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The new API support for Studio - ready to explore it?

AkosFarago
Instructure
Instructure
9 0 178

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As we are rolling out new features in Studio, we must not forget that growing includes the product to become an integral part of the digital learning ecosystem. We never meant Studio to become a robust video management system in itself, instead its strength originates from how it is seen today: Studio is part of Canvas, while under the hood, it is an LTI tool integrated into the LMS with endpoints that cannot be utilized by other integrations. 

 

So what happens if you want to integrate Studio with a product that’s not an LMS?

A few months back, I spoke to an incredibly helpful Community member who shared about his scripts that queries media insights to better understand student engagement. In the APAC region, I regularly see the need to have these data passed to a business intelligence tool where the institution processes all their other data. Frequently, schools want 99%+ accurate captions for videos to comply with strict accessibility requirements which is only possible by involving human labor today. In another case, I heard that some instructional designers in a HE school aim to automate course design: upload the media to Studio, add a description, request captions and embed it to a Canvas course with one simple tool.

In all these cases, an authenticated third party tool, a product or a simple script is communicating with Studio. It accesses some data that is presented elsewhere or makes changes in the system that students and educators benefit from. The exciting thing is that the more feature-rich we make Studio, the more creative solutions and customized needs we hear from people who are managing media technologies at their institution.  

That’s why developing Studio’s API won’t be a one-off task. Ideally, anything new we introduce to Studio in the future should support access to external tools to some extent. A good example would be querying data from the Analytics page, but think of creating quizzes with new question types as well. However, not everything that you can do on the UI should be accessible via an API endpoint. 

So how to apply the product mindset here?

 

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We reworked Studio’s API as if it was a product itself that can be leveraged to solve existing problems and support new solutions in the future. After identifying a large number of API endpoint needs, we grouped them into a number of problem areas: 

 

The first was clearly admin data management. Until we have a UI in Studio to manage content account-wide for admins, not only can the API present an alternative solution, but will also support future development effort. Admins want to have control over their data, they want to be able to track what media is used where and carefully monitor that students are using Studio properly for uploading media while they also need to make sure that nothing gets deleted accidentally that should stay. One of the most important support will be retaining media by changing the ownership from someone who is leaving the institution. This can be especially useful if that teacher had tens or hundreds of videos and quizzes.

The second was fundamentally an accessibility need: integrating with professional captioning providers. For institutions where ADA compliance is strongly enforced, machine-generated captions are not accurate enough. Our aim is to provide the same ease for educators to caption with these services as it is done today with machine captioning in Studio. As a first step, we are working alongside a few of these companies in the market to identify the necessary endpoints and build the solution in cooperation with them.

The next was accessing media insights and account analytics. Periodically pulling this data out of the system will enable educators to build tools (e.g. dashboard in a BI tool) to interpret student engagement on different levels. If you follow the Studio blog, I mentioned in the previous post that course level insights are among our plans. But when viewership data becomes available via an API, the freedom of processing it any sort of way will open up new possibilities to understand great course design. 

Last but not least, use cases for automation. Uploading media, embedding courses, adding quizzes and other interactions. Then interworking with the Canvas API to fully utilize the possibilities. We also have internal teams to help their processes when supporting custom Studio requests.

 

Okay, but where are we now?

We’ll roll out the API support in phases. The first phase comes in a few weeks and focuses on the admin data management support! Then we will cover the captioning and media insights related endpoints in the second phase which will be available a bit later but hopefully this year. The third phase with the automation use cases is further down the road as there is still a lot of exploration to do around that area. 

 

Hope this was exciting,

Akos

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