Canvas Parent 2.0 - Pre-Release Update

Instructure
Instructure
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With a few more tweaks we'll be done with Canvas Parent 2.0, so here's a final pre-release post! Anything to do with pairing codes or self-registration in this post is only relevant if self-registration is enabled at your institution.

To summarize the changes coming:

  1. We modified the parent self-registration flow to use pairing codes instead of student username and password, which comes with two benefits:
    • Pairing codes enable self-registration regardless of how students authenticate with Canvas (username/password only worked as long as students were using Canvas authentication)
    • Pairing codes are more secure than password sharing; they last 24 hours and can only be used once. After the pairing code is used, it expires, the observer remains paired with the student, and anyone who tries to use that pairing code again to self-register will receive an error.
  2. We made self-registration work from the parent app. Now parents will be able to self-register as observers from Canvas web or the parent app, and the account they create will work on both platforms. No more duplicate parent accounts, and no more need for parents to connect to a student from web and mobile separately.
  3. We added an account permission to allow pairing codes to be generated on behalf of students. By default, this permission will be off for all roles (i.e., admin-only). But if you're an admin and you want your teachers, for example, to be able to facilitate parent self-registration on behalf of their students, you can enable this permission. Students can always create pairing codes for themselves.
  4. Parent app works for all observers, regardless of whether the observer was created through self-registration, manually by an admin, SIS import, or whatever else.

As usual, our friends on the documentation team are working on creating/updating Canvas Guides to explain these updates in full detail, but I made a quick (super-duper high-quality) video to show how this all comes together:

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(view in My Videos)

The new pairing codes and the new permission are on beta now, so you can mess around with them if you want. The 2.0 update to Canvas Parent will be rolling out to stores on/around July 18th.

This has been a deceptively large project to make the parent/school experience fundamentally better -- more reliable, more secure, more consistent, and more scalable than it was. We hope it helps kick off the '18-'19 school year in the right direction!

12 Comments
Community Coach
Community Coach

Wow, I don't deal with the Parent app all that much, but that seems so much easier that before. I'm curious to see how K12 users react to this change. 

Community Coach
Community Coach

jumping, happy critterYAY! I'm so excited!! Ryan, yes, this is going to be so much easier than the initial set-up. I can see this being a lot easier to "sell" to families, as well. As a teacher and a Canvas admin, I can think of so many benefits of moving to this format; I hope other K12'ers agree!

Thank you for making the demo video! (I'll be linking/sharing that!) By chance is there, or will there be, a handout-style set of directions? It would be sweet to be able to have a print- or distribution-ready publication/guide for districts to share with their families on Back to School nights. Smiley Happy

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

WHOO HOO! I'm really excited about this, pcraighill@instructure.com. I'm sure the only reason more people aren't chiming in here is due to the fact that most K-12 employees are on summer break right now. I just got back today!

Now, if you can add the ability to generate that pairing code from within the Student App (even without the QR code stretch goal), I'll be your best friend. 

Seriously though, your team has done amazing work to get this ready for the next school year and this will be a huge part of my Canvas updates trainings at the beginning of the year.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Creating a code, especially through the use of a QR code is pretty genius. I hope to see that happen in the future!

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi pcraighill@instructure.com‌ - the video you made, which is great(!!), is it posted on Vimeo or YouTube where we can link to it from our Parent How-To info?   (Except that in our K12 District we have one-login, so parents cannot enter the website with their app credentials, so I wonder if there is a way to end the video before that part.)   Thanks!

Community Member

This has caught our K12 by surprise. We have already handed out all the instructions to parents that relied on the student username and password. Having students, teachers, or even admins have to generate pairing codes as "one-offs" that last 24 hours does not work well in the K12 workflow, especially for the younger elementary students who are not able to login and do it themselves. Asking a teacher to go in and generate them one by one for their classroom is overly tedious, same for admins. There needs to be a bulk workflow with some sort of code that can be generated in bulk by admins and left in place for more than 24 hours.

Instructure
Instructure

Hi rsprik@vcschools.org‌!

Sorry to hear this caught you off guard. We'll have to see what we can do to improve the spread of our messaging; the first post about the 2.0 update was published in March, the pairing code design was published in early June, and the change rolled out to the beta environment last month, but we still managed to miss some people.

We just released a change to the beta environment which extends the life of a pairing code to seven days. The security team had us make some changes to do it safely, but hopefully it lightens your burden a little bit. That change will roll to production on August 25.

For some additional context, we made the shift to pairing codes because 1) we couldn't get away with password sharing as a mechanism for user registration any longer, and 2) the child username/password solution only worked as long as students were using Canvas authentication, which many school systems aren't using.

Instructure
Instructure

Hi hildi.pardo@apsva.us!

Here's a link where you can download the video and use/edit it and share/post it wherever you want:

335be9d08d737_13644282.mp4 - Google Drive 

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Thank you so much!   On another, but related note, I was on the Canvas Guide and wasn't able to add a Comment on this page:  https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-9919#    

I would like to see instructions for how more than one parent or guardian can Observe a student --  does the student simply produce another pairing code for the other user?     It's not clear from the Guide Table of Contents.

Thanks!

Instructure
Instructure

Yep - the student/admin/teacher (if the permission is enabled) can produce as many codes as needed for a single student, and each code is good for one user registration.

Example:

Student has two parents that need to self-register. Student creates one pairing code, texts that to Mom, student creates second pairing code, texts that to Dad. If the admin or teacher also create pairing codes for that student, they will also work, but in this case they would more likely expire unused after 24 hours (extended to seven days starting with the 8/25 Canvas release). 

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Excellent.  And just to clarify, then:   if the student creates the pairing code, it does not expire?  But the teacher-created pairing code will expire in 7 days? (after the udpate)

Instructure
Instructure

Good clarification: All pairing codes — no matter who makes them — expire if they go unused.

About the Author
I’ve worked in product management at Instructure for five years. I love my teams, and Canvas, and solving problems to make Canvas better.