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Conversations - a hot mess that needs to be fixed

Question asked by Sam Denniston on May 9, 2016
Latest reply on Jul 4, 2016 by Sam Denniston

A very frustrating day I had yesterday, trying to predict the behaviour of Conversations. Especially problematic is how it interacts with other systems.


I was prompted to start thinking about this by a teacher asking me a question regarding scenarios when using Conversations.


Scenario: a teacher sends a group message via Conversations to the class and observers within the class. Students and observers receive the conversation message in their conversations Inbox, as well as via email, if they have notifications set up this way.


A parent hits Reply on their email, expecting to reply just to the teacher who sent the message, which is normal email behaviour (Reply to respond to the sender, and Reply All to reply to all of the recipients of the original email).


As observers cannot send messages to anyone other than their observee (their child) and the teacher, the message goes to these recipients.


The teacher reads the message from the parent, some of which contains some personal details, then hits reply in their Conversations Inbox. As Conversations includes the previous message when replying, the reply from the teacher includes the message sent by the parent. The teacher has, however, sent the reply to everyone who received the original message.


Is this alleviated by clicking the Send individual messages checkbox? And why is there no checkbox when sending a similar message through the app?


Why is it that Conversations adopts some email behaviour (including the body of the message in the reply for instance) but not all (i.e. replying to a notification email with an attachment strips out the attachment).


I have no option but to tell my staff not to use Conversations until the hot mess it is, is fixed. No-one should have to try to figure out what is going on when using the system. When messages appear in email systems, people treat them as they do  normal email. If there are issues with using Conversations with external email systems, then don't use them.


There are real issues with unpredictable behaviour leading to a serious privacy breach.


Had I known Conversations would cause me so much angst before we went with Canvas..............


Someone please tell me that Instructure has thought all of this out and that the Conversations system works well - if so, I'll delete this post! But at the moment, it seems to me to be a hot mess that needs to be fixed.