cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Canvas Student update

peytoncraighill
Instructure
Instructure
18 19 3,347

I wanted to write a quick post about where we're going with the student app in the near future for those who might be interested. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments below.

(Note: We're in the process of transitioning the name of today's Canvas app, or red app, or "Canvas by Instructure" app to officially become Canvas Student, or slangily, the student app.)

 

Over the past two years, we've talked with students, teachers and admins from dozens of institutions around the world to gather feedback about our student app. Here are the categories in which people are looking to see improvements:

  • The iOS and Android student apps look nothing alike. This is particularly a problem for teachers demonstrating mobile access to a classroom of mixed platforms, and admins/coaches/support staff trying to offer assistance.
  • The student app doesn’t do what the web does. This is less of an issue all the time, but we've still got work to do. In the past year, we've added support for mastery paths, multiple grading periods, student annotations, and native quiz questions, to name a few significant upgrades. Looking forward, we want to fill the following gaps: Arc/Gauge launches, institution announcements, course invites, and cloud assignments.
  • The student app doesn’t look like Canvas. Schools spend time styling Canvas to be just-so, then students log into the mobile app and they don't see anything that looks like their school.

 

The challenge for us is to (1) address each of those areas (2) in a timely manner (3) without upsetting all the people. We're particularly sensitive to the third point, because the student app is now simultaneously averaging two million daily active users while maintaining the highest average store rating among LMS mobile apps. So the plan is to release changes iteratively to make steady progress without unnecessarily rocking the boat.

Let's look at an example of the sort of iteration we're talking about. Here’s the landing page for the same student logging into iOS and Android student apps today:

254989_Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 1.32.02 PM.png

Those are pretty different. Bottom tab bar on one, not on the other. Card buttons on one, not on the other. Menu button on one, not on the other. Different icons all over the place. It's weird and annoying and hard to interpret. Here's a redesigned home screen:

255006_Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 1.53.36 PM.png

Those are much less different.

I use this example in particular because it impacts each of the three categories I mentioned above:

  1. More consistent design between mobile platforms (see: they look alike!)
  2. More functional consistency between web and mobile (see: support for institution announcements!)
  3. More consistent theming (see: the same custom styles supported by Canvas Teacher, which impact things like bar and button colors, or replacing the Canvas logo with an institution's logo)

If you've used the new teacher app, this layout probably looks familiar. That's because we've built teacher app components with reusability in mind.

We plan to ship changes like these throughout the school year. If you want to be a part of testing these changes before they hit stores, fill out this form! Feedback from beta testers in the Canvas Teacher app has been incredibly helpful, and we'll take all the help we can get as we're rolling out changes to Canvas Student.

19 Comments
james_trueman
Learner II

 

A nice illustration of developments - I'll be keen to see how the other issues are being addressed.

More critically, the blog post says that Instructure will be releasing changes iteratively to make steady progress without unnecessarily rocking the boat - and that these changes will be shipped during the school year.

  1. Does challenge 3) 'without upsetting people' supersede 2) addressing all of the issues 'in a timely manner'? The gradual, iterative releases will result is a slow, drawn-out process, could this be done differently?
  2. Particularly, will shipping updates during the school year interrupt/disrupt users mid-term? What about launching a bunch of updates to the app between terms?
  3. What does anyone else think?

ta

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

James, I can't address your first question, but I can your second.  Canvas is now used by so many institutions globally that there really is never a time "between terms".  There are known and predictable slow downs, so we are able to plan for those when possible.

dhulsey
Adventurer II

I use an iPad and an Adroid phone. I would be happy to test on both, but the survey did not allow me that option.

I am eager to see the student app support external tools. Smiley Happy

james_trueman
Learner II

Hi Renee

(Borrowing my own reply from elsewhere for a bit of this).

The critical point I was making was really responding to the phrase 'We plan to ship changes like these throughout the school year', as this suggests that a gradual series of drip releases is going to happen during the school year (when people are at school/college/university - if not why not just say year?), and I'm just suggesting that if this is the case, it not a great idea.

I know we don't all shut the doors and go home at the same times during the year -  but there are periods when less activity is taking place (slowdowns as you refer to). So, whilst the division of terms (semesters/trimesters etc.) is no doubt complex, there are likely to be periods where there is a significant proportion of students off rather than in school. I appreciate this is not straightforward - particularly as I think guys in the southern hemisphere are likely to be out of kilter - but there must be periods when it will affect the least?

 

For example, I suspect summer and christmas breaks are common. My university runs semester and trimester courses - so I know not everyone is off - although that is actually probably the case at christmas? So rather than feed out small changes when most are using the app - do a block release this christmas and next summer (August seems good all round)?

Anyway just another persepctive Smiley Happy

 

 

dhulsey
Adventurer II

I favor the AGILE release system Canvas currently uses. Making too many changes at once makes bug tracking more difficult, and I have zero desire to go back to a system where bug fixes are rolled out in annual updates. That leaves users living with bugs for far too long. Smiley Happy 

james_trueman
Learner II

Totally agree about annual releases of bug fixes - that should never happen. Once a bug has been identified and fixed - the fix should be released.

We're still getting used to the agile updates on the Canvas platform - and that can have its pros and cons.  I suppose I'm just asking that the provider is mindful of the impact on the users when rolling out updates based on a fixed agile schedule - rather than one that fits user need, and in this case, academic periods.  That speaks to a wider discussion we're having about product releases - which we'd prefer were timed so that testing and training can be scheduled (if needed) and it can be released for an academic period - rather than in the middle of one.

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

It is exciting to see such great changes planned for Canvas Student!

I think the redesign, making it more like the web-experience will be welcomed by students. I love the new look and how it parallels the feel of Canvas Teacher...I also appreciate that the iOS app and Android app will look more alike. That will make it easier to help students!

I look forward to learning about (and testing) the updated features. Smiley Happy

klundstrum
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hey  @dhulsey -- I also use Canvas on different platforms. I have an iPad for teaching and an Android phone, so I filled out the form twice! 

dhulsey
Adventurer II

Oh. Why didn't I think of that? Probably, I need more coffee. I am now going to fill it out a second time. Smiley Happy 

t_logvynenko
Community Member

You're making steps for better changes like a perpetual motion machine! It's encouraging Smiley Happy By the way, are going to ask students about their feedback? 

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

I filled it out four times. Twice for me on both platforms and twice for our support team on both platforms. 

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi t.logvynenko‌   

Yup! I suggest you sign up for the beta app:

We plan to ship changes like these throughout the school year. If you want to be a part of testing these changes before they hit stores, fill out this form! Feedback from beta testers in the Canvas Teacher app has been incredibly helpful, and we'll take all the help we can get as we're rolling out changes to Canvas Student.

dhulsey
Adventurer II

That is dedication!

ltscal2
Learner II

urgh it needs google and appleIDs. Too bad I would have liked to test it as a student and admin (dual role). Then maybe I have something to say when my cohort starts whining how bad Canvas is.

jdick1
Explorer II

As someone new to Canvas, I was rather dismayed to discover these three issues these past two months when QA'ing content on mobile, so this is very welcome news! 

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

Yup, Google and Apple do their beta testing through direct store IDs. Thanks for your testing! 

michael_isaacso
Community Member

I use the Canvas Student App everyday in my 8th Grade Mathematics class.  My biggest and my students' biggest frustration with the app is that pdf annotations made on their classroom iPad will not transfer to their personal device so they can't see the work done in class when they are working on it again at home.  A way to save annotation so they were accessible from any device connected to the account would be a huge improvement.  

rseilham
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @michael_isaacso ‌, 

I have heard others talk about this in the community, but can't seem to find a previous idea. I might suggest you create one so this can get some attention. https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-1330-how-do-i-create-a-new-feature-idea  

michael_isaacso
Community Member

Here is an idea I created for the Annotation Feature in the Canvas Student App.  Check it out and share if you think it would be beneficial.  https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/10039-student-app-cloud-annotations