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!)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Last term we had a Parent Night based on technology systems at our school for anyone that wanted to know what they were and how to connect. The PAIRING with the user has been an absolute breakthrough in the Parent App now - we don't need portal keys from another provider, and we don't need to be responsible for the access. It is so quick and easy, what used to take over 24 hours now takes seconds.
The Parent App has all the necessities for fast information on their students - grades, announcements and the all important calendar. I have been using announcements as 'fast feedback' for a whole class feedback notification prior to any individual feedback and it works pretty well. I give the students the overall "vibe" of a task before any specific feedback and this also goes to the parents. It is timely and means a consistent message across the class.
The calendar tool is fabulous as parents can see what is happening in class either the night before, helping their children be prepared for school each day or can be used as conversation starters at the end of the day. It definitely assists in the "What did you learn today?" question - when said teenager replies with "nothing", then the parent can dig a little deeper just from the information posted on the calendar. And all from their mobile phone. Awesome stuff!
It's here tweets Ryan Seilhamer
The most requested feature for the @CanvasLMS Teacher app, Module access, is now available for iOS in the Canvas Teacher app v1.8. Android will get support soon as well.
Have you used it yet? If so, what do you think? pic.twitter.com/AnMSl2SBOa— Ryan Seilhamer (@rseilham) May 5, 2019
and Sharon Oxford agrees with a hearty email about how easy it is to use. So how are you using it? Please help us get the word out. You wanted it and Canvas delivered. Let's keep suggesting new ideas and voting them up. It is great to have a platform that changes to meet our users both teachers and students. What other features do we need to discuss?
- Many thanks on behalf of many teachers.
I've been pretty happy with the Canvas mobile app, but have noticed that there seems to be no real way of managing To Do notifications through the Canvas mobile app. I have the To Do notifications show up and can click on them, but they don't go away or mark as completed. I'm all about getting to a zero-inbox in terms of zero notification numbers on my app (which keeps throwing me when I see something on Canvas mobile as an instructor that I can only get rid of by logging in on a computer and marking them as complete). I guess I was wondering if anyone else has had this happen? This isn't dire or even really a big issue, but it's something I noticed and figured it was worth a small blog.
I get excited about mobile learning because it opens up possibilities inside the classroom and outside the classroom. I believe that mobile devices, when used strategically with clear boundaries, can operate on all four levels of the SAMR technology model. I want to share two examples of mobile learning that have inspired me.
I have invested some time into the research on videoconferencing tools. Most of the time, that research is merely trying to prove that videoconferencing and distance learning are as effective as in-person instruction (short answer: it is). However, one researcher's work explored a fascinating way to implement mobile videoconferencing in a face-to-face teaching environment. Researchers Ting, Tai, Tseng, and Tsai published their paper Innovative Use of Mobile Video Conferencing in Face-to-Face Collaborative Science Learning: The Case of Reflection in Optics in 2018 where they examined using mobile devices to teach middle schoolers about the physical properties of light.
Typically we look for ways to incorporate hands-on learning to get students engaged, especially if we can get them to personally experience the principles we're covering. Optics has a unique problem, though. The way you perceive light being warped, reflected, and refracted by different surfaces is entirely contingent upon where you are standing in relation to the light source and the surface. The moment you move, the interaction changes. For a young child, this is difficult to explain. All they know is that this is what the light looks right now, which is different from how it looked a minute ago.
So, the researchers setup the optics lesson to center around videoconferencing. Students would partner up, mobile devices in hand, and would assume different positions around the light/glass/surface assemblage. Then, they would videoconference each other and point their cameras at the setup. This allowed students to see that the same setup could produce two radically different optic effects based on your position around the activity. Mobile devices enabled a lesson in a way that would not physically be possible otherwise.
Apps like Aurasma incorporate augmented reality into regular lessons without requiring radical changes to the lesson structure. Here's an example I found compelling: students were given coloring sheets that depicted all the components of a cell. Once students finished coloring the illustration, they could point a tablet at the drawing and an app would turn the drawing into a 3-dimensional diagram. The trick is that the app would pull the students' coloring and map it onto the 3-d object. If Suzy painted her mitochondria orange, she saw orange. If Timmy painted one of his mitochondria pink and another green, he'd see pink and green. This is so much more powerful than a standard diagram. It provides students the opportunity to organically and independently identify the various components of a cell without having to worry about the technical names. Then, students can learn the proper names for different components using a model that they themselves participated in creating.
Can mobile devices be distracting in a classroom? Sure. Does that mean we should ignore them? I hope these two applications show why the answer is "no." When used with purpose and limits, mobile devices can enrich learning.
The improvements made to the Canvas Mobile app demonstrate that its development team is singing the same melody as the teacher-instructor promoters who run their courses on Canvas.
The drive to achieve near-complete transparency between the computer-web based Canvas experience and the mobile-based one is the most important feature to increase usage across a school and campus. Like original Apple GUI guidelines, creating parallel environments that work relatively the same promotes usage because a user skill set is interchangeable across platforms.
Here's some stuff that's worth writing home about!
We’ve been working for months on a new assignment details page and a new submission workflow for students in mobile. I outlined some of the features of that project in a post last fall. To minimize the risk of disruption, we don’t plan to release the update in stores until summer, but we will provide a link to a beta version of this update as it nears completion.
Cloud assignments have been harder to make good than we originally thought they would be, but we aren’t giving up yet. Everything else is going swimmingly. This is going to be an awesome update. Right now, it’s slated as Canvas Student 6.6 – more to come soon.
We will have a smaller feature release – Canvas Student 6.5 – likely before the end of the school year. That’s going to contain a syllabus update for both platforms. The old (current) syllabus works like this:
That’s...one way to present a syllabus. But probably not the best way. If you use the syllabus as your course homepage, you probably create attractive and/or important content to be featured on the syllabus, which today gets hidden behind a “Syllabus” button when the student has already tapped to view the syllabus. The old design is also inconsistent with the way the syllabus is presented on the web: rich content more prominent, and list of assignments less prominent.
The new syllabus looks like this:
So that’s better.
The 6.5 update will also include some cool iOS-specific features: support for viewing augmented reality files, checking grades via Siri Shortcuts, and updated Apple Pencil support.
We’re almost done with the most-requested feature for the teacher app, which is adding support for modules. Starting with Canvas Teacher 1.8, you’ll be able to navigate your course via modules list, like this:
Editing the module progression is significantly more complex because of features like mastery paths and module item prerequisites, and it also seems like a task more aligned with course creation rather than course facilitation, so that won’t be included in this release. Instead, if you like navigating your course via modules, you can do that!
This update also improves our use of temporary file storage so the teacher app stops eating all the goshdarn space on your iPad.
If you want to try out modules in Canvas Teacher 1.8 (iOS-only at the moment, Android is still in progress), use this link from your iPhone/iPad: https://testflight.apple.com/join/XzMfiwYM
If you see anything wonky, wobbly or just straight up whack, please reply to this post so we can fix it.
I’m on a mission to make the parent mobile experience good. Less like Twinkies good, more like Plato’s Form of the Good. That means two things for the app most urgently:
We’re in a position to help parents support their students, and to reduce stress for admins and teachers in dealing with parents, and most importantly, to accomplish these things in a way that actually helps kids (instead of creating more noise or adding unnecessary burden). I’ll provide more specifics on upcoming parent app development soon, but if you feel passionately about this, I’d love to pick your brain and steal your ideas! The best way to arrange this is probably through your CSM.
That's all for now!
It's been a slow developing love affair Canvas Apps.
Knowing people LOVE your company and just want to have you around.
Getting to know you myself - just holding hands and becoming familiar with what makes you tick.
Now I find it hard to get by for a day without you.
Knowing you are there for me, day or night. My wish is your command.
Seriously folks, it has taken me a while to get to know some of the magic in the Canvas Apps. I think we still need to get to know each other a little more but the love is growing.
My favourite is the immediacy of Announcements. I'd love to know what other people's favourite aspects are.