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ashanderson
Community Member

Why is the embedded ASSISTments app working at school, but not on home computers?

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I’ve added the external app ASSISTments to my canvas courses and have started using it in my math courses. When you create an assignment using this external tool, it makes the assignment open right in the Canvas screen so students don’t have to have another login to use ASSISTments. (This is ASSISTments 1.0 btw, not 2.0).

So far, it works great when the students use the laptops and desktops at school, but if students try to do it at home, the page loads and says that it is blocked. 
I’ve tried having the students use different browsers and had them make sure ad-blockers and pop-up blockers are turned off. But it still shows the same thing. I’m almost 99% sure not all of them have website blockers at home, but despite this, they all see the same thing.

I’ve also made sure that the due date and unlock/lock date are correct on both Canvas and ASSISTments.

Finally, I’ve tried googling for a solution and going through the forums on Canvas, but I can’t find anything about ASSISTments and Canvas anywhere! If someone could help guide me in the right direction, I would be forever grateful to you!

Sincerely, an exasperated Math teacher

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James
Community Champion

 @ashanderson  

I haven't used ASSISTments, but it sounds like they have something keyed to the IP addresses of your institution that allow access. This was a common situation with library vendors where if the connection came from on-campus, the students were given access without having to log in.

In the case of embedded content, it is most likely implemented as a flag that their servers are dishing out to users. If ASSISTments has whitelisted your schools IP addresses, it would be allowed. But people's home computers aren't whitelisted, so it's blocked.

This sounds similar to the situation with Prezi.  They started sending an x-frame-options=sameorigin that kept people from embedding it. More information about that thread is available here: How do you embed a Prezi? 

Since it's the server that's embedding the content (ASSISTments), there's little that Canvas can do. That may explain why you cannot find much information on it.

ASSISTments does say that it can be embedded into any common LMS using LTI. However, if you're using an older version, it may be more restricted.

Note that I had never heard of ASSISTments before your message, so nothing I write here shows particular knowledge about that system. I'm just providing hints as to what might be the problem based off of other embedded content.

To see the actual reason why it's being blocked, you could open the developer tools in your browser (F12) and switch to the network tab. Then try to open ASSISTments from within Canvas and watch for something related to ASSISTments that comes back with an error (normally shows up in red with a status code in the 400's). If you click on that request, you can see the error. Of course, you would need to do this from someplace where it didn't work.

You say you added the external app, but if you are trying to embed content within a page through an iframe (similar to what Desmos does), that might also be an issue. That's normally where the problem occurs.

If you have it set up as an external URL from the modules page, then try forcing it to open in a new window. If it works in a new window but not when iframed inside Canvas, it's almost certainly something ASSISTments is doing to keep people from embedding their content on pages. Nefarious souls can do that and basically steal content (making it look like ASSISTments belongs to someone else), so sites have started moving to protect their intellectual property.

View solution in original post

2 Replies
James
Community Champion

 @ashanderson  

I haven't used ASSISTments, but it sounds like they have something keyed to the IP addresses of your institution that allow access. This was a common situation with library vendors where if the connection came from on-campus, the students were given access without having to log in.

In the case of embedded content, it is most likely implemented as a flag that their servers are dishing out to users. If ASSISTments has whitelisted your schools IP addresses, it would be allowed. But people's home computers aren't whitelisted, so it's blocked.

This sounds similar to the situation with Prezi.  They started sending an x-frame-options=sameorigin that kept people from embedding it. More information about that thread is available here: How do you embed a Prezi? 

Since it's the server that's embedding the content (ASSISTments), there's little that Canvas can do. That may explain why you cannot find much information on it.

ASSISTments does say that it can be embedded into any common LMS using LTI. However, if you're using an older version, it may be more restricted.

Note that I had never heard of ASSISTments before your message, so nothing I write here shows particular knowledge about that system. I'm just providing hints as to what might be the problem based off of other embedded content.

To see the actual reason why it's being blocked, you could open the developer tools in your browser (F12) and switch to the network tab. Then try to open ASSISTments from within Canvas and watch for something related to ASSISTments that comes back with an error (normally shows up in red with a status code in the 400's). If you click on that request, you can see the error. Of course, you would need to do this from someplace where it didn't work.

You say you added the external app, but if you are trying to embed content within a page through an iframe (similar to what Desmos does), that might also be an issue. That's normally where the problem occurs.

If you have it set up as an external URL from the modules page, then try forcing it to open in a new window. If it works in a new window but not when iframed inside Canvas, it's almost certainly something ASSISTments is doing to keep people from embedding their content on pages. Nefarious souls can do that and basically steal content (making it look like ASSISTments belongs to someone else), so sites have started moving to protect their intellectual property.

View solution in original post

Hello! I am Program Director at the ASSISTments Foundation. Given this thread, I wanted to share that we have just launched an integration with Canvas. As of today, if your district has a Canvas account, and you are a teacher with an ASSISTments 2.0 account, you will be able to assign problem sets to students via Canvas.

We have created complete, step-by-step guides for what Teachers, Canvas Administrators and Students will need to do to get started. You can check them out here

We will also be hosting a webinar that walks you through how to use ASSISTments with Canvas on Wednesday, 5/13, at 2 pm EST.  < You can click here to register.

Lastly, video tutorials, and additional support resources will be available on our user resources webpage in the coming weeks (please check back regularly).  If you have questions or other ideas for how we can further spread the word, I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to get in touch by emailing contact@assistments.org.

Thanks!