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Reply to text (SMS) message notifications for Conversations

Reply to text (SMS) message notifications for Conversations

I would like to be able to reply directly to text (SMS) message notifications for Conversations without having to go into the Canvas App. This would allow for easier back-and-forth communication.

The SMS app I use for Android gives the false impression that I am able to do so. That is, it allows me to click reply to a Canvas notification for a Conversation and send a response. But, of course, the other party never receives my response. 

17 Comments
klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @eduplessis ‌ -

Thanks for submitting an idea to Canvas Studio‌. Could you tell me more about your preference to receive SMS notifications rather than push notifications on your Android device? As an instructor, I use push notifications exclusively, and I have never subscribed to text messages as means to getting content/questions/etc in my courses. I personally like that the notifications bring me into the app and that the context of the inquiry or comment is readily available. Now with Canvas Teacher (available in the Google Play store!), I suspect that the experience for instructors will only improve from what it has been with the Canvas by Instructure app.

I am not a programmer, so I don't know the time that would be required to link SMS to Canvas Conversations Inbox. However, maybe another way to approach this Feature Idea would be to clarify the actions of "replying" to an SMS message for Android users.

For now, this idea will be marked as "moderating" so The Canvas Community can better understand the need for the idea. Perhaps there are some https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/cmug?sr=search&searchId=9236a4a5-0508-4514-a665-03a5bee16302&...‌ that could chime in too. Smiley Happy

eduplessis
Community Participant

Hi  @klundstrum ‌ -

Thanks for your thoughts! In short, I'd like fewer taps to get to the full conversation message. It takes 4 taps:

  1. tap on the push notification to see the full SMS content
  2. tap on a link within the SMS content, which takes me to the Canvas App dashboard
  3. tap on the Inbox 
  4. tap on the individual conversation to open/read/reply

Screenshots of the 4 taps:

Notification screenshots

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Interesting point. I think realistically, this could be cut down by 1 step, which is removing 3, and possibly removing step 4, being replaced with opening the message directly. 

I agree with  @klundstrum as it would be better for everyone if SMS and email notifications opened in the app and not the mobile web. 

eduplessis
Community Participant

I might add that some of our instructors are using other apps to communicate with students, such as Remind.  If we look at Remind as a model, I wonder if the Canvas app itself could alert users of new Inbox conversations and provide a more direct way of replying (rather than using push notifications).

eduplessis
Community Participant

Agreed. If my memory serves, when I first started using Canvas a couple of years ago, I thought the message opened directly as  @rseilham  describes. Has something changed?

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

I'm not sure. Personally I don't use text message, so it's hard for me to recall if this has changed. 

tdelillo
Community Champion

The key point to me is this one: "The SMS app I use for Android gives the false impression that I am able to do so. That is, it allows me to click reply to a Canvas notification for a Conversation and send a response. But, of course, the other party never receives my response." Things that SEEM to work are a particular pet peeve of mine. As an aside, it's not Android-specific, same thing happens in iOS.

It may be easier to start a feature request for "text notifications should include a DO NOT REPLY statement" (if someone hasn't already created one).

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Interesting point on the DO NOT REPLY statement. That at least seems like a short term fix. 

james_evans
Community Participant

This alternate method of communicating appears to be poorly planned. If you receive a text message, the natural tendancy is to reply by text within the texting app. More and more students are moving away from email and using text. I am torn between a complete (two-way) communication process and a notification only process as long as the "DO NOT REPLY" element (previously mentioned) is included. This is because I am not familiar with the security of texting in toda's society. Convenience must always submit to security.

Sylvia_Ami
Community Contributor

I'm interested in hearing if any students want this. Has anyone heard from students?

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @james_evans ‌, 

The security aspect is quite interesting. It might be easier for someone to access text messages on a phone for a quick reply. Personally, I'd rather have students login to the app and reply directly to the message to better protect the user. 

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Our evaluation of the Canvas Data show that SMS messages are VERY rarely used. When we interviewed students on the topic they reported mobile app push notifications (70%) being more important than email notifications (68%), while SMS is at 28%. Although, I'm not discounting whether or not it's useful for particular schools that might have far more unique situations than my school. 

Sylvia_Ami
Community Contributor

 @rseilham ‌ Thank you for sharing this data. Very interesting.

eduplessis
Community Participant

 @rseilham ‌ - thanks for that data. Are students able to reply directly to the mobile app push notifications? That is, are they able to reply with one click?  ....I'll try to test myself... Thanks! Liz

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @eduplessis ‌, 

Yes, if a user taps on a notification, the app will open to the appropriate area for them to take action. For example, if a user gets a new message, when they tap on the notification, the app will open the message in the inbox. It hasn't always been that way, but was updated last year. 

eduplessis
Community Participant

 @rseilham ‌, thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing the same notification feature in the Teacher app -- I support faculty use of Canvas. In the meantime, faculty can use the Student app for this feature, but it would be nice to only have one app to deal with. 

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @eduplessis ‌, 

This feature is available for the Teacher app as well, though it's tricky to setup. 

First you need to enable notifications in the Teacher App. You need to find the app in your phone's settings and enable notifications. You can't do this directly through the app (unless you enabled it the first time you opened the app). 

Second, you need to open the student app, and enable push notifications, then turn them off. 

How do I set Notification Preferences in the Student app on my iOS device? 

Third, you will need to navigate to the web and set your notifications preferences under "For All Devices" 

https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-13111-4152719738 

The preferences you set on the web under "For All Devices" will set notifications for the Canvas Teacher (and Student apps). 

Let me know if I can help you further. Thanks!

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