Do Students Really Need Access to the RCE everywhere?

mbmacdonald
Community Participant

There is a lot of discussion in the community about where users *don't* currently have access to the RCE - like in Rubric building, some feedback areas, or some parts of questions in Quizzes. And I completely agree, teachers should access to the RCE anywhere they are creating course content. They are the ones primarily creating the student experience in the LMS, they are the ones responsible for making their content well-formatted and accessible.

But I think in their zeal to roll out the RCE in as many places as possible, it seems Instructure did not stop to think about whether both students and teachers BOTH need the RCE everywhere, or at least the same RCE.

For example, in Assignments, instructors can choose whether to allow both "File Uploads" and/or "Text Entry." If an instructor checks "Text Entry" only, obviously indicating that students should NOT be able to upload files, unfortunately the student still actually can upload files by using the "Insert/Upload document" button in the RCE. So there is a mismatch between the desired student behavior and the actual outcome.

As described in this idea from 2021, this has several negative consequences: it can disrupt workflows involving anonymous grading, plagiarism detection, and feedback. This idea was archived. Why?

Students also have access to the RCE when replying to discussion boards. There are several ways to prevent students from *attaching* documents to DB posts, but once again, students can work around this by using the the "Insert/upload Doc" button. I recently came across an example of an online course in which a few students had done this. The instructor *thought* he had disabled attachments, but he hadn't realized the "insert/upload doc" button was separate. Yes, he could have/should have *explained* to the students that they shouldn't do that. And he can do that next time, but will they all get the message? And sure, if they don't follow the guidelines, they can get a zero after the fact, but in the meantime, they've been deprived of the opportunity to engage with their classmates. Their classmates are supposed to be reading the DB posts and responding to them, but they are busy people, and they aren't going to click on a document to open it. In other words, once again, the workflow is interrupted. It doesn't work as it was intended to. Instructors should be able to guide the student experience.

Yes, there are definitely very legitimate situations for Assignments and DBs in which the RCE is needed: I fully understand the need for embedding images sometimes, or using the HTML editor, or other things that are inherent to certain assignments, but instructors should be able to *choose* whether the RCE is needed for student responses or not.

I know there are accessibility issues at play here. But my understanding is that the primary accessibility value of the RCE is in the content creation by the instructor. The RCE allows the creator to *make the assignment/DB accessible* for all learners by employing accessibility design/formatting best practices. But does making the RCE available to the learner for their own submission have a particular accessibility benefit? I am aware that some institutions like to have students use the RCE media recorder if they cannot respond via typed text.... but that particular RCE feature can be disabled!! If that's the most important accessibility-related reason for students to use the RCE, and it can be disabled, then it's a moot point. And.... why can't other aspects of the RCE be disabled, such as "Insert/Upload Document"?

It seems like this is a bigger issue than the specific issues about file uploads: the question is whether it is necessary or beneficial, from an instructional design standpoint, for teachers and students to have access to the same RCE in all instances? What is the best way to get Instructure to consider this question?