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Best Practices for inline content when copying courses

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What are the best practices for linking to inline course content?  I thought using course files would be the best, keeping all content with the course, but this seems to produce issues when copying a course.

I use a lot of images in course pages and question banks and so far have always used the file storage for those images.   I then make a  backup of the master course and copy each course for each semester and section that I need the course.  When I copy the course, all the underlying links for those images are referring back to the original course.

The course looks fine to me as the instructor, but because the students don't have permission to view content in a course for which they are not registered, images are blocked.  This also happens if I include links in pages to other pages:  When a student clicks a link in a page, they get an error that they don't have permission to view this content.

So I would prefer the content be copied AND the links be updated to refer to the files in their current course.   If Canvas is unable to do this then I have two problems to solve:

1) Do I need to move the images off of Canvas to a service like Flickr?   And if after spending hours relinking all the course content to Flickr, will I have permission issues again?  And if this DOES work, are there any recommendations for which image store service works best/easiest?

2) How can I link to page files within a course page that won't be broken when the pages are copied to another course?

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This is the final answer from tech support as I understand it:  When you copy content from course to course, all links are automatically updated to reflect the files in the new course EXCEPT for questions in question banks because "this is intended".  They will always link back to the original course.   So if you plan on copying courses, I recommend creating a sandbox course from which you can always copy.  It might be a good idea to consider an external image hosting service as well.  Then be sure to never delete or edit that course unless you intend all future copies to be changed as well.

At one point I asked if they could put this in as a bug with a request to fix, but I never got an answer to that question.

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Community Team

don.bryn@donbryn.com, you've presented a lot to chew on here, but I'll get right to the heart of it: What you're describing should not be happening. Specifically, when a course is copied, as long as the images have been inserted using the Content Selector, and as long as all of the items in the course (including the course files) have been copied as part of the course copy process, images should come along in the copied course, and the relative links created when the course was first constructed will remain intact. Please refer to How do I insert course images into the Rich Content Editor using the Content Selector?

In other words, the image links in the copied course should not be pointing to the original course. I too use a very large number of images in my course, and have not experienced the problem you've described.

So, before we get into alternatives, we need to examine how the images are being inserted into your content pages and quizzes, and then how the courses are being copied. Can you provide us a step-by-step description of your page creation workflow? Does the master course backup you create contain all of the image files you've inserted?

Here's an example I just tested:

I created a course in the Free-For-Teachers on Canvas.instructure.com  All links to images in questions were created using the content selector: course files. 

Once the course was perfect, I saved a course backup file and then uploaded it to our institution's Canvas instance.  When I look at questions, all image links still refer back to the instructure Canvas instance.  So if a student is logged in at my institution to take a quiz, but is not registered on the same course on the instructure instance, the will not be able to see any images.

The 2nd issue is related but slightly different.   In my "getting started" module, I have a basic instruction page that contains a link to a more thorough introduction to Canvas.   If students are already familiar with Canvas they don't have to visit the linked page.  However, if they DO decide to visit the page, the link takes them to another page in the same course with a lot of information and links to learn Canvas.

However, when I copy this course from one semester to the other, the link no longer words because it points to a page in the original course, NOT the same page in the current course.  The page exists in the copy, but the link still points to the original and students can only see content in courses for which they are registered.  And in this case, the course was copied within the same institution Canvas instance.

So I believe you if you say this "Should not be happening", but it is.  I have no clue if it's something I could solve or just something in Canvas.  I always use the content selector: Course Files.  I always copy/save the entire course.  

ANY help would be appreciated.   I really don't want to relink thousands of images to question banks in some other image hosting service!!

Wait a minute.   When I insert images, I click the embed image icon, then Canvas, then Course Files, then find the file I want.  There are sorted alphabetically and it even keeps the list open when you insert the next image.

I tried using the file selector on the right side of the page but it was almost impossible when there are a large number of files as it doesn't sort alphabetically (Can't seem to figure out what order it uses if any).   You have to randomly search through a couple hundred files in a tiny window to find the file you need.   Is that the area I would have to use to make this work?    If so, I'll still opt for using an image hosting service because it's just too frustrating to use that area of canvas.

Aha, don.bryn@donbryn.com, you've discovered why the image links in your copied courses are broken. I agree that inserting images through the Content Selector can become cumbersome in a course with hundreds of images--but it is the only way to ensure that the links to your uploaded image files maintain their relative link status in a course copy.

It has been my observation that the images do indeed sort in alphabetical order in the Content Selector (numerical first, then alpha). If you name your images thoughtfully before uploading them to the course files area, you will have a more manageable array of images. I just double-checked this in one of my courses (which also contains hundreds of images), and confirmed that the images are displaying in this fashion--so if you're experiencing behavior that is not consistent with the numeric-alpha convention, you might want to have Support have a look at one of your pages and at your files.

If you'd like to see the content organized differently in the Content Selector, please consider submitting a feature idea to Canvas Feature Ideas​ after reading How do I create a new feature idea?​ and How to write a good feature idea submission​.

When creating questions in the question bank, there is NO other way to embed images than the method I used (Using the embed images/Canvas/Course Files).  There is no embed course files on the right:

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 12.35.06 PM.png

I followed the instructions from instructure for embedding images from the course files.  See this page:  How do I embed images from Canvas into the Rich Content Editor?

If I embed an image into a Wiki Page, I can embed the image either way and the link comes out the same (with the exception that the size tags are included in the method I used, which is important as I often edit the size.  This proves that this method of inserting images is not the issue.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 3.22.10 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 3.22.21 PM.png

The files ARE now in alphabetical order in the right content selector, though they were NOT last year when I had to use them to create a lot of content.   I don't think I have a screenshot from then, but it doesn't matter as it works now.

The point is:  The links to images still do not get updated when copied to a new course.  This is a screen cap showing the addresses of two browser windows.  The upper window is opened to a quiz in a new (copied) course.   It is located at our institution:  scf.instructure.  The lower window is showing the address of an image from that quiz, which is still clearly located at the (original) instructure canvas course:  canvas.instructure.  I have no trouble viewing it, but students cannot see it because they are not registered for the other course.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 3.27.59 PM.png

I am a programmer.  I'm very careful about naming spaces, including how I name images for setting up a course.   I can find an image in a second in the original folders.  It just takes a few seconds longer for each second in Canvas because the windows are so small and require a lot of dragging.

So we have NOT yet discovered why the image links in my copied courses do not get updated when copied, even though they refer to images in the course files. 

If anyone out there has any help or suggestions that solve the problem, I would love to hear them.   Otherwise I will be spending hours switching all my images to Flickr. . .

Thanks!

don.bryn@donbryn.com​, at this point I'd submit a Canvas Help Ticket (Help link --> Report a Problem) and in addition to explaining the issue, I'd also include the URL to this question/discussion. Sometimes the easiest way to figure out what's going on is to let the experts who have back-end access to your course check it out!

For some reason there is no help available in our instance of canvas, at least not according to the instructions I get by following the help link below.  But I have started an email conversation with our campus gurus.  Hopefully we'll solve it soon!

Some Institutions decide to work with faculty and students directly before submitting Help Tickets to Canvas. That could be what's going on with your Institution, but regardless, the Canvas admins at your Institution can submit Help Tickets to Canvas (it's a free service! Smiley Happy).

The "help" link at the bottom of this page points to instructions that havent been updated. The help button is no longer at the top right of the screen, but rather in the lower left. I should have known that.