For the sake of full transparency to Stanford faculty and staff, the Stanford Canvas team has documented our concerns about the transition to the New Quizzes tool in Canvas, slated to take place in July 2022. This document will be updated as the transition progresses and our concerns are addressed either by Instructure (the company that develops and maintains Canvas) or our own custom solutions. Please refer back to this document periodically to see updates.
Transition Timeline May Be Disruptive
Our biggest concern for the transition to New Quizzes is Instructure’s approach to managing major upgrades. Instructure’s development roadmap makes it clear that some important components are planned to be completed shortly before the enforcement date of July 2022 (which is when quiz creation can only be done in the New Quizzes tool). This roadmap means the tool design and functionality will be in flux during our entire transition period, and that makes preparing the work (e.g., workarounds/customizations, user outreach/training, etc.) we may need to do for New Quizzes very difficult. Here is a snapshot of the New Quizzes transition timeline, taken on 10/15/21.
Instructure has indicated they may push back the enforcement date to some time in Fall 2022 or Winter 2023 if they don’t make their designated milestones. In our view, it’s not feasible to make such a major transition in the middle of an academic year as it would be highly disruptive for faculty and students. Pushing back the enforcement date could result in a delay of their entire timeline and important features not being completed before Fall 2022. As a result we may be forced to choose between making the transition in Summer 2022, when some important components are still missing, or wait until mid-year, when it would be highly disruptive to make the change.
Important Features Missing
There are also many (missing) features that are a high priority to Stanford schools and departments which are not even on the roadmap to be completed before the enforcement date (e.g., student analysis download, bulk file download). These omissions will leave some departments scrambling to find solutions other than Canvas for very important high-stakes activities and/or the Stanford Canvas team scrambling to create custom solutions. Instructure has given no rationale for why these important features have been given low priority. Considering the development of New Quizzes has been a long term development project, the Stanford Canvas team feels there should be no high-priority features that are dropped or unavailable by the enforcement date.
Confusing User Experience
Finally, the user experience of New Quizzes is of great concern. Because New Quizzes was built as an LTI (external tool), the design is very disjointed and will likely be confusing for users. New Quizzes plugs into the existing Assignments tool and uses the Assignments interface for some quiz settings, then uses the New Quizzes build interface for other settings and features. It also has the submissions/grading buried in the Grades interface with no link or information within Quizzes to make clear what instructors should do to view submissions. It will likely be a very difficult task for faculty and staff to learn how to use this tool, made much more difficult by the fact that the interface will be changing in potentially significant ways during the transition time.