What you need to know about the Canvas Student App

Canvas Student App text next to an iPhone with the Canvas dashboard

Students use the Canvas Student mobile app (Android) (iOS) now more than ever to access course information. Students report frequently using the mobile app to check 

  • upcoming course activities and assignments, 
  • due dates, and 
  • grades. 

It is important that instructors and students understand what works well on mobile, as well as it’s limitations.

Academic Technology Support Services (ATSS) recently engaged Usability Services to understand the student experience using the application. Additionally, OIT-AT conducted functionality testing to discern the Canvas Student app’s strengths and weaknesses. To learn more, join ATSS for the webinar, What you need to know about the Canvas Student App. Here are some of the key findings that will be addressed in the webinar:

  • The mobile app is not a reliable place to submit assignments. 
  • External Tools, such as Google Docs, FlipGrid, VoiceThread, can be hard to navigate. Often these tools require users to download and authenticate an additional app. 
  • The iOS app and the Android app don’t always display the same, and even different devices within the same platform can have variable functionality and user experience.


Proactive communication

To provide a consistent experience for all of your students, we recommend proactive communication about how and when the mobile app is recommended for use.

  • Example 1: Quizzes. Before your first Canvas quiz, notify students that the Canvas Student mobile app doesn’t display all quiz question types, so it is strongly recommended to take all quizzes on a computer/laptop. 
  • Example 2: External Tools. If you plan to use VoiceThread (VT) regularly throughout your course, inform your students that they may wish to download the VT app on their phone to improve their experience.

Test the student experience for yourself

While we do recommend that you download the Canvas Student app on a mobile device so you can see firsthand how your Canvas course appears, please note that your students’ experience will vary, depending on their individual devices and notification settings. 

For a more comprehensive look at usability and functionality testing results as well as recommendations see the Canvas Student App: What you and your students should know presentation.