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Get a Canvas Attendance update, meet a new product manager, and share your feedback

carlycurran
Instructure
Instructure
15 10 1,881

Hello, I’m excited to introduce myself to all of you! I’m the new product manager for Canvas data and analytics. 

First, a confession 

I used to read through this community forum to learn more about what instructors like and don’t like about software. I was working on a courseware product at the time, and this community is a goldmine of insight. Fast forward a few years, and here I am, still astounded by how engaged y’all are. What a dream come true for a product manager. 

A little bit about my role with Canvas data and analytics

Let me quickly clarify what my team’s areas of responsibility are, related to data and analytics in Canvas. Currently, we are largely focused on two primary functions:

  • Maintaining Canvas Data 
  • Building out New Analytics 

While I am absolutely interested in hearing about your experiences with and needs related to other data tools and products at Instructure (Canvas Data 2, for instance), I will mostly be helpful to you there as a conduit of information.   

A little bit about me

  • I’m a Texan. (Did you catch the y’all above!?) I was born and raised in Austin, and I’ve lived in Houston for about 12 years. I love this big, diverse, sweaty city, no matter how underrated it is. 
  • I love to cycle, and this year I rode in my 9th MS 150. 
  • I’m a Tar Heel, and yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind. 

What’s happening in New Analytics 

Currently, we are testing an attendance reporting tool with a small group of customers. Our plan is to release this widely in August, as long as performance looks good with our beta group. 

Canvas Attendance will show up at the course level as a new tab in New Analytics.

  • Administrators will select Attendance Criteria (from various participations, like a student posts to a discussion or joins a Big Blue Button conference), and if a student meets any of the criteria in a given day, that student will be marked attended. 
  • Teachers will be able to view this report by day or by week, and they’ll be able to filter by section or student. 

 

Preview of Canvas AttendancePreview of Canvas Attendance

More to come on this soon! 

A story and a request

For years, I worked as a freelance writer. The idea was that I didn’t have to deal with those pesky parts of projects: getting buy-in from various groups, having a bunch of meetings where a decision never got made, arguing about budgets—you get the picture. 

There was something simple about turning in a deliverable and walking away. But, there was also something fundamentally unsatisfying about it for me. 

I didn’t put my finger on what exactly was unsatisfying until I joined a marketing department for a product launch and then joined that product team. Working with smart people to solve problems was a thrill!! So thrilling in fact, that it made those administrative nuisances tolerable. And the realization that bringing my team’s collective brain to bear on a problem ALWAYS led to a better solution got me hooked. 

I love working with teams. And you, this community, are an important part of our team. You help us in so many ways, especially in sharing your ideas and feedback. Many of you have already generously shared your time and ideas with me. Thank you! Please keep it coming. 

If you have thoughts on analytics in Canvas, I would love to hear from you in the comments and especially in this survey.   

10 Comments
gedeborgs
Community Member

Wonderful news - really excited with what you are doing. 🙂

With the new MS Teams integration coming, will some of those items also be included in the Attendance Report?

epulham
Community Participant

This sounds so exciting! A few questions:

  1. Can different days have different designated attendance criteria? At our college many programs have an online day each week -- like Fridays, so the attendance for an online day would be different criteria than attendance in the in-person days. Or is it that instructors designate all possible criteria to constitute attendance and then that group of criteria is applied to every single day?
  2. We also just adopted PACE plans for our organization where there are blackout days (days when the program isn't running and attendance isn't taken) is that something that will need to be configured here as well? 
jerry_troupe
Community Participant

It looks like the antiquated Attendance Tool is finally getting some long-awaited attention. 

While I am happy to see it, why are you having administrators set the attendance criteria?  This is something that the instructor should have control over, since each instructor has their own idea as to what constitutes attendance.

The attendance criteria for an online class will be different than a face-to-face class, but a face-to-face class will have students submitting content online, so why identify days?  Again, hopefully this is left up to the instructor to decide.

Steven_S
Community Champion

@jerry_troupe  I agree that the instructor should be the one to set the attendance criteria.  As an instructor, I would even like to set certain activities as prerequisites to have "shown up" at all.  Ideally there would be a way to access some indication of which criteria(s) was/were met for any particular day of attendance.

As for the current attendance tool, it is important for recording face-to-face attendance, and so I see this as an addition to, rather than a replacement for that tool.  This sounds like an addition to the analytics showing student participation.  Having been marked as attending a live class meeting (either by logging into a remote program that takes attendance like cisco webex or by being manually marked present at an in-person meeting) should be one of the options available for the instructor to check off as an indicator of attendance for that day. It would be awesome to improve the process for recording in-person attendance as well!

My biggest hope for this attendance update is that it will display the full semester's attendance, so that I will be able to begin using new analytics.  The limitation in new analytics that only displays the most current results, makes it useless for identifying the last day of attendance for students who fail due to ending participation early in the semester.  This attendance update could correct that!

carlycurran
Instructure
Instructure

Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for your excitement and your questions. 

I’ll do my best to answer the bulk of questions in one go and tag those who asked. 

  1. @gedeborgs, we haven’t yet worked on using Teams data in the Attendance Criteria, but it is on my mind as that integration moves forward 🙂 
  2. @epulham, different days can’t have different designated attendance criteria. Currently,  admins designate all possible criteria to constitute attendance and then that group of criteria is applied to every single day. 
  3. For days that aren’t taken into account (due to not being class days or being holidays), an instructor can deselect those days in the Class Days filter. 
  4. @jerry_troupe and @Steven_S, we do plan to make the management of Attendance Criteria a permission that can be delegated to sub-accounts and instructors. That won’t be part of the initial release, but we also view it as an important feature and your reasoning makes perfect sense. 
  5. I also see this as an addition to the face-to-face attendance tool, and we’re certainly open to hearing more feedback about how this New Analytics report can be improved as we go. Steven, you will be able to see students' attendance across the semester, but in our current view, you’ll see it by week (or day). You can scroll back to review a student’s past attendance, so I think that will give you some of the information you’re describing.
vrichter
Community Contributor

I'm thrilled to learn that something other than the basic attendance will be possible some day.  Is a straight-up Present/Absent option going to be available without including Canvas activities?  We would want to access and export/port that data to another system (SIS), but it would be awesome if our teachers didn't have to log into another system (SIS) to enter the class attendance since they're already in Canvas.  Also, I'd love to see "all present" by default, and then absences selected individually.  We're currently adding Qwickly Attendance LTI to do this for summer session, but we need specific data for the regular school year, including time of the class, so we can compare that absence to our health center data that excuses absences for kids in the health center.  We are also looking for a reporting engine on the attendance data that is flexible and highly configurable.  All, feel free to contact me if you want more specifics or are aware of other products.  

philip_gregory
Community Member

The criteria/options allowed for "attendance" should be as wide as possible and include multiple criteria sets.  The ability to create profiles of 'Attendence' for different course options or groups would allow the implementation of policy options that include various levels and options for language, literacy, numeracy variations.  It might also allow for policy changes in response say to COVID restrictions being implemented as snap environmental changes as we seem to have constantly here in Australia, as various state governments try to grapple with opening, shutting, and restricting access to schools, universities, and VET colleges.

philip_gregory
Community Member

Thank you for developing and continuing to articulate this marvellous new option in New Analytics

jcoehoorn
Community Participant

There are two areas missing from this:

Institutional-level Access: Institution academic offices (Provost, Registrar, Student Support, etc) need to be able to do things like know the Last Date of Attendance, review students who have exceeded or are at-risk to exceed institutional attendance policy limits, and generally report on attendance data alongside other SIS information. The Canvas story in this area right now is... it's not good. I can't think of another mainstream LMS that's worse.

This access could be per-enrollment, rather than per-attendance-event; a report or export showing how many absences for each student in each course out of how many course meetings might be enough. However, if it were possible to pull individual events programmatically via API then automating the aggregation would not be overly burdensome.

I know it's possible to get this data out of Roll Call, because I've done it on a self-hosted instance where I had raw database access. Instructure-hosted Canvas instances should have the same ability.

Student-level Access: Students should be able to see their own attendance summary across all current courses in one place. It should be a place designated as attendance, and not merely another assignment result. They should NOT need to visit each of their courses to see their full picture.

mverna
Community Member

Reiterating what @jcoehoorn is saying what is needed is a one stop Institutional-Level Access.

We need proof that a student wants to be in a class, in order to do that now there is a course with a quiz being setup as an Ungraded survey, with that survey linked from every class.  Doing it this way is a bit cumbersome. 

I was hoping the adjustments to the attendance tool would solve this, but I don't see it.