Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Participant

Idea System Broken?

I would like to propose that the Canvas Idea system for feature requests is broken.

There are 321 items that have been voted over 100 by canvas admins and are in the "no man's land" called "product radar." There are only 120 items that have made it into Canvas. That's only 1 in 4 requests that have actually seen the light of day.

Here are some observations:

  • Many ideas get lots of votes only to get shelved as not important by the development team. It makes one ask why they bothered to go through all the work to not be taken seriously? It feels more like a scam to make us feel like we are being listened to when in fact there is little change of the idea seeing the light of day.
  • If traffic is low during this time of year and an idea will likely not get 100 votes for that reason, it's broken. This sets an impossible standard to achieve. This is the second time we've faced this with an idea? Again, why bother if there is little chance of the idea seeing the light of day. Sadly, simply lowering the threshold will not improve the likelihood that an feature request will make it to production.

It leaves me wondering, does Instructure really listen or is this system just a bunch of red tape to tie things up and make it difficult to get issues fixed or improved? - Canvas team, please don't get defensive on this. I'm sure your intentions are pure, but the realities on our end may be providing a different result than your intentions.

Again, I propose that the entire idea/feature request system is broken. If there really are limited resources for development, Instructure needs a better way process their customer suggestions.

canvas idea feature idea #feature ideas
115 Replies
Community Champion

Unfortunately, it's mostly illegible and incomplete (hastily scratched down while paying attention to what was being said). I saw other people taking photos with their phone. Part of it is laid out in their  page and I think seeing the whole thing without hearing the explanation that went with it would create more questions (and potentially false hope). It was pointed out that this was a plan, but that they could only reliably see a little bit into the future and that things 6-12 or 12-18 months out might look different by the time we get there.

Community Champion

Ok. That's fair. Thanks!

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @mwade , I can tell from this post that you are very passionate about these issues and wanting to make Canvas a better product. That being said, and will all due respect, why do you think the ideas you find important are the most important and mission critical for everyone using Canvas? Or even for K12 people using Canvas? I'm not saying they aren't important, but what makes these features more important than other features or ideas that are currently being worked on? That's the issue, everyone, and I do mean everyone, who uses Canvas has their own feature ideas that they think are super important and needs to be added now or fixed now. That's why Canvas has the Community and does things like Project Khaki - they want to hear what Canvas users (as a whole) want or think are important.

Heck, I've been begging for a better attendance tool, the ability to really grade one question at a time, and letting students see all of their assignment submissions since 2012. Yet, even though none of my ideas that I thought were mission critical have been implemented, Canvas has made some huge improvements in features and functionality. And, most of these improvements in their product and provided features I didn't even image or know that I would want back in 2012 (Example: link validator, context cards, & integration with Google Drive). Is everything they do perfect, no, but from the last five years of using Canvas they are always improving and always listening to their users.

In addition, sometimes features that might seem easy to integrate into Canvas might be quite complex. I'm not a programmer (but I'm married to one, so that's close enough, right? ;-)) and I know he'll often dig into the back-end of Canvas to look at something that appears straight-forward and instead it ends up being super complicated and impacts a lot of other features. This is important to note because Canvas can't add features willy nilly otherwise the overall product itself could suffer. Right now Canvas is extremely stable and rarely down (unheard of in the Industry 99.986% up time). Part of this is because Canvas is methodical and dots its i's and crosses its t's to make sure new features/functionalities are going to play nicely with each other. They are also pretty conscientious about making sure everything is accessible - which also takes time and energy. Does this mean that Canvas features/functions might not look or act exactly the way people want, yes, but it also means they are accessible and won't crash the system!

Overall I understand your frustration (really, I do, I've been there!) and I hope you continue to participate and share your thoughts/ideas in the Community. Canvas really is listening and they need to hear as many sides to a story/idea/feature as they can.

Community Champion

Or people like yourself who understand the technical and design language well enough to be able to help others!

My suggestion wouldn't require people that understand the technical. It's more of a checklist. Does it have a feature request, does it have a use case, does it contain just one idea. All those things that are listed in How do I create a new feature idea? 

You don't want people like me deciding based on the merits of the idea. K12 has different requirements than higher education does. Other countries have different requirements (ex: Australia wants you to keep documentation for 30 years). Some people want to give credit for just responding to a discussion rather than actually looking at the content of what they wrote, and some people don't even grade things but have the students do it Smiley Happy. These are things I could never fathom as a Midwestern math teacher. I have a tendency to let my understanding of the technology suppress ideas because I know they can't be done. Some ideas are great but they can't be done [at least right now] and so you might end up with a compromise solution. If someone shot them down before they ever had a chance to express the initial idea, we might miss out totally.

This illustrates a problem that  @mwade ‌ brought up.

The Idea system should be for new big picture features - not bug/design fix requests.

We currently limit our feature requests to a single idea so that people can know what they're voting on. However, in real life, people often have a better solution than just fixing one thing, and they're dependent upon several things happening. Those don't filter up, so we don't really see any "big picture" features in the community -- we see little things that are focused on one tiny aspect of the big picture.

The "Complaints" category was an afterthought, but I suspect that many of the incomplete feature requests are because there's not a clear place to put things. If you're going to add a Complaints, you might want to add a Kudos or Compliments section as well. Getting all negative feedback can bring a person down.

Community Participant

 @kona  wrote:

...why do you think the ideas you find important are the most important and mission critical for everyone using Canvas?

They are mine! Of course they are better! HA! - Seriously, that was never my point. Also, I'm in the IT world, so I do understand the development issues as well.

Thanks, Scott!

Hi  @dhulsey 

At the end of Khaki, we were told that we no longer needed to be secretive, so...................................

Priorities: In order of vote

Spreadsheet Version

Running Sprint Total

1. Admin Role Granular Permissions I & II

Estimated Sprints: 6

I. As and admin, I need to be able to easily understand how permissions interact, so that I can grant the appropriate permissions for my users.

Related Conversation: Canvas Permissions and Granularity Feature Ideas 

II. As an admin, I must be able to grant permissions for certain tasks independent of whether a user has other permissions set.                                                                                                                                                                           

Related Idea: More granular permissions for admins 


2. Canvas Content Duplication

Estimated Sprints: 6

As an instructor, I want to be able to copy or replicate any content item (assignment, page, discussion, etc.) in my course with one click, preferably from Modules.

Related Idea: Duplicate, Clone, or Copy anything in Canvas 


3. Student Crocodoc Feedback View

Estimated Sprints: 4

As a student, finding annotated feedback from my instructor is difficult. I have to view the submission details from the assignment or Grades page, then click a tiny link called View Feedback. The annotated document displays in a tiny window that is difficult to navigate, and downloading the document to review my instructor's comments is difficult as well, since annotations don't show up unless I know how to enable comments in the Print screen.

Related Idea: Improve Student Crocdoc Comment View/Accessibility 


4. Advanced Reports

Estimated Sprints: 20

As an admin or instructor, I would like to be able to get more reports from Canvas. Canvas Data is awesome, but it requires advanced knowledge that I do not have and/or additional tools that I cannot afford.

Related Idea: More built in reports for Canvas Admin's 


5. Large Course: Sections/Groups

Estimated Sprints: 8

As an instructor, I need different capabilities for creating and managing sections and groups for large courses.

Related Idea: None


6. Page View Mobile Activity

Estimated Sprints: 4

As an instructor, I would like to be able to tell if my students are participating in my course through a mobile device.

Related Idea: include Mobile App Page Views in Page Views on User Account Details Page 


7. Rich Content Editor: File/Image Drag & Drop

Estimated Sprints: 6

As a student or instructor, I want to drag and drop files and images from my desktop into the Rich Content Editor (such as in a discussion reply, or assignments) instead of having to upload first. (*image upload is not possible in discussion replies).

Related Idea: Drag and drop files into course modules and assignment edit windows & Upload an image directly to a discussion as a student 


8. Canvas Course Global Search

Estimated Sprints: 12

As a student or instructor, I would like to have a global search function in Canvas that would allow me to search for files and content across all my courses.

Related Idea: Comprehensive Course Search Tool (Searching Course Content for a Topic) 


9. Commons: Preview Activities and Content

Estimated Sprints: 12

As an instructor or designer, I want to see what a Commons activity or object looks like before I import it into my course so I can avoid wasting time importing, evaluating, and deleting.

Related Idea:  Canvas Commons Preview 


10. Mobile: Camera Access for Embedded Images

Estimated Sprints: 3

As a student, I have access to my camera to record a video in the Rich Content Editor, but do not have the same ability to take a picture and embed it directly.

Related Idea: Give Access to Camera to Embed Pictures 


11. Course Archive Process

Estimated Sprints: 2

As an admin, I need to manage the myriad of courses in my account and archive ones that are no longer being used.

Related Idea: Course Archive Process 


12. SpeedGrader Screen Recorder

Estimated Sprints: 5

As an instructor, I want to provide video feedback showing the student's submission instead of my face.

Related Idea: Screen Capture with Audio as a Comment Option 


13. Large Course: Grading

Estimated Sprints: 30

As an instructor, I need a completely different gradebook for large courses.

Related Idea: None


14. Roles/Permissions Masquerade

Estimated Sprints: 


Related Idea:

15. Elementary UX

Estimated Sprints: 


Related Idea: Create template pages  

 I hope this helps,


Community Champion

Thank you, good sir! I appreciate your openness and willingness to share.

Laura & Others.  

Thank you for the ping.  This has been a great thread to read through.  When we went through the recent evolution of the process we considered a discussion pathway, but we didn't want to constrict users in any way.  In the previous process, we had a much tighter moderation process which was designed to accomplish what you describe above - more thoroughly constructed ideas.  There were a few big downsides..

  1.  voting on an idea was delayed while it sat in moderation - sometimes a month or more
  2. the process was focused on moderating ideas and not on surfacing the ideas that meant the most to customers and getting them in front of product
  3. the process took a lot of dedicated community manager time, which isn't a bad thing, but when we evaluated what activities had the most return on investment for our customers, reading and moderating ideas was not as high on the list for the amount of resources it took.  (30-50 new ideas each day)

In this iteration of the process we were really striving for a 'template' of sorts for ideas.  A way to help frame an idea submission in a format like you describe above - problem statements.  However, in our work with Jive, we were not able to get a solution for this, yet.  

I love the idea of discussions around ideas.  I think all of the threads (above) have hit on some factors for why discussion is important.

  • sometimes what works for one institution won't work for the other
  • sometimes an institution thinks an issue is isolated to them, but when they post they find that many other people need a solution for the same (or similar) issue
  • sometimes someone posts one potential idea (solution) and after a discussion they realize that another approach might be more empowering to all
  • sometimes there is a work-around that someone has already found! Smiley Happy
  • sometimes awesome community members will create solutions on the spot (or within a few days)! Smiley Happy

So, within our current software constraints (Jive) we strive to continue allowing an open and transparent approach for anyone that wants to submit an idea, but we also want a process that doesn't feel like another hurdle for someone just trying to share a pain point or potential improvement.  Thanks for the suggestions and thoughts on more adaptations to the process.  We read them all!

Hi  @dhulsey 

It's not my openness that matters; but rather, Instructure's!

I have seldom had the pleasure of a company this open. But you know that.