Keeping Canvas moving with Quizzes and more

Like the proverbial shark, a tech company has to keep moving forwards or it dies. And at Instructure, we’re constantly looking to make life easier for both students and teachers with improvements to Canvas.

It is with thanks to our Community and their suggestions, feedback (and sometimes patience!) that we would like to present three of the newest evolutions to Canvas. When we look at revamping the product, it’s a chance for us to look at innovating in that space and satisfy the need to reinvent that’s been at the heart of Canvas since its inception.

We’re going to keep listening to all of you, treating every week like Shark Week and keeping on moving forward. So, with that in mind, here are the latest updates.


Analytics 2 example

With Analytics 2.0, teachers can rely on interactive, easy-to-use dashboards to answer the most common student performance and participation questions, providing the information needed to help keep everyone in classes on track. The feature saves teachers time by helping them quickly identify students who are struggling and also identify patterns in student success that may be caused by the course itself.

The biggest shift from existing analytics is to make things more interactive and intuitive. Many teachers want to make comparisons between specific groups and have certain questions they’re looking to answer that can’t be answered with broad brush analysis. We’ve taken direct feedback to help educators filter, select and interact with the analytics that will reveal the information that’s important to them.

So it’s not only a better visual representation, but is a powerful tool to move analysis into the now – rather than just reviewing grades at end of term, you can take action more regularly. You can message students based on the data you have, and they get that data as quickly as possible. In short, it’s a more powerful way to improve content or methodology and engage in targeted interventions.


Quizzes.Next example

With Quizzes.Next, teachers and instructional designers can create and administer online assessments (e.g., quizzes, tests and exams). They can also conduct and moderate exams and assessments, both graded and ungraded.

As well as a cleaner design and user interface, this revamp to Quizzes offers new types of question and design features to make it easier to keep students engaged. Teachers can design questions that use a hotspot on an image – for example, an illustration of a skeleton where a student needs to click on the femur. Another type is based on a stimulus. Where you need a section of questions that refer to one bit of content, e.g. an essay or video, it’s difficult to go back and forth, answering and rewatching. Now, the stimulus will be continually visible, with questions aligned alongside it. All this reduces the stress for students and teachers.

From the instructor’s perspective – creating questions is a lot easier. For a fill in the blank question, things like capitalisation or spelling mistakes meant you had to manually enter possible options. Now, teachers can dictate how accurate the response needs to be and add rules on how far it can deviate from the perfect answer. This means you can still get the automatic feedback and even among classes with hundreds of students, focus on individuals who need it and keep other students moving forwards too.


Anonymised Marking background

Anonymised marking is an important tool to make sure that biases don’t have a negative impact on students and that everyone in a class is getting a fair mark based on merit alone. Canvas already had anonymous marking as a feature, but we’re improving our Anonymised Marking tools even further to reduce the chances of any bias creeping in by allowing for many variations of anonymous and moderated marking, even double blind marking scenarios.

An example improvement is how student names are displayed when anonymised--each student will have a unique number for every anonymous assignment, and every person marking. Marker 1 won’t see the same ‘Student 1’ as Marker 2 does, meaning there’s less chance to follow clues and cues and inform grading based on previous performance. We are now better able to meet the requirements of universities on this front following feedback and consultations with experts on biases, using our open source, cloud-based set-up to our advantage to improve faster than any other service.

We hope you enjoy the new features. As always, we need your feedback - so please let us have it.


Keep learning,

Jamie Woodard
Senior Solutions Engineer, Instructure