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RLBourgeois
Community Member

Item Bank Organization

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We were recently informed that Canvas is removing the older, course associated, question banks in the near future and replacing them with new instructor associated item banks. I really like this as it allows me to access questions across my courses, but the move is a bit of a nightmare.

As instructors, it appears the that the only way to make the move from one system to the other is to personally move all of our questions ourselves by going through a painstaking process of creating old quizzes using the question banks, exporting these quizzes, then creating a new quiz using new question types and importing the exported quiz into each new quiz! After undergoing this insane process, we can then apparently manage and access the questions through the item banks moving forward. I am curious why this move cannot be simpler such as importing question banks like other course content (definitely the preferred method) or handled automatically by Canvas using a simple transfer script for all instructor questions banks.

However, what I am trying to solve here involves organizing the item banks better than what it appears I can do. I currently have all of my questions grouped in independent course question banks by their associated curriculum objective. Since I teach four different preps and each contains several units with several objectives, this means I have well over 100 different question banks across the courses I teach. That's a lot of questions banks to sort though when creating quizzes using items related to a single course objective!

For example, I want to do is:

  1. Create a group named Course 1
  2. Create a subgroup named Unit 1
  3. Place the Objective 1.01 item bank inside of these folders

This would make finding questions considerably easier than scrolling through long lists of independent item banks. As I said, I like having the item banks associated with the instructor rather than the course, but this does make for an organizational nightmare.

Is there any way to do something like this as I cannot find any information on how to do so? If not, could an organizational structure be considered as a future addition to Canvas? I used to use Schoology before our district forced us use Canvas and there are a lot of features they offered for organizing content that I really miss (along with a more modern looking interface). Canvas could learn a lot from Schoology!

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BiologyBiology
Community Member

I just came from Blackboard and the same problem there, except at least the question pools (item banks) were only in each course, not all in one place. I think the item banks of Canvas have great potential - it shouldn't be too hard to add some options for organizing, but in the meantime, you may want to adopt a nomenclature strategy so that the item banks sort the way you want, which is what I had to do in Blackboard in a course that had hundreds of question pools. For example, the first two characters could represent the course, the second pair could represent the unit, the third pair the objective - so given your example, the name of your item bank could be C1U1O1.01. (Or I like to separate the parts with periods like so - C1.U1.O1.01). Anyway, that would have the item bank sort everything in the proper order until they give us organizational options. 

p.s. I see a new option in Item Banks now called "My Course Banks" in addition to "My Banks" (in the drop down menu next to the search box) but I've not yet been able to figure out what that does or how to use it.

p.p.s. I agree that the process of moving the equivalent of question banks into Canvas Item Banks is one of the most ridiculous and circuitous processes that I never expected to have to go through when moving to Canvas. I gave up and just decided that creating new content was easier - a forced redesign of my courses, so to speak.

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4 Replies
BiologyBiology
Community Member

I just came from Blackboard and the same problem there, except at least the question pools (item banks) were only in each course, not all in one place. I think the item banks of Canvas have great potential - it shouldn't be too hard to add some options for organizing, but in the meantime, you may want to adopt a nomenclature strategy so that the item banks sort the way you want, which is what I had to do in Blackboard in a course that had hundreds of question pools. For example, the first two characters could represent the course, the second pair could represent the unit, the third pair the objective - so given your example, the name of your item bank could be C1U1O1.01. (Or I like to separate the parts with periods like so - C1.U1.O1.01). Anyway, that would have the item bank sort everything in the proper order until they give us organizational options. 

p.s. I see a new option in Item Banks now called "My Course Banks" in addition to "My Banks" (in the drop down menu next to the search box) but I've not yet been able to figure out what that does or how to use it.

p.p.s. I agree that the process of moving the equivalent of question banks into Canvas Item Banks is one of the most ridiculous and circuitous processes that I never expected to have to go through when moving to Canvas. I gave up and just decided that creating new content was easier - a forced redesign of my courses, so to speak.

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RLBourgeois
Community Member

Thanks. You described the direction I was already headed in perfectly but I was hoping there might be a solution to do this better. I'm going to leave this open in the hopes that someone else can direct both of us to an easier solution. I already adopted a naming structure but I find the lack of organization tools ridiculous. I had not noticed the My Course Banks option until you pointed it out. I wonder if these are the same as the older Question Banks before the shift? That would help but personally, but when I tested it out by going to the My Course Banks and tried to add a bank, it created the test bank in the All My Banks location and not the My Course Banks. So, that seems to do little good for organizing. I was hoping it would place them in both locations so I could see only course banks inside the course but still access them from other courses if needed.

When I was using Schoology, we had a centralized bank location and I loved it. This shift is a step in the right direction but is being very poorly handled.

As for the process we have to undergo to move the banks from old to new, it's insane. This is going to take teachers so much time to resolve and I know many teachers who lack computer savviness, they will really struggle. If you can import course materials from one location to another, it makes zero sense that you can't simply import quiz questions from one course using question banks directly into item banks and convert them automatically without all those crazy steps we need to use to accomplish the task. 

Good luck with your course redesign. Last summer we spent our time learning a new LMS and setting up the basics, this summer it appears we spend it organizing and fixing things we rushed to set up last year! Guess it's OK to assume teachers will work without pay over the summer break instead of setting up the system in a useful and easy manner in the first place!

nwilson7
Community Champion

@RLBourgeois For what it is worth, I brought up the pain point of moving old question banks to the new item banks about a year ago to our CSM.  I have one instructor in particular that has spent hours bringing in questions into the old banks and now has accumulated about 5000 questions which we do not want to move in the current fashion.  It sounded like Canvas was in-tune to the hassle of the current process and was looking at a way to make this much smoother before the old banks are depreciated.  We discussed this about 2 or 3 months ago as Canvas has brought on a new lead for the New Quizzes component.  So...hopefully this means there will be a better solution.

They are posting updates here:

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/New-Quizzes-Users/New-Quizzes-Timeline-Overview/ta-p/243647

-Nick

That is great news! I hope Canvas can get the process fixed soon (and communicate the change to everyone) as I am sure many, if not most, teachers are trying to get their questions banks and pages all fixed over the summer in preparation for the new school year. It would certainly help make for a much smoother transition and beginning of the year to be all set up ahead of time.