Enable Completion of PDF Forms within Assignments

Idea created by Ron Marx on Oct 17, 2018
    Open for Voting
    • Valerie Duever
    • Kelley L. Meeusen
    • Gideon Williams
    • Cynthia Hollingsworth
    • Ron Marx
    • Cait Levin

    There is long-lived need in K-12 for PDF form documents that can be filled in by students right within a Canvas Assignment, without having to leave the browser environment. Currently, this doesn't seem to be an option.


    I'm not sure if there's a technological beehive in the background that causes the current behavior of PDF forms within browsers, but anyone who has tried to fill in a PDF in Canvas has discovered that the form cells are inactive. Students then must leave the Canvas platform, download the document and it in the browser, or in some native app like Apple Preview.

    For students opening the form document in a browser, more dangers of losing work lurk just one click away. The only way for a student to save their work is to print the completed PDF form document. Printing to a PDF saves the text in static form that cannot be edited further. Any other attempt to save the work will result in the time and work done to be lost forever.


    Allowing a student to complete PDF form documents directly inside a Canvas assignment and then save and submit the completed document would be a great step forward in student learning experience, especially in the earlier grades.


    Currently, students must follow these steps in order to be assured that the work they do in a PDF form document is actually saved before they submit:

    1. Open the assignment.
    2. Download the PDF form document. (If they fill in the form through the browser, when they go to download or print, the work is lost and the document prints blank.)
    3. Locate the saved document on their computer or cloud drive.
    4. Complete the document.
    5. Save.
    6. Reopen the Canvas assignment.
    7. Click the Submit button, find the saved work, and attach it.
    8. Click the Submit Assignment button.


    Yes, these steps can almost be done without thinking, but not so by elementary grade students, and even many middle grade students. This process should be streamlined and simplified, and could become a best practice exemplar set by Instructure for everyone in the LMS business!


    pdf_forms pdfs