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dar119
Community Member

Why do Account Profile Photos not show up in the People List?

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I am using Canvas as an early adopter for my ACS 537, Noise Control Engineering course during Spring 2016 at Penn State.  I have a class with 17 resident students and 44 distance education students.  I have asked (required) all of my students to "introduce" themselves by editing their "Account" by

  1. uploading a recent photo of themselves
  2. adding a Bio that tells the rest of the class who they are, where they work, and some fun things about themselves.

I was hoping that there would be an easy way for other students (and me!!) to be able to find and read this information so that the students (44 distance students scattered across the U.S and Canada) could get to know each other.  But, I am finding that these photos and bios are no so easy to get to.  So, I have a couple of questions:

  • What is the point of giving students the option of changing their profile photo if that photo is not going to show up when you call up the class roster using the People link?
    • I changed the photo for my bio to provide an updated photo of myself for my students to see, but the photo that shows up for my entry in the People roster is the photo from my PSU ID card which was taken 5 years ago.
    • The resident students in my class are also changing the photos for their accounts, but the photos that show up when I pull up the list of students using “People” are the photos from their PSU ID cards — some of which were taken when these students were undergraduate students more than 5 years ago.
    • The Distance Education students are changing the photos for their account bios so that I can begin to put a face to the 44 names, but instead of their account photos showing up, I get a blank circle with “no photo available”.  (see attached screen shot)
    • Why are the photos from a user’s Account bio not displayed in the roster list in the People section?   What its he point of having the option of changing your account photo if that photo is not going to be used for roster lists? Please address and fix this!
  • Why is it so difficult to view the profile information about a student?  The only way to read the bio information for a student, so see their bio introrduction and to view the photo they upload is to click on small Gear Wheel at the right side of student entry in the student list (which then takes about 5 seconds for the information to appear)
    • Why is it not possible to just click on the student name to pull up their bio? Canvas makes a big deal of being able to connect and link to other social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn — both of which make things very easy to view the profile of the user.  Canvas should likewise make it easy to find the profile of the students and faculty in a course.

Most of the students in the courses I teach are Distance Education students and I try very hard to match faces and at least a minimum of personal information to the student names.  In the past when using ANGEL I had to resort to external methods (mostly using Piazza discussion forums) to get students to introduce themselves to the class, share a photo of themselves and tell us who they are.  In fact, Introducing yourself is part of the very first homework assignments in all of my classes.  I was really hoping that Canvas would allow me to have my students introduce themselves to me and to each other in an easy to use format.  But, so far I am extremely disappointed.

Dan Russell

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Daniel A. Russell, Ph.D.

Professor of Acoustics & Distance Education Coordinator

Graduate Program in Acoustics
201-D Applied Science Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA  16802
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Phone:  (814) 865-6365

URL: http://www.acs.psu.edu/drussell/

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1 Solution

Thanks Stefanie -- I will look into some of those links to explore resources.  After calling Canvas Support, it appears that this is a "feature" of the Penn State implementation of Canvas -- which is a little disappointing.  Penn State is pulling the "people" roster photos from a student database instead of using the profiles that the students create on Canvas.

In the past I have used external discussion forums (Piazza.com) and have been very pleased with how they worked.  I was hoping to avoid having to use an external discussion forum -- and I really liked the fact that Canvas has an "Account" with a bio area. I wanted to use that as a really easy way (similar to most other professional and social media sites) for students to introduce themselves.  But, it appears that I might have to explore other options within the Penn State implementation of Canvas.

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14 Replies
kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @dar119 ​, the pictures not showing up on the People tab is strange and makes me wonder how the students added them or what file type they used. I've never seen that error message before (been using Canvas since 2012) and I just checked my own course roster and the profile pictures of my students are showing up fine. The best way to trouble-shoot this will probably be to contact Canvas Support.

As for it being difficult to access student profiles and biographies, from your screen shot it appears that it has to do with your Instance of Canvas. I checked (even logged in as a different faculty member) and on the People tab, not only do student's profile pictures show up, but their names (right next to their profile picture) are clickable (they are in blue, not black) and immediately takes the Instructor to the student's profile and biography. Since yours is in black and doesn't appear clickable I would guess that it has to do with your level of permissions and if you're an Instructor then how your Institution has permissions set up for teachers.

People.png

Hope this helps!

...and I can confirm that what  @kona ​ is seeing on her People tab is what I am seeing as well: All students' names are clickable, and every student displays either a photo or a generic avatar. Check with your local Canvas Support to see how they've set up your viewing permissions for student profile photos.

dar119
Community Member

Thanks Kona -- After calling Canvas Support, it appears that this is a "feature" of the Penn State implementation of Canvas -- which is a little disappointing.  Penn State is pulling the "people" roster photos (or absence of photos) from a registrars student database instead of using the profiles that the students create on Canvas.

In the past I have used external discussion forums (Piazza.com) and have been very pleased with how they worked.  I was hoping to avoid having to use an external discussion forum -- and I really liked the fact that Canvas has an "Account" with a bio area. I wanted to use that as a really easy way (similar to most other professional and social media sites) for students to introduce themselves.  But, it appears that I might have to explore other options within the Penn State implementation of Canvas.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Thanks for coming back and letting us know what the problem was, but I'm sorry it's not something that can easily be fixed. You might want to consider providing feedback to the Implementation Team at Penn to let them know about some of your frustrations.

Regardless, welcome to the Canvas Community and let us know if you have any other questions, comments, quips, or concerns! Smiley Happy

dar119
Community Member

Yup -- that is my next course of action . . . but as might be expected, I am having quite a difficult time trying to find a person to actually "talk" to who has any say about how Canvas is being implemented here at Penn State.  I've put in a couple of email help desk tickets to our Canvas IT staff, and I've called a couple of the people who moderated the training session I attended. 

On the whole, I'm really liking what I see in Canvas so far -- it looks to be a very powerful and effective course management system that will allow me to go way beyond simply disseminating course documents and collecting online homework submissions.  I was just disappointed to discover that such an "obvious" feature for allowing students and faculty to learn about each other easily doesn't seem to be working in our implementation of Canvas  . . . at least not yet -- here's hoping that I can affect some change!

 @dar119 , I've been using Canvas since early 2011, so I've been able to absorb its evolution over time, much like the frog in the pot of boiling water. Smiley Happy So I hope you might find the time to write a regular (monthly?) blog--perhaps in the Canvas Engagement Strategies​ group--that chronicles your current experiences as an early adopter. That would give people like me a chance to view the implementation process anew, through a set of fresh eyes.

Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

 @dar119 ​, the Find Answers​ space is where people post their "how-to" rather than their "why" questions. If you're interested in promoting changes to the current functionality of Canvas, I recommend that you look through the Canvas Feature Ideas​ to see if an existing idea conforms to what you're seeking, and if one does not, you can submit a new one after reading How to write a good feature idea submission​ and following the instructions at How do I create a new feature idea?

In the meantime,  @James ​ created a resource in the Higher Education​ group that might address at least some of your stated needs: Course Roster Enhancements  If you're not already a member of that group, joining is just a click or two away.

Last, I too like to engage my students in a self-introduction icebreaker discussion. However, I generally ask them to upload the photo directly to the discussion post, so that other students can see a larger version of their current photos as part of the post and without having to embark upon additional clicks. You can read more about the image upload process for students here: How do I embed an image in a Discussion reply as a student?

Thanks Stefanie -- I will look into some of those links to explore resources.  After calling Canvas Support, it appears that this is a "feature" of the Penn State implementation of Canvas -- which is a little disappointing.  Penn State is pulling the "people" roster photos from a student database instead of using the profiles that the students create on Canvas.

In the past I have used external discussion forums (Piazza.com) and have been very pleased with how they worked.  I was hoping to avoid having to use an external discussion forum -- and I really liked the fact that Canvas has an "Account" with a bio area. I wanted to use that as a really easy way (similar to most other professional and social media sites) for students to introduce themselves.  But, it appears that I might have to explore other options within the Penn State implementation of Canvas.

 @dar119 , thank you so much for updating the discussion with your findings (and confirming  @kona ​' hypothesis). As you continue your early adopter pilot, please feel free to posts any questions that might arise, and recommendations you might have, in the various designated spots in the Community.

BTW, Piazza integrates beautifully and seamlessly into Canvas. I've used it myself for anonymous (ungraded) discussions.

dar119
Community Member

So . . . . one of my students just figured this out for me ( I feel somewhat stupid for not discovering this out on my own ).   If I go to my Account => Settings, and scroll to the very bottom of the page, under "Feature Options" there is an option called "Hi Contrast UI [beta]" . . . if I turn this feature ON, then I see exactly what I was hoping to see . . . under People => Everyone ​ . . .

  • the list now loads very quickly (without this feature turned on, it was taking 10 seconds or more for the list of 61 student names to load and display)
  • I can see the profile photo icons that the students have uploaded to their profiles (without this feature turned on, i was seeing the photo associated with their original campus ID card -- which for some of my resident students is a 10 year old photo, and for my distance students is a blank N/A)
  • the student names are linked directly to their profiles so that I can simply click on a name to take me directly to that student's profile (without this feature turned on, the names were not linked and the only way to get to the student profile was to use the Gear icon at the far right side and pull down the menu for "user details").

So, I can now see what I expected to see.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

Yay!!!!

Please note that the decision to use PSU Official photos on the "People" page was made as it replicates the functionality of ANGEL. The setting discussed, turning on High Contrast UI, disables all Penn State customization and should not be used, as this hides the merge tool and request Master Course tool.

But I do NOT want to replicate the functionality of ANGEL. Let's use Canvas as it is designed to be, not as an update to an archaic CMS that is no longer being supported. It does not make any sense for a 26 yr old PhD student's photo to be his freshman ID card photo from 8 years ago.   I want to know who my students are.  And I am not using the Master Course tool.  So far I am completely unimpressed with the Penn State customization.  I'm leaving High Contrast UI on and will complain loudly if it goes away.  I can turn it off to use the merge tool (which I did to merge two sections of he same course) and then turn it back on again to see my student's profiles.

smg36
New Member

I agree that it would be nice to have more flexibility. However, even when using the "Angel" implementation of photos I have found the photos so small as to be nearly useless. If you like the idea of having users select the size of photos when printing rosters then perhaps you could provide a positive vote to this idea:

" modifiedtitle="true" style="color: #2989c5;" title="Printable Roster with Photo Size Selectable

Also, if you like the idea perhaps you can share it with colleagues.

Thanks!

Stan