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nesse
Community Participant

Broken feature: How to upload a file to canvas via iPad simply.

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I've been lecturing calculus via iPad for the last year by creating .pdf notes in the notability app.  It had been easy to upload these .pdf files to Canvas, however during the last software update I found it was no longer possible to add a file to Canvas directly from Notability.

I was using Canvas Student, even though I was a teacher. I then started using the Canvas Teacher app and found that you could add files via iPad, however not directly through Notability. I found a workaround where I send files to a cloud based file folder (Box, Dropbox) and then I could upload, BUT, I discovered that while it uploads the file to the Canvas folder, THERE IS NO WAY TO PUBLISH THE FILE ON THE IPAD!

So, to get a viewable file to students I used spend 10 seconds to tap a few buttons and voila!

Now, I must do the following: (1) send the .pdf to a cloud folder on my iPad, (2) open the Canvas teacher app on my iPad then go through many submenus to upload but not "publish" the file, and then (3) open up my laptop, and login to the canvas site and hit the PUBLISH button on the uploaded files.

This is a major pain.

Please fix this.

1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @nesse -

I'm sorry that you're frustrated with Canvas Teacher.

I tested the process to upload and then publish a file in Canvas Teacher for iOS, and I had the most success if I saved work in my iCloud or Google Drive from my app of choice. I tapped the plus sign, then Upload File then Browse to open up the menu. Once I selected the file, I tapped edit and adjusted the access.

It's a pattern to get used to, I admit, but I was able to publish, unpublish, or restrict any file from my course without having to leave Canvas Teacher. I was also able to do this on my Android device.

Let me know if screenshots would be helpful! I'd be happy to create a visual.

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11 Replies
klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @nesse -

I'm sorry that you're frustrated with Canvas Teacher.

I tested the process to upload and then publish a file in Canvas Teacher for iOS, and I had the most success if I saved work in my iCloud or Google Drive from my app of choice. I tapped the plus sign, then Upload File then Browse to open up the menu. Once I selected the file, I tapped edit and adjusted the access.

It's a pattern to get used to, I admit, but I was able to publish, unpublish, or restrict any file from my course without having to leave Canvas Teacher. I was also able to do this on my Android device.

Let me know if screenshots would be helpful! I'd be happy to create a visual.

View solution in original post

nesse
Community Participant

OK thanks, I see now how to "publish" on the iPad.

But, why have this extra step to begin with? If I'm uploading a .pdf to my class I want them to see it. There's no point in hiding it from them. I understand that for things like quizzes or other canvas-developed works-in-progress, or for items that need to be presented at a certain time, that one may want to not have it viewable immediately. But for basic files that I just need to upload, it seems that this publishing step is just another arbitrary hurdle. Several times now I've thought I sent something out to my students only to find out I forgot to "publish" it. Again, the publishing feature is nice for some things in Canvas but most of the time is just another hurdle.  

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @nesse ‌, 

My guess is they don't want users to default to publishing because this can be problematic if it's not intended. I understand that most of the time users will want it available immediately, but it's harder to turn on than take away. Like I said again, I understand your point, but I think this is just being conservative and is in the spirit of assignments, quizzes, etc. 

nesse
Community Participant

A new semester has started and there's been no change in the iOS app to make it easier to upload files. Have you counted how many complex steps and dropdown menus you have to go through to upload a single .pdf? It's insane from a UX perspective. 

peytoncraighill
Instructure
Instructure

Hiya  @nesse ‌,

Ryan's right; we default newly-uploaded files as unpublished in the teacher app because the flip side is literally this post: New files publishing automatically -- and we think publishing something you meant to publish is less bad than unpublishing something you didn't mean to publish. But I can think of a couple things we could do to improve it, like allowing people set their default preference, or adding a swipe gesture to the files list to publish/unpublish an item.

As far as the UX of uploading a file from the teacher app goes, is there an iOS app you use that does this well?

Thanks for the feedback.

nesse
Community Participant

The issue goes beyond the unpublished vs. publish. Even without that hurdle there are multiple menus within canvas that one must navigate to get a file from cloud storage and into Canvas, but the publishing action in itself is a huge time-suck.

But, yes, a default to set "always add+publish a file immediately" would be nice for a lot of people. Some surely like this publish feature but others it's more trouble than it's worth, particularly with the way one has to add a file using one menu and then navigate to a different dropdown menu, and then select a menu within that menu to tap "publish" and then "done". It's a lot of button tapping for a simple task.

The use case for this is very obvious from a teacher's perspective: I use the iPad with the Notability app to perform lectures--this is an increasingly popular teaching tool. I give my lectures by writing with the Apple pencil on the Notability app with projection. At the end of class it would be great to tap a few buttons to export to Canvas immediately before I multitask my way through the rest of my day. Navigating all the current submenus is onerous to do in less than 10 seconds and so I have to go back later to do it. 

There is another problem related to the interface between Notability and Canvas that slows down the file upload. For some reason Notability cannot send a file directly to Canvas Teacher (it appears to not know that the teacher app exists), but it can send it to Canvas Student (which made file uploading a 2-second task)---I'm not sure which app needs to be fixed to address this. However, in the past year Canvas Student stopped having file uploading functionality via iPad, so sending a file to Student led to a dead end. So, to do a file upload I must first upload to a cloud storage, then wait for a random amount of time, from minutes or up to a whole day, for the file to sync (our university provides Box for cloud storage) before I can upload. Then go into Canvas to complete the upload. This really affects students, and me. I'm writing this long reply not to save a few seconds, but days. 

If you can, send me an email at pcraighill@instructure.com with a video screen capture of the flow you're using -- I want to make sure you're not just experiencing a bug we aren't aware of. This is particularly relevant now because we're working on updating the student app assignment details and submission flows.

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Interesting perspective and I agree that the workflow needs to be adjusted. I hope you share your example specially with Peyton so this can be another piece of information while they update this process. 

lschick
Community Member

Hello! I'm chiming in to say that I have the exact same question/issue. I use the same workflow that Will described above -- I take notes with Notability using an Apple pencil, then upload those notes as a PDF to Canvas for students to review and access later. Like Will, I used to just use the "Student" app because it was easier to upload PDFs directly from Notability into the appropriate file in the Canvas app. It only took a few seconds, so I could quickly upload the lecture notes before moving on to the next class period. 

But, over the summer I updated my Canvas app and now this key functionality is gone. I have tried multiple ways to upload files directly from Notability to Canvas, and none of them work. So, I'm here to echo the original poster to say: Please, please, please fix this! I can't believe that a feature that was working so well (navigate to course file folder, click "+", and upload your desired file) is now gone, and in its place is a clunky workflow that takes significantly longer. 

I appreciate the workaround that Kristin offered above, but for a task that I perform multiple times a day, every single day of the week, it's a huge frustration to now have to suck up that much time, completing so many steps and using a 3rd app, to perform a task that used to be so simple.

Whatever the outcome, teachers really need a fast and easy way to upload files directly from Notability to Canvas. Thanks to Will for taking the time to articulate the need so clearly, and thanks in advance to the developers for working on a solution.