Commons improvements for remote teaching

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From the first moment when COVID19 hit the entire world, we saw that sharing information and its significance has increased. Right now, people are supposed to communicate even more than they are used to, and when it comes to Canvas and creating content, now it's even more important to share information, to share content with each other, and encourage and provide support for those teachers who are supposed to teach 100% online. And this is a major shift for most of the instructors all over the world as previously they could teach their students in a classroom environment. They didn’t need to face the challenges that they're facing now. As a response to all the changes happening in education, the last couple of weeks we implemented such improvements that provide help in this shift and support remote teaching and learning. 


Since COVID-19 has become a larger concern, users had quadrupled and shared about 30% more resources in the Commons library than before. So we decided we needed to help users find resources more easily.


Three ways that we are helping users are by making sharing available outside the United States, allowing instructors to create and share unique links to resources, and providing creating ways to highlight resources in Commons.


First, we saw a huge increase in sharing videos to Commons. It's really important for instructors to record some of their earlier classes or best practices. International instructors can now share audio and video resources to Commons. Sharing audio and video files should happen just in the same way as it works for other resource types. Instructors can still search for resources based on resource type, so if they are interested in only video resources, for instance, they can just filter down the search to videos or they can check out the latest resources that have gotten shared there.


Second, individual URLs are shown for each resource in Commons. Instructors can share these resources with their colleagues or anyone else. And the person who gets the URL just clicks it and opens it and can see if that resource is good for them or not. The unique URL can be pasted into an email or a chat message, or anywhere else that can be used for communication.


Additionally, not only can admins share resources with their institution by unique URLs, but they can also feature specific resources for their institutions. Right now there are resources that are featured by Instructure, but we wanted to give admins a specific way to highlight their own resources that are valuable to their institution. It works the same way as editing a resource. Featured resources show as the first resource on the main Search page of Commons. If an admin wants to feature 20 resources, they can do that. There is no set limit number for this.


We hope these changes to Commons will help benefit admins and instructors as they share and use Canvas content.