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Canvas Mobile Users Group

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It’s about time we published an update from the Canvas mobile teams, don’t you think?

 

Here are some fall start highlights -- in descending order of how much they excited me:

 

  • Neighbor’s kid stopped me taking out the trash and said the student app’s gotten soooooo much better since he started using it last year!
  • Canvas Student hit 3 million daily active users a couple of weeks ago!
  • iOS 12 and Android Pie updates broke fewer things than usual!
  • Canvas Teacher became the highest-rated LMS teacher app on iOS and Android!
  • Canvas Student became the highest-rated LMS student app on iOS and Android!

 

Not everything went perfectly. Including both platforms, we closed 50 functional bugs in the month of September, and several more accessibility bugs. The self-registration pairing code rollout for parent app required a couple tweaks. But overall, it was a relatively smooth start for the mobile teams.

 

Both platforms are in the process of releasing Student 6.4 (adding support for custom help and searching files) and Teacher 1.7 (respecting document orientation set by DocViewer and adding an annotation eraser).

 

Now we’re on to Student 6.5, which will bring with it a new assignment details page and submission flow. The assignment details page is the most-visited details page in the student app. It’s also one of the oldest, and the current design doesn’t make much sense given how students use it.

 

For example, we know students look for their grade when they open an assignment after submission, but right now that information is hidden in a separate tab. We know students want information about submission status, but right now that doesn’t appear in the assignment details view. We know teachers want students to see comments and feedback, but right now there's no indication that feedback is available. We plan to fix all of that.

 

In addition, we think we can significantly improve the experience of submitting an assignment through mobile. Today’s submission flow feels awkward and laborious, and our analytics say that only about half the people that start submitting through mobile actually finish submitting through mobile. With an increasing number of students completing assignments solely from mobile devices, we have an opportunity to reduce some points of regular friction. That includes adding proper support for Canvas cloud assignments.

 

Today, opening a Google or Office assignment from the mobile app takes approximately 147 taps too many, and that’s because we launch the assignment as an LTI tool in a webview rather than attempting to open the Google or Office native apps. In the future, when a student taps “Launch External Tool” on a cloud assignment, we plan to redirect to the Google or Office apps directly. Combine that with a more streamlined process for submitting to Canvas from third-party apps, and submission flows in the student app all around should be much improved with the 6.5 release.

 

Let’s see some pictures!

 

New assignment details -- notice the submission status, the large grade cell, the “Feedback” pill indicating submission comments or annotations, and the large “Submit” or “Resubmit” button:

new_assignment_details

New submission details -- notice the student’s view of their submission is only a single tap away from the assignment details, the similarity to the teacher app SpeedGrader view, and the ability to view the submission, rubric and feedback in a single place:

 

New app extension -- students can submit a file directly to Canvas from a third-party app:

 

app_extension

 

The iOS and Android teams are both working on new assignment details and submission flows now, and we hope to release it sometime in Q1 of 2019. We’re super excited about these upgrades.

 

If you’ve got a pet peeve with assignments in mobile that you feel like I haven’t addressed here, or if you want to give any other feedback, feel free to post a comment!

I would like to start to get to know some people, in this group!

Confession: my initial reason for writing this blog is that it's part of a quest (called "Mobilize your assignments"), or at least that's where it stems from. I do enjoy the quests - they're a great way of learning and I'm a sucker for some gamification. Anyway. I'm always scouring the community to solve one problem or another, and the more I think about it, this is a big one.

 

Moving to Canvas was pretty liberating for many of our teachers - the simple page editor offers so much functionality to create content exactly how you want it to appear to students, and with no HTML knowledge required! And there's a mobile app for students too, you say? Well great - they can see my awesome course page designs in an even nicer way on their phones, right!? If you're reading this, I suspect you already know that this is unfortunately not the case...

 

So, here are some very simple lessons learned:

 

Using tables just to structure content in a page is a no-no. It may seem an easy way to achieve the look you're after, and it may look perfect on your screen when you build it, but trust me - it won't be so in the mobile app! So now you've got a decision to make:

  1. You should simplify your design, and let go of that dream of placing content exactly where you want it to appear on the screen. Simple linear (i.e top to down) presentation of content can work just fine
  2. If that's just not acceptable then you've got some learning to do about two things - divs and flexbox classes. Accept that you're journeying into coding, but don't worry that you're 'not a coder so this is not an option'. You'll learn these things (and probably more) by copying other people's code, changing it, breaking it, fixing it, and just doing that experiential learning thing!

 

I'll point you towards one great community question to get you on your way - it features many useful responses and further links from savvy members of the community: Anchor a Div

 

I'm sure there are even more posts out there in the community at time of writing (and that will come into existence beyond) - please post links below if you know of any particularly good ones for the sake of future readers

 

P.S it goes without saying that whatever device you're designing for, always make it accessible (use the accessibility checker, alt-tags for images/headers for tables where required, use format text styles and ordered lists where appropriate, check your colour contrast ratios... and I've very likely forgotten more important ones so again, add below!)

 

P.P.S shout out to Debra Mansperger for asking the question in that original post above and inspiring me to write this short blog on this topic

Oregon State surveyed over 2,000 of their ecampus students about their device preferences and were surprised with some of the results (according to a Webinar I attended that was hosted by the researchers Mary Ellen Dello Stritto, Ph.D. and Katie Linder, Ph.D.). Students don't always prefer mobile as many assume (including me ). 

 

Their research report Student Device Preferences for  Course Access and Multimedia Learning

includes all the survey questions and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

 

An interesting paragraph from their conclusion (Stritto & Linder, 2018, p. 23): "The results of this study show a wide range and variety of usage of the four main device types: desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. However, the students in this study overwhelmingly owned laptops and preferred to use those devices to access their courses and engage with videos and other multimedia. While this study showed that some students were using tablets and smartphones to access their course materials, they were rarely preferred, although they were used for convenience."

 

Of course, various colleges and universities obtain different results when they survey students using questions that are worded differently and are directed at different student demographics. On p. 29, the demographics describe how three quarters of their respondents were undergraduates with an average GPA of 3.39. Also, 42.9% were seniors and 23.9% were engineering students. The table on p. 27 lists respondent race/ethnicity that is not as diverse as other universities, such as Wayne State University in my home town of Detroit, Michigan and not as diverse as our community college in the Metro Detroit suburbs. Maybe various colleges and universities will administer the exact same student device preferences survey Stritto & Linder (2018) provided within their report. If so, I hope everyone shares out their results! 

 

Dello Stritto, M. E. & Linder, K. E. (2018). Student device preferences for  course access and multimedia learning. Corvallis, OR. Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit.

Chris Medina

Mobile for everything?

Posted by Chris Medina Sep 27, 2018

I like the whole mobile ability of Canvas. Especially as an admin now that we can act as a user in the app. It provides many helpful ways for students to learn especially on the go. Being able to review assignments, watch lectures any time they want, check their grades and course progress. Keeping them engaged while on a mobile device can be tough especially when there are many distractions like Facebook, twitter, cat videos, etc. Hopefully that canvas icon will pop out at them and encourage them to keep at it. 
There are limitations of mobile devices though. I would hate to try to write a paper on a small screen. Or look at my course on a small screen. 

what limitation have you found in mobile devices that steer students away from using their mobile device or what do students want to do on their mobile device that they can't? 

Isobel Williams

Mobile phone use G7-10

Posted by Isobel Williams Sep 25, 2018

A local High School (G7-10) has just banned smart phones from their classrooms, France has done a similar thing across the whole country.  Many  teachers I have spoken to feel this is a good idea.  They have seen the effects on younger teenagers.  Who are unable to focus for any length of time, anxious and depressed, unable to put the phone in their locker; "Something might happen", "Mum needs to be able to call me", "I need to know - it might be an emergency".  I personally witnessed the meltdown in class of a student whose mother had contacted her, during class, to let her know the beloved family dog had been put down.  

The social interactions with people outside school take precedence over any learning.  These students are anxiety driven and minor disagreements blow up into major incidents. 

This is not the majority of students, but a growing minority who are often struggling at school.  

Is the solution a total ban?  I can see wonderful opportunities for students to use their mobile devices in good productive ways but I do wonder if the immature teenage brain is ready to accept the responsibility of using the device in a constructive manner, I think many see their phones only as entertainment and communication devices rather than for learning, work or organisation.

I do not have a solution. Yet........

If you're looking for printer-friendly how-to guides for parents who are self-registering for Canvas, here's what we've come up with:

 

 

To modify these for your school or classroom, go to `File -> Make a copy...` and edit to your heart's content!

 

For an easy read on what's new in Canvas Parent 2.0 that also features links to Canvas Guides, view the Canvas Parent 2.0 What's New PDF.

 

That PDF is also presented from the parent app in version 2.0 if a person taps "See what's new" from the launch page.

Instructure's mobile strategy usually ends up outlined in a couple of InstructureCon presentations, but if you’re new to Canvas, or if you haven’t made it to InstructureCon, or if you just want to know more about our mobile strategy, here’s a brief summary.

 

We build native mobile apps because native mobile offers a much better experience than mobile web from mobile devices. This means we minimize the number of web views in our mobile apps, and instead rely heavily on the Canvas API to present information from Canvas in a way that’s optimized for touchscreens, big and small. There are a few learning management systems that treat their mobile apps like web portals and their mobile experiences generally stink as a result, but many lean native nowadays for that reason. If you’ve ever annotated a paper from a mobile web browser and then done the same thing from a native app (say, Canvas Teacher), you can easily feel the difference in experience.

 

A few years ago we decided that we could further refine our mobile experience by focusing on how people approached Canvas from mobile devices. We noted a few truths up front:

 

Canvas_is_big_Devices_are_small_People_are_different

 

In other words, Canvas is roughly bigger than the Pyramids of Giza combined, and even a gargantuan phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note is relatively small, and we have the opportunity to bridge that gap by giving people the experience they need from mobile -- tailored to their role -- because their expectations depend on their role.

 

A student approaches Canvas saying I want to see my grade on this assignment, or I want to see what’s due next week. A teacher approaches Canvas saying I want to post an announcement, or I want to grade this assignment. A parent approaches Canvas saying What’s Canvas? So let's deliver experiences that map to those realities.

 

This approach is working so far on a number of fronts:

 

  1. The apps are easier to use because they provide the functions you need rather than the ones you don’t.
  2. It streamlines messaging for us and for our clients. Parents don’t need to learn how to use Canvas, for example, they just need to learn how to use the parent app.
  3. It forces us to decompose problems from the perspective of the user. Rather than let’s build an assignments page for a 4-inch screen, we say students need to submit assignments, or teachers need to grade assignments, and those needs inform how the assignments page needs to look and function from a variety of perspectives.
  4. The apps are easier to maintain because we narrow the set of perspectives to consider for any function within a given app.

 

For an example that illustrates how roles inform the Canvas mobile experience, here’s the teacher app assignment details page beside the upcoming student app assignment details page:

 

Assignments_in_Canvas_Teacher_compared_to_Canvas_Student

 

Teachers see submission dials -- students see information about their own submissions. Teachers see publishing status -- students see submission status. Teachers can modify assignment details and grade submissions -- students can submit (or resubmit) assignments. Especially with limited screen real estate, we want to give people the experience they need to efficiently get things done no matter who or where they are.

 

We continue to release app updates geared towards boosting productivity and efficiency as quickly as we can build them, which is relatively quickly. Of course, Canvas offers support for tablet browsers, and new features -- like our new quizzes platform -- are built to be fully responsive if you're really jonesing for browser access from a mobile device. But we think if mobile is worth doing, it's worth doing right. With an ever-increasing number of daily active users in our native mobile apps, we're confident that we're on the right path.

 

Lastly, we make it a point to learn our way forward, so your feedback is incredibly important to the success and usefulness of our apps. If you're passionate about a idea related to mobile, we want to hear from you. Real bad. You can reach out to us through the community or email or client services. We'd love to chat.

Matthew Moore

The Mobile Movement

Posted by Matthew Moore Jul 11, 2018

I have been recently researching ways to reach the Modern Learner via mobile lessons, activities, projects, and plans.  Yes, there are a lot of apps out there that are beneficial, but as Biray Seitz and Ryan Seilhamer stated "While the Canvas app is effective in translating your course to be responsive on a mobile device, it is the job of the teacher or instructional designer to effectively design assignments to address the on-the-go learner."

 

I conducted a workshop at the most recent Online Teaching Conference in Anaheim (2018) on Motivating Students with Cell Phone Activities. But as research has it and timing luck has it, I wish I would have read more about the Canvas Polls app.  I think this Canvas Polls app and the upcoming Quizzes.Next features are going to be beneficial for increasing interaction while still being in the same overall environment.  I applaud Canvas for seeing that need.

 

Anyway, I have some materials that are pinned to my twitter account from the conference, and I can share with you what I tried to convey should you have any questions.  It seems like we are going to have a learning world soon that is community driven, individually contributed, location free, movable, right sized, goal oriented, success driven, failure learnable, and data large.  A new way to learn, interact, earn badges, etc. 

 

Excuse me, while I learn Chinese on Duolingo.

 

Zai Jian!

With a few more tweaks we'll be done with Canvas Parent 2.0, so here's a final pre-release post! Anything to do with pairing codes or self-registration in this post is only relevant if self-registration is enabled at your institution.

 

To summarize the changes coming:

 

  1. We modified the parent self-registration flow to use pairing codes instead of student username and password, which comes with two benefits:
    • Pairing codes enable self-registration regardless of how students authenticate with Canvas (username/password only worked as long as students were using Canvas authentication)
    • Pairing codes are more secure than password sharing; they last 24 hours and can only be used once. After the pairing code is used, it expires, the observer remains paired with the student, and anyone who tries to use that pairing code again to self-register will receive an error.
  2. We made self-registration work from the parent app. Now parents will be able to self-register as observers from Canvas web or the parent app, and the account they create will work on both platforms. No more duplicate parent accounts, and no more need for parents to connect to a student from web and mobile separately.
  3. We added an account permission to allow pairing codes to be generated on behalf of students. By default, this permission will be off for all roles (i.e., admin-only). But if you're an admin and you want your teachers, for example, to be able to facilitate parent self-registration on behalf of their students, you can enable this permission. Students can always create pairing codes for themselves.
  4. Parent app works for all observers, regardless of whether the observer was created through self-registration, manually by an admin, SIS import, or whatever else.

 

As usual, our friends on the documentation team are working on creating/updating Canvas Guides to explain these updates in full detail, but I made a quick (super-duper high-quality) video to show how this all comes together:

 

 

The new pairing codes and the new permission are on beta now, so you can mess around with them if you want. The 2.0 update to Canvas Parent will be rolling out to stores on/around July 18th.

 

This has been a deceptively large project to make the parent/school experience fundamentally better -- more reliable, more secure, more consistent, and more scalable than it was. We hope it helps kick off the '18-'19 school year in the right direction!

The Information School, iSchool, at the University of Washington has been providing templates for our Canvas courses since about late 2012. We started using Canvas in fall of 2011. Our templates have evolved with the available technological advances and we have spent the last few months designing for the next iteration. One of my colleagues, Putri Hiendarto, has spent a great deal of time working on this new generation of templates.

 

Part of the design process was to do a detailed usability study with a number of our students from the various programs that we offer at the iSchool. We offered gift cards to the participants and then sat with them as they worked their way through two different versions of the next gen templates. By far, they preferred our "compact" design for the less complex courses. This design uses collapsible sections that work pretty well in most browsers both on the desktop and on mobile. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get the javascript right so the collapsible sections work on the apps. We are working with Kenneth Larsen from Cidi Design Tools to help us figure out what is happening in the apps. Yes, Design Tools was used heavily throughout the coding process and really simplified the task in many ways.

 

The question that we always struggle with is whether to optimize our templates for responsiveness or make them work best in the app. There are pros and cons either way but we are currently leaning more to the responsive design that works in the mobile browsers. For what our students do on mobile, based on a survey from a year ago, I think our focus on responsive is better at this point. What are your thoughts about developing for the apps, mobile web or both?

 

So, let's take a look at our "compact" template on both the Desktop and Mobile:

 

 

The image above show the desktop version of the template on the left and the mobile version on the right. The desktop version is shown in the Chrome browser and the mobile version is from Chrome on an Android device running Android 5.1 Nearly identical other than the purple menu wrapping and the course stream link loading at the bottom on mobile.

 

The next image shows "Week 1" expanded on both platforms, desktop on the left and mobile on the right:

 

 

You can see that the 3 column layout on the desktop collapses really well to a single column on the mobile side.

 

The next image show the comparison between the two platforms showing the menu on the syllabus page:

 

 

 

The last thing I will share is a two minute screencast of this template being used on my phone. It works really well.

 

 

I hope people find this post useful :-)

At UCF we have been using Canvas campus-wide since 2013. When we started using Canvas, there wasn't much mobile available. The SpeedGrader app had been out for a year or so, the iOS app was very limited, and the Android app just came out of beta. Over the past six years that mobile apps have grown to be an essential part of not only the online experience but the overall educational experience for students at UCF.

 

In 2014 we recognized the need to understand better how students were interacting with Canvas while on-the-go and we conducted our first Canvas Mobile App survey at UCF. The study is critical because it gives us a better understanding of how students are interacting with the most popular mobile app at UCF and help us better communicate needs directly to Instructure and the Canvas Mobile team. In 2018 we completed our fifth Canvas Mobile App survey which I want to share with the community to create discussion, inform your mobile strategy, and help improve the experience for students.

 

Survey Background

 

The survey was administered April 1-8 inside of Canvas as a global message to all users. We have found that this messaging feature is handy, but needs to be used sparingly to avoid overloading the user.

 

 

The survey this year included a record number of users (1688), and we suspect this might be to the addition of global messages being available on iOS for the first time. In the past, this was only available to web users and the smaller subset of Android users.

 

 

 

Demographics

At UCF we are BIG and this includes a large diverse student population of over 66k. The following charts give a breakdown of the demographics behind the 1688 student responses. 

 


App Usage

App usage has been high at UCF since 2014 with very little change in usage, which is very high. In other studies, mobile app ownership is approximately 3:1 iPhone over Android devices. This survey was mostly in line with ownership. One interesting fact is that 3% of student reported both Android and iOS. 

 

Outside of this survey, our Canvas Data shows approximately 20% of all Canvas traffic is through the Canvas Student app, which includes over 500 million page views and 40k unique users per month. 

 

The following question is always interesting because the biggest reason why students didn't use the Canvas Student app was they didn't know it was available. This used to be a more significant issue, but when smart banners were added to Canvas in 2014, we noticed that adoption jumped up significantly. 

 

 

This survey and our previous have proved that student who use the Canvas Student app, use it a lot. In fact, 96% use it at least once a week with the majority (87%) using it even more. It's the most used app at UCF just in front of the popular UCF Mobile app at 84%. 


Features

Since we started this survey in 2014, this hasn't changed much. Students generally want to know three things: 

 

  1. How am I doing in class?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. How do I do it?

 

The survey shows that students are using the mobile app for light interaction and staying connected to their class while on-the-go. 

In 2016 we added the following question to learn even more about how students use the Canvas apps, and this is in line with my statement above about what student generally want to know and how their interactions a light. There isn't a lot of interaction around assignments, discussions, or quizzes. These features are being used to get more information about a particular assignment, but not to submit one.

 

The favorite features have a lot of similarities to the most popular features like grades and assignments. Thought it's interesting to see how the app gives access and is convenient and easy. I am particularly interested in the word "check" which shows student value being able to stay connected with short interactions. 

Device Access

Which devices students own and how they access Canvas is essential as we continue to manage resources and support users on all platforms. One interesting point that has become common in recent surveys is laptop/desktop ownership is slightly less than smartphones. The 2018 survey is no different with 12 students reporting not owning a computer, with only four not owning a smartphone. 

 

When I discuss these surveys I always say that usage doesn't equal importance, and it's no surprise that laptop/desktop is extremely important to students, with the smartphone in the middle, and tablet way behind at 11 percent. 

 

 

If you take extremely important and very important to one data point, the smartphone is essential to almost 3/4th of the students in the survey with the tablet still well behind. 

 

Communication

Communication through mobile technologies is often known as "non-traditional" but from our recent survey its obvious this is becoming less true as students reported push notifications (70%) to be more important than email (66%) with the more traditional SMS at 29%. 

 

 

Final Words

 

I hope to dive more into these numbers over the next few months but would love to know what you think. Also, if you are interested in running this survey at your school, please let me know as I'd be excited to compare numbers. 

For the most recent post on Canvas Parent 2.0, check out Canvas Parent 2.0 - Pre-Release Update.

 

--------------------------------------------

 

We’re making some really good progress on Canvas Parent 2.0, so I wanted to post some screenshots/flows here to keep you all informed and answer some FAQs. If you haven’t read the original post on Canvas Parent 2.0, I’d recommend checking that out before reading this. As always, if you’ve got questions or concerns, feel free to post them here or send me a message.

 

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Observer login flow

 

If a parent already has an observer account in Canvas, this is how they’ll sign into Canvas Parent 2.0 (red circles indicate taps):

 

observer_login_flow_picture

 

If it looks familiar, that’s the same login flow used in the student and teacher apps. We’ve made this flow work for all observers (whether self-registered, imported from the SIS or manually created), and observers won’t have to add students from the app anymore if they’re already connected to students in Canvas.

 

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Observer self-registration flow (only relevant for accounts with self-registration enabled)

 

If a parent doesn’t already have a Canvas observer account, they’ll need to create one. If self-registration is enabled at your institution, this is what that self-registration flow looks like in Canvas Parent 2.0:

 

observer_self-registration_flow_picture

 

If your school doesn’t enable self-registration, and observers are instead manually created or imported from a SIS, parents will already have observer accounts, the "Create Account" button won't appear on the login page, and they’ll go through the login flow shown at the top of this post.

 

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Parent signup form (only relevant for accounts with self-registration enabled)

 

We’re tweaking the parent signup form, as you may have noticed in the fourth screenshot above. Here are today’s (old) form and the yet-to-be-released (new) form, side by side:

 

parent_signup_comparison_picture

 

So there are a couple of things happening:

 

  • We’re adding password creation to the parent’s account creation process. Today, parents sign up and then receive an email with a link to create a password. We’re making that a single step in account creation.
  • We’re removing student username and password from the equation and replacing it with a pairing code. More on the pairing code below.

 

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Pairing codes (only relevant for accounts with self-registration enabled)

 

As I mentioned in a reply to my last post, requiring student username and password in the observer self-registration process is a problem for two reasons:

 

  1. Sharing passwords is bad, and
  2. Those usernames and passwords only apply to Canvas authentication, and many schools aren’t using Canvas authentication for students, so observers couldn't self-register even if the school allowed it.


To remedy this, we’ve created pairing codes. Here’s what pairing code creation is going to look like from the student’s perspective:

 

pairing_code_button_in_profile_sidebar

 

pairing_code_modal


Some notes on the pairing code:

 

  • The “Pair with Observer” button only shows up if self-registration is enabled at your institution. When it’s available, students can see it for themselves, and admins can see it for all students.
  • For now, each pairing code will live for 24 hours. That means once the pairing code is generated, it will remain valid for 24 hours, then it expires.
  • Each pairing code can only be used once. Once it’s used in account registration, the pairing code expires and the observer remains successfully paired. If you want to pair two observers to one student, each observer needs a unique pairing code.
  • For now, there’s no limit to how many pairing codes can be created per student. If a student creates one for herself, and then an admin creates one for her, both codes are valid for that student for 24 hours.

 

This is a solution that doesn’t require password sharing and works regardless of how the student authenticates with Canvas.

 

We want to release this with Canvas Parent 2.0 in July, so we’re keeping the approach simple; no configuring how long the pairing code lasts on the account, no creating codes en masse, no automatic form letters generated with codes. With this release, we want an easy path for generating an individual pairing code and we want better security and flexibility than using student passwords. Our stretch goal is students generating QR codes from the student app that parents can scan from the parent app to use for pairing.

 

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FAQs

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Are there any feature updates happening outside the authentication process with Canvas Parent 2.0?

 

There are a few:

 

  • UI tweaks: We’re moving the course/week/alerts tabs to the bottom of the app to more closely resemble the styling of the student and teacher apps, and we’re replacing the carousel with a dropdown for student switching. The carousel didn’t work very well, and version 2.0 won’t have the same scaling issues that version 1.0 had with multiple students. Here’s what that change looks like:
    carousel_dropdown_comparison

  • We’re adding the global navigation menu already available in the student and teacher apps, which means parents will be able to “change user” if they’ve got kids at multiple institutions (i.e., if they’ve got multiple Canvas accounts) without needing to sign in every session. Here’s what that change looks like:

    global_nav_picture

  • We’re adding masquerading to the parent app. Admins haven’t historically been able to help parents directly with the app, and now they’ll be able to. Just like in the student and teacher apps, if you sign in as an admin to Canvas Parent 2.0, you’ll see “Act as User” as an option in the global navigation menu.

That’s about it! This release is very much about getting the user model straightened out.

 

----------------

 

What will happen to Canvas Parent Tools™ LTI tool?

 

This tool will go away. We created it to give admins the ability to manage Canvas Parent users - but when those users are observers, you can use all of the normal Canvas administrative tools and reports to manage them instead.

 

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Do I need to make any changes to authentication on my account?

 

All you need to do is make sure observers can log into the mobile apps. You can test this today by attempting to log in to any of our apps as an observer. 

 

If you use multiple authentication providers, I'd recommend asking your CSM to add both (or all) providers to mobile smart search, which will make them show up when people search for your school (e.g., search for "Smith Schools" and see "Smith Schools - Parents" and "Smith Schools - Students"). Here's a real life example:

 

 

"Brown County Schools - Students/Teachers" and "Brown County Schools - Parents" represent two different authentication providers for Brown County Schools. 

 

If you don't want to do that, you can also set up a discovery page.

 

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Should I be scared?

 

Nope.

 

We're adding help references for parents around the app, like this one on the launch page:

 

made_some_changes_button

 

Or this one on the parent signup form:

 

 

Or this one in the global navigation menu:

 

 

Parents won't need to go far for help if they need it. Many schools also have their own documentation for parents, but we hope that's mostly unnecessary given the right guidance within the app.

 

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Hope this helps!

ptart@wcpss.net

Mobile Conferences

Posted by ptart@wcpss.net Jun 1, 2018

I must say that I am looking forward to #INSTCON more this year that all previous years. This is in part to Fred Dixon and the BigBlueButton team. What am I looking for? Mobile conferences! Playing around with the test version of HTML5 conferences brings a much needed sigh of relief. Test it out at BigBlueButton - Open Source Web Conferencing.

 

Why is this in Canvas Users Mobile Group? Because it seems that this should flow nicely into an updated Canvas Teacher/Student App that supports HTML5, specifically regarding Conferences. Fingers crossed as I make my way to CO.

I just read Engaging students with "The Goodies" by Julian Ridden and was entertained by its content (my wife and I are watching Youtube videos of the Goodies now, btw...). But that came after reading a few (that I won't point out) from folks who are disgruntled about Mobile Apps, even from Canvas.

It got me thinking about Mobile Apps and what we expect of them. Now, if you've read any of my other stuff, you may have read that I'm not a huge fan of constant engagement, and recommend disconnecting and living amongst the humans periodically.

I also realize that when I do set up expectations for mobile access, there are boundaries. I do not expect, nor do I even want research papers to be transcribed into a mobile device. Oh, by all means when something inspirational hits you, the phone is usually the best place to record it or jot it down, yes, I understand. Discussions? By all means, they're laid out and easy to read and respond. Students will receive notifications. But what I usually hear is that there are quirky functions that teachers can't do, like they can on their laptops.

I think there are features that more lend themselves to being accessed on a mobile device than others. I also believe that when I have the opportunity to teach, I want my students to be a little more engaged and focused when I receive something from them. I want them to have access to my course, be able to access the course schedule and calendar, be able to determine if they've done what I've asked them to do, but maybe not necessarily do everything from their phone.

Kudos to you,mobile app developers, who continually try to meet the needs of the masses, especially in education, and try to push the possibilities of what can be done, and how. I know it's no easy task, but the efforts are appreciated.

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