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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
CREATING A NEW QUIZ
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.
Now that we've got the Instructions and Content Selector Sidebars, we can go ahead and fill in some details.
For this assignment, please use the Quizzes 2 LTI External Tool.
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.
Once the student finishes the test, the results will be displayed.
Wait a second! Something's not looking right when there are fractions.
Students can leave comments to request regrades. The teacher can then open the Mobile SpeedGrader and see the problematic question.
RULES FOR REGRADING
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.
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.
I am not normally an end of the line type person when getting on the bus, usually, I am towards the front 10% of the line. I feel like I have almost missed the Mobile App bus. I don't have an excuse for why it has taken so long for mobile apps to grab my attention, but now that it has, I'm glad I waited.
Recently I've been researching all of the resources available about Canvas' mobile apps. Our college adopted Canvas in early 2015. I have been aware of the apps since the beginning. At the time we adopted Canvas, the apps did not seem to work as well as the website. I've recently discovered, now that some time has passed, Canvas has made quite a few improvements in their apps.
I know that an increasingly larger percentage of students at our college use their mobile devices to access their courses. I don't have any idea how many of those might be using the app, but I feel like it would be a larger number if we were promoting the use of the app to our students and instructors.
After reviewing all of the information in the @Canvas Mobile App Group (#CMAG) I have discovered that a) the Canvas Student App has many features that allow students to interact easier than when they are using a browser to access their course, and b) I have not been providing information and promoting the use of the Canvas Student App as I should be.
So my next steps, now that I have been enlightened, is to begin introducing and promoting the use of the App to our students and instructors. I am excited to begin this marketing of the App. Anything that makes navigating the course and learning easier for students is a priority for our college. I know that there is a lot to learn, but I am thankful for all of the authors that have contributed the information in this community.
The Observer / Canvas Parent role can be complex. Here's a quick overview:
*This resource will be updated this fall. Stay tuned! (Mobile Update - Summer 2019!)
Hope summer is going well for you! After the second-rainiest spring on record, the atmosphere over Utah burned away and now we're all walking around in climate-controlled space suits and eating sand.
Here’s what the mobile teams are working on.
New assignment details and submission flows are coming in Canvas Student 6.6! We showed off this update at InstructureCon two weeks ago, but in case you missed it, here’s what that looks like:
The student app assignment detail view is the most-used detail view across all of our apps, and we’re really excited about this upgrade going into the new school year. We improved assignment details in a few ways:
Grade visibility. Most students access the assignment detail view to check a grade (surprise!), so we needed the design to reflect that pattern.
Feedback visibility. Grades are just the tip of the feedback iceberg. Almost all the value for the student -- and the bulk of time spent grading -- is in the comments. We wanted to beef up the visibility of teacher feedback (off the top of my head: annotations, annotation comments, submission comments, media comments, rubrics, and rubric comments). The student can now find all feedback in a single place while also viewing and interacting with their submission. And for the first time, students can navigate all rubric details -- all scores, definitions and descriptions -- both before and after submission.
Submission flow. If you’ve never submitted a file to Canvas from another app on a mobile device then you haven’t felt confusion. You may have heard about it, but you haven’t felt it in your bones. That’s a problem because students increasingly rely on the mobile app to submit assignments. Well, problem solved in 6.6. Here’s the new share extension in action -- submitting from the Files app on iOS to Canvas:
Submitting from within the app is also much better -- with the one exception of cloud assignments: those remain unchanged. To ship this update before fall start we had to save improvements to cloud assignments for another day. To play with new submissions yourself, see the TestFlight link below.
Lastly -- unrelated to assignment details -- hold onto your wigs and keys if you use Canvas Student on iPad because here’s the thing you’ve been waiting for:
That’s right, support for split view is coming in 6.6!
We’re in the process of testing 6.6 for both platforms right now. The iOS team is on track to begin rollout in the first week of August, and the Android update will happen a few days afterwards. If you want to help us test the 6.6 update by playing with it on iOS through TestFlight, here’s a link:
As usual, if you find any funny business, feel free to report it below. (...unless the 6.6 update is already released to stores when you're reading this. Once a release hits stores, you're better off reporting any issue you find to Canvas Support.)
Over the past few weeks we’ve worked on improving load times for submissions in the teacher app. If you work in large courses -- on the order of hundreds of enrollments -- stay tuned for the next teacher app release on iOS and Android. It should hit stores within the next few weeks. Everyone will see improved load times but it will be most noticeable for large courses.
Next up for the teacher app is adding support for post policies, which are the new gradebook’s equivalent of the old gradebook’s muting/unmuting grades.
We’ve already released two updates that should really help the observer self-registration process for teachers and parents this fall. If your school/system uses self-registration for parents, take note and help spread the word:
[INSERT LASER-LIKE FOCUS HERE]
I’m super excited to have these updates live before fall start, and I hope you are too! They should really smooth out the parent onboarding process.
Now for the fun part: improving the in-app experience for parents! Our goal is to help parents support their students on a daily basis by answering some simple questions: How’s my kid doing, and what’s due and when? We have three updates planned to answer those questions in a better way, divided as follows.
3.0: New grades list and updated syllabus. Today, parents can only view grades in the week view, which means there’s no way to see a summary of assignment grades in a particular course. In the 3.0 update, parents will have access to the same grades list that students have today (including grading period filter). In addition, we’ll make access to the course syllabus more obvious and add support for linking from rich content.
3.1: Messaging. The parent app is getting an inbox! Parents will be able to send and receive messages from the app, and message composition will be contextual. Parents will be able to compose a message from the assignment detail view, for example, and we’ll add the appropriate teacher(s) as recipients automatically. We’ll also include a link to the content being referenced in the text of the message so teachers have a little more context on the receiving end. (Yes, the parent app will use the existing Canvas Inbox to make this happen.)
3.2: New calendar. The parent app’s calendar isn’t awesome. We’re going to be redesigning it to include more course content like announcements and to-do items, which don’t show up in today's parent app. Parents should also be able to filter the calendar by course and content type, and see busy days upcoming for their students at a glance. (Then we plan to reuse the new calendar for the student app.)
These updates will be built and released throughout the fall. I’ll post progress updates, designs and links to beta builds in CMUG in the coming weeks.
Happy fall start to everyone! If you experience any issues, report them! We're here to help!
Sorry. This is just a test of the blogging tool to make sure I have it right. Real content to follow.
I thought I would post a blog to expand on the comment I made in the Ask Technology & Engineering Leadership blog started by Renee Carney. James Jones was awesome (as usual) and linked to a three year old thread that had new comments by Instructure's Director of Products - Data and Analytics, Kevin Turco. I never would have seen those posts in a three year old thread if not for James, so it's great to see someone in leadership comment on the issue.
Now having seen Kevin's posts in Canvas Data Requests count vs. Canvas Analytics Page Views, I would echo what many others have said and say that it's critical we are getting accurate mobile data reported to us. I'll share one of his responses specifically to the question of "Are Mobile App page views included"?
We have Instructure's Amazon Redshift Hosted Canvas Data Services here at Los Rios (shoutout to Jason Rock email@example.com for being so great to work with), and mainly use Tableau for visualizations of that data. The requests table aside it's great to work with, and running queries such as Device Usage gives us a good idea of how many students are using mobile devices (even if they aren't fully mobile-first). We have tens of thousands of students using mobile devices for tens of millions of page hits every semester here (we had roughly 4.5M page hits per day on the request table last semester), so it seems that having equitable representation of that data should be a pressing concern, and needs to be more accessible than pulling from the requests table in Canvas Data (and that isn't even fully accurate).
As I mentioned in my post, there is an entire online college (our 115th Community College) launching in California this upcoming academic year that is being designed as mobile-first: Online Community College - California. These students need have their work counted as equitably as students using a PC, and the reports and analytics should not be any different from students using a PC. This would help our students as well, as there are so many courses being designed to be mobile-first, and that was a huge topic of conversation at the Online Teaching Conference 2019 I just attended last week. I'm very grateful to Kevin for posting and keeping the discussion going, as it is certainly a concern for those of us in charge of pulling those numbers.
Oh....and I won't even get into folks like me that use Photon on their iOS devices in order to use a User Agent and spoof everyone so they think I'm on a PC using Chrome or Firefox rather than an iPhone or iPad, since we know those folks are just trying to use something that plays Flash on iOS ( <--- this was my poor attempt at humor for those nice enough to read to the bottom).
Thanks for taking the time to read this.