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Canvas Mobile Users Group

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Everything’s green and the driveway is covered in sidewalk chalk and life is totally normal, so that means it’s time for a mobile update!


As you would expect, all of our teams have been racing to remove impediments to remote learning in Canvas for most of the past eight weeks. The Canvas mobile teams, for their part, have shipped 20 updates over the same time period across all apps and both platforms. Here are some highlights of those updates in case you missed them.


QR login. Logging in can be hard on multi-tenant platforms. It’s harder still on multi-tenant platforms that allow for vanity domains and web portals and multiple authentication providers and cross-listed courses. Not only do you have different keys for different people, but you have multiple locks on each door! You can think about finding your school in the Canvas mobile apps as an adventure in getting you to the proper door and lock. But the happy path on this adventure can get narrow, and there are dragons in these woods! With the addition of QR login, we submit that if you’re already through the door, you’re allowed to bring your phone through the door, too. There’s some tweaking underway on the implementation, but with well over 100,000 successful QR logins so far, the concept is working to reduce unnecessary friction.


Conferencing upgrades. Since video conferencing usage is up, we wanted to make it easier for students to join conferences from mobile devices. If you use BigBlueButton for conferencing in Canvas, the student mobile experience is significantly better than it was a few weeks ago. We created a native conferences list, and more importantly, we added alerts for active conferences to students’ dashboards so they can join conferences as soon as they launch the student app. That alert looks like this:


Conference alert on Canvas Student dashboard


Student View. With more course content than ever making its way onto Canvas, we wanted to make it easier for teachers to see how students experience their courses on mobile devices. You can launch Student View from within any course in the teacher app to be redirected to the student app as Test Student. That flow looks like this:


Canvas Teacher launches Student View


We have a few other irons on the fire, namely improving discussions, exploring a lightweight offline mode, reducing friction in parent/student pairing, and something about confetti. If there’s something we can do to boost your sanity or better serve your students, make sure you've created a feature idea in our Ideas space—post the URL to your idea in the blog comments, and we’ll see what we can do!

      I am the Instructor of Business Office Administration Course via Online Class Instruction. With COVID-19 we started our online class instruction journey with continued communication and connection via Canvas Conferences Join with out students.  


      The connection between the LIVE class schedule with online instruction was key for ensuring there was no separation of school learning, no pausing in rhythm and no disconnect. Thus I started meeting daily at 8AM for morning roll call, announcements, and instructions on daily task assignments assigned via Canvas Conferences Join. We also continued to do a daily afternoon conference join for roll call, announcements, and live activities at 1PM which consisted with real class schedule of returning from lunch (1pm).


      By the second month we agreed to change the AM Canvas Conferences Join to 9AM to better fit with everyone's schedule at home, since many had kids. Below are the instructions for our Daily AM and PM Canvas Conferences Join.

  • You must log in to Canvas each morning and afternoon for mandatory roll call attendance via Conferences Join (Set times 9AM-10AM and 1PM-2PM, times may be changed).


      During the Conferences Joins we cover: Instructions, Live Practice Activities, Updates, Briefed Lectures and Important Announcements. The Conferences Join has been wonderful for us to touch base together as a whole class, and for me to provide my BOA students with briefed lectures.


      Canvas Conferences Join has worked to cover roll call via the Shared Notes section (see sample attached). They all know to go to Shared Notes as soon as they Join and sign their name! I have Live Q & A from students via Chat on going through out the lecture, as well the students interact act with each other on the Chat. I upload my google slides to start the presentation and in conjunction share YouTube Videos that correspond to the lectures which can easily be shared via the Share a Video tool, as well as Share my Screen to show them a document or a web site that I want them to view. 


      The students know the time we are scheduled to have our Conference Join and login to Canvas at that time to click Join. The great thing is that Canvas also send an email alert and it sows up in the Dashboard for easy access! I love Conferences Join and highly recommend it to connect with your students on a daily basis during COVID-19 Online Instruction.


~Rose Chavez-Rocha~

~Mrs. Chavez~  

Deepak Gupta

7 Best Apps For Students

Posted by Deepak Gupta Mar 30, 2020

We usually talk about the risks of having your smartphone or tablet close when you are studying, since they are an inexhaustible source of interruptions and distractions. But these devices can also become your best allies if you use them properly. Would you like to know what are the best apps for students ? Keep reading because we have compiled the best Apps for students like you.

It is undeniable that the mobile, along with other devices, has become an inseparable companion in our day to day. We use it for countless things, perhaps making and receiving calls has become secondary. We use the mobile to communicate with friends and family, listen to music, exercise, practice meditation, etc. And for each of these functionalities we use an application. If you are a student, why not make the most of your mobile for this important part of your life?

The applications that we can use to study can help you take notes, organize your study time, save and organize documents, stay focused, learn languages, etc. And all these applications are in your app store (App Store or Google Play) with just one click. But since we know that the world of apps is an almost infinite universe, we have thought that it would be very helpful for you to know some of the best apps that you can use when studying.

1. Evernote


This application is one of the most powerful on the market to manage notes and take notes, since it allows you to capture information in different ways: written, web or screen captures, photos, voice notes, video, PDF, ... One of the things The most interesting features of this app is being able to combine documents of different types, such as making a handwritten annotation on a photo captured at the moment and another on file, or taking a web capture and adding an audio file, a document and a photo ... You can also attach documents from the Office package.


With Evernote you can organize all your documents and information, and you can access them from your computer, mobile or tablet, since it allows the synchronization of the application in real time with all your devices. In addition, it also allows you to work online with other users and synchronize shared files. Without a doubt, a very interesting application when taking notes and organizing all this documentation.


Evernote has a free version, which is limited, and a paid version. It is available on iOS, Android, MacOs and Windows.

2. One Note


The One Note application, from the Office 365 package, is another of the most notable when it comes to managing documents and taking notes. It allows you to type on the keyboard or by hand, as well as take voice notes, draw, cut out web elements. It is also possible to draw with it thanks to its flexible canvas, as well as digitizing the notes you have on paper.


Like Evernote, One Note allows text search in all those notes that you have taken by hand, as well as in the documents that you have scanned. This functionality is very useful when you have to search for a specific text or document.

One of the remarkable things about this application is the possibility of working online with other users, so that everyone can modify or complement the initial content. In addition, being the property of Microsoft, it allows you to work perfectly with the other applications of the Office package. It has a simple and modern interface. All this makes One Note one of the best apps for taking notes and organizing documentation. It is available on iOS, Android, MacOs and Windows.

3. Google documents


Google Docs, also known as Google Docs, is the word processor for Google's office suite. You will find this application installed by default in smarphones that have the Google operating system installed, as well as in chromeboks. In case you have an Iphone or iPad you can also install it. And of course, you can work with Google Documents from any browser.


We have chosen this application because you can always take it with you, regardless of the device you are working on, you will have access to all your documents, create new ones and modify existing ones.


Google Documents allows you to work without an internet connection, and the moment you reconnect it will update the changes you have made. All the documents you generate will be automatically saved in the Google cloud, so they will always be accessible and safe.


One of the characteristics that we like the most is the way in which it facilitates collaborative work, since you will be able to invite other users to work on certain documents, so that you can work simultaneously on a class assignment with the rest of your team members.


4. Google Calendar


Google Calendar is Google's calendar, and you can access it from your Google account. In this calendar you will be able to organize and plan your entire student life, from marking the days and times of your exams to planning and blocking time to study next week. Without a doubt, a calendar is an indispensable tool for the organization and planning of the study, and we think that the Google calendar is one of the best options.


In Google Calendar you can schedule your events, enter reminders and set your goals. The reminder works as an attached note that will appear at the time you schedule it and you can delete or postpone it once you see it. These reminders can be punctual or periodic. The objectives are set by you, and the app gives you different options on what you want to do. Once you set your goals you can choose the frequency with which you are interested in carrying out the activity and the application will find a place in your schedule so that you can carry them out. If what you want is to add an event, the app allows you to differentiate it with colors and add photographs, files or alarms for your events.


In the application you can configure different views (day, week or month) which will allow you to see at a glance the month's planning or see in more detail everything you have to do during a specific day. In addition, Google Calendar is synchronized with other Google applications, such as Gmail.


Like the other applications in the Google office suite, this application is free and available on iOS and Android, as well as on the web.


5. Todoist


Todoist is one of the best list and task management applications. You can easily enter all the tasks you have to do and classify them into folders to organize the scope of each task (studies, work, staff, etc.). You can also assign labels to the tasks to later filter them (for example, you can put the computer label for all those tasks in which a computer is necessary to perform them).


Like most to-do and task management apps, you can set deadlines and reminders for your tasks. In this way, if you have to deliver a job within a month, you can set the deadline for the delivery date and a reminder a few days before so that you do not forget.


Todoist allows collaborative work, that is, it allows you to share tasks with other people and thus manage teamwork more easily. In addition, this application has a gamification part that aims to boost your productivity, since the more tasks you complete, your "Karma" will increase.


Todoist has a free version and a premium version, which is paid. In addition, you can use this application on all platforms.


6. Be Focused


This app is based on the Pomodoro technique. With it you can plan the time you dedicate to each job and divide it into time intervals. It is a simple application that will allow you to stay focused and focused for a period of time.


Be Focused allows you to personalize the time you dedicate to each work interval, as well as the time dedicated to short and long breaks. In addition, you can visualize in a graph your progress to know how much time you have dedicated to each task. Simple and effective, basically a Pomodoro timer. Available for iOS.


7. Forest App


Forrest App is an application, based on the Pomodoro study technique, that will help you stay focused during your study sessions or work. We love this app because it adds a touch of gamification to avoid interruptions during periods of concentration.


How does the Forrest App work? It is very simple, you program a task and you start the clock. Right now you are planting the seed of your virtual tree. During the next 30 minutes your tree will grow, until it becomes a beautiful tree after 30 minutes of concentration. Every 30 minute period you will get a new tree until, little by little, you will get to have your own forest.


What happens if during your 30 minutes of concentration you leave the application and go to consult Instagram or answer a WhatsApp message? Well, your tree will die, and if you are a good person you will feel bad. It is a visual and enjoyable way to be clear about the time you have been able to stay focused and be productive. The best? You will be able to exchange your virtual trees for real ones and with your study time you will contribute to reforest endangered areas.


This application is available on all platforms.


Credits: Techshali/AndroidCure

With so many institutions moving to online instruction during the pandemic, Canvas Mobile is due for a big update!



New Features

QR for Mobile Login (Available starting March 28 for students, April 4 for teachers and observers)

This feature appears in the Canvas Student 6.7 Release Notes and is now available in the Ready Release Notes (Ready Release Notes (2020-03-28) > Updated Features > User Navigation > Mobile App Login QR Code).

For teachers and observers, the QR code login will be available for the Teacher and Parent apps beginning April 4, 2020. Go to Ready Release Notes (2020-04-04) > User Navigation > Teacher/Observer Mobile App Login QR Code.

This is a feature that is most requested by Canvas users worldwide (Login to Canvas using QR Code). You can finally login on your mobile device using the QR codes for mobile login. This can be done through the Canvas website and going to Account > QR for Mobile Login (as shown below) from the Global Navigation Bar.


QR for Mobile Login

QR for Mobile Login. This is already available in the beta environment and will be available in the production environment in the first two Ready Releases on March 28 for students and April 4 for teachers and observers.


Once you click on it, to log in to your Canvas account when you're on the go, just simply scan the QR code from the Canvas Mobile app (Change User > QR Login (below Find My School)). The code expires after 10 minutes, after which you will need to start the process over.


QR code example

Sample QR code. For security reasons, we had to wait 10 minutes before posting this so that the code is invalidated.


Native Conferences List

You can view any conferences made within Canvas from this section. Webviews are no longer used. Students can join in by tapping the green Join button.


Canvas Conferences is a free service provided by BigBlueButton.
If your institution is likely to need more than 10 concurrent Conferences powered by BigBlueButton, we recommend upgrading to Premium BigBlueButton or exploring alternative conferencing solutions Canvas partners with, such as Zoom, Hangouts, Teams, and other video conferencing tools who are offering free or discounted services. Learn more.
Not all of these services may be supported by your institution. Please contact your local admin for more information.


Native Conferences

Sample conference. There is no Join button because the conference has not started.



Experimental Features

There are some experimental features in the iOS version of Canvas. Unless stated otherwise, experimental features are available in both the Student and Teacher apps.

(Those are view-only, just ignore them. Only our production team can control these features remotely.)

Experimental features


conferences (TEACHER ONLY)
Enable the native view for the Conferences in the Teacher app.


You can view your favorite groups in the Groups tab.


We don't know what this is, but it may render discussions faster in areas with low-bandwidth, hence the name Simple Discussion Renderer.


Enables the GraphQL data query engine for the SpeedGrader. Learn more.


Refresh access tokens.




New options to mute course notifications (Mute Notifications by Course).


parent_inbox (TEACHER ONLY)
Allows teachers to receive Canvas messages from parents (Canvas Parent Release Notes (iOS 3.1)).


parent_calendar (TEACHER ONLY)
This is useful if parents want to notify their child's teacher about certain events, such as a doctor's appointment. This can come handy for teachers to mark absences as excused.


student_calendar (STUDENT ONLY)
It allows you to access your own calendar that is not part of any course.




qr_code_login_enabled (STUDENT ONLY)
This refers to the QR for Mobile Login feature above, which will be enabled on March 28 for students and April 4 for teachers and observers.


Other Features

There is a more responsive layout, though we haven't tested it yet.


Want to learn more?

Please stay tuned to the Canvas Mobile Release Notes space (Release Notes: Mobile) over the next few days to get a broader look at these features. We hope you continue to excel!

And please tune in to the Zoom Meeting on the Canvas Mobile Q&A (Canvas Mobile Apps | Q&A) Wednesday at 2e/1c/11p!




The Canvas Student 6.7 update is available for download through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.


Teachers & Observers

The Canvas Teacher and Parent app updates will be available starting on April 4.



Will Conferences be in the Parent app?
Canvas Conferences are only available in the Student app for the time being.


Will LTI integrations (i.e., Pearson) work in mobile apps?
There is no LTI standard that works across mobile applications.


Are cloud assignments (3rd-party apps) supported?
Go here: How do I submit an assignment from a third-party app to the Student app on my iOS device?


Essential Mobile Resources
How do I submit an assignment from a third-party app to the Student app on my iOS device?


DeLaSalle High School
Jillian Patch
Mente Piccoli
University of Central Florida



Minor changes are not shown.


2020-04-03Added QR code login for teachers and observers
2020-03-25Added info from Zoom meeting
2020-03-24Initial release

Right now, there's a lot to balance, especially if you're moving a face-to-face class completely online. Canvas Mobile will allow you to access the Canvas features you need the most frequently efficiently and allow you to be more flexible with where, when, and how you access coursework. With three different apps, there's a lot of information available. We're going to do our best to collect the essentials for you to browse and then you can continue on with your teaching/learning/parenting experience.


Before going on, it's important to take a moment and share that all Canvas users, including those who use the Free For Teacher version, have access to the Canvas Mobile Apps. While users associated with an institution search for their school or enter the [institution] when signing-in, Free For Teachers use


At Instructurecon 2019, we presented Let's Role with Canvas Mobile with the goal of helping others understand the different roles in Canvas that match up with the apps and features in the role-specific apps. You can watch our presentation, too: Let's Role with Canvas Mobile.


Canvas Student

Canvas Student is designed especially for students. This app a great way to view class content and participate on-the-go.


Essential How-Tos




Canvas Teacher

Canvas Teacher is designed for instructors and faculty members. This app is a great way to publish/unpublish items, view student progress, grade/provide feedback, and make small adjustments to assignments when you're away from the computer.

Essential How-Tos



Canvas Parent

Canvas Parent is designed for family members or advisors who observe students. You'll use your observer credentials to sign-in to Canvas Parent.App users can set notifications on a per-student basis to keep notifications to the essentials and make it easier to see academic expectations and progress.

Essential How-Tos



There are so many resources and lessons we could share, but we hope that this provides you with a starting-point with Canvas mobile. If you have any questions, please ask! We'll do our very best to find a solution, direction, or connection. We keep a close eye out for new discussions in Canvas Mobile Users Group, and we watch for questions in Q & A


Mobile On!

Kristin & Ryan

*You'll be glad you did.
In providing support for faculty and courses, certain best practices have been validated repeatedly. 
One of those is optimizing Canvas content pages to increase the likelihood your students will actually see and use them! 


Unpack Course Documents to Become Canvas Pages

When new instructors are transitioning to Canvas, the process can be overwhelming. An unfortunate, frequent shortcut is to simply “link” documents like the Syllabus or assignment instructions. This may appear to be a quick solution—but only for one semester. When the complexity of updating increases, the missed opportunity to apply best practices becomes apparent through extra hassles and files housekeeping over time. 

“A shortcut is the longest distance between two points”Charles Issawi
Bad reasons to Link documents in the RCE or Modules:
  • Seems faster.
  • Lower faculty skill-level or understanding of Canvas. Links to files are all the instructor knows how to do.
  • Instructor already has a big Masterfile with .pdfs and WordDocs that hasn’t been changed in years. 
  • Imaginary threats, like the fear that students will change the Syllabus and argue some detail with the instructor. 
  • Student UX hogwash! Courses have always been a big stack of papers to manage. Why suddenly make life easy for short attention spans?
  • Document was made on an old typewriter (or on MSWord) with lots of tabs and spaces to center the text. It will be a nightmare to learn the Word ribbon tool at this late date. 
Signs that .pdf/.doc overuse is an issue
  • The course files area has 6 old versions of the Syllabus from which to choose.
  • Course content is not updated because the instructor can’t locate their original doc for editing. 
  • Students don’t read the syllabus.
  • Instructors don’t understand why students don’t read the syllabus. See hint.

Hint: Students are looking on an iPhone and don’t want to clog up their memory by accidentally downloading that 10-page Syllabus yet again, plus the document opens in a tiny viewer in a 1 pt. font. Instead, use Canvas content pages to stream beautifully!

Upstream Management

Instead of waiting for increased difficulty all around, consider unpacking your .docs into Canvas as a best practice.
  • Accessibility
    • Transitions are an ideal time to use Headings/Styles, alt text, descriptive links, ribbon tools, and correct tables in the pages rich content editor (RCE). 
  • Encourage mobile streaming view for all content, versus documents to download and manage. 
    • Increases the likelihood of students being able to see and use the content on any device. 
  • Copyright
    • Transitions are an ideal time to check copyright, record your Fair Use justifications, and/or update content into safe compliance. 
  • Quicker updates each semester.
    • Compare updating a Syllabus in Canvas (Edit, type, save) with updating a linked document (Locate master doc, make changes, save, replace in Canvas, test to make sure you linked the correct doc, get rid of old doc, preserve link, etc.)
    • Remember, if you don’t do this every day, the workflow is forgettable.  Once a semester, and you’ll forget what you’re doing. 
  • Version control.
    No need to search for master copies on a former employee’s home computer. Everything related to the course lives in the Canvas course. 



  • .Docs that are already Accessible easily become Canvas content pages that are accessible, with a simple copy and paste.

    • The transfer process reveals old-school tabs and spaces misuse. Oops.  Those must be manually corrected once the content is in Canvas RCE.

  • .pdfs can be a nightmare. Depending on the complexity of content, you may need to open a .pdf in Adobe Acrobat Pro and export it as a WordDoc, then scan carefully for substitutions, misspellings, and other transcription errors. 



Course builders work with what we have. Sometimes you just let one thing go—temporarily—to meet a deadline or inch toward progress. 
*Good Reasons to link a document in RCE or modules
  • Students need to download and print an entire document intact. Example: APA or MLA formatted example research paper.
  • Information is not likely to change and is not available another way. Example: an archived out-of-print article. 
  • Information that is already accessibility checked. Example: Government website downloads or official releases.

Ready or Not

Ready or not, increasing numbers of students view Canvas courses on mobile devices. (Numbers may vary by institutions, but the overall trend is upward for mobile use.)
Even if your course is designed for desktop/laptop, a quick check on iOS and Android devices will give you a more complete idea of what students see—and why they interact with the course the way they do. 

Canvas Parent 3.1 beta for Android and iOS - incoming!


Android 3.1 beta link: 


iOS 3.1 beta link: 


In this version of the parent app, we added support for messaging between parents and teachers. This has been a request since we originally launched the app, and we think we've figured out how to incorporate messaging in a way that benefits both parents and teachers (and in turn, students)! Here's what's new.



  1. Floating message icon:

    Parents have access to messaging from several views around the parent app, including the assignment details view shown above.

  2. Pre-filled composition view:


    Since the parent tapped to compose a message from the assignment details view, we pre-populate the subject field with the student name and assignment, and set the recipient as the teacher of the course.

  3. Contextual message:


    When the parent sends a message, the student name and a link to the related assignment are automatically appended to the end of the message the teacher receives, so absent any other context, the teacher can see which student/course/content the parent was referencing.

  4. Inbox in parent app:


    The parent receives the teacher's reply in a simplified inbox in Canvas Parent.



A few other things to note:

  • All of this is using the existing Canvas inbox/messaging features that teachers and observers can already access in Canvas web/API/other Canvas apps today.
  • We hope this improves the communication flow between teachers and parents in a way that doesn't introduce unnecessary noise and helps support students. Feedback is welcome.
  • iOS plans to release 3.1 to the App Store this month.
  • Android won't release 3.1 outside the Play Store beta linked above. As per the original plan, Android will release all of the 3.0+ updates to the Play Store as 3.2, and from there the iOS and Android parent apps will be in lock step again. My guess is that 3.2 will ship to the App Store and the Play Store next month.


Up next: new calendar for parents (Canvas Parent 3.2) and students (Canvas Student 6.7)!

We’re at nine million monthly active users of the Canvas mobile apps, which is many millions more than when I last posted about Instructure’s approach to mobile. If you’re new to Canvas, or if you’re curious about how and why we do the things we do, this post is for you!


We anchor mobile app development to a few principles:


  1. Focus on experience. There’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to making Canvas fit into your pocket. The mobile apps have to be secure and accessible and scalable. They have to be translated into 34 languages. The mobile apps have to evolve with regular changes to Canvas web and mobile operating systems. They have to handle courses with 10 students where every assignment is an LTI launch, and they have to handle courses with 200 students where every assignment is a discussion. The iOS and Android apps have to look and function the same way despite being on two different tech stacks produced by two different teams of people. But just as importantly, the mobile apps have to deliver worthwhile experiences. If regular operations take too long or make you miserable, or if the interface just looks like bad, you might as well be using any other LMS. Canvas has to be better.

    Here's a subset of the 82 polish items to address before releasing Canvas Parent 3.1, for example:


    These polish tickets are usually cosmetic, and they come when we compare iOS and Android side-by-side at the end of developing a feature.

  2. Ship things. Product development exists on a spectrum. On one end, you plan every detail and you never take risks and as a result, you never ship things because you find that details change and risks can’t be avoided. On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t plan enough and you ship quickly and you break things. The outcomes at either end of the spectrum aren’t good. The Canvas mobile teams strive to be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, always erring on the side of shipping. We can’t deliver the value that we don’t ship. We believe that when we mess up, we ought to listen and learn and ship again.

  3. People over process. In my experience, this is the most overlooked value from the agile manifesto -- which is roughly the constitution of agile software development. Our teams do their best to reconcile what’s planned and what’s right when there’s a gap. We try to keep enough perspective to prevent process from lulling us into doing stupid things. There are scenarios where this principle doesn’t work, but we try to create situations where it does (small teams, smart people, taking on new challenges, limiting recurring meetings, encouraging communication, etc.).

    Here's one of my favorite parts about working at Instructure:

    This is the mobile support lead's way of saying something is on fire somewherecheck it out. I've worked for companies where people roll their eyes when they see this and say they'll get to it next sprint. That's the worst, and it's what you get with process over people. If there's a fire, we're going to stop regularly scheduled programming to go deal with it.

  4. Prioritize real-life benefits. When you’re planning a project on a platform as versatile as Canvas, it’s tempting to miss the forest for the trees. What happens with our new feature if this course setting is on and this feature flag is off and this sub-account hides this button and this root account has this permission disabled for this role and this ticket hasn’t merged to beta? Concerns like these take up a huge amount of mental space, and to a large extent, it’s the job of product and engineering teams to make sure these cases are hashed out. At some point, it’s also true that 99.723% (see: made-up numbers) of users won’t experience the case you’re worried about, and you’re better off figuring out how to remove extra bits of friction for the average user. This is not a straightforward thing to balance, but in general, the mobile teams will prioritize delivering maximum value to maximum people over checking every last feature box.

  5. Throw a little weird in there. Our software is designed and built by people as quirky as our users, and it ought to reflect that fact for the sake of everyone involved. If you like your software a little more dry and dusty, I’ve had good luck recently with printer utilities, insurance apps, and SimCity 2000 doesn’t hold up quite as well as I expected. Weirdness is especially vulnerable to atrophy over time, but it’s worth protecting. We want to flex those weird muscles.


When you mix those principles together, you get role-based apps which are updated regularly and rated best-in-class by users -- with spinning Canvas logos and panda avatar builders to top it off!


This definitely doesn't mean everything is awesome. Our approach involves tradeoffs. Let’s use peer reviews as an example. It’s a cool feature, and some people rely on peer reviews, and you can’t conduct peer reviews from our mobile apps today. We consider peer reviews every time we touch assignments in mobile. We have a design, and we know how it would work, and we know what it would take to support it. The problem is that peer reviewing is a relatively lesser used feature of assignments, and it would take a lot of effort to support natively. Instead of working on peer reviews last fall, we focused on things like improving load times on grade lists in student and teacher apps, and increasing the visibility of feedback on submissions, and reducing taps to submit assignments. But if you created those peer review assignments, this is still a bummer, and I get it!


I can think of a few escapes for this predicament, in no particular order:


  • If you’re on a tablet or Chromebook, Canvas web is fully supported in your native web browser
  • Some schools contract with our professional services team for custom development
  • Our mobile apps are open source, and some schools build their own mobile apps using our repositories as a model
  • You could build the feature yourself and submit a pull request for our mobile team to review
  • We can hop on a call and you can argue that we’re doing it wrong
  • You can submit a feature idea in our community and see how it resonates with other Canvas users

If you want to know more about web/mobile parity, our documentation team has created some guides for the student and teacher apps that you may find helpful. If you have feedback on making those documents better, send it on!

Did you know that you can embed images in a unit that dynamically size, according to your page size?


This is ideal for embedding images into your Canvas unit that can be viewed on a mobile with no issues.


The embed code from the HTML editor will refer to the width and height of the image:

<p><img src="https://xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/courses/22607/files/6877530/preview" alt="Adobe Creative Cloud by application" width="1000" height="1600" data-api-endpoint="https://xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx//api/v1/courses/22607/files/6877530" data-api-returntype="File" /></p>


If we change the width to be 100%, the image will dynamically resize depending on the resolution of your screen/browser window:

<p><img src="https://xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx/courses/22607/files/6877530/preview" alt="Adobe Creative Cloud by application" width="100%" height="1600" data-api-endpoint="https://xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx//api/v1/courses/22607/files/6877530" data-api-returntype="File" /></p>

Despite an aggressive marketing campaign and screaming until my lungs grew sore, some instructors on my campus still try to use the old all-in-one Canvas app to teach.  While I am grateful I got these slow-to-change holdouts to even download, install, and use an app in the first place, their stubbornness to upgrade to the Canvas Teacher app blow what remains of my mind.  But this is a problem for another day.  

Here’s a public link to download the Canvas Parent 3.0 iOS beta from TestFlight:


We recommend uninstalling any other version of Canvas Parent installed on your device before you install the beta. You can connect to production and/or beta environments to try it out! Here’s what’s new in this version:


  1. Grades list support! This list includes support for grading periods, and it’s now the default view for each course in the parent app! If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s identical to the grades list in the student app.

    3.0 grades list

  2. Improved syllabus! If a teacher chooses a syllabus as their course home, that syllabus appears in the parent app, and it now includes the associated assignments/events list (“Summary” tab) visible from the student app. And get this: links from the syllabus now function!  

    course syllabus in 3.0

  3. Front page support! If a teacher chooses a front page as their course home instead of the syllabus, that page now appears in the parent app. Links from the front page also function. (Already noted: the current beta version misspells “front page” as "frontpage." This will be fixed before release.)

    course front page in 3.0

    Other notes that won't apply to most courses: Syllabus and front page cover most course homes in K12, so those are the two course home types supported by parent app in 3.0. If another home page type (like “Course Activity Stream”) is selected, we’ll attempt to show the syllabus. If a syllabus doesn’t exist and a front page isn’t set to course home, the parent will only see the grades list in 3.0.




Go play with it! If you notice any wonkiness, you can “Send Beta Feedback” through the TestFlight app, or reply to this community post. Once we're through testing 3.0, we'll release it and move on to Canvas Parent 3.1: messaging!


(Android beta link coming before long, I think. If you want to know more about the Android parent app release plan, check out the fall update.)

Working as an EdTech Specialist at a renowned Med School I come across various scenarios.


Major Users: Students, Instructors and Canvas Admins (Including Me! )


How and Why:

  • Majority of our students use Canvas iOS app to take notes on their iPads. We have 50+ courses in MD Program and Canvas app is very helpful as it eases the stress of downloading a lot of paper or notes and bring it to the class. Instead use the canvas app on the iPads and write notes on PPTs or PDF's which are linked in their courses. 
  • Other places where Mobile App comes in to picture is when our 3rd Year MD students are in clinics and have no time to login to Desktop. All that they do is use their apps and look at their schedules during their hectic Clerkship Courses. Students find the process of synching calendars easy and are happy about it.
  • Note taking is easy, stress free and students need not carry tons of paper or books to sessions or classes.


What they like: Announcements, Calendar Events, Grades, To-Do items, Assignments and Files


***I use the Canvas App on Various devices to troubleshoot and test out any new features which can be useful for our students and faculty***

We’re waffling between snow and sunshine in Utah and my discolored pumpkins are shriveled and leaking, so that means it’s time for a fall update! Here’s what the mobile teams are working on.


Rise of the Machines


After a couple of relatively smooth iOS update cycles over the past two years, iOS 13 landed like Jello in a mud puddle. Its release coincided with a few big changes shipped as Canvas Student 6.6 and run-of-the-mill fall start firefighting. This combination resulted our patching the iOS student app every two weeks since August. While most of our users weren’t impacted by most of the bugs that were fixed, we didn’t hold onto fixes any longer than necessary. Now that the fall start rush has subsided, we’ve decided to redouble our efforts to automate testing in our mobile apps.


We’ve made more progress on automated testing in the past six months than in the previous three years combined, but we expect the robots to do more -- and to do it faster -- so that humans can focus on creating cool new things instead of shipping patches for defects that robots would have caught.


To illustrate the point, here’s a gif of an automated test of quiz-taking in the Android student app, first through the quizzes list and then through the assignments list:


quizzes end-to-end test


So that’s much faster than a human doing the same thing.


The up-front cost is high: it takes longer for a person to write the test above than it does for a person to test that flow. But once the test is written, it can be run as often as necessary. When you consider that the student app test suite is comprised of hundreds of tests, being able to run all of those tests in minutes instead of weeks is a substantial improvement.


The iOS and Android teams are both committed to writing and running all P0 and P1 [highest priority] tests by the end of this year. The good news is the automated test runs are already catching defects! A test run failed earlier this week when “Stop Acting As User” resulted in the robot admin being logged out altogether, for example.


The bad news is the increased focus on automation slows down our progress on parent app feature improvements. But I think it will be worth the wait.


Canvas Parent 3.0


In case you didn’t see the previous mobile update, we’re dividing parent app work into three chunks: grades list and syllabus (3.0), messaging (3.1), and calendar (3.2).


We’re in the process of testing one API change scheduled to go to production this week to finish up work on iOS Canvas Parent 3.0. I think we’ll be able to provide a link to the TestFlight version of that update by the end of this week. Apple allows public TestFlight links now, so no need to register beforehand anymore! 


I’ll provide a little more detail when I post the link, but at a high level, you’re going to see a grades list in the parent app for the first time, more robust homepage support (syllabus and frontpage will both be supported), and links from each of those places will work. Here's what that looks like:


course home in 3.0


This replaces the old "week" view within a course, which was redundant within the parent app.


If the TestFlight version looks good, we plan to ship it to the App Store in December.


For a variety of reasons -- some of which have to do with automated testing -- the current plan is for Android to bundle all three parent app chunks into a single update, which we’ll call 3.2. I’ll post a public link to that work-in-progress within a few weeks. We’re predicting that both platforms will ship 3.2 at about the same time in the new year.


Keep your eyes peeled for a separate post with more details soon!




Since this post was relatively light on visuals, I took a picture of my desk neighbor and Android QA lead, "Just-Try-And-Stop-Me" Joe, working on automated tests for the student app:


smart joe


Happy November to you too, Joe! Do it to it!

Since the release of the New Quizzes platform in June 2018, there have been many advances. Here are some things that you should know about New Quizzes on Canvas Mobile.



In order to create a New Quiz, you must do so from the desktop. You cannot do it from the Canvas Teacher app since there is no Add Assignment button on the bottom right corner of the screen.


From Assignments, we will create a new assignment. We will not use the Add Quiz/Test button due to the lack of certain fields.


Assignments page


Now that we've got the Instructions and Content Selector Sidebars, we can go ahead and fill in some details.


Add Assignment


For this assignment, please use the Quizzes 2 LTI External Tool.


Quizzes 2 LTI


Once we save and publish, it will be visible in the Mobile Apps. The pencil icon on the top right will be the only way for you to edit the quiz instructions from the Assignments page. To add/remove questions, select the External Tool under Submission Types.


Canvas Teacher view


Once the student finishes the test, the results will be displayed.



Wait a second! Something's not looking right when there are fractions.

Fraction error?


Students can leave comments to request regrades. The teacher can then open the Mobile SpeedGrader and see the problematic question.



Regrading only applies to completed submissions. If all students are affected, please wait for all submissions before regrading.


Since the correct answer is a fraction, manual grading may be needed. To avoid any issues from occurring in the future, please recommend students to round decimals to the required precision, up to the thousandths.


Manually adjusting grade


And that's it! You can now master the power of New Quizzes in the Canvas Mobile Apps!

Hello, I am an account administrator in an educational institution in Brazil, and sometimes I am not in my work base to be able to correct some kind of error in the disciplines pointed by some teacher or some emergency.

I know I can use a mobile browser, but it's not one of the best experiences.


It would help a lot if Canvas had a mobile app for account administrators, which would allow us to solve problems much more quickly and effectively.

It could even be a copy of the teacher's app, but with a few more permissions.

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