Learning Activities - Winter 2020 Update

Instructure
Instructure
11 21 1,537

Hello everyone!

 

I wanted to take a few minutes and share some of the latest developments coming from my sphere of the Canvas product world. 

 

My team - known as the Learning Activities team in Canvasland - manages the creation and structure of a course along with any learning objects, including modules, assignments, discussions, pages, files, RCE, syllabus, mastery paths, direct share, course exports, and Blueprint courses. Whew, that was a lot to type. 

 

Needless to say we stay pretty busy, but here are some highlights of what we’ve been up to. 

 

  • In the very near future, instructors will be able to control the number of submission attempts on an assignment. This is coming in the March beta release.

 

  • We’ve got an auto-save option in the RCE that will recover your content in case you accidentally navigate away from the page before you had a chance to hit that save button.

 

  • In January we released improvements to the student workflow of assignments. In today’s workflow, we don’t do a great job of surfacing instructor feedback. Students have to dig into their submission details. But now the submission, instructor comments, and rubric are all on one page. Plus students have a better way to track their submission progress and manage multiple attempts. This is currently in beta, and I’d like to hear from more of you on what’s working or not working with this before we roll it to production, so please comment in the user group.

 

  • On the Syllabus page, you can now hide the auto-generated course summary.  This idea has been out in the community for a long time, so check it out if you’ve been waiting for it! This is available in beta today, and will be in production in March. 

 

The RCE is another very hot topic, so let’s discuss. We’ve got a chunk of work to complete before the July enforcement date, and I know there’s a lot of feedback. I’ve been reading it! Here are a few things that are top of mind:

 

  • We’ll soon allow Administrators to choose two LTI “favorites” that will show directly in the toolbar. We’re starting this work in March. It’ll look something like this within the Admin settings. 

340912_Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 2.23.39 PM.png

 

 

The two favorites that you choose will show directly in the toolbar, and the other installed LTI tools will be within the existing modal under the plug icon. 

340916_Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 2.24.00 PM.png

  • For those of you utilizing the Usage Rights feature for your content, we need to make sure that’s easy to do while you’re uploading documents, photos, media, etc. 
  • I know Kaltura is a really popular media tool for content, and we want to make sure that things are working as you expect before July. I’ll be reaching out to a handful of you via CSMs so we can get that right. 
  • In terms of accessibility, we’re tidying up media subtitles/closed captions and alt-text for images, whether you're uploading content for the first time, or coming back to edit it. 
  • We’ve cleaned up the Alt+F9 menu - you might find a couple goodies in there soon. 

 

I’ve made a goal to post quarterly updates, so as soon as it starts feeling warmer here in Utah (can’t wait!), I’ll be in touch again.

21 Comments
Explorer III

Great news!  We would like to take away the native media tool to the RCE to ensure media uploaded lands directly into Studio, where it can be easily auto-captioned, proofed, & published.  We would like to start with material uploaded or recorded being accessible - for the obvious reasons.  Any help there would be great.

Community Member

Thanks for this update! As one of the many Kaltura schools, Oregon State would definitely like to see the ability to hide the native media tool (as we currently do with some custom CSS). The favoriting will also be a huge boon!

Community Member

Throwing some more support behind offering the option to hide the native media recording tool! 

We absolutely love that we'll be able to favorite Panopto to include in the new RCE toolbar, but it would be even better for our accessibility workflows to ensure folks are going through there instead of the native tool.

Adventurer

That would be a great idea.

341040_Screen Shot 2020-03-04 at 2.23.39 PM.png

One of the things NOT on the RCE is Quizzes 2 (aka New Quizzes), one of my favorite things in Canvas. In the future, will it be possible to embed a New Quiz onto a Page, especially, when the page is in a module?

Instructure
Instructure

Hi Kelvin - we've got some work to do with the Quizzes team to make sure New Quizzes and new RCE play nice together. I don't quite have the timeline mapped out yet, but it's in the works. 

Surveyor

Thank you for the update on the ability to favorite LTIs in the new RCE toolbar.

To chime in with other commenters, to satisfy our accessibility requirements, we need the following:

  1. The ability to specify the placement of the favorited LTIs in the toolbar. Right now they are off the far right.
  2. The ability to hide the built-in Record/Upload Media menu so we can guide users to our preferred tool.

This situation impacts not just institutions that use Kaltura for media management in Canvas, but also Panopto, YuJa, and even Instructure's own Studio (formerly Arc) product as well.

Surveyor

Alex makes a great point about accessibility - one of the reasons we use Kaltura to consolidate all media is for captioning and accessibility needs, so we can't have end users confused about where to put their media.

Community Member

"The ability to hide the built-in Record/Upload Media menu so we can guide users to our preferred tool."

I second this point.  There are tools that my faculty will not use in the RCE toolbar (out of the box) and it would be helpful to hide them.  LTI placement is not as big of a thing for my institution but the ability to control which LTI is in the toolbar is great.

Surveyor

Hi Deactivated user‌,

Can you provide any updates on the RCE, especially around the LTI Favoriting and Kaltura?  We're getting very concerned that the July enforcement date is growing close and the improvements you mentioned here (favoriting an LTI so it appears on the Media Bar and properly hiding the Canvas media options when another Media provider is installed via LTI) have not yet even made their way to Beta.  We do *not* want to have the New RCE be enforced without these critical fixes.  They're not something that can wait a few extra months or years to develop, as the New RCE will really hinder the proper use of Kaltura on our campus and others as it is right now.

I also want to second a comment made by alex@umn.edu‌ about the placement of the LTIs in the toolbar.  We'd greatly appreciate if the LTI bar could be moved to the left.  As it stands right now, unless users have a large screen, that LTI bar doesn't even appear without clicking a "more" type menu.

I'm hearing through the grapevine that development on these things is not even scheduled anymore due to COVID-19.  If that's true can you please delay enforcement of the RCE until these are resolved?  We bring this up at almost every meeting with our CSM, but I figured it couldn't hurt to post here as well and see if any others agree with me.

Thanks in advance for any feedback and consideration you can give!

-Chris

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

I agree with everyone's comments and also we would like the ability to choose which integrations that get placed in the RCE. Has there been any update on this?

Surveyor

100% agreed - this RCE toolbar is broken and cannot be implemented as-is without the changes noted by Alex and Chris.

Surveyor

Dear Canvas Product Team,

We are brand new customers to Canvas and long time customers with Kaltura.

I just wanted to add my support regarding these recent comments and recommendations about the New RCE.  

It's very important that our users in Canvas can find and use Kaltura LTI tools in the New RCE.

We encourage Canvas to resume development progress to support admins with the ability to choose LTI “favorites” in the New RCE before the July Enforcement Date.

Thank you.

Instructure
Instructure

Hi Chris - yes, we are discussing what a new RCE enforcement date will be! Not July.  With the COVID work, my team did shift some things around, but we're on a path back to the new normal. We're sorting all that out over the next couple weeks, so more info to come. 

Surveyor

We want to take away the media recording option (it's off now for us) BUT I want to keep the mechanism to allow users to paste in embed code (currently the gray media button in the soon-to-be-old) RCE. Right now both media recording and embed code live under the same button, so we don't want to shut the button, just limit what it does. 

Learner II

This RCE toolbar design is broken and cannot be implemented as-is without the changes noted.  It's vital Canvas users are not crippled by their own LMS, in the use of the Media Management Systems each institution has selected, by this deficient RCE.

 We (meaning many of your Higher EDU clients) need, not just want the following:

  1. The ability to specify the placement of the Favorited LTIs in the toolbar (control of the order of icons in the RCE toolbar) . Right now they are sadly off to the far right, and unless users have a large/full screen, the preferred icons don't get noticed (without knowing to clicking a "more" type menu), but the unused icons will be displayed
  2. The ability to hide the unused, but built-in native media tool (Record/Upload Media icon), so users will no longer misplace the Media they are to direct to the institutions' Media Management of choice. (This is one of the tools faculty will not use in the RCE toolbar and it would be helpful to hide this one, and others). 

We use our Media Management system for all captioning and accessibility/accommodation needs, so we can't have  users intentionally confused about where to put their media.

We cannot have the New RCE be enforced without these critical fixes.  They're not something that can wait a few extra months or years to develop, if the fixes are not ready now, delay the deployment of the new RCE until it is fixed.  As-is the New RCE will really hinder the proper use of Media Management on our campuses and others.  (Rumors of "fixes" to this flawed RCE are not even scheduled anymore due to COVID-19, is not acceptable.)  If delays in the timeline are required to prevent this crippling update, regardless of the cause, then so be it.

This situation impacts every institution using Media Management systems including but not limited to Kaltura, Panopto, YuJa, and even Instructure's own Studio (formerly Arc) product.

DO NOT change the RCE, just because you can.  Since Instructure does not appear to be ready to meet the basic needs of the power EDU user's control of the RCE Menu Bar, implementation is a direct threat to the proper use of Media Management systems in/with Canvas.

Community Member

kldixon‌ Thanks for this clear and concise description. We (Oregon State University) are in this same position, and look forward to a workaround.

Community Member

Hi, 

We have just enabled the new text editor and have, in general, good feedback, but the following things have come to our attention: 

1) Alt+F9 is just not intuitive at all. Most staff will struggle to find this and we had to issue a special video explaining it. Can we not just enable the text toolbar to be there anyway? 

2) The route to Embed code is very hidden - took me ages to find it yesterday when it was queried by a staff member. Could this be added directly to the media button, so the Embed code is one of the options, rather than it appearing on a later tab? 

3) We would really like the <HR> command directly on the icon toolbar - not through the text menu >Insert. For staff who do not find Alt+F9, this is still a hidden command and yet it would be one of the most used. 

Thanks! 

Ros Walker 

University of Stirling (Scotland) 

Community Member

Yes, our media actually comes through Panopto and I have had to instruct staff NOT to upload into Canvas directly. In general, it would be good if Admins could customise the whole toolbar! 

Learner II

Working with images is more difficult in the NEW RCE and it is missing features from the OLD RCE. Feature ideas have been submitted but I hope improvements will be made without the need to wait on the voting process.

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/17245-new-rce-maintain-attributes-when-replacing-images" modif...

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/16822-new-rce-embed-images-from-folder-view 

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/16133-new-rich-content-editor-open-links-in-new-window 

Here are areas I would like to see improvement.

1. Image Replacement. When selecting an image to replace another image, none of previous attributes are persevered. Embedded hyperlinks are lost. Size and position are lost. This is not how the old RCE worked. This functionality needs to be restored. Most image replacement schemes keep embedded attributes and sizes (Microsoft, Google, etc).

2. Image Selection. Very difficult to find an image in a course with lots of images. The ALL option shows folders but selections are added as hyperlinks, not images. It would be nice to have search in the space or to have the default drop downs include more folders than just the top level Course Images folder. We should be rewarded for organization :  )

3. Image hyperlinking. Control+K no longer gives you the option to have a linked image open in a new window/tab. This needs to be added back so users do not lose their place when clicking a linked course image.

We had to turn off the RCE Enhancement after two days of development. It made everything we do labor intensive because our courses rely on a rich graphic user interface for navigation (linked images that open in new windows/tabs).

Learner II

This is an awful situation to be in. Is there any code that can be written to hide this button? I've had to do this in theme editor to prevent teachers from downloading and exporting our proprietary courses. 

Surveyor

I shared some custom CSS with our Kaltura community recently. We are not using this code but it does work if you add it to your Canvas Theme. I have not tested this yet in New Quizzes but the code appears to work in all other new RCE contexts.

/* Custom CSS to hide the Record/Upload Media button in Canvas New RCE toolbar */

button.tox-tbtn.tox-tbtn--select:nth-child(3) {
display: none;
}

Screenshot snip showing the Upload_Record Media button hidden in the Canvas New RCE toolbar

About the Author
I became a Canvas convert during my time in graduate school, and now I'm lucky to play a part in making Canvas awesome. Outside of work you'll find me camping in National Parks or traveling around the globe.