Question Bank Repository

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas


Question Banks. If you create a bank of questions in a sandbox course and bookmark those banks, then you can use them in any course. But you cannot then copy those quizzes to any other course because the links to question banks are lost.  In order to use question banks in various courses, you have to copy the question banks from course to course along with the quizzes.  If you later want to update questions, you will have to update them in EVERY course that uses that bank.  This defeats the whole purpose of having BANKS.


There should be a central repository for banks.  OR when quizzes are copies among courses, the links to banks should be carefully checked to maintain links to the correct banks.


Comments from Instructure

This idea was completed with general availability of Quizzes.Next.  You can find more information about the overall project in the Quizzes.Next User Group.‌

  • Quizzes.Next is now available for all paid accounts.
  • Quizzes.Next documentation will live in the Quizzes.Next User Group until July 14, 2018. On July 14, 2018, all of the documentation will be moved to the Canvas Guides in the Canvas Instructor Guide or Canvas Student Guide
  • Quizzes.Next updates will be included in the Canvas Release Notes. This includes new features, updated features, and relevant fixed bugs. New and updated features will be deployed to Quizzes.Next near the same time as the Canvas release. Fixed bugs may be deployed at any time.
Community Contributor

I think you're absolutely right about that Don. I know that's kept me from proposing several feature requests. Knowing that later this week everything is going to get shaken up means that the context for all these requests is changing. Nonetheless, I agree with your idea here and am happy to support it.

Community Champion

I've just been setting up some courses for fall semester by copying from my Sandboxes.   For some reason, some quizzes copy fine without copying the related question banks, but others do not.   These quizzes end up pointing to null question banks and just show up as empty questions.   I'll need to get some help from tech support as soon as I have time. . .   But a repository from which questions can be linked to anywhere in your courses sure would make this process easier.

Community Contributor

I've been working with this recently as well and here is what I have discovered:

  • If you simultaneously copy the quiz and the associated question banks it works fine.
  • If you copy the question banks first and then copy the quizzes it works fine.
  • If  you copy the quizzes without the question banks the groups show up in the new course as 'not having enough questions.'
  • If you copy the question banks after copying the quizzes the quizzes are not able to reidentify those connections and they remain broken.

Basically, it's imperative that question banks are in the course before the quizzes or copied simultaneously. At least in my testing, this has been consistent. Has anyone else found otherwise? This is not to say that it is functioning correctly, but until it's fixed I wanted to know what the root cause of these problems was.

Community Contributor

I'd like to add that this seems to be a bug rather than just a feature request. Why would anyone want to copy a quiz that relies on question banks without copying the associated question banks? Canvas is very good at maintaining a lot of associations between related elements (like linked pages), but the ball was definitely dropped here. Hopefully it's resolved in Quiz.2

Community Champion

That's exactly my point.  If you have to copy the banks, then what's the point of banks?   If you want to edit the questions later, your edits do not populate everywhere you use that question because you've copied the banks.  You would have to edit the question in each bank because you  have had to create multiple copies of the banks:  One in every course that needs to refer to that question.

This is very common for me.  For example, to re-inforce learning across courses, students are asked to identify key signatures in Music Theory I, Aural Theory I, and Class Piano I.  Being able to use the same bank is crucial for me, but not useful if I have to copy the bank into each course.

Community Novice

Me, too. Same situation.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Great idea and important it gets past 100 votes. Although things are changing with Quizzes 2.0 the process it is going to take a fair amount of time.

Would like to see question bank access removed from admin roles as a starting point.

It would be good to hear what the plans are for Question Banks in the new design if only to find out Canvas are listening!

Community Contributor

Even beyond that, when you reference a single question from a bank in a quiz there is absolutely *no* connection between that instance of the question and the bank itself. The only time Question Banks are used is in conjunction with Question Groups, which feels like an odd way to handle it.

Community Champion

I'm going to add another example while the frustration is fresh in my mind.  Even if this doesn't go into Canvas now, this can be documented the next time this issue comes up (which it will).

I teach most of my classes repeatedly.  So it's great to be able to copy (although a better way to manage dates would make that even greater) course to course.   I have a sandbox course containing all question banks related to a set of courses in the same field (IE, Aural Theory I, Aural Theory II, etc. . .).  

Then I have a sandbox for each course which contains the entire course that can be copied each semester.   This semester I started receiving emails from students that a quiz was empty.   Sure enough, the quiz copied, but the question group linking to the question bank was gone.  Every other time this error has occurred, the question group was still there but said 'There are not enough questions in the question bank' and was unusable.   I couldn't even edit the question group to relink and the only solution is to delete the group and add a new one linking to the original bank.   Which DOES work, BTW, so it makes sense is SHOULD copy.  But this time, there was no group in the quiz.

So I fixed the quiz by adding a question group to point to the original banks in the original sandbox question bank and posted a notification to the students.   Then I started receiving emails from students that it was still blank while at the same time some students started showing grades in the gradebook.   Thankfully I had some experience with this. . . I knew that if I edited a quiz, only students who had not started the quiz would be able to see changes.  Any student who had even opened the quiz would only see the original (empty) quiz.

My first thought was to delete the quiz and recreate it, but since some students had grades I couldn't do that.   Canvas support helped me with the workaround, though not really a solution for the initial problem.  I had to post another notification with instructions to students that if they had opened the quiz before, they needed to open it again and submit it, then let me know so I could reset it.   Another round of emails starting coming in from students.  Now when I go to moderate quiz I can see which students have finished an attempt with a score of 0, and grant them another request, which allows them to see the edited/fixed quiz.

Then other suggestion by support was that when I copied the course to copy all question banks as well.   However, I've already discovered from another set of courses that this route is complicated as well.  In that case, when I discover a question I'd like to improve or fix an error, I have to open the course/quiz/question bank/question and edit that question.  Then I have to go to the other 2 sections of the course and edit the same question.   Then I have to go to the original sandbox course and edit the same question.    Then I have to go to the original question bank repository course and edit the same question.    This method is hardly an efficient use of technology, time, or effort.

So my point is, that without a repository for question banks, the method for copying course content is not very useful.  This semester it has made my life more complicated, not less.

Please VOTE!!

Community Champion

In response to this comment:

"If you later want to update questions, you will have to update them in EVERY course that uses that bank.   This defeats the whole purpose of having BANKS."

If a question bank is shared across multiple courses, and another facutly member changes the meaning of one or more questions for a specific course or section, does that new meaning represent your true intention?  Or does the meaning of the question now have unintended meaning with respedt to your course goals?

Having a central repository where edits can be reflected across all courses is dangerous.

You should not be allowed to edit or modify a question associated with a test or quiz that has already been given.

Modifying a question after it has been answered corrupts the associated scores.

This is problematic with respect to the collection of artifacts for accreditation review.

We have not had any issue copying question banks across iterations of a course.

A question bank represents a group of related questions in a course, that we are able to easily copy forward, then modify as necessary, without tampering with the integrity of previous tests/quizzes.

That is the purpose of a question bank from my perspective: we don't have to recreate the entire question bank from scratch, and we can modify it to keep it up to date as needed.  Faculty members can make their customizations to the question banks without adverse effects on their peers courses.

There are pros and cons.  Easy is good, but not always right.

I apologize if I have misunderstood this idea, but the thought of having a central repository of question banks that anyone can edit makes me nervous.