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2018

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!

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