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Student states couldn't submit assignment

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I received a panic email from a student who stated:

"I tried taking the quiz and submitting my discussion yesterday and Canvas wouldn't let me?  It would just refresh the page every time I pressed submit."

The assignment was set to close at 11:59pm.

I looked at her stats and it shows she looked at the assignments at 11:33 and 11:37pm.    It also showed she was there at 8:40pm.

Giving the student the benefit of the doubt- what would cause her assignment to not submit and refresh instead?  If she was taking a quiz and it timed out- would the answers she already input be saved?  There is nothing on either the quiz or discussion assignment that indicates this student attempted a submission.

If she was using a tablet vs a computer, would that cause an issue?

This is the first time with Canvas I've had this complaint and she's submitted assignments in the past without difficulty.

Thank you for any input!!

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1 Solution

Accepted Solutions

cakozlowsk@mail.ltcc.edu‌,

To follow up on what chofer@morainepark.edu‌ wrote, there are certainly issues with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge and the submit buttons. But when you track down whether a student is using a broken browser, you need to be really careful interpreting the "User Agent".

I just logged into my account from four different browsers. Here's what the page views show

215256_pastedImage_1.png

From top to bottom, the browsers were

  1. Firefox 51.0.1
  2. Internet Explorer Version 11.576.14393.0 / Update Versions 11.0.38
  3. Microsoft Edge 38.14393.0.0 / Microsoft EdgeHTML 14.14393
  4. Chrome 56.0.2924.76

Note that Microsoft Edge shows up as Chrome 51.0 inside Canvas. Even though it looks like the user is using Chrome, where things normally work well, they're really not -- they're using Edge, where there are known problems.

If you download the CSV file, you get these User Agent strings (same order as before).

  1. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:51.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/51.0
  2. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; Trident/7.0; ASJB; rv:11.0) like Gecko
  3. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2704.79 Safari/537.36 Edge/14.14393
  4. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/56.0.2924.76 Safari/537.36

The appearance of Edge/14.14393 at the end of the Microsoft Edge browser in line 3 is what gives it away. In fact, if you compare lines 3 (Edge) and 4 (Chrome), the only distinguishing feature is the addition of Edge at the end of the Microsoft Edge entry.

This cannot be distinguished from the User Agent that shows up unless you go into the CSV. The only hint would be that Chrome 52.0 was released around July 20, 2016 and is no longer a stable branch, but has been discontinued. However, if you were at an institution that didn't update browsers regularly, you might still be seeing version 51.

To muddy the waters even more, Microsoft's callous disregard of the user agent string is bolstered by their statements that people shouldn't be using user agent strings any more, they should update to more modern practices. This includes checking to see whether or not a particular feature works. If it works, then use it and if it doesn't work, then don't use it.

The problem there is that the logging of the user agent is done on the server level based on what the browser reports to the page. It's not done based on actions that are done on the page after the page is loaded or what features worked or didn't work as that information has already been written to the logs as soon as the page was delivered.

Although some of the libraries support feature detection, Canvas' general approach is more along the lines of "write to the standards". Unfortunately, as of January 2017, support for the standards among Safari and Microsoft Edge fall behind Chrome and Firefox (that's a long standing pattern). Also complicating the issue is that Canvas uses customized versions of older, stable libraries that may not accurately detect the new browsers and think that a feature really is supported when it's not.

The short advice I give students is do not use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge with Canvas. It may appear to work, but you will run into problems at some point. I also tell them not to run any interactive content inside the iframe that Canvas wraps the content in, but to open it to a new tab. I'm sure we all have our stories of what we would add to that list, in fact, there's even a discussion here in the Community with a bunch of those: https://community.canvaslms.com/message/35380 .

Finally, which is kind of where I started with all this, if you're tech support helping students, you may need to look a little further than the Page Views to accurately determine the browser being used.

View solution in original post

8 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi cakozlowsk@mail.ltcc.edu‌...

Could it be a browser issue?  Normally, Firefox and Chrome are the better browsers to be using with Canvas vs. IE and the new Edge browser.  Do you happen to know what browser your student was using?  You might be able to check in with a Canvas admin at your school tomorrow who could take a look at the student's profile to see the page views for that student at a particular date/time.  See this Canvas admin guide for further details: How do I view the page views for a user in an account?  This would also show the particular browser that the student was using.

Hope this helps, Christine!

cakozlowsk@mail.ltcc.edu‌,

To follow up on what chofer@morainepark.edu‌ wrote, there are certainly issues with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge and the submit buttons. But when you track down whether a student is using a broken browser, you need to be really careful interpreting the "User Agent".

I just logged into my account from four different browsers. Here's what the page views show

215256_pastedImage_1.png

From top to bottom, the browsers were

  1. Firefox 51.0.1
  2. Internet Explorer Version 11.576.14393.0 / Update Versions 11.0.38
  3. Microsoft Edge 38.14393.0.0 / Microsoft EdgeHTML 14.14393
  4. Chrome 56.0.2924.76

Note that Microsoft Edge shows up as Chrome 51.0 inside Canvas. Even though it looks like the user is using Chrome, where things normally work well, they're really not -- they're using Edge, where there are known problems.

If you download the CSV file, you get these User Agent strings (same order as before).

  1. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:51.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/51.0
  2. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; Trident/7.0; ASJB; rv:11.0) like Gecko
  3. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/51.0.2704.79 Safari/537.36 Edge/14.14393
  4. Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/56.0.2924.76 Safari/537.36

The appearance of Edge/14.14393 at the end of the Microsoft Edge browser in line 3 is what gives it away. In fact, if you compare lines 3 (Edge) and 4 (Chrome), the only distinguishing feature is the addition of Edge at the end of the Microsoft Edge entry.

This cannot be distinguished from the User Agent that shows up unless you go into the CSV. The only hint would be that Chrome 52.0 was released around July 20, 2016 and is no longer a stable branch, but has been discontinued. However, if you were at an institution that didn't update browsers regularly, you might still be seeing version 51.

To muddy the waters even more, Microsoft's callous disregard of the user agent string is bolstered by their statements that people shouldn't be using user agent strings any more, they should update to more modern practices. This includes checking to see whether or not a particular feature works. If it works, then use it and if it doesn't work, then don't use it.

The problem there is that the logging of the user agent is done on the server level based on what the browser reports to the page. It's not done based on actions that are done on the page after the page is loaded or what features worked or didn't work as that information has already been written to the logs as soon as the page was delivered.

Although some of the libraries support feature detection, Canvas' general approach is more along the lines of "write to the standards". Unfortunately, as of January 2017, support for the standards among Safari and Microsoft Edge fall behind Chrome and Firefox (that's a long standing pattern). Also complicating the issue is that Canvas uses customized versions of older, stable libraries that may not accurately detect the new browsers and think that a feature really is supported when it's not.

The short advice I give students is do not use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge with Canvas. It may appear to work, but you will run into problems at some point. I also tell them not to run any interactive content inside the iframe that Canvas wraps the content in, but to open it to a new tab. I'm sure we all have our stories of what we would add to that list, in fact, there's even a discussion here in the Community with a bunch of those: https://community.canvaslms.com/message/35380 .

Finally, which is kind of where I started with all this, if you're tech support helping students, you may need to look a little further than the Page Views to accurately determine the browser being used.

View solution in original post

Thank you for all the info!  

I've asked her to send me a one word discussion reply to see if the issue continues.

I have asked her what browser she's using and if she's on a computer or tablet.  She's on a tablet, but hasn't responded to the browser.

Thank you!! I did look at the profile page and was able to see her 1133 and 1137pm log ins for the date the assignment was due.

She's checking in with the IT dept at the college for assist as well.

I appreciate the input!!

Chris

Adventurer

Was this by chance a password protected quiz? We had a similar issue with a password protected (proctored) quiz. After entering the password they select submit. Occasionally, they may push the submit button more than once before the test opens up. When that happened they basically had multiple sessions in the quiz going at the same time. Only one of the sessions was recorded. Canvas did some kind of upgrade over the Christmas break that was supposed to fix the problem. But we had it happen again the first week of the Spring semester. The problem in our case was that the student was able to press the submit button multiple times. We have a clever IT guy who created some code to add to our instance that eliminates that problem by greying the submit button and disabling it once it is selected. It's working so far.

It wasn't.  I do not use the password feature for the quizzes.  Clever IT guys are always good to have!!

Surveyor

We use Chromebooks in our district and we've found that there are a number of extensions and apps for the Chrome Browser that students install that hang up the submit button in both quizzes and assignments. As soon as they remove suspect extensions and apps, everything works fine. 

Community Member

She doesn't appear to be having any further issues.  I've done a follow email with her and I'm waiting for a response.  Thank you everyone for your input!