able to show you a preview of assignments, pages, discussions, quizzes, modules and courses in Commons.

 

You can try out the Preview technology here, using our stand alone Common Cartridge Viewer. There are a few cartridge examples there for you to test, or you can export a course from Canvas and drag it onto the browser. The Common Cartridge viewer is open source and you can check it out on github.  

 

Our next release to production (January 5, 2019) will include a feature option for Commons Previews on the Commons Admin page.  Because we invented this thing (did I mention that yet?), we wanted to take a little time to collect feedback on the Previews before turning the feature on for everyone in March 2019. We’ve set up a User Group where we’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and any issues that you find with the Previews.

***Please note updated Flickr Removal Dates, due to Flickr Clarification***

Thank you to Ian Linkletter for pointing out the clarification.

Flickr is Removing Millions of Images

On November 1, 2018, Flickr announced a plan to remove millions of images on February 5, 2019. For Canvas users, this news was quite concerning, as Canvas offers Flickr as an easy way to find and insert images into content and as Canvas Dashboard Course Card images. On November 9, 2018, Flickr clarified their announcement, explaining that material licensed by Creative Commons would not be removed. The good news is, the Flickr search mechanism we implemented for all course content in Canvas will only return Flickr images licensed by Creative Commons. Therefore, images added to your courses using Canvas’ Flickr search are expected to be safe from the February 5 removal of images.

 

However, the Canvas Dashboard Course Cards may not be as safe. The Flickr search mechanism we employ for this feature uses both Creative Commons search results and Public Domain search results. This combination means there is a chance that images may be removed from Canvas Dashboard Course Cards.

We want to help!

While Flickr didn’t give us a ton of time to find and implement a solution to help our users with this problem, we jumped into action as quickly as possible.  In addition to a short time frame, a few considerations have made it tough for us to have a perfect solution.

  1. Flickr replaces removed images with another image that says “image not found”. While that behavior seems like a nice thing to do, it’s quite out of the ordinary. Normally, when images that are hosted on other sites (like Flickr) are removed, we can detect the image removal. Flickr’s method of replacing the removed image with another image makes normal “image not found” types of detection ineffective.
  2. Flickr is removing images at the very beginning of a semester (February 5). Why is that a problem? Well, it creates a challenge for us because the beginning of a semester is when a lot of classes are just beginning and just ending. Determining which courses are active or soon to be active becomes a challenge.

So what’s the plan?

  1. We very quickly updated the Course Link Validator to detect Flickr’s unusual broken image method. That work went to beta December 10th and will be in our next production release, January 5th.
  2. We will run the link validator globally on February 4th to check for Flickr images. We’ll do the same thing on February 6th after Flickr has done its mass removal of images. At that point, we should have a pretty good idea which courses have been affected.
  3. We will send an email to all owners of the affected content to tell them exactly where we detected a Flickr broken image.

Introducing Unsplash

We’re happy to have come up with and implemented a short-term plan to handle the mass removal of Flickr images on February 9th, but we also saw this change as an opportunity to look for a better long-term, more holistic solution for all of our Canvas users. As many of you may know, we’ve had a history of issues with Flickr returning unsafe images to our “safe search” query. This has led some schools to block Flickr, and some requests that we remove Flickr from Canvas.

 

The one thing Flickr had over its competitors was a Creative Commons search and a “Safe Search”. For a long time, we couldn’t find anything to properly replace Flickr by meeting both of these searching requirements.

Until now.

 

In early 2019 we’ll begin the process of untangling Flickr from Canvas and replacing it with a fabulous product called Unsplash. Unsplash provides hand-selected, professional photographs for free. We highly encourage you to go check out their site. They are a fantastic, collaborative company, and we think when you see the quality they provide, you’ll be as excited as we are about what a positive effect Unsplash will have on your Canvas course content in the future.

 

Watch for future changes to the Canvas Interface to be announced in the release notes, as well as additional information about our new partnership with Unsplash.

Since its inception, Canvas has always been open and transparent about our business and our features. We believe in being open. We believe in allowing you to use Canvas the way you want to use Canvas. And branding is one component that we’ve been working hard to improve, specifically relating to the use of the existing style guide and Instructure UI (InstUI), Instructure’s own component library.

 

Branding Evolution

Web technologies continue to evolve, and over the last three years, we’ve been able to introduce the Theme Editor at the account level, which helps admins create custom templates without the use of custom CSS and JavaScript files, although those file types are still accepted.

 

Previously, Canvas engineers implemented a style guide to be used for internal engineering teams and ensure consistency throughout the product, hosted as part of each Canvas account (e.g. canvas.instructure.com/styleguide). Over time, we noticed that some of our customers started to leverage that style guide. We know that you enjoy being able to design your own Canvas-theme projects within the Rich Content Editor. Now, with the evolution of additional technology advancements, we’ve discontinued the use of the old style guide in favor of InstUI.

 

Why InstUI?

In order to use the styleguide, a developer or course designer would copy the HTML markup for a user interface pattern, such as tabs, and paste that markup throughout Canvas. However, HTML is only part that pattern. The style of those tabs is defined with CSS, and the interaction of navigating between tabs is enabled through Javascript. This architecture quickly became difficult to maintain. If we were to make a style enhancement or fix a Javascript bug that necessitated updating that HTML, every instance of those tabs—whether in Canvas, in a custom tool, or in course content—would have to be updated manually or remain broken.

 

To combat these maintenance challenges, we made the decision to move Canvas front-end development to React, a library developed by Facebook for creating modular user interfaces. React components encapsulate the HTML structure, the styles, and the Javascript together into a reusable, easily maintainable component. A bug fix to a React component propagates to every instance of that component with little to no effort, only needs to be made in one place, and every user immediately benefits.

 

InstUI, Instructure’s own UI component library, is built using React, which allows our developers to deliver new features more efficiently and makes all of Canvas easier to maintain and innovate. InstUI ensures consistent, accessible experiences throughout Canvas and delivers custom themes made with the Theme Editor to all interactions, just like the style guide intended. With React, those experiences are better tested, better maintained, and more reliable than ever for our users.

 

InstUI Availability

If you’re interested in using the InstUI components, InstUI is open source and available for you to use in your LTI tools. To get started, visit instructure.design. If you’re starting from scratch, InstUI works great with React boilerplates like Create React App.

 

We haven’t enabled the use of InstUI in the Rich Content Editor yet; however, other tools are currently available for integrating custom changes. Some options as noted in the community include H5P and other canvas embed tools.

 

Future Development

In 2019, the InstUI team will begin work to improve documentation and support for third parties.

 

Additionally, we recognize we don’t have an ideal solution for making changes in the Rich Content Editor. For now, we’re focusing on building a better Rich Content Editor to give you a better experience and give you more controls to design pages the way you want. This project is in the planning stages, and if you want to get more involved, watch for additional details to be posted in Canvas Studio.

 

If you’ve been using InstUI, let us know your thoughts in our InstUI Community Discussion.

 

If you’re not using InstUI but have used elements from the style guide in your pages, please let us know in the comments which elements you used and why they were helpful to you. Style guide feedback may be considered for future development.

We previously posted to the community a proposal for a new security policy in Canvas. In that post, we discussed the open nature of Canvas and our desire to make Canvas as flexible as possible while still implementing good security practices. Balancing security with flexibility is a task that we take very seriously, and we’re constantly reviewing and improving our approach and stance. As the world changes, we make adjustments when needed. At that time, we proposed a change to Canvas that would limit custom JavaScript from running in the Files section of Canvas.

 

We received a lot of great feedback from the community and we appreciate everyone who contributed. After additional discussion and research, we decided that a more comprehensive solution was needed. We've been working since then on a new approach that we would like to announce today. This new project will be completed in 3 phases:

 

Phase 1 -  Serve user files from non-application domain

  • Change the files domain from instructure.com to canvas-user-content.com. This will make it clear that the files are not owned by instructure, but rather by other canvas users. Users will most often see this domain when browsing files in the Files section of Canvas, or when a file requests a user’s permission.
  • Change the files subdomain from clusterXX-files to one based on the associated account and course of the file being served. This change will mean that when a user grants a file permission (to access a users webcam, for example) permission will only be given for files in that course, and not for all files in that institution.

 

Phase 2 - Allow domain whitelisting

  • Allow institutions to restrict custom JavaScript (JS) that runs in their instance of Canvas based on domain. This will be enabled by an updated Content Security Policy (CSP) from Instructure. Institutions will have the option to enable the new CSP as a setting at the account level. The new CSP will be opt-in, and institutions that choose not to enable it will have no changes to their account.
    • Once the updated CSP is enabled, institutions will have a whitelist of acceptable domains that they maintain. We will automatically populate the list with all of the Instructure domains.
    • Individual courses can be opted out of the CSP (e.g., a computer science class requiring the ability to render student-uploaded JS).
    • All custom JS that is in violation of the whitelist will be blocked from running.

 

Phase 3 - Surface CSP violations to administrators

  • We will present administrators with a log of any requested domains that are in violation of the CSP. This will allow them to monitor violations and update their whitelist as needed.

 

We believe this approach will give Canvas administrators fine-grained control over the security for their institution while also preserving flexibility. Our preferred approach is to make this change as part of our standard deployment process—first to beta where it can be evaluated by admins, and then to production. We plan on each phase being deployed independently. Work has already begun and we currently estimate that we will have Phase 1 completed in Q4, 2018, Phase 2 completed in Q1, 2019, and Phase 3 completed in Q2, 2019.

 

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. 

Canvas X is where we seek your input on experiments from our secret pandaworks lab!

It's all about starting small, measuring, and learning our way forward!

 

We have been testing Nudge in the US and we are now excited to expand it to our first international region Asia-Pacific! Read below for info and how you can participate!

 

Nudge is a prototype service that helps students effectively manage their time and coursework. This service is the first step in a longer term smart messaging vision for Canvas. When enabled in a course, Nudge sends the following messages to students through Canvas:

  • Upcoming Assignments: An assignment is due in the next 24 hours and the student hasn’t turned it in yet. Prompt them to turn it in / finish.
  • Late Assignments: An assignment deadline has passed and the student has not turned it in. Prompt them to check if they can submit late.
  • Course Checking: The student has not checked the course for more than a week. Prompt them to visit the home page for any updates.
  • Weekly Report: Every week send students a list of assignments/quizzes that are due that week.

 

Because feedback and data are core to our development process, we are reaching out to the community for this pilot. The current version of Nudge is experimental and in early development; iteration is expected as the experiment progresses.

 

Any course that enables Nudge will provide us with insight into the effect of “nudging” different students in different ways. We also value feedback about the user experience and effectiveness of these reminders from your perspective as an instructor.

Your course may be a good fit for pilot if it fits the following criteria:

  • Blended or fully online courses
  • History of teaching the same course in prior semesters
  • Have a course beginning October/November 2018
  • Make use of multiple assignments throughout a course
  • English is the primary language of instruction
  • Multiple sections of the same course (nice to have, but not necessary)

 

Privacy Notice: Canvas is committed to keeping you and your student’s personal information private. All participants will be able to opt out at any time. Any and all use of the data from this experiment will be used to make Canvas a better product and not shared publicly without express prior consent.

 

Fill out the form here to sign up!

https://goo.gl/forms/SAozFtuN3tYRHtkr2

 

Have questions? Leave them below.

Feature ideas from the Community help shape Canvas development. All 330,000 of you (!!) have a part in the decisions we make about what to add and update next. The way we’ve solicited and interacted with feature ideas in the Community has evolved over the years. Today, we’re announcing some updates that—we hope—will make the process a little more clear for everybody.  

 

About three years ago (April 2015), we transitioned the Canvas Community to the Jive platform and transformed feature idea submission and voting from semi-organized chaos to a transparent and concrete process. We’ve made some refinements since then. You can follow the history here:

 

We get a lot of feedback about the Canvas Studio, where feature ideas live—both formal and informal. Most feedback is positive—yet we’re always looking to improve how we learn about what you’d like from Canvas and how we interact with you about your ideas..  Our promise to our community members is that we will always communicate about changes and explain our reasoning for making them.

 

This year at the annual InstructureCon event we received a lot of very helpful feedback, including:

 

Feedback

Our Plan

Timeline

Submitting new ideas is simple, and six months is the right amount of time for idea cohorts.

The submission, moderation, and archive processes will not change.  How do I create a new feature idea?

Ongoing

The Radar stage is not clear—will something in radar stage be developed or not?

The Radar stage will go away. All current ‘radar’ ideas will move to ‘open for voting’ stage--consolidating the two stages to one.

ASAP

Complete

What happened to the 100 vote threshold?

We get this question a lot, so we wanted to address it again.  One hundred votes made sense years ago, but it’s a very low bar when measured against the number of users in the Community today (+330k).  In February 2017, we moved from an arbitrary number to a percentage metric that better represents the level of community support. You can find more detail in this guide; How does the feature idea process work in the Canvas Community?: How long are ideas open for vote?

Complete

There is no way to know which ideas were considered during the quarterly product prioritization


You want to know which ideas will not be developed and why

The top 10% off all ideas will continue to be considered during our Product team’s quarterly prioritization activities. Each will now receive one of three official comments:

  • Yes, this idea has been prioritized for development during this cycle
  • No, this idea has not been prioritized, but will be considered in future rounds if it remains in the overall top 10% of voted ideas.
  • No, we will likely not do this (and why)


We will create a new, easy-to-find list that shows the current top 10% most-voted ideas. We’ll update the list weekly so that you’ll know what’s in and what’s out as the quarterly Product planning exercise approaches.

Prioritization Comments to begin in October 2018

 

 

 

 

 

The overall 10% list will begin ASAP. is implemented on Canvas Studio

 

Feature ideas are incredibly important to us. Canvas would not be what it is today without them, and they’ll play a big role in shaping its continued development. We appreciate your investment and engagement.  

 

*If you’re interested in learning a bit more about how feature ideas fit into the larger Canvas Product Plan, you might want to watch our InstCarn18 “Why we Community” presentation.

Jon Fenton

Reflecting on DocViewer

Posted by Jon Fenton Administrator Aug 21, 2018

Hello, everyone!

Many months ago, we outlined our plans for DocViewer from your input, and we have been working hard to deliver the items laid out in our plan. We are so grateful for the feedback we’ve received from the community as we work to make DocViewer even better. Your suggestions and ideas have been crucial in laying out the path.

 

We recently completed the final request on this list of most needed features. While we’re focused on the future of DocViewer and adding even more functionality, I thought it was worth taking a minute to reflect on some of the most recent improvements as we cross this milestone.  

 

This list isn’t exhaustive, and it doesn’t include the many back-end changes that have happened behind the scenes. As always, you can head over to the Canvas release notes for more information.

 

Recent DocViewer Changes

 

Annotation Comment Icons

Icons have been added to annotation comments, right next to the name. In order to keep things from getting too cluttered, the icon is only displayed next to the first comment and not on any replies made to that comment.

 

Ink Stroke Width Controls

Free draw annotations include three stroke widths. Or, in other words, you can now make your checkmarks, smiley faces or intricately drawn characters as subtle or as in-your-face as you need to. Go crazy.

 

Non-Author Annotation Comments

Previously, only the author of an annotation could make the first comment. This meant that other users who wanted to leave comments on an annotation could only do it if the author had already left a comment. But no more! Now any user can leave the first comment on an annotation.

 

Instructor Annotation Management

Ever had someone leave an annotation or comment that you didn’t approve of? Yep, so have we. It was driving us (and many of our users) crazy that only the author could delete an annotation or comment. So we fixed it! Instructors can now delete any annotations or comments for any user. This ability also applies to any custom role that is based on the teacher role.

 

Comment Truncation at 5 Lines

We’ve extended the amount of text that shows on a comments to 5 lines. Previously, comments were truncated after just 1 line, which made getting context and browsing comments tricky. Displaying 5 lines should help with that. As always, when you click a comment, the full comment is expanded.

 

Comment Display Order and Padding

When users click comments within a submission, comments retain their vertical order when the comment is aligned with an annotation. Additionally, padding around the comments has been reduced so there’s less wasted space.

 

Image Support

Drumroll please! DocViewer supports comments and annotations on BMP, JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, and TIFF images! Large images (or insanely massive 5k images—I’m looking at you photography instructors) are automatically scaled to a lower resolution so that the entire image can be displayed.

 

Limit Comments to a Single Page

The comment area is scrollable and reveals any comments that don’t fit on the page. And of course, clicking an annotation or comment will align the comment to the associated annotation.

 

Anonymize Instructor Annotations Setting

This assignment setting replaces instructors’ names with “Grader” when they leave annotations and annotation comments. For the purposes of this setting, we identify instructors as any role that has the “Grades - Edit” permission enabled.

 

All right, so that’s a recap of some of the recent changes to DocViewer. We’re excited for the future of DocViewer and appreciate all of your support. As always, please keep the great feature suggestions and feedback coming. We're excited to keep making DocViewer even better.

 

-Jon

 

Engineering Note

The lead engineer for DocViewer wanted to use this milestone as an opportunity to add a few of his thoughts and comments from the technical team.

 

My reflections as the tech lead for the DocViewer project.

 

I first came to this project in September of 2017 and immediately was blown away by the skill and conscientiousness of the team I’ve been privileged to lead. From day one, it was very clear that the engineers were all very interested in improving the user experience of DocViewer for all of you. I’ve never been involved with a team that had such a customer focus in my 25+ year career.

 

This customer focus sometimes drives intense conversations about the right thing to do, since we are all opinionated about what makes a great experience, but we always arrive to a conclusion with changes we know will have a good chance at positively improving your experience.

 

And that’s what drives us: you. Sure, we are all technologists who enjoy working with and expanding on the latest technologies and this project allows us to explore that technical itch. (For example, a partial list of the languages and technology we use to bring you DocViewer includes AWS, Node, Javascript, React, Java, DynamoDB, Scala, Jenkins, Puppeteer, SQS, LibreOffice, and Docker. But even the full list with all its geeking potential pales in comparison to what providing a great experience for y’all means.)

 

When we get something right by you, we celebrate as a team as we read your comments and thanks. When we come up short, our first instinct is to understand how we can make things better.

 

Thanks, y’all, for taking the time in telling us what you need, and thank you for expressing your thanks to us. We feel honored to be a part of your success with Canvas. I’m looking forward to seeing what we, together, come up with next!

 

-bk

Canvas X is where we seek your input on experiments from our secret pandaworks lab!

It's all about starting small, measuring, and learning our way forward!

 

Our June-August Nudge experiment was a success! So now we are opening up the experiment again for a much larger test. Read below for details and signup.

 

Nudge is a prototype service that helps students effectively manage their time and coursework. This service is the first step in a longer term smart messaging vision for Canvas. When enabled in a course, Nudge sends the following messages to students through Canvas:

  • Upcoming Assignments: An assignment is due in the next 24 hours and the student hasn’t turned it in yet. Prompt them to turn it in / finish.
  • Late Assignments: An assignment deadline has passed and the student has not turned it in. Prompt them to check if they can submit late.
  • Course Checking: The student has not checked the course for more than a week. Prompt them to visit the home page for any updates.
  • Weekly Report: Every week send students a list of assignments/quizzes that are due that week.

 

Because feedback and data are core to our development process, we are reaching out to the community for this pilot. The current version of Nudge is experimental and in early development; iteration is expected as the experiment progresses.

 

Any course that enables Nudge will provide us with insight into the effect of “nudging” different students in different ways. We also value feedback about the user experience and effectiveness of these reminders from your perspective as an instructor.

Your course may be a good fit for pilot if it fits the following criteria:

  • Blended or fully online courses
  • History of teaching the same course in prior semesters
  • Have a course beginning August/September 2018
  • Make use of multiple assignments throughout a course
  • English is the primary language of instruction
  • Multiple sections of the same course (nice to have, but not necessary)

 

Privacy Notice: Canvas is committed to keeping you and your student’s personal information private. All participants will be able to opt out at any time. Any and all use of the data from this experiment will be used to make Canvas a better product and not shared publicly without express prior consent.

 

 

The Volunteer Window has closed.  Watch the CanvasX space of the Canvas Studio for future summaries and opportunities.

 

If you successfully signed up you should get a message in Canvas later this week confirming that you are going to be participating. Nudges will then start being sent next Monday (Aug 27th)!

 

Have questions? Leave them below.

Canvas X is where we seek your input on experiments from our secret pandaworks lab!

It's all about starting small, measuring, and learning our way forward!

 

The Volunteer Window has closed.  Watch the CanvasX space of the Canvas Studio for future summaries and opportunities.

 

Based on the feedback from our June-August experiment of the On Track predictor we have decided to make some changes to the model and try another small cohort. We are looking for 3-5 instructors who are interested in providing qualitative feedback about the usefulness and the accuracy of the On Track predictor. The ideal candidates are instructors who:

  • Are willing and available to give direct feedback about their thoughts on the tool semi-regularly (once every two weeks or so)
  • Make use of Canvas widely to teach their courses (use of multiple features like assignments, modules, discussion etc.)
  • Have a course starting in August/September 2018
  • Have a background in statistics or probability (not necessary, just a bonus)

 

For the rest of the community, we would love to open up a dialog about what an On Track predictor (let’s call it OTP) means for Canvas. So what is the OTP and how does it work?

 

What is it? The OTP is a tool to help instructors discover which students are in danger of doing poorly in the course. Every week instructors will receive a report of all of their students that contains:

  • Are they On/Off Track?
  • How confident are we?
  • What are the primary reasons for the prediction?

The intention is that this will enable instructors to intervene with their students earlier and drive better student outcomes.

 

What does it do? The OTP evaluates a student’s likelihood to succeed in a course based on:

  • Academic History: How have they performed overall in courses previous to this one?
  • Course Interactions: How much do they interact with course tools? (grades, messaging, etc.)
  • Content Interactions: How much do they interact with course content (modules, files etc.)
  • Course Performance: How are they performing in their current course?

Using this information, a probability of successfully completing the course is calculated.

 

Given that brief overview we would love to hear your thoughts. How could you foresee using this? What information would you want/not want to see? What are the types of actions you could take to intervene with students? What’s missing?

 

And if you have more questions about the specifics of how the OTP works, members of the team who worked on the project will be monitoring the comments and will make their best effort to answer your questions. So fire away!


Canvas X is where we seek your input on experiments from our secret pandaworks lab!

It's all about starting small, measuring, and learning our way forward!


As a teacher you may want to know, “Which of my students are going to do well?”, “Which of my students should I reach out to sooner rather than later?” and “What do I reach out to them about?” In an effort to simplify teaching the Canvas X team has created the On-Track Predictor aimed to address these questions.

 



We are looking to gather evidence of a general interest in an on track predictor (or early alert if you will). We’d also like to know if teachers and administrators would perceive our On-Track Predictor as useful for decision making and action taking. Finally, we want to know if this feature would actually get used.

Because feedback and data are core to our development process, we are reaching out to the community and looking for interested educators. The current version of On-Track Predictor is experimental—iteration is expected—it is very early in the process.

Right now, we are looking for educators willing to participate in a test experiment. If you participate, you (the instructor) would receive a weekly report via your Canvas Inbox for four weeks. Any teacher that enables this in their course(s) will provide us with insight into its usefulness and ease of use. Your course may be a good fit for this experiment if it falls into one or more of the following criteria:

  • Blended or fully  courses
  • History of teaching the same course in prior semesters
  • Have a course this term
  • Make use of multiple assignments throughout a course



Have questions, comments, or feedback? Leave it below.

Canvas X is where we seek your input on experiments from our secret pandaworks lab!

 

Nudge is a prototype service that helps students effectively manage their time and coursework. This service is the first step in a longer term smart messaging vision for Canvas. When enabled in a course, Nudge sends notifications to students about upcoming and late assignments. Students receive these notifications according to their notification preferences.

 

Because feedback and data are core to our development process, we are reaching out to the community for a beta test. The current version of Nudge is experimental and in early development; iteration is expected as the experiment progresses.

 

Any course that enables Nudge will provide us with insight into the effect of “nudging” different students in different ways. We also value feedback about the user experience and effectiveness of these reminders from your perspective as an instructor.

 

Your course may be a good fit for the beta experiment if it falls into one or more of these suggested criteria:

  • Blended or fully online courses
  • History of teaching the same course in prior semesters
  • Have a course beginning in the next few months
  • Make use of multiple assignments throughout a course
  • Multiple sections of the same course (nice to have, but not necessary)

 

The initial Nudge pilot is closed for participation. If findings look promising, there will be a fuller Nudge pilot in August of 2018. Please check back in August, we hope to have something awesome by then.

 

Have questions? Leave them below.  Please note that this experience is currently limited to United States domestic users.

Mitch Benson

Khaki 2018 Update

Posted by Mitch Benson Employee Mar 23, 2018

At Khaki 2017, we committed to devoting 100 sprints of engineering capacity to the priorities selected by the group. We’re on track to accomplish that and have already delivered some of the projects. However, now that we’ve had an opportunity to do more detailed analysis, we know some of the projects will require more engineering effort than we originally estimated (based on the limited time and info we had during the 1-day Khaki event) and fall outside the 100 sprint capacity.

 

In this update, I have listed below the projects that will consume the 100 sprints of engineering work and will be delivered by InstructureCon 2018, as indicated by original prioritization. However, we’re not stopping at 100 sprints or InstCon 2018. Some projects could not completely fit within the 100 sprint scope, but we believe they are important enough to allocate additional resources for their completion.

 

Finally, there are some projects that have been deferred due to their size or have become unnecessary because of other projects. I’ve listed those as well.

 

100 Sprints Delivered by InstCon 2018

1. Admin Role Granular Permissions part 1
  (New user interface to understand and manage the assignment of roles)
July 2018
2. Canvas Content Duplication
  Assignments
  Pages
  Discussions
  Module Items
  Quizzes.Next (accomplished through the copy assignment feature)
  Modules

 

July 2017

July 2017

October 2017

November 2017

July 2018

June 2018

5. Large Course: Sections/Groups

  Section-Specific Announcements

  Section-Specific Discussions

 

March 2018

June 2018

6. Page View Mobile ActivityJune 2018
10. Mobile: Camera Access for Embedded Images

Android

iOS

 

Bonus (Delivered after InstCon 2018)

1. Admin Role Granular Permissions part 2—breaking out create/edit/delete permissions (to be added permission by permission)
3. Student Feedback View
4. Advanced Reports
7. Rich Content Editor: File/Image Drag & Drop - Canvas Release Notes (2018-11-17)
9. Commons: Preview Activities and Content
12. SpeedGrader Screen Recorder

 

Deferred

8. Canvas Course Global Search

11. Course Archive Process

13. Large Course: Grading

14. Roles/Permissions Masquerade

15. Elementary UX

 

As always, we welcome your continued input directly, through the product team, via your CSM, or in any way you can get it to us. I can be reached directly at mbenson@instructure.com.