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Mobile Users

Instructure
Instructure

We’re at nine million monthly active users of the Canvas mobile apps, which is many millions more than when I last posted about Instructure’s approach to mobile. If you’re new to Canvas, or if you’re curious about how and why we do the things we do, this post is for you!

We anchor mobile app development to a few principles:

  1. Focus on experience. There’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to making Canvas fit into your pocket. The mobile apps have to be secure and accessible and scalable. They have to be translated into 34 languages. The mobile apps have to evolve with regular changes to Canvas web and mobile operating systems. They have to handle courses with 10 students where every assignment is an LTI launch, and they have to handle courses with 200 students where every assignment is a discussion. The iOS and Android apps have to look and function the same way despite being on two different tech stacks produced by two different teams of people. But just as importantly, the mobile apps have to deliver worthwhile experiences. If regular operations take too long or make you miserable, or if the interface just looks like bad, you might as well be using any other LMS. Canvas has to be better.

    Here's a subset of the 82 polish items to address before releasing Canvas Parent 3.1, for example:

    parent_polish_items

    These polish tickets are usually cosmetic, and they come when we compare iOS and Android side-by-side at the end of developing a feature.

  2. Ship things. Product development exists on a spectrum. On one end, you plan every detail and you never take risks and as a result, you never ship things because you find that details change and risks can’t be avoided. On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t plan enough and you ship quickly and you break things. The outcomes at either end of the spectrum aren’t good. The Canvas mobile teams strive to be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, always erring on the side of shipping. We can’t deliver the value that we don’t ship. We believe that when we mess up, we ought to listen and learn and ship again.

  3. People over process. In my experience, this is the most overlooked value from the agile manifesto -- which is roughly the constitution of agile software development. Our teams do their best to reconcile what’s planned and what’s right when there’s a gap. We try to keep enough perspective to prevent process from lulling us into doing stupid things. There are scenarios where this principle doesn’t work, but we try to create situations where it does (small teams, smart people, taking on new challenges, limiting recurring meetings, encouraging communication, etc.).

    Here's one of my favorite parts about working at Instructure:

    allen_slack
    This is the mobile support lead's way of saying something is on fire somewherecheck it out. I've worked for companies where people roll their eyes when they see this and say they'll get to it next sprint. That's the worst, and it's what you get with process over people. If there's a fire, we're going to stop regularly scheduled programming to go deal with it.

  4. Prioritize real-life benefits. When you’re planning a project on a platform as versatile as Canvas, it’s tempting to miss the forest for the trees. What happens with our new feature if this course setting is on and this feature flag is off and this sub-account hides this button and this root account has this permission disabled for this role and this ticket hasn’t merged to beta? Concerns like these take up a huge amount of mental space, and to a large extent, it’s the job of product and engineering teams to make sure these cases are hashed out. At some point, it’s also true that 99.723% (see: made-up numbers) of users won’t experience the case you’re worried about, and you’re better off figuring out how to remove extra bits of friction for the average user. This is not a straightforward thing to balance, but in general, the mobile teams will prioritize delivering maximum value to maximum people over checking every last feature box.

  5. Throw a little weird in there. Our software is designed and built by people as quirky as our users, and it ought to reflect that fact for the sake of everyone involved. If you like your software a little more dry and dusty, I’ve had good luck recently with printer utilities, insurance apps, and SimCity 2000 doesn’t hold up quite as well as I expected. Weirdness is especially vulnerable to atrophy over time, but it’s worth protecting. We want to flex those weird muscles.

When you mix those principles together, you get role-based apps which are updated regularly and rated best-in-class by users -- with spinning Canvas logos and panda avatar builders to top it off!

This definitely doesn't mean everything is awesome. Our approach involves tradeoffs. Let’s use peer reviews as an example. It’s a cool feature, and some people rely on peer reviews, and you can’t conduct peer reviews from our mobile apps today. We consider peer reviews every time we touch assignments in mobile. We have a design, and we know how it would work, and we know what it would take to support it. The problem is that peer reviewing is a relatively lesser used feature of assignments, and it would take a lot of effort to support natively. Instead of working on peer reviews last fall, we focused on things like improving load times on grade lists in student and teacher apps, and increasing the visibility of feedback on submissions, and reducing taps to submit assignments. But if you created those peer review assignments, this is still a bummer, and I get it!

I can think of a few escapes for this predicament, in no particular order:

  • If you’re on a tablet or Chromebook, Canvas web is fully supported in your native web browser
  • Some schools contract with our professional services team for custom development
  • Our mobile apps are open source, and some schools build their own mobile apps using our repositories as a model
  • You could build the feature yourself and submit a pull request for our mobile team to review
  • We can hop on a call and you can argue that we’re doing it wrong
  • You can submit a feature idea in our community and see how it resonates with other Canvas users


If you want to know more about web/mobile parity, our documentation team has created some guides for the student and teacher apps that you may find helpful. If you have feedback on making those documents better, send it on!

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Instructure
Instructure

Hope summer is going well for you! After the second-rainiest spring on record, the atmosphere over Utah burned away and now we're all walking around in climate-controlled space suits and eating sand.

Here’s what the mobile teams are working on.

Canvas Student

New assignment details and submission flows are coming in Canvas Student 6.6! We showed off this update at InstructureCon two weeks ago, but in case you missed it, here’s what that looks like:

assignment details in canvas student 6.6

The student app assignment detail view is the most-used detail view across all of our apps, and we’re really excited about this upgrade going into the new school year. We improved assignment details in a few ways:

Grade visibility. Most students access the assignment detail view to check a grade (surprise!), so we needed the design to reflect that pattern.

Feedback visibility. Grades are just the tip of the feedback iceberg. Almost all the value for the student -- and the bulk of time spent grading -- is in the comments. We wanted to beef up the visibility of teacher feedback (off the top of my head: annotations, annotation comments, submission comments, media comments, rubrics, and rubric comments). The student can now find all feedback in a single place while also viewing and interacting with their submission. And for the first time, students can navigate all rubric details -- all scores, definitions and descriptions -- both before and after submission.

Submission flow. If you’ve never submitted a file to Canvas from another app on a mobile device then you haven’t felt confusion. You may have heard about it, but you haven’t felt it in your bones. That’s a problem because students increasingly rely on the mobile app to submit assignments. Well, problem solved in 6.6. Here’s the new share extension in action -- submitting from the Files app on iOS to Canvas:

share extension in canvas student 6.6

Submitting from within the app is also much better -- with the one exception of cloud assignments: those remain unchanged. To ship this update before fall start we had to save improvements to cloud assignments for another day. To play with new submissions yourself, see the TestFlight link below.

Lastly -- unrelated to assignment details -- hold onto your wigs and keys if you use Canvas Student on iPad because here’s the thing you’ve been waiting for:

side-by-side on ipad in canvas student 6.6

That’s right, support for split view is coming in 6.6!

We’re in the process of testing 6.6 for both platforms right now. The iOS team is on track to begin rollout in the first week of August, and the Android update will happen a few days afterwards. If you want to help us test the 6.6 update by playing with it on iOS through TestFlight, here’s a link:

Join the Canvas Student beta - TestFlight - Apple 

As usual, if you find any funny business, feel free to report it below. (...unless the 6.6 update is already released to stores when you're reading this. Once a release hits stores, you're better off reporting any issue you find to Canvas Support.)

Canvas Teacher

Over the past few weeks we’ve worked on improving load times for submissions in the teacher app. If you work in large courses -- on the order of hundreds of enrollments -- stay tuned for the next teacher app release on iOS and Android. It should hit stores within the next few weeks. Everyone will see improved load times but it will be most noticeable for large courses.

Next up for the teacher app is adding support for post policies, which are the new gradebook’s equivalent of the old gradebook’s muting/unmuting grades.

Canvas Parent

We’ve already released two updates that should really help the observer self-registration process for teachers and parents this fall. If your school/system uses self-registration for parents, take note and help spread the word:

[INSERT LASER-LIKE FOCUS HERE]

  1. Teachers can now create pairing codes for an entire class with a single click. Check out the documentation on exporting pairing codes to see how.
  2. Parents can now add additional students to observe from the parent app. Android added this feature a little while ago, and iOS supports it as of this week. Canvas guides are being updated right now with directions for parents, and I'll update this post with the links when they're live.
    Update: Check out the iOS and Android guides for adding students to observe from the parent app.

[END FOCUS]

I’m super excited to have these updates live before fall start, and I hope you are too! They should really smooth out the parent onboarding process.

Now for the fun part: improving the in-app experience for parents! Our goal is to help parents support their students on a daily basis by answering some simple questions: How’s my kid doing, and what’s due and when? We have three updates planned to answer those questions in a better way, divided as follows.

3.0: New grades list and updated syllabus. Today, parents can only view grades in the week view, which means there’s no way to see a summary of assignment grades in a particular course. In the 3.0 update, parents will have access to the same grades list that students have today (including grading period filter). In addition, we’ll make access to the course syllabus more obvious and add support for linking from rich content.

3.1: Messaging. The parent app is getting an inbox! Parents will be able to send and receive messages from the app, and message composition will be contextual. Parents will be able to compose a message from the assignment detail view, for example, and we’ll add the appropriate teacher(s) as recipients automatically. We’ll also include a link to the content being referenced in the text of the message so teachers have a little more context on the receiving end. (Yes, the parent app will use the existing Canvas Inbox to make this happen.)

3.2: New calendar. The parent app’s calendar isn’t awesome. We’re going to be redesigning it to include more course content like announcements and to-do items, which don’t show up in today's parent app. Parents should also be able to filter the calendar by course and content type, and see busy days upcoming for their students at a glance. (Then we plan to reuse the new calendar for the student app.)

These updates will be built and released throughout the fall. I’ll post progress updates, designs and links to beta builds in CMUG in the coming weeks.

-------------------------------

Happy fall start to everyone! If you experience any issues, report them! We're here to help!

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14 9 1,551
Learner II

image of girl holding a cell phone device and sitting against a tree

 

What was your biggest takeaway?

Put simply - if we weren't already, we need to begin considering mobile implications for course design. Having the checklist before, during, and after course development removes any instructional designer's best guesses at what needs to be considered.

 

Is there a tip you are able to (or plan to) apply to your work in the future? How will it help you overall?

The Mobile App Design checklist will be implemented into our instructional design and development process. The checklist will be shared to all team designers which in turn will be shared with instructors during design consultations. I believe starting with one instructor on mobile considerations will have a trickle-down effect to other instructors in their department/college.

 

Do you have follow-up questions for CMUG members? Is there a discussion you'd like to open?

I'd be interested in best practices for instructors providing feedback to assignments/assessments via the SpeedGrader on mobile devices.

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Learn more about the Canvas Mobile Design Quest

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3 1 161
Instructure
Instructure

Here's some stuff that's worth writing home about!

Canvas Student:

We’ve been working for months on a new assignment details page and a new submission workflow for students in mobile. I outlined some of the features of that project in a post last fall. To minimize the risk of disruption, we don’t plan to release the update in stores until summer, but we will provide a link to a beta version of this update as it nears completion.

Cloud assignments have been harder to make good than we originally thought they would be, but we aren’t giving up yet. Everything else is going swimmingly. This is going to be an awesome update. Right now, it’s slated as Canvas Student 6.6 – more to come soon.

We will have a smaller feature release – Canvas Student 6.5 – likely before the end of the school year. That’s going to contain a syllabus update for both platforms. The old (current) syllabus works like this:

311217_old_syllabus.gif

That’s...one way to present a syllabus. But probably not the best way. If you use the syllabus as your course homepage, you probably create attractive and/or important content to be featured on the syllabus, which today gets hidden behind a “Syllabus” button when the student has already tapped to view the syllabus. The old design is also inconsistent with the way the syllabus is presented on the web: rich content more prominent, and list of assignments less prominent.

The new syllabus looks like this:

 311218_new_syllabus.gif

So that’s better.

The 6.5 update will also include some cool iOS-specific features: support for viewing augmented reality files, checking grades via Siri Shortcuts, and updated Apple Pencil support.

Canvas Teacher:

 

We’re almost done with the most-requested feature for the teacher app, which is adding support for modules. Starting with Canvas Teacher 1.8, you’ll be able to navigate your course via modules list, like this:

311231_new_modules.gif 

Editing the module progression is significantly more complex because of features like mastery paths and module item prerequisites, and it also seems like a task more aligned with course creation rather than course facilitation, so that won’t be included in this release. Instead, if you like navigating your course via modules, you can do that!

This update also improves our use of temporary file storage so the teacher app stops eating all the goshdarn space on your iPad.

If you want to try out modules in Canvas Teacher 1.8 (iOS-only at the moment, Android is still in progress), use this link from your iPhone/iPad: https://testflight.apple.com/join/XzMfiwYM

If you see anything wonky, wobbly or just straight up whack, please reply to this post so we can fix it.

Canvas Parent:

I’m on a mission to make the parent mobile experience good. Less like Twinkies good, more like Plato’s Form of the Good. That means two things for the app most urgently:

  • Improve the process of connecting parents and students and teachers and Canvas. We started this last summer by unifying the parent user/Canvas user paradigm, which was 100% necessary and fundamental for kicking things up another notch, but now we need to actually kick things up another notch: allow teachers to mass produce pairing codes, allow students to create pairing/QR codes from mobile, allow parents to connect with multiple students from the parent app…that kind of thing.
  • Provide parents with more/better information. They access Canvas because they’re trying to help their kids. That could require viewing course announcements, school announcements, course content, calendar, assignment grades, communication with teachers, maybe even content recommendations to help them understand the topics their kids are learning.

We’re in a position to help parents support their students, and to reduce stress for admins and teachers in dealing with parents, and most importantly, to accomplish these things in a way that actually helps kids (instead of creating more noise or adding unnecessary burden). I’ll provide more specifics on upcoming parent app development soon, but if you feel passionately about this, I’d love to pick your brain and steal your ideas! The best way to arrange this is probably through your CSM.

That's all for now! 

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16 16 1,495
Community Coach
Community Coach

It's been a slow developing love affair Canvas Apps.

Knowing people LOVE your company and just want to have you around. 

Getting to know you myself - just holding hands and becoming familiar with what makes you tick. 

Now I find it hard to get by for a day without you. 

Knowing you are there for me, day or night. My wish is your command. 

Seriously folks, it has taken me a while to get to know some of the magic in the Canvas Apps. I think we still need to get to know each other a little more but the love is growing. 

My favourite is the immediacy of Announcements. I'd love to know what other people's favourite aspects are. 

 309291_smile.jpg

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2 2 216
Surveyor

I use apps for everything (doesn't everyone?) and I suppose when I first downloaded the Canvas app a few years ago, I was first learning how to use Canvas myself, and the app was not nearly as updated as it is today, so sadly I did not use it much. I recently watched the video ‌ and I highly recommend it to everyone. It pleasantly lead me through the newest features and how they can be used easily in our everyday life.  (Picture yourself waiting on line at a grocery store and being able to publish/unpublish course content.) The fact that speedgrader can be used from my phone is especially exciting for me because I can now grade from anywhere. I look forward to using this latest version more often as a teacher and I will also recommend that my students use it. Special thanks to Ryan.Seilhamer@ucf.edu‌ and kenneth.rogers@instructure.com‌ for the presentation. mobile-app‌

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3 1 180
Instructure
Instructure

Version 6.0 of the student app has been in the wild for a few weeks, and I wanted to give an update on what you can expect from the Canvas mobile apps over the next few months.

CANVAS STUDENT

We’ll continue releasing feature updates to Canvas Student through the rest of this school year, in roughly this order:

  • Version 6.1: New, shiny, and performant course announcements and discussions!

Announcements and discussions are two of the most-used course components in Canvas, and both our iOS and Android teams have been working for weeks to make them more usable and more scalable in mobile.

One of the tricky things about discussion threads in mobile is that they can get really long, really quickly. They can also contain loads of images. And while your four-year-old laptop may have a paltry 8GB of RAM, your brand new iPhone X only contains 3GB of RAM. But you need both of those devices to load the same amount of information in about the same amount of time. So that was one of our goals. Here’s how an image-heavy discussion thread looks in the store version today compared to version 6.1:

271525_Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 11.01.37 AM.png

To sum it up, replies load more quickly and the interface isn’t so cramped. The reply button in old discussions was also really easy to miss. See it in the top right? Well, a lot of people didn’t. So we added a big and loud “Reply” button at the bottom of the original post (and one less loud one at the top right of the original post).

  • Version 6.2: New, shiny, and performant grades and assignments lists!

The old grades and assignments lists took a long time to load. This update will make them better.

  • Version 6.3: New, shiny, and performant assignment details and submission flows!

Viewing and submitting assignments from the student app today isn’t easy. We want to improve three things:

  1. Make grades and submission comments easy for students to access
  2. Allow students to see their submission, submission comments, rubric and annotations in a single place
  3. Make submitting assignments in mobile less of a pain in the butt

Here’s roughly what the new assignment details page will look like after a student receives a grade:

271526_Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 4.39.23 PM.png

We also have plans to add support for peer reviews and improve support for cloud assignments - though I’m not sure yet if those two pieces will go into 6.3 or a subsequent version.

CANVAS TEACHER

  • Version 1.5: Support for section-specific announcements, better discussions and faster context cards!

This should be released for both platforms within the next couple of weeks.

  • Other note: Teacher app doesn’t support modules today. We’re pretty close to being able to make this happen. Modules necessarily come last in development because almost every other kind of content in Canvas can be attached to a module (i.e., modules don’t do anything without assignments and pages and quizzes and links and files also being supported). Modules are also the way that many teachers interact with their course content, so getting to an assignment through the assignments list rather than through modules feels unnatural. Our first pass at modules will definitely not be adding support for building modules or modifying the structure of modules, as much as it will be viewing modules and module items. The basis for the teacher app’s success so far is its focus on course facilitation rather than course building or course structuring, and we’ll keep that theme going in however we incorporate modules.

    Version 1.5 is the last feature release for the teacher app we have planned on this side of InstructureCon, but we might be able to squeeze some other stuff in.

CANVAS PARENT

  • Version 2.0: Better authentication for e’rbody!

    Today, the first-time user experience in Canvas Parent is no good. The login process is convoluted, and once you log in, you still need to add a student before you can use the app -- even if you log in as an observer already connected to a student in the web. What’s worse, if your first-time experience in a mobile app stinks, you’re much more likely to delete the app than you are to keep using it.

    Generally, parents who get past that first-time experience use the app and it works well. But some parents want to see submission details, and some parents want messaging with teachers, and both of those things are technically impossible with the way authentication works today.

    We’ve found that virtually every K-12 institution either imports observers from their SIS or otherwise allows self-registration for observers. Either way, parents have an observer account in Canvas if the institution allows it. So we’re going to run with that and make everyone’s brains hurt less.

    In version 2.0, parents logging into the parent app will:
    1. Find their school
    2. Enter their observer credentials
    3. Land in the app with their students already connected

If you can’t picture it, this is the difference we’re talking about between login pages:

271529_Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 11.29.12 AM.png

And while simplifying that experience is awesome, this change will also make the app more stable and much more scalable for future development (like adding messaging or viewing submission details).

MOBILE PAGE VIEW REPORTING


Last but not least, we’re making page view reporting from mobile a real thing. Today, we report mobile activity through API calls made from the apps. Those API calls are really hard to use in tracking activity, because a single page in mobile may require four calls, or it may require none. Instead, we’re going to fit mobile into the web URL paradigm to make reporting easier. For example, if a student enters a course from the iOS student app, we’ll report that they went to “https://[account].instructure.com/courses/[courseid]” from "Canvas Student iOS" rather than showing all the calls we made loading that course’s homepage.

----------------------

Stay tuned! App updates incoming!

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Instructure
Instructure

Hi CMUG!

iOS beta users will be happy to hear that we released Canvas Teacher 1.2 to TestFlight this morning! If you're on our list of TestFlight users, you'll have received an email from TestFlight. Here's what we need you to break:

  1. Student context cards. From anywhere in the app (including from the new People list!), you can tap a student's avatar to view their context card. It's cool! Let us know what load times you're experiencing when launching a card. It shouldn't take more than a couple of seconds. You can also tap on an assignment from the context card to launch of submission preview in SpeedGrader. The context cards look like this:

    251607_pastedImage_9.png
  2. Audio/video comments in SpeedGrader. You can now add audio or video comments to a submission in SpeedGrader by tapping the "+" button from the Comments tab. There's a known issue where the sent video doesn't display properly in the comment stream until you navigate away from and then back to the comments tab, but recording, previewing and posting should all be working properly. The option to add audio or video looks like this:

    251608_pastedImage_10.png
  3. Attendance. If you've enabled the Roll Call LTI attendance tool in Canvas, you'll see an "Attendance" component added to your course components list in the teacher app. Once launched, you can tap on a student name to mark that student as present, absent, or late. We want to hear your feedback on load times and user experience with this component. Attendance in the teacher app looks like this:

    251633_pastedImage_11.png

You can also add attachments to announcements, discussions and inbox messages now. 

So that's version 1.2!

What about 1.1, you say? iOS will be pushing a 1.1 version to stores which is everything mentioned above minus attendance. We need some more feedback on attendance before we make that available everywhere.

We have dreams for the attendance tool that haven't come to fruition yet. We want teachers to be able to set a phone or tablet at the front of the classroom that records attendance as students enter the room. We feel like it's technically possible today, and would be better than paper attendance, and shouldn't require schools to purchase any special hardware or adopt lengthy setup procedures. But the technology is still new, and not all smartphones have the right hardware, and not all kids have smartphones, so it'll be a minute before our dreams come true.

As usual with teacher app betas for iOS, you can send us feedback by taking a screenshot from anywhere within the app.

Android teachers - stay tuned, 1.1/1.2 will be out soon!

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Community Coach
Community Coach

If you joined us at InstructureCon 2017‌ for Canvas Mobile, An App for Everyone, thanks for joining me. If not, I wanted to make this available for everyone. The presentation is attached. 

This session covers the parent, student, and teacher roles when using the Canvas Mobile apps. This includes a short overview of 23 interviews by myself, Kristin Lundstrum‌, and Ashley Salter‌. We plan to share more of these interviews over the next few months in this space. 

As part of the presentation, we showed using an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil to do annotations in SpeedGrader, which is available below:

SpeedGrader in Teacher App with iPad Pro - YouTube 

Session Video:

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13 7 1,611
Community Member

As a smaller University, we are in a similar situation as rogrant@nmsu.edu‌ - we like the idea of Mobile, but we just don't have the resources to lead the charge with our users.  So, we support the faculty as they adopt the "traditional" LMS approach, using the browser interface to build their courses and interact with their students in our predominately traditional classroom, with the occasional faculty going to a hybrid class.  Leadership was also loathe to push the current apps when there is likely to be a transition to the new set of Apps.

However, we never hide that there are the Apps available for use, which has caused some interesting effects.  Several faculty have reported up to half their classes using the App to interact with their online course space, including during class times.  Other faculty have embraced the ability to review activity and grade work while on a mobile device.  I'm sure none of this is revolutionary, but it's nice to know that the theory we had concerning usage is slowly but surely showing in practice.  Some of our schools had mandated that students have a laptop in the classroom, and we're hoping with the App and the features in Canvas, we may be able to provide an alternative in the use of a mobile device.

Hopefully once we've had a better adoption rate, and can start looking at moving our core group of faculty past the initial learning stages, we will be able to have the bandwidth to support and encourage more adoption of the mobile Apps in the faculty, and work with our student support teams to do the same in places such as our freshman orientations.

This may not be the most useful Blog, but maybe it will help encourage those of you that see the benefit of the apps but just can't get the funding and bandwidth needed to reach the promised land.

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8 11 315
Learner II

New feature will streamline digital assignments and save time and money for administrators, educators and students.

SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Canvas, the open online learning management system (LMS) from Instructure that makes teaching and learning easier, today announced the immediate availability of a new annotation feature in its mobile application. Canvas is the only LMS to provide this capability, which streamlines the process of distributing and completing digital assignments.

This new annotation feature allows work to be completed inside Canvas, reducing a 20+ step process to three steps. As schools become increasingly digital, teachers and students are often faced with many disparate online tools that can force convoluted, confusing processes for downloading and uploading. Providing students with the ability to annotate documents directly inside Canvas eliminates the need for a separate app, which in turn removes the cost for another digital annotation tool. Through this new annotation feature, teachers gain back hours of instructional time and students are able to focus on producing quality work, rather than manipulating apps.

  

"At Canvas, we make it our first priority to find ways to simplify teaching and elevate learning, and our insistence on simple, intuitive workflows highlights this belief," said Mitch Benson, vice president of Canvas product. "Mobile student annotation, fully integrated into Canvas, simplifies the process of completing assignments for our domestic and global K–12 and higher education customer base. It also supports schools in their transition to digital classrooms, creates better experiences, and saves time, money and effort for administrators, teachers and students."

This new functionality allows students to open, annotate, and submit an assignment directly within Canvas. Districts and schools typically require a third-party app for students to annotate documents, an additional expense that can negatively affect technology budgets. Providing one platform where all of these capabilities reside eliminates the need for district administrators to buy additional software and reduces the need for paper, both cost saving actions.

The mobile annotation feature empowers educators to spend less time demonstrating procedures for moving and transitioning digital assignments and more time teaching lessons and describing the expectations of assignments. Digitizing assignments inside Canvas also prevents teachers from carting around or losing student work and allows them to grade assignments using the Canvas SpeedGrader, saving many labor hours grading and organizing hard-copy assignments. 

Canvas Creates Industry’s First Mobile Annotation Capability for Best-in-Class Learning Management

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2 0 218
Surveyor

It's 2016 and fairly evident that the mobile space is hugely important to our students. From the research Ryan Seilhamer presented in Mobile Series: Just-in-Time Design Checklist (2015) and , we know that a vast majority of students across the country not only have mobile devices but also use them frequently in their learning process. There are a few Canvas processes that are simple, fast, and easy, meaning that they are naturally appropriate for the mobile culture. At this point in our technology evolution, I think the bigger question that we should now consider is how far we should be catering classes for the mobile space.

So with that in mind, the question becomes: what features are students using in the mobile space frequently? I did a quick search in the Canvas Community for that type of data and did not find any results. Being a newcomer, I'm sure there are places that I neglected to check, so if anyone has information to share I would be interested.

Until I have more Canvas mobile usage data, the best conclusions I can make come from observing the mobile usage habits of myself and my friends. Predominantly, we use mobile devices to consume (news articles, social media feeds, short videos, audio), inquire (Siri, web searches), and communicate (texting, social media, snapchat...pretty much everything other than actually calling). As I see it, the mobile culture revolves around these very fast, incredibly simple interactions. If I need to compose a longer message, or perform extensive research, I'm almost certainly going to be seeking a full workstation.

This then leads me to the consideration of mobile culture evolution. Will we continue down the road of different devices for different functions, or will functions be simplified to fit within the framework of the mobile culture? Should courses be simplified to fit that mindset, or do some things belong in a space that encourages more extensive involvement and consideration? Where is that line drawn between what is simple enough for a mobile activity, and what is complex enough to set that consideration aside and trust that students will find a full workstation to complete the activity?

To a certain extent it is out of our control as educators. Students will operate independently and do some assignments on mobile even if we envision them being completed at a desktop machine. From my education I know that the concept of chunking information is beneficial regardless of the environment, so I will definitely be encouraging the faculty I support to utilize that, but I don't necessarily think there's any particular reason to spend efforts educating students about the ability to submit assignments from a mobile platform (without a particular use-case at least). I don't have all the answers for this, but this post serves as a foundation for my thought processes regarding mobile adoption and adaption.

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