Rich Content Editor needs SAVE feature for text submissions


Resubmitting this feature proposal.  I don’t mean to be disagreeable, but I do disagree with the reply, and I will try to be more comprehensive as to why this feature needs to be addressed in a much more fundamental manner.   Previous response to the proposal:

Topic: Rich Content Editor needs SAVE feature for text submissions (1 Update)

Stefanie posted a new comment on 03-17-2021 04:32 AM

Re: Rich Content Editor needs SAVE feature for text submissions - Status changed to: Archived


Thanks for this feedback. The Canvas RCE has an autosave feature. If a student keys in text and then navigates away from the text entry submission without saving, upon returning to the submission and clicking the Submit button, this modal will display:

Students can then choose to preview or load the content.

In addition, Canvas has developed Assignment Enhancements, which provides students with an updated interface for assignment submission. Please read through How do I submit a text entry assignment in a cours...  to see how students can save their text entry drafts before submission. It's possible your school has not yet adopted this new workflow for its students, so please reach out to your local Canvas admin to ask about its availability.

Since this is existing functionality in Canvas, we've archived the idea.



This is incorrectly marked as existing functionality.  The current state of the RCE is not functional.  This Auto-save is a nice feature in case the power goes out.  It is not functional for school.   The “Assignment Enhancements” are not being implemented by my district --specifically because of the warning which comes with them.  This is a basic functionality issue which has not been fixed.

A manual SAVE feature is a bare minimum requirement for school work.  My students have already lost work due to Auto-save not being able to handle what a manual SAVE can handle.  Auto-save is not a reliable operation for continuing work from class to class, and no teacher would instruct their students to use it in this manner.

Consider the following cases which the current Canvas RCE cannot facilitate, but all other text editors and LMSes can handle.

  • Students are often working on more than one writing assignment such as:
    • Ongoing journal, which is added to daily
    • Essay, due on Friday
    • Short responses for in class lessons during the week.
    • Form poems, which typically are finished outside of class
    • Revisions to all the above
    • Multi-part assignments where documents are combined to finish (eg. adding a Bibliography, where the Bibliography is a separate assignment).
  • Students may want to save more than one version of a document
  • Students may want to access documents after they’ve been submitted
  • Students may do collaborative text assignments asynchronously
  • Auto-save is not a reliable feature.  Even on the Canvas forums I have to write text in a separate editor, then paste it in.  I have lost several posts already due to an “unrecoverable error,” even though before the error, below the text box, there was an auto-save message noting the time of the last auto-save.  In such cases the Auto-save failed to save anything.

These are just a few of the everyday, intuitively obvious reasons why every single text editor on the planet has a manual SAVE feature.  This is also why the global paradigm with Canvas is for students to do all their writing in other text editors (any editor really, because they all have a manual SAVE feature).  Using other apps for work takes extra time.  Everyone is doing their work in other LMSes and Editors, precisely because Canvas’ RCE is not sufficient to handle the everyday task of school work.

Hiding a manual SAVE feature behind mysterious enhanced functionalities which must be set by district admin is not a satisfactory solution.  I have pushed my admin as hard as I can, and they will not enable these enhancements due to the warning, "...some features may change the workflow for common activities in Canvas during your current term."  I have been told by my principal and the head of IT for our district that “We will not enable this setting when it comes with a clear warning about disrupting student workflow mid-semester.”  Basic functionality needs to be implemented at a default setting level, not as a high-level optional enhancement with lots of warnings around it.

A manual SAVE feature is literally 5 lines of code.  Maybe 30 more lines to handle the web-interface.  It’s a 15-minute fix, if you store the files locally onto the hard drive, usb drive, or whatever.  Note that, by school policy, my classes would be specifically prohibited from doing that, and we would require the extra functionality that students have a secure online folder where they can save work to the cloud (this would require more than a 15 minute fix).

As it stands.  Students have to submit work, or delete.  Submitting work can save the work, but it gets submitted for a grade.  Students have to write “Not Finished” on the top and bottom of submitted documents which are not complete, so that they will not mistakenly be graded as incomplete.  Then they can be retrieved through submitting the assignment again, viewing old work, copying old work, navigating back to the submission page, submitting the assignment a second time, pasting in the old work, and continuing from there.  It’s a convoluted and dysfunctional version of saving work, which has otherwise been simple and easy, all the way back to the 1980’s.

This “existing functionality” of a manual SAVE feature is completely unavailable to my students, and I have no power to implement it.  The problem has not been fixed.

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Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni
Status changed to: Archived


Thanks for re-sharing this idea. In our reply to your original submission, we included a link to the lesson that shows how students can save work in progress as long as their schools have adopted the features in the Student Enhancements project, and the Save Text Entry Draft section of How do I submit a text entry assignment in a cours...   provides details on how is done. Many schools are actively using this existing functionality. While your school may not be using it right now, this is the functionality that will ultimately be rolled out to all institutions, as some form of it will be replacing the current assignment submissions interface. This is why we've archived the idea.

We're glad that you've engaged with your Canvas admin on the timing issue that is currently preventing your school from adopting the new workflow.

We hope you will contribute your comments and observations in the New Student Enhancements Users group.

Thanks again.

Community Explorer

I keep thinking about this, and it's such a bare minimum in functionality that I just can't get past it.

There's a reason why we hand our students pencil and paper together, vice just a pencil to write in the air...  The paper saves their work, and they can erase, add, start, finish, turn it in, receive it back with annotations, resubmit it, etc... 

If they wrote in the air, it wouldn't be saved. 

What your team is telling me here is that it's okay for my students to metaphorically go ahead and write their answers in the air.  Paper will be added with a later update --maybe next year.  Our students' current work apparently doesn't need to be saved. 

This simply isn't acceptable.  It's gross negligence, and willful misconduct in the field of education.  That is to say that if I told my boss that I was teaching like this, I would be fired for precisely those reasons. It's kind of a big deal.  Your company can't be this blind --can they?   How long has Canvas been on the market --nine years?  Unless there is another avenue, this is one of those issues where it really might be worthwhile to take a short drive down to the SLC offices and speak with higher management at Instructure.  This is just appalling.