New Quizzes: Item Banks Management

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Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Released 19.6.2021: Release Notes 

New improvements to Item Banks will make it possible for Admins to share Item Banks at the Account to disseminate down for courses to assess against using the same set of items. Additionally, anyone with permission will be able to collaborate easily by associating an Item Bank with courses instead of only the user. Admins will be able to exert their super-powers by accessing any Item Bank, even those not explicitly shared, so that content cannot be lost. 


TLDR: Changes coming soon to Item Banks include: 

  • Ability to share an Item Bank with a Course or Account, with automatically inherited permissions to all editors at the course or account. 
  • An additional, view permission, to allow sharing of an Item Bank without granting edit access to the Item Bank content.
  • Improved navigation will surface Item Bank access outside of a quiz. The newly added link will navigate users to Manage Item Banks page. 
  • Easily find a specific Item Bank with searching, filtering and sorting on the new Manage Item Banks page. 


Thank you. Sincerely. The past few months, you’ve met with me virtually and added your thoughts to the community thread for Discovery Conversations. I know everyone is keen to hear what is coming next for Item Banks. We think we’re onto something good, but are still refining the user interaction experience. If you have a moment, try out a scenario and let us know what you think!  



Upcoming Feature Descriptions

View Permission. Adding a new view permission allows sharing of Item Banks for use in quizzes without granting the ability to modify any of the Item Bank content. If a user with view permission wants to change an item from an Item Bank, they can bring the item directly into the quiz and make adjustments to that instance of the item. Any way you choose to access the Item Bank, use the share icon, choose the share association, and select the view for the permission.


Item Banks tied to a Course or Account. In addition to an Item Bank being connected with an individual user, it is now also possible to share an Item Bank with a course or account.  Access to the Item Bank will automatically apply accordingly. When an Item Bank is shared with a course using the edit permission, then any user with course edit will be granted the Item Bank edit. When an Item Bank is shared with a course using view, any course editor can then view the Item Bank but not make changes.  Within the Item Banks share window you’ll be able to search for a course in the “Share with” search bar. Account share will be available in the share window only for Admins. 


Manage Item Banks. Provide faster access to the Item Banks so that management of access, permissions and modifications is easier.  A new Item Banks link appears in the course left navigation panel. Selecting the link will take the user to a new Manage Banks page. Inspired by the Item Banks slideout inside of quizzes, the page lists all Item Banks with contextual details such as creator, last updated date, last used date and if shared with a course, the course(s) name. We’ve added filters, which default to the context of where you’ve entered from. For example, If I’m currently in my geometry course, the Item Bank will initially filter to show banks shared with this geometry course only. Users can change the context to by selecting different filter options. Next is a search bar. If you need to narrow what displays on the page, you can do so by including part of a bank name, creator, etc… To the far right, there is a sort option which will show in either ascending or descending order Item Banks by useful data such as the last used date.

I’m hearing some other Item Bank improvement ideas which would be great, but these won’t make the cut in the upcoming release. 


Not Included:

Migration of Question Banks to Item Banks (although work has begun and this will be coming this year!)

The following have not been prioritized against currently planned work. Check out our 2021 plans and let me know if any of the below are more critical than our plans.

  1. Bulk Manage Item Bank content
  2. Copy Item Bank
  3. Add entire quiz to Item Bank
  4. Permission to define who can modify Item Bank permissions (currently tied to edit)
  5. Export Item Bank/ Share outside of your account
  6. Search Item Banks by tags (currently only can search tags inside an Item Bank)


  1. What happens to my current Item Banks which are tied to a specific user? 
    We are not changing any access to any existing banks. The user can modify the access rights. Since broader sharing (course/account) now includes inherited permissions, the process should be expedited.
  2. Will my question banks be tied to a specific user when they are migrated?
    Although this feature release does not include migrating question banks to item banks, we have begun the development. You can expect that a question bank which is tied to the course will be migrating as an item bank tied to the course. 
  3. What happens when an instructor leaves the institution; will anyone else be able to access the bank
    Have you ever noticed that your Admins are superheroes? We have! Even if an Item Bank has not been explicitly shared, we are providing a back door for Admins to use their special super powers and be able to see all item banks.
  4. Will I be able to share a copy of the Item Bank for someone else to use and modify but not change mine?
    This release does not include copy Item Bank functionality. Banked items may be copied one by one to a new Item Bank. 
  5. Can Item Banks be exported? 
    Exporting Item Banks is not included in this release. We have a collection of improvement ideas above. I would love to hear which items are more impactful for you!
  6. Will it be possible to separate banks by subaccount?We won’t support subaccounts as separate from accounts initially. These will need to be managed manually by coordination by admins at account level. There are some upsides and downsides to this approach. 
  7. Will it be possible for someone to delete access when a quiz is underway?
    We will disable delete while an Item bank is accessed by a quiz session. An Item Bank shared with a course which has been granted edit or view will be locked with at least view rights until the quiz has concluded.
  8. Will it be possible to accidentally delete all access and leave an Item Bank orphaned?
    Canvas Admins will retain access to all Item Banks via Account Level Access.
  9. Can I see the history of who has/had access to an Item Bank?
    Information will be shared with the Canvas Audit Log for historical reference. Share screen for current.


Some of you have expressed interest in hearing how and what information was collected from the initial discovery phase.  So, I'm inviting you backstage to get a little peek at the crew. We've met with a little less than 30 institutions. I wanted to be absorbed into your world and understand your perspectives as much as possible.  The following represents my interpretation from these interviews and our pathway toward resolution.

Defined the context of why you use Item BanksDefined the context of why you use Item Banks

Institutional circumstances for ways of sharing Item BanksInstitutional circumstances for ways of sharing Item Banks

Pinpointed the highest priority needsPinpointed the highest priority needs

Design sprints allowed the team to explore different ways to solve the above needs. Through these idea and design experiments we finally honed in on the following resolutions:

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Screen Shot 2021-05-11 at 3.24.29 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-05-14 at 2.40.10 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-05-14 at 2.24.37 PM.png

The content in this blog is over six months old, and the comments are closed. For the most recent product updates and discussions, you're encouraged to explore newer posts from Instructure's Product Managers.

Community Coach
Community Coach

I loved the scenario! This is all very exciting to see roll out.  Thank you Su and team!

Community Champion

Being able to limit other users to view only will make sharing of item banks much more practical, and that is essential for our shared master courses.  @SuSorensen question: would a bank linked to the master course with edit permission give edit permission to all faculty that the master course is copied out to, or could it be set to share as view only?  (Alternatively, it sounds like each individual preparing and editing the master would be separately given item bank access, and then the access for "all faculty" of the master course set to view only, so that view only would be what copies with the course.)  Either way would be functional, but it will be helpful to know which way to expect this to work.

My workflow for newly created quizzes in courses with multiple sections will be dramatically improved with the ability to copy the entire quiz to a bank.  Thank you!

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hi @Steven_S! The copy course functionality makes a new copy of everything in a course. In your workflow path of creating a Master Course then using that as a launch point for other courses, a new copy of the course, the quiz and the item bank are created. We gave a great deal of consideration to how permissions should be copied. In the end, we'd prefer to show an over abundance of caution and therefore, the new copy does not copy original permissions. Happy to revisit that decision with the community, but it sounded like it poses some security risk with adjuncts/ TA's changing from year/year, term/term.

If you are looking for all the content to be shared rather than copied, you might investigate Blueprinting, if you haven't already. 
New Quizzes and Blueprinting is somewhat limited currently, in that initial content will be shared but not any additional changes. You know where to find me if that turns out to be a priority for you.  🙂

Community Champion

Thank you @SuSorensen a completely separate copy of the bank linked to the new copy of the course was a possibility I had not considered. It makes sense then, that the copied course does not have edit permissions to the original bank, but presumably it will have access to edit the copy.  (because someone needs to have that access...)

That will work for us, except that instructors (and even adjuncts) will end up with infinite duplicates of the same bank as they teach the same course copied into multiple sections every semester.  (Having the same bank for duplicate sections was a strength of item banks, so I hope that aspect will not be lost.)  Is there a way for new quizzes to recognize that the instructor assigned to duplicate sections is assigned multiple copies of the same bank, so that the instructor only needs to make updates once rather than repeating the change in every copy of the bank? 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

I do think the concept that copy means duplicate will surprise some users. We haven't and aren't making a change at this time to how course copy works --  it's also how question banks work for classic, so a sudden change might be disruptive. However, I'm hopeful the behavior is more transparent now.

I can definitely imagine adding more versatility to how item banks should work when courses are copied in the future. 

Community Champion

@SuSorensen  The concept that the item banks get copied with the course is what I found surprising.  I didn't think item banks worked that way, but I never needed to bank questions in classic quizzes.  In classic quizzes, our needs were met by question groups.  But those stay with the quiz, so there is also no index with the potential for duplication.  (We already have that for rubrics, and it is difficult to find the correct rubric to link to as a result.)  It would be great to have the course copy behavior with regards to banks addressed before too many duplicates get made of the same banks. 

I think, for now I'll keep the banks linked to the instructors rather than the course, would that prevent course copy from duplicating the bank?  (In other words what is the default course copy behavior for a bank used in a course when that bank has not been shared to the course?)

I would suggest that since course copy completed by an instructor means that they are an instructor in both courses, there should be no need to copy banks linked to the instructor - just keep it linked to the instructor.  Course copy by an admin (usually to a different instructor) would ideally provide view only access to banks currently managed by a different instructor. 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

I think, for now I'll keep the banks linked to the instructors rather than the course, would that prevent course copy from duplicating the bank?  (In other words what is the default course copy behavior for a bank used in a course when that bank has not been shared to the course?)

I have discovered "copy course" acting as a duplication for all course elements and that this happens universally in the current experience: question banks, item banks only linked to the instructor and soon when the banks are linked to a course/ account. 


Your suggestion really feels intuitive to me. I'll do some discovery/ validation on that approach. Thanks!

I would suggest that since course copy completed by an instructor means that they are an instructor in both courses, there should be no need to copy banks linked to the instructor - just keep it linked to the instructor.


Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Su

Been looking at the version in Beta today and noticed a few issues:

(1). 500 Error message on clicking Item Banks link in main menu - reported to Instructure

(2). When creating a Course based Item Bank and then making it Read-Only, another teacher on my course can still edit the questions in the bank. This also happens even if I add the teacher as Read-Only access. Should this be the case?

Community Champion

@GideonWilliams I am also seeing the 500 error and I can't even access the item banks. I also reported it as well. @SuSorensen Can we get an update on this? 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Sorry to hear you were seeing 500 errors. This shouldn't be happening anymore. We are continuing to push changes to the beta environment as we prepare for the production release mid month. If you run into any issues, you may want to circle back a little later. 

Community Participant

With the latest release on 19th June, I have found that all admins in our instance have access to all item banks. In our instance we have subaccounts for our teaching faculties, so for music, history, english etc and these each have an admin that has access to their own courses and can delete create content etc.

So now the admin for a faculty has access to item banks of questions in all faculties and can change or delete these item banks. In the Q & A you stated that 

"Will it be possible to separate banks by subaccount?We won’t support subaccounts as separate from accounts initially. These will need to be managed manually by coordination by admins at account level. There are some upsides and downsides to this approach."

So how do you stop access to admins of one subaccount accessing item banks from another? I have heads of faculties which will not be happy about them not having control over their item banks.

Community Participant

@SuSorensen  - Based on reading the items above, I could be missing something. Our institution has a very large online population, where we work from a master course model. In that model, an ID and SME develop a master course (quizzes and item banks), and the content of that master is copied to live teaching sections every 8 weeks. The faculty who teach the course are almost never the people who develop the course. When we've been testing, it doesn't appear that item banks come over in that copy and are instead linked to the original. This will prohibit our teaching faculty from making edits to the quiz, which we allow them to do. Is there plans to make it where when you copy the master, it also makes a copy of the item bank in the live section that can be edited by the teaching faculty ?

Community Contributor

@SuSorensen  - I noticed a problem with sharing item banks. When I shared newly created banks with both a person and a course, the item banks are then duplicated in the admin view of item banks.   This will make the search function and organization a little harder to manage. Is this something that will be changed??


duplicate item bank.jpg

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Hi Tracey, this shouldn't be happening. We did document and fix a bug similar to this. If you could please file a support ticket they'll be able to assess if this is a different bug or if the fix is somehow missing from your environment. 


Community Explorer

The idea of the feature and the need for the feature are both great.  The follow through on the important details are not.  We have two problems with the feature:


1. It does not respect sub account permissioning.

2.  It does not have sufficient permissioning to work around sub account permissioning.


We currently do not have the ability to restrict admin access to item banks to sub accounts so an sub account admin in say Arts can add/edit/delete banks in Science.  That does not work for us and the way we manage our instance (Case 07728669).  In attempting to work around this, we find that "the 'question bank - view and link' permission will affect classic quizzes question banks and not item banks for New Quizzes. Because New Quizzes/Item Banks are part of an LTI tool, the canvas level permissions are separate and will not impact this."  Another example of a technical decision to implement core LMS functionality as an LTI tool is creating a poor user experience.  We need New Quizzes to be a seamless tool in the LMS as quizzing is on the the very things that sets an LMS apart from content systems like Wordpress.

Community Member

This new update was extremely disruptive to our work flow. "Item Banks" was added to ALL course navigation bars automatically with no way to remove it globally. Now faculty are extremely confused and our quizzes are quickly becoming a mess, as they now have access to both quiz types. It is awfully crazy that Canvas released and forcibly pushed this feature to our instance without first releasing a way to transfer questions and quiz types. 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

@GabrielleHebert, the system should be checking both the account and the course to ensure New Quizzes is enabled prior to displaying the new Item Banks course navigation. It does not introduce the concept of New Quizzes to those who have not used them. 

Screen Shot 2021-07-08 at 3.32.59 PM.png

If this is not the case, please file a support ticket, because you may have a configuration issue.  

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

After feedback from many of you in the thread above (and here), I can confirm that there are some user configurations where users without an explicit admin role are seeing Item Banks. 

Specifically, this is caused by the process to apply Canvas account roles to a user, which marks the user as an admin.

Therefore, as of this post, we are temporarily disabling the feature flag for the Item Banks Management release. The standard Item Banks pages from within New Quizzes will still be available. New functionality in the June release will not be available at that time. 

A feature flag will be made available to institutions not impacted by the above configuration, so that they may enable while we address the above situation. 

I will keep you updated in the release notes thread

Community Participant

Hello All,

Is anyone having issues sharing Item Banks with other instructors right now? 

I have been hung up waiting on the blue ring that indicates it is searching and nothing comes up.  I have tried switching to a different admin account, and tried different users to share the item bank with.  Is it because this service is being worked on?

Any insight would be appreciated. 


Community Contributor

@BenJam1n I am able to see the admin Item Banks. I'm in Production instance. Do you get anything besides the blue ring? For example, do you get the page title, "Banks" and any of the menu boxes. Here's a picture of what I see.

admin item banks.jpg

Community Participant

Hello Sylvia, and thank you for responding. 

Yes, I am able to view the admin Item Banks, and even open them.  Sharing however leaves me with this blue ring, below, and nothing to select.  It will rotate for a good bit and eventually time out.