Canvas Mobile App, Videos and ASL

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Disclaimer:  This entry may vary a little from a "mobile" post.  However, if it was not for the Canvas mobile app, this experience would probably not have happened.Smiley Wink

For approximately two years now I have been working with an American Sign Language (ASL) teacher at one of the high schools in our district.  When I started working with her, we were focusing on the basics of Canvas, such as the calendar and adding events.  Throughout the year, her ASL students would create videos of themselves signing and turn them in for the teacher to fulfill requirements for various assignments. I happened to be in the ASL classroom one day when the students were turning in their videos.  Some students had emailed them to the teacher, while others brought them to school on flash drives.  Other students were connecting their phones to the teacher's computer so the videos could be downloaded as though the mobile device was an external hard drive.  After that, the teacher had to locate all of the files, save them to a folder, and make sure that all of the students had turned them in by going through each of the files.  My first thought while observing this was, "I can save this teacher a lot of time."  Well, Canvas could save this teacher a lot of time and I could help with the implementation.

Most of the students in the ASL classes had their own phones and were either already using the Canvas mobile app for other classes or could easily download it. I asked the teacher if she would be willing to explore Canvas assignments and have the ASL students submit their videos online. To make a long story short, we had success.  Not everything was perfect, but we learned a lot through the process.  Here are some of the things we learned:

  • As you would expect, even short videos take a while to upload.  The uploading from the mobile devices is a two step process.  The first part compresses the video to prepare it for uploading.  The second part actually uploads and submits the video. The compressing of the video was very obvious, including a progress bar that was very visible to show when the compression was complete.  When the upload begins, the screen kind of returns to normal with a very thin, hairline sized progress bar towards the top of the screen that is very subtle and fairly easy to miss.  The students would think the uploading was done after the compression phase and become confused why the teacher had not received their submission.
  • If you want to watch the videos in Speedgrader, set the submission type to Online and media recordings.  File uploads work too, but there is a downfall.  When videos are submitted as media recordings, they can be played right there in Speedgrader almost instantly.  If submissions are uploaded as file uploads, they will need to be downloaded before they can be viewed.  Since videos take a bit of time to guessed it...they also take a bit of time to download.  Since the teacher would share these videos as presentations with the class directly from Speedgrader (prior to grading them) it was nice to have the videos start right away and not require the time to download.
  • This process made it easier for students than the old way of bringing their submissions to school in a variety of ways.  Students used their phones to create the videos, opened the Canvas app, and submitted them for the assignment.  They could turn them in as soon as the videos were completed and did not have to wait until the next class to turn them in.
  • This process had definite advantages for the teacher as well.  All the class time that was previously used to transfer videos could be used for further instruction or enrichment.  All videos were organized in one location as soon as they were submitted.  Videos could be easily and quickly accessed via Speedgrader by class section to present them to the students.  Once submissions are graded in Canvas, grades can be sent to our SIS system with a few clicks of a mouse.  If the teacher was not satisfied with a students video, she could have them easily resubmit at any time. 
  • We did run into some times when students could not get their videos to upload in the Canvas app.  When this happened, a solution that usually worked was to have the students log into Canvas using the browser on their mobile device and submit the video that way.  (I am not going to say that this was fault of the Canvas mobile app because I do not know what the problem was.  There are so many variables that come into play in these environments that we just need try to trouble shoot the best we can and find something that works.)

I am sure that there are more things that I could add, but this post is getting rather long and it has been a long day to begin with.  Plus the weather is beautiful and my wife and dogs are waiting for me to go on a walk.  So, if you have any thing to add from your experiences or have any questions about mine, please add a comment or question. I will be happy to hear from you and more than happy to share whatever I can. #canvas mobile apps

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Community Member

Our ASL instructor happened upon‌ at an ASL conference and has been pretty happy with the UX so far. I'm not incredibly familiar with the details as the integration was a cinch and then she was able to set everything else up without me. We've also had some talks about Arc.

About the Author
Have lived in Ohio my entire life. Have worked in education for over 28 years. I have spent the majority of my career as an elementary teacher, but currently in a role that supports all teachers in our district with the integration of instructional technology, Personalized Learning, and educational practices.