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erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Releases Q&A: 2021-12-15 Course Import Warning Message

Looking to discuss this feature from the 2021-12-15 Deploy Notes? Post a reply and start a conversation!

POSTING GUIDELINES
  • This topic is for feature discussion only—please share use cases, best practices, etc. regarding this feature
  • Please thread replies as much as possible to keep posts organized


WHERE SHOULD I POST...?

  • Idea enhancement feedback to product managers should be submitted in ideas.canvaslms.com (though linking to the idea here so others can find it is welcome)
  • Bug reports should be submitted to Canvas Support—bugs will not be triaged in this thread
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33 Replies
Tasha_Biesinger
Community Contributor

This is a lovely update since there have been so many faculty who have overwritten content when they intended to make a duplicate instead. I think it would be significantly improved if the warning only appeared on the screen after the instructor selected a course that had already been used for a previous import, rather than showing the message all of the time. This way faculty would know when their import is completely safe vs. a potentially 'dangerous' import.

joni
New Member

How does the import system determine when content is "the same" and will be overridden instead of duplicated?

On my campus, teachers often will import content from previous similar courses and inevitably end up with duplicate assignments, assignment groups, etc. In many cases we would actually prefer it to be overridden instead of duplicated.

Does Canvas only recognize the content as identical when it's, say, a full course package and not individual items like assignments and modules?

Thanks!

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erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi @Tasha_Biesinger @joni 

The system doesn't distinguish if there is duplicate content or not. It always displays the message, regardless if the package is imported for the first time or the 10th time.

Hope that helps!

Erin

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DanBurgess
Community Member

Completely agree with @Tasha_Biesinger & @joni

It would be nice if there was "intelligence" built in to warn only when there is actual danger of overriding content.
But hey, this is a great step in the right direction and maybe someday we will get there! 🐼

 

chriscas
Community Champion

I agree this is a nice update, but without having intelligence to only display the warning message when doing a "re-import", I think many users are going to simply ignore the message or get confused at why they are seeing it all of a sudden when it doesn't apply.  If anything could be done to add some logic to the warning display, it would turn this update into a total win for all!

-Chris

audra_agnelly
Community Champion

@joni imports have sort of a tether to their original course. For example, you may have the same assignment in course 123 and in course 456. If you import the assignment from course 123 into course 789, there is data in the background where Canvas recognizes that this new asset came from course 123. If you recopy the assignment from course 123 to course 789, Canvas recognizes this as a reimport and will overwrite. There is no scanning for similarity, so if you import that same assignment from course 456 into course 789, this comes over as a duplicate.

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I see, I think this explains our problem. We moved away from running blueprint courses and instead create new courses each school year with most teachers just importing content from last year's course - thus creating duplicates of our Assignment Groups we put in as a template. I could remove them from the template, but then the teachers who don't import old content would have to make them themselves.

It would be nice if there was a simple check involved for Assignments and Assignment groups to see if they are named the same, and an option to overwrite them with new imported content if that were the case. 

Creating an "intelligence" to determine identical content might be out of reach but surely checking the title of the content is possible? Would be a huge help if this were an option.

audra_agnelly
Community Champion

I'm glad to see this finally here, I'm sure you Tier 1 agents will also be glad to see a drop in calls about overwrites. My nitpick here is with clarity in the wording. "Importing the same course content more than once will overwrite any existing content in the course". I think that "any existing content" isn't clear about what's impacted. Copying a single assignment won't impact all existing content in the receiving course, just the existing version of the item(s) being copied. I worry teachers will think that they'll lose everything if they proceed with an import.

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Our product team is always happy to consider enhancement ideas for improving the product in the future. (Feel free to create an idea in the idea Conversations space to note that for them.) Without additional research and time it may not be possible to determine whether or not something is being reimported and display the message appropriately, and the team would need to know just how many customers would be looking for that need before they spend that time (when they could be spending the same time doing other things that may also be needed).

The design of this release was simply to portray information. And based on the use of the feature we can definitely discuss adjustments to the wording if warranted by enough feedback.

Thank you!

Erin

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Secondary teachers:

1) create assignments as we go (blueprint doesn't make sense for this)

2) teach at the pace each class period needs (crosslisting messes this up)

So for this reason, this change has made copying assignments between my four sections of the same course has only added to my workload. This is really frustrating. Teachers have been asking for Canvas to make it easier to copy between courses for MONTHS (I'm following a thread from August) and now it's only harder? Please, please PLEASE for this overworked teacher, PLEASE fix assignment copying. With School Loop I could copy an assignment, assign it to all of my bio classes or just one of them, edit all four classes at once or separately, grade all of them at once, or separately. Secondary schools have different needs than university or elementary. Please listen to what we are asking for. 

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I agree with this, but I teach at the college level.  I just want to be able to import templates from different sections and then customize them without overwriting each other.  If I rename the assignment after import, it still uses the old data.  It also messes with the online proctoring of high stakes exams that are imported from a previous course.

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OgdenKiesel
New Member

Can someone explain to me why the course selection drop-down has been eliminated with this feature?  I understand if there is a need for a warning, but the drop-down is gone and I am forced to manually type to search for each course.  r/mildlyinfuriating

BarrettSMS
New Member

I agree with @OgdenKiesel. I assume for some logistical/programming reason, our district set up each class/period as its own Course in Canvas, rather than one course with multiple sections. As it is, I generally create my content in a sandbox course and then have to "Copy to" each of the 6 classes (and that is after I figured out how to cross-list my courses by period, because at the beginning of the year I was doing this 12 times per piece of content).  By forcing me to now also type in the name of the course for every single new thing I create, times 6 courses, what was originally tedious is now also extremely frustrating. PLEASE add the drop down menu back!

Thank you @BarrettSMS. 

Almost everyone I work with uses a master sandbox to create and organize content before pushing it out to their respective classes.  Regardless of how courses or sections are managed, or if someone chooses to cross-list or not; the drop-down makes copying much easier. 

If anything, I would have wanted an update to include "check boxes" on the drop-down so that something could be copied to multiple courses simultaneously.  Canvas has gone the exact opposite direction on this one and it boggles me.

Check boxes! And stop creating a new category (imported assignments) instead of putting it in the EXACT SAME TITLED categories I already have. 

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audra_agnelly
Community Champion

Changes to the copy-to workflow were not indicated anywhere in the 12/15 deploy notes, per Erin's comment above "The design of this release was simply to portray information." this has really caught admins off-guard

This change is not intentional. Our engineers are looking into this behavior.

Thank you,

Erin

The drop-down menu for Direct Share did originally change (but not Course Import) as the result of a bug and will add this information to the deploy notes. Additionally, our engineers have revisited that fix and deployed another change so that the menu shows for users who have permission to share but who are not admins. That adjustment is now in the production environment.

Admins will still need to search because of the volume of courses in their account. This behavior is also consistent with other course migration features in Canvas.

Thank you,

Erin

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, all,

If you have access to more than 100 courses, the search page only displays the Course Name field.

If you have fewer than 100 courses and are not able to view the drop-down, please submit a support case as that is not intended functionality.

Thank you,

Erin

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I have many fewer than 100 courses but I still have to type to bring up any of my courses. One more extra step to copy an assignment from period 1 to periods 4, 6, and 7. Each time. 

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eshoemaker
New Member

So, instead of making it easier and simpler to copy things to multiple courses, secondary teachers now are MORE confused and have to do MORE steps for each copying action? Why???

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SusanNiemeyer
Community Contributor

I appreciate your efforts to warn teachers of unintended consequences. However, this warning message is ambiguously worded. I'm a regular poster in the FB Group "Teachers Using Canvas," and this message has created mass confusion. Here is the current message:

"Importing the same course content more than once will overwrite any existing content in the course."

However, what you do mean by "in the course?" Do you mean the "target course" or the "original course?" 

For example, let's say, I'm importing content from Fall 2021 into my Spring 2022 course. Does the warning mean:

  1. "Importing the same course content more than once will overwrite any existing content IN THE TARGET COURSE." Let's say that I import the Fall 2021 content into Spring 2022, and then I make some changes to the Spring 2022 course. If I try to import the Fall 2021 content again, any changes I made to Spring 2022 will be lost.
  2. "Importing the same course content more than once will overwrite any existing content IN THE ORIGINAL COURSE." For example, I import the Fall 2021 content into Spring 2022 twice. Am I going to somehow screw up the "existing" content in Fall 2021? Will I "overwrite" all of my hard work?

I assume that the Canvas developers mean that (A) will happen. However, many instructors are now very worried that the copying and importing material will result in (B). And, why wouldn't they since the message says "existing content?"

There is a simple solution. Just add the word "target." 

"Importing the same course content more than once will overwrite any existing content in the target course."

This is an adjustment that the Canvas developers can immediately make. It shouldn't take another month of "release" notes or "deploy" notes to do it.

Hi, Susan,

Thanks for the suggestion. Our team would be happy review the language again after the New Year as they're taking time off for the holidays.

Thanks!

Erin

@erinhmcmillan Could you provide an update, please, now that we are past the New Year? A simple verbiage adjustment would help many concerned teachers. I, too, have teachers who are afraid of losing work when they see the current alert. 

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This suggestion would definitely clarify, as I am now afraid to import to Spring 2022 because the Fall has not officially closed and I don't want to alter any of the Fall materials.  I also want to be able to import a template multiple times for an assignment and then edit in the the new target course.  I thought I could accomplish this by importing the assignment and then renaming it before editing, but what will happen to the duplicates with the original name.  Will they all overwrite?

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audra_agnelly
Community Champion

Regarding the wording of the warning message, I received this from a teacher:

"I am trying to copy assignment from my shared sandbox to my course and I got this notification. I am too afraid to proceed. Can you let me know what the warning means and why I am getting it. I never noticed this before and I copy content from course to course regularly."

Per my earlier comment, I still think the phrasing "any existing content" implies broader impact than is the case when teachers are using the Copy To feature to copy single items.

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fred_bonatto
Community Member

As @audra_agnelly experienced, we have also received a message from a confused academic. I've created an idea conversation as requested by @erinhmcmillan but it would be good if this could be fast tracked as it's simply a change in language of an existing feature likely requiring little development time. Clarify the "Importing the same course content mor... - Instructure Community (canvaslms.com)

KristyJones
New Member

Is there a work around to continue to copy content to a course?  It is not letting me copy anything at all after the "Importing" warning.  Comes up with that message and stops there. Just want to copy a couple test banks over. 

 

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@KristyJones I checked both the Copy To functionality and the Course Import screen and I did not run into any issues copying content. My teachers are starting a new semester next week so they've been actively setting up their new courses and I have not received any reports of issues.

Did you select a course in the Copy To drop-down? The Copy button is greyed out until a course selection has been made.

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rmarker
New Member

Question for anyone in this thread: Until Canvas fixes this update and makes things more clear/streamlined for copying content, could a potential (albeit inconvenient) solution be to duplicate the content (assignment/page/module) in the original course with a renaming of the item and then proceed with the Copy To to the target course?

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SusanNiemeyer
Community Contributor

This wording, suggested by @fred_bonatto,  is the best proposal so far:

"Importing the same course content more than once will overwrite any existing, previously imported content in the target course."

Here's the reason for the warning:

  1. Teacher imports "Chap 1 Exam" from Fall 2021 into Spring 2022.
  2. She edits the "Chap 1 Exam" in Spring 2022.
  3. Then she tries once again to copy the "Chap 1 Exam" from Fall 2021 into Spring 2022. 

What will happen is this; The edits she made to the "Chap 1 Exam' in Spring 2022 will be lost. The original content in the Fall 2021 will not be affected. The other content in Spring 2022 will not be affected.

@erinhmcmillan  Have the Canvas developers had a chance to revisit the wording? 

One last note; I like Fred's revision a great deal. However, I'm still not sure about the word "any." Other previously imported content (e.g. the "Chap 2 Exam") will not be affected.

 

I've asked one of our product managers to please review the comments here and respond appropriately.

Thanks!

Erin

I did lose work when I wanted to import a test more than once.   I tried to rename the content before and after import so I could keep the original and edited version in the targeted course, but did not realize it would overwrite.  As Drew Hopkins (https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/946778) stated, "I would prefer if Canvas could just handle overwrites just like many other softwares do by appending a number onto things with the same name".  Then no content would be lost until you deleted it intentionally.  (Additionally, it interfered with an Honorlock designation of test proctoring for that test, I think, which really messed with students who were able to bypass the proctoring and enter the wrong test even when renamed.  I guess the renaming did not stick and Canvas did not have a way to handle it?).

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