Canvas Android - Grades - Confusing Reuse of Icons

Idea created by Katherine Williams on Sep 18, 2018
    Open for Voting
    • Katherine Williams
    • Rob Ditto
    • Erin Thomas

    FYI - This conversation began on this LMS article, How do I view assignment comments from my instructor in the Student app on my Android device? 


    I was having a hard time finding comments from my instructor, on a graded assignment in the Canvas Android app. The reason I was confused is because I was trying to activate the icons on the Grade tab, that look like comment bubbles, but none of them responded.


    Screenshot of Canvas on Android - Grade Tab


    I ended up on the thread above, and realized that the comments I wanted were actually on the Submissions tab. So I mentioned that the use of chat bubble icons on the Grade tab were confusing, and a member of the Doc team said they were a way to access Rubric comments. If there is a comment in the Rubric, a number will appear by that icon, and the button will then be active. They suggested if the icons were confusing, I should make a feature improvement request in the LMS, But in preparation for submitting this, I looked more closely at it, and really it's worse than just having a set of icons that look like comment bubbles but don't respond when you touch them.


    Presently I have one assignment that has comments on it. The comments from my teacher are viewed in the exact place on the mobile app (Android) that this article above points to; on the Submissions tab. 


    Screenshot of Canvas on Android


    But if I go to the same assignment in Canvas on Chrome (on Windows), and I want to see the same comment from my teacher, I click on first (from the left) option on the little button bar to the right of the assignment. 


    Screenshot from Chrome


    So let's zoom in on that button bar...


    Icon Comparison


    See what I mean?!


    • So on the Chrome/Windows version of Canvas, you access Rubric comments just by opening the Rubric (How do I view rubric results for my assignment?) which is the third button on that bar, that looks like a clipboard. Once the Rubric area is open, you don't have to click on anything else to see Rubric comments, they're visible with all the other Rubric information.
    • But in the Android app, to view Rubric comments you have to go to the Grade tab and look for numbers next to an icon that is 100% identical to the icon you click on in Chrome/Windows, if you want to view non-Rubric comments on an assignment. And in the Android app, to view non-Rubric comments, you go to the Submissions tab and you don't have to tap anything else to view those comments, they're fully visible on that tab. 


    That's just whole rabbit-holes of confusing. My primary suggestions for fixing it are thus...


    1. The icons should not be identical, unless they're used identically across Android, iOS, browser-based, etc. Though ideally, I would just not have the icons showing on the Grade tab of the mobile apps at all, unless there actually are Rubric comments to see, so no one is trying to figure out why there's a button that does nothing, if their teacher never puts comments in the Rubric.
    2. There needs to be a a single document in each of the Student Guides that explains how to access all of the different types of instructor/peer comments (audio, video, annotated, rubric, etc.) for each platform, such that they are interlinked. So if you managed to find the one for the iPhone in a search, it will also lead you to the one for Android, or Chrome, etc. That's assuming that there's enough divergence between the Android, iPhone, Windows, etc. mobile versions, to warrant their own documents. If there are few differences, a document that covers the mobile apps at large, with notations about the differences, would be sufficient. Similarly, assuming the site doesn't work that much differently between Chrome and Firefox, one for non-mobile browsers should also be sufficient. 
    3. I'd also seriously consider a document - accessible across all guides - that lists all the icons and how they're used throughout Canvas. Personally I'd also consider linking the description of the icons to relevant guide pages. Then it could act as as an index of sorts. Not only could it have easily cleared up my confusion, it will minimize questions like, "What's the rocketship mean (icons)?" if they find that icon in the list, and click on the link next to it, to be informed not just what the rocketship icon is for, but why it is what it is (Rocket Icon ).



    Of course I'm open to other suggestions for improving this issue, but I really do think that big inconsistency between accessing the two types of comments across the two platforms, but with identical icons that make it look like it should be consistent, is cutting into the tool's intuitiveness. Which is the sort of the bedrock of app navigation and usage these days.


    Thanks for your time,