Sarah Harmon

Update on special characters on RCE?

Discussion created by Sarah Harmon on Apr 5, 2016
Latest reply on Apr 5, 2016 by Sarah Harmon

A few months back, there was a discussion about the lack of options within the Rich Content Editor for people to type in languages other than English. There was to be a vote last summer on this issue, but it has been tabled by Instructure, so that they could evaluate need. While there have been discussions about having users use alternate keyboards on their computers, using the Character Map app/program, and using the ASCII codes to insert the appropriate character with diacritic.


The reality is that none of these solutions is acceptable. It is true that those who access Canvas on a tablet or mobile phone (and some Macs, depending on the iOS version they're running) can simply hold down a key to get various special character options. However, there are a number of reasons to put a special character option on the RCE Toolbar:

  • A large percentage of students use public computers on campus--and therefore cannot change keyboards to fit their needs.
  • Most students still are using standard computers, not tables or mobile devices, to do their work--and thus cannot simply hold down a key to insert a special character.
  • Many students, especially at the community colleges and K-12 level, are still learning computer literacy, and are not comfortable following multiple steps in order to write a basic composition or do a basic assignment on the LMS. Asking them to pull up the character map or use ASCII codes is out of the question.
  • It makes typing in languages other than English much faster, which is what we try to instill with our students as they learn a language.
  • Without this option, it makes Canvas into an English-centric tool--thereby excluding proper online pedagogical practices for foreign language instruction.


At this point, I would like to ask the good folks at Instructure as to the status of this decision. As more and more institutions come online to Canvas--meaning an increase in foreign language instruction on Canvas--I believe that this issue needs to be reviewed again, and acted upon.



Sarah Harmon