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Discovery Conversations: Item Banks Dissemination and Collaboration

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Here in the community, I learned that while it is sometimes nice for Quizzes to use personal Item Banks, there are needs that are not met by that model. A common case I hear about is that really, all teachers working in a particular course often create quizzes or exams together.  It sounds like some of you also have scenarios where the Item Bank may be used across an entire institution, to enforce standards. In a large ecosystem, view only permissions become more important too. 


The Quizzes team has ideas how we might resolve those needs. If you use either question banks or item banks, we’d love to show early design ideas to get your impressions. For this round, meetings will be scheduled through the second week of April 2021. Each meeting would be approximately 45 minutes. 

Sign up here!  

We're all booked up for now! Thank you for the overwhelming response! I can't wait to learn from you all! 


For those of you too busy for a call, I’m hoping you can weigh in with your preference with regard to release timing. Is it better to provide Item Banks at the Account and Course level as soon as possible, or hold an additional couple of weeks to include Item Bank searching? 

Why am I asking? When the Item Banks are elevated to allow more users to have automatic access, suddenly each user will have more Item Banks. It seems this will quickly scale to unmanageable levels. Including searching, with perhaps some filtering capability, will help greatly. (Let me know if I’m off base here!) The team anticipates it will take a few more weeks to complete. I know change management for your users can be a tricky part of all our jobs. 

Tl;dr:  Will searching/filtering be critical? Is it better to wait and give you everything at once, or provide the Account and Course level Item Banks as soon as it is finished?

Community Champion

View only access should allow faculty to use questions in their course, and copy the question to use it outside of the shared bank, but it should not allow changes within the bank.  That type of access is important for shared courses. 

Item bank searching matters, as the list of banks is already growing long with only my own banks.  Filtering by course would help, and so would filtering by owner.

However, I hope you intend for the creator (or current owner) to be in control of which faculty they share bank access to view or modify.  Rather than have everyone suddenly have access to all banks in an institution, shared access should only mean that I can go to my current banks, and see the short list of faculty who already have access, and separately adjust permissions for them to view or modify the bank.  I should also be able to add individual faculty as well and define some individuals as having modify access, if appropriate.

Ideally, I would be able to create a faculty group to share a bank with, and when sharing I should select from a list of all faculty groups I am already in.  For example, I should be able to make a faculty group for all history faculty, and then I (without an admin's help) should be able to share view only access with that group, or any other faculty group that I am already in.  Then I should be able to also identify individuals who I will share permission to modify the bank with.

Waiting a few weeks for item bank sharing to look like that, rather than opening up a list of all banks in the institution, is important.  As long as the sharing does not automatically open all banks to all faculty, but requires conscious actions by individual faculty to share their banks, the sharing will work fine for at least a few weeks without searching.  It will still be essential that searching follow without too much delay.

Community Contributor

Are these meetings big or small? I'd be happy to sign up to provide feedback.

Community Champion

I think @Steven_S has done a great job explaining what a number of our faculty would want to see. Ability to share with View or Modify permissions at the instructor controlled level is important, and with the ability to search/filter in order to help manage the long lists of banks that are likely to occur. 

Community Champion

I look forward to you posting a summary of the April calls so the community knows the direction. I stopped speaking up because it appeared to fall on deaf ears. It’s nice to see updates and to see product development. 

In terms of new quizzes,

  • Navigation is a challenge.
  • A link to Item banks should be available off the assignment & quizzes page. 
  • Item bank searching across all banks should be available 
  • Filtering across all banks (tag, question type)
  • Item banks assigned to a course
  • Partial credit for matching (very important)
  • Printing a quiz 
  • Section text only divider 
  • Select multiple questions to move
  • Import questions to banks from book publishers 
  • Export of single item bank or all item banks

All of these are vital to teachers adopting new quizzes. It shouldn’t be necessary to start an “idea” because it’s not possible to know what the development team is currently focused on ... so thank you for updating everyone in your blog posts. 

PS. The more development updates, the happier the customers.

Community Champion

Unfortunately saw this too late for the invite. Will any of this be shared publicly?

I wonder if there is any mileage in developing item banks whose permissions don't sit with a user but a course?

Would this improve workflow and remove issues with sharing?

Like all things, I would quite like the flexibility of both user and course permission

I have not yet come across an instance where someone that I have shared an item bank with has deleted questions (although I may not have known!) but I like the idea of different levels of permissions based on ownership. What could be developed is a warning message that reminds someone if they accidentally delete a quiz question...

No-one has mentioned sub folders for item banks. This would be nice although I get that a better naming strategy for questions and a suitable filtering system might address this.


Community Contributor

I agree, it would be great if the item banks could be linked to the course rather than the instructor. Or if that isn't possible, maybe when the instructor creates them, link them to that course.
We use master courses. My concern right now is that if the original instructor leaves the institution we won't have an easy way to track where the item bank is, or whose account it is under. This is one thing that is making me really hesitant to get starting on converting all of the test banks in over 300 master courses. We will have to decide who to masquerade as to put the item banks in. And then we will have to keep track of whose account those item banks reside.

Community Champion

@gouldt has an OK but not perfect work around with the masquerade. I just wanted to mention, however, that my institution doesn't allow masquerading, so even this wouldn't be a workaround for us. 


Hi all, 

I wanted to follow up to recognize I'm hearing that Item Banks need the possibility to be associated to a course. I can confirm that this is a scenario we are planning for as part of the scope of this update. Also, in the future migrated Question Banks, which by default are associated with the course, will become Item Banks associated with the course by default. They will NOT be migrating as associated with a user. Hopefully this helps ease some concern. 

You can expect a more detailed update here in the coming weeks.

Community Participant

The Canvas team probably have already thought this through, but just in case here's my .02c.

I would be interested in enabling some type of multiple select options on an existing exam to be place questions into item banks. My faculty typically write their exams without any thought of organization within an item bank first (my experience tells me that is probably not uncommon). The previous question bank just pulled everything from a single exam, so that mindset will need to be overcome with new item banks. The current process of selecting individual questions is just too time consuming, and frankly a little mind numbing (ex. imagine sorting through 60 or more questions). 

Maybe some type of drop down menu for item banks?

For those exams that are focused on a single topic - the option to select all and pull those into an item bank would be great.

For those exams that cover multiple topics - selecting a check box on each question and then clicking on an item bank drop down menu to select check items, which then shows a list of existing item banks or create a new item bank into which those selected would be imported.

Just some ideas - because the key to item banks useful needs needs to start with creation of them. After that robust tools to move questions around, rank, and organize.

Bonus request

One killer feature (not sure it can be done without Canvas magic), but imagine if you could filter questions in an item bank based upon the statistical performance of the question! Now the instructor and pull a nice mix of easy, hard, and average questions into an exam, all based upon past performance of those questions.


Community Champion

Great news @SuSorensen 

Can I check/clarify one thing? You mention migrated Question Banks. Do you mean Question banks created from questions made using Classic Quizzes?

Is the team developing a solution that will 'convert' Classic Quizzes question banks to New Quizzes Item banks?



You got it, @GideonWilliams  we're actively working on the migration, which includes converting Classic Quiz Banks to New Quiz Item Banks precisely. 

Community Champion

@SuSorensen  It would be great to be able to make a new quiz into a bank directly.  For example, instead of (or in addition to) the item banking option within each question, a bulk item banking option for the whole quiz with check boxes next to each question. 

New Member

@susorenson With the change over to new quizzes, I agree that it would be great to be able to migrate the question banks already in Classic Quizzes. I also like the idea of having Question Banks tied to a course. For instance, we are creating in house virtual courses with contributions by numerous teachers.  We need to have any questions that we create available to all teachers on that course, but currently they are only tied to the creator. Also, will there be an option to export question banks to other teachers? 

Community Participant

I have multiple question banks that I am starting to move over to item banks, but the process has been tedious and is going to take HOURS. 

Right now I am taking the following steps:  create a classic quiz and add all questions from one question bank to that quiz.  Migrate the quiz to new quizzes.  Edit the migrated quiz, moving each item to a newly created item bank.  Edit each question for partial credit options, tagging, etc.

Is there a better option??

Community Participant

@jonespa1  Not a huge difference, but after placing all the questions from the question bank into the classic quiz, go to Settings -> Export and then export that quiz. It'll create a qti zip file containing those questions. Then:

1. In your New Quiz click on the triple dots in the upper right corner

2. Select Manage Item Banks

3. Create a new bank (name doesn't matter since it will rename it whatever the name of the zip file is)

4. Open the new bank, click on the triple dots in the upper right corner

5. Select Import Content and find your zip file

That should bring over all the questions for you instead of having to do them one at a time. This has several videos showing the steps:


**edit: you mentioned it taking hours...I'm on day 4. Sigh.


Updated 2021-5-14

Closing this discovery for item banks thread and redirecting conversation to release discussions here