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Attachments to Inbox from External Email

Attachments to Inbox from External Email

(8)
Did you know that while Canvas Inbox allows you to forward your email to an external account that if you answer the email from the external account and add an attachment, that will not show up in Canvas Inbox?  Seems that file attachments in this situation go into a unknown land never to be seen!  So if Canvas allows you to forward inbox messages to your external account (in my case my official college email account) then why not have access to full features of standard email? What sense does it make to have the forwarding happen if replies can't have full functionality?

 

For an instructor, this adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to what should be a simple activity.  If a student emails me a question via Canvas Inbox and it is forwarded to my standard school email account (we use Outlook Mail) then I should be able to answer that student from my regular school account and attach a file and have the student receive it where ever they are reading their email.  Canvas Inbox or their school email account.

 

Add functionality that allows attachments to come through with an email reply from designated external email accounts or forwarded to their accounts fully intact!

46 Comments
scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

Hi Tammy,

Thank you for taking the time to come submit this feature idea.  It has been suggested previously but failed to get sufficient community votes in order to advance it to the next stage in the prioritization process.  Your submission will open for vote with the next cohort on the first Wednesday of next month.  For more information, please see How does the voting process work for feature ideas?

Thanks

Scott

Renee_Carney
Community Team
Community Team

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. March 2, 2016 - Wed. June 1, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

kblack
Community Champion

If this does NOT get enough "votes," I strongly encourage Instructure to add text to the message at the bottom of the emails one receives from Canvas from the current You can reply to this message in Canvas by replying directly to this email to something along the lines of You can reply to this message in Canvas by replying directly to this email, but do not add an attachment .  That would seem to be an easy enough temporary fix until this is resolved.

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

Good suggestion,  @kblack .  No matter what happens, we will pass that along to the product manager over communication tools.

kblack
Community Champion

Thank you, Scott!

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

I support this idea, because instructor presence is such a powerful component of online instruction, and has been proven to be a key indicator in student persistence and ultimate success.

When we first migrated to Canvas, one of the features that we appreciated was the strong suite of communication options available to students and faculty, and I favor Canvas continuing to improve those communication options so that teachers can reach students wherever they are are, on whatever device they use, and communicate whatever content needs to be communicated. I similarly support improvement in student/student communication tools to better support collaboration and interaction.

I know many faculty who now use a mashup of external tools to support student/student and student/faculty interaction - Blogs, chat rooms, Wikis, file-sharing sites, external discussion forums that truly support threaded discussions, and tools like our own Community Coach's Slack Channels. I hate mashups because they force students to focus on the technology used to deliver instruction, rather than on the instruction itself. I studiously avoid sending my students outside the Canvas classroom except for the purposes of internet research, but in doing so I deprive my students of some of the great collaboration/communication options available.

By developing these tools within Canvas a more unified learning experience can be developed that employs simpler, more effective, easier navigated  and more accessible communication/collaboration tools. I dropped out of my first MOOC simply because they employed a different external tool for every communicative and collaborative function (multiple blogs, multiple chat rooms, multiple wikis etc.) until I was overwhelmed from traveling all over the internet and could not focus  on the objectives of the course, nor track what I had and had not done, and where I had and had not contributed, nor discern the meaningfulness of my contributions.

Yes, a long-winded response to a new feature idea, and one that goes well beyond the intent of this FI, but I want to support any movement in the right direction.

KLM

admin_brake
Community Member

Yes! At Colorado State University, our users want this functionality as part of their workflow with Canvas!

At the very least, accurate notes should be provided in the interface to let users know if attachments should be added or not.

Melody Brake - CSU

bschneider
New Member

I was just working on a support ticket at our institution today where this was an issue. 

The student had not received any of the feedback from his instructors where he had submitted attachments to them ( via the inbox ) and they responded with attachments ( MISSING ) using an external source ( we use exchange ).

Very glad this is being looked at, albeit seems like a fairly big miss.  The UX functionality of calling a feature an "inbox" gives the user an impression that it will function like 'actual' email.

kind regards,

Brent

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

Good point about terminology, Brent.

snugent
Community Champion

This issue has cropped up a few times on our campus. Faculty and students appreciate the convenience of responding via their email client.  At the very least please include a warning note in the notification that if you are responding with email attachments, the message should be created in directly in Canvas inbox.

nicole_stahl
New Member

Also, when responding to a message via email, the message states "You can reply to this message in Canvas by replying directly to this email," but does not define that you cannot add attachments, which is a bit misleading.

cwruck
Instructure
Instructure

Hey folks,

This isn't something we're going to be able to do in the near future. We understand the convenience that this could provide, but it's outside of the scope of what we can reasonably accomplish at the moment.

jmerriam
Community Contributor

That’s really, really disappointing news. This isn’t just a matter of “convenience,” especially for those of us who teach part-time or who do a lot of work with students from home or locations other than our campuses: having to log into and out of Canvas just to return student assignments creates very real issues, not the least of which is a wasting of time. In addition, at least for me, it means I need to put a flag that I’ve replied or returned an assignment through Canvas on each student email in my Outlook Exchange—otherwise, when I look back on my emails there’s no way to tell if I’ve returned something. That adds just one more step, on top of having to log in to Canvas, in what should be a simple one-step process of being able to return an attachment directly through an external email. I just have a hard time understanding how the Canvas developers didn’t include this feature from the very beginning..........

Joan Merriam

Sierra College

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

Hi

With regards to "I just have a hard time understanding how the Canvas developers didn’t include this feature from the very beginning" please remember that at the time that Canvas messaging was initially designed the industry standard was for the LMS not to have any kind of mail and that the Canvas inbox was never designed to be a fully featured email tool.

kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

I would just like to add that one of the advantages of a cloud-based LMS is the need to never have to "return" an assignment to a student. Assignments can be accomplished by the student, submitted directly to Canvas, graded in Canvas, annotations and grading comments can be done in Canvas and students can view their mark-up and graded assignments right in Canvas.

I do recognize that there are many different ways of doing things, but I have a hard time visualizing using an LMS to shuffle paper.

KLM

kblack
Community Champion

While I understand both sides of this argument, there are nevertheless two things that are clear in the current system as it stands:

  • When a student (or whoever) receives a message to their personal email box from Canvas, the message clearly indicates that the user can reply directly to this message....as seen on the screen capture below, which we've all seen at one point or another:

reply message.jpg

  • Seeing this message, the average user will assume that they could also include an attachment, if need be.  As I mentioned 'way at the beginning of this thread on March 9, it would be helpful--now that this has been "settled" for the time being--that Instructure either dump this message entirely or at the very least indicate within this message that attachments are NOT allowed if replying directly to the email.  Thanks....
Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

This would be a fantastic solution.

amanda_taintor
Community Contributor

I was so happy to find this thread and know I wasn't going crazy. I support this idea

kblack
Community Champion

Deactivated user​ - I certainly understand the time commitments of the programmers, especially in light of the awesome new features coming up in the Gradebook based on what I saw in your well-presented overview at Instructurecon.  BUT (you knew that word was coming, I'll bet!), could your team at least add a line in the automatically-generated message that appears in the email?  (I mean the one shown below.)

reply to this message.jpg

This would not be an overhaul of the existing feature so much as it would at least provide necessary added information to the recipient.  I'm not a programming guru, but I would think this could a be relatively simple fix for the time being.  Just something like this:

You can reply to this message in Canvas by replying directly to this email. NOTE: Do NOT include attachments! If you need to include an attachment, use your Canvas Inbox.

(Thanks for any consideration!)

laraine_herring
New Member

The solution Ken poses of simply adding a message like this certainly is something that could be done, yes?? It's terribly misleading without it, and we have had students and instructors chasing their tails trying to figure out where the attachment went. It was kind of jaw-dropping that this wasn't something that could happen since attachments have been part of the online world forever. Please at least change the message. Thanks!