[Courses] Comprehensive Course Search Tool (Searching Course Content for a Topic)

I always find it useful to search for content using an index or an actual search tool rather than just scrolling through all of the pages one by one to find what I need.  I can see many uses for this:
  1. As a student, I know that a particular topic was covered but I'm not sure where.  I can search the course for the keyword and the page hits will come up.
  2. As an instructor, I want to know where else these students have seen a particular concept.  I can search a bunch of courses for a keyword and the courses and page hits will come up.
  3. As a student, as I am trying to integrate information from multiple lectures within a course or within multiple courses, it would be useful to see where a particular concept has been covered.



Added to Theme

Add or improve search functionality Theme Status: Identified

Community Participant

Can't be that complicated. You can already search the assignment, files and quiz sections. Why not pages? 

Community Novice

A paid option is the Atomic Jolt product called Atomic Search.  It looks like it works pretty well, I've never used it but would love to try it out.  I think when I priced it last year it would have been around $5,000 per year for our institution of about 10,000 students.  Could be different by now.

Community Novice

Lack of search is impacting the usability and accessibility of Canvas.

Community Member

I'm desperate for a basic search ability of course content but my school (Oregon State University) is not willing to pay for the expensive Atomic Search app. I read through quite a few of the posts and it seems most everyone really wants basic search at least. My courses have substantial amounts of text contributed by me, the professor, and by students. I find myself wasting so much time trying to backtrack to find where we discussed something so I can point the student back to the discussion. Having all this written content is one of the big advantages of online teaching over the classroom. In the classroom it is sometimes hard to say, for example, 'please refer to your notes from week 2 where we discussed X'. Sure, I revisit previous themes but I don't typically go into the detail shared in a previous lecture. In online teaching I would love to do that, but only if it takes a quick minute to pinpoint such detail. Additionally, imagine how beneficial it could be for students to search key words the same way. 'Didn't I read something in week 2 from the professor or student about X'? 

I don't know how to elevate this issue higher up the chain of consideration but I will say that our local community college is thinking of switching from Moodle to Canvas and though I love Canvas much more than Moodle this search issue is a big deal. If OSU can't afford to pay for Atomic Search there is no way to a community college will.

Community Member

Amen! I wish there was a way to get someone to listen to this plea for what is a relatively basic web tool. Alas, it seems we are howling into the wind.

Community Member

The anonymous response from Canvas to the original topic post states "This idea was considered when developing our product plan for Q4 2019 and is not expected to influence development within Canvas at this time". I spoke with my school (Oregon State University) Canvas administrators and they indicated "we do have opportunities throughout the year to communicate our needs directly to Instructure, either when we meet with them or through the Unizin consortium. We'll continue to advocate for inclusion of this functionality within Canvas, as a search ability is not something we should have to pay for." I'm guessing these requests directly from schools carry a lot more weight than our Canvas Community discussion that gets an anonymous reply such as the one I quoted. Please take a moment and ask your campus Canvas administrator to request Canvas include search capability in future versions. Thank you.

Community Member

Done! For what it's worth, requested of the powers that be at the Univ. of Washington. It's really striking that Canvas is still in the 1994 "Yahoo! Directory" era of LMS development.

Community Champion

 @stiber ‌, I have been asking for search at UW for ages. We finally broke down here at the iSchool and negotiated an agreement with Atomic Jolt and have been using their search tool for a couple of years now. Our users love it and we will continue to purchase it for the foreseeable future. Now, we are a very small school at UW so our costs are not very large.

Community Novice

For accessibility, the search tool should also index video captioning and image tags.

Community Member

Higher usability, greater value of the courses! Especially for those used as a "wiki"