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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Canvas crash causes confusion on campus

Two and a half hours before Michael Huang’s online calculus 3 exam, the website on which he would take it crashed.

Canvas, a learning management system students across the U.S. used to access course materials and take online exams, went dark on Tuesday, prompting confusion — and constant refreshing — from students who needed to study for or take exams.

Amazon Web Services, which Canvas uses to operate, experienced an outage starting at 12:37 p.m., wrote Fedro Zazueta, UF’s director of academic technology, in an email. Amazon identified the cause, and Instructure, the company that runs Canvas, worked with Amazon to fix its services.

“This Amazon web service outage is impacting several services they provide all along the Eastern seaboard,” he said.

For Huang, a Pathway to Campus Enrollment (PaCE) student, the crash left him with no access to study resources or his exam.

The UF computer science freshman said he doesn’t know what will happen with his exam, but he hopes his professor will reschedule it.

“I’m pretty sure the professor is reasonable enough to know it’s Canvas’ problems, not the students,” the 18-year-old said. “We can’t control Canvas.”

UF spokesperson Janine Sikes said Canvas began working again by late afternoon.

She said she didn’t know the exact cause of the outage, because it was on Amazon’s end, which affected all of its services on the East Coast. It was unknown how many students were affected, she said.

For those students who had online assignments scheduled during the outage, she said she believed most online professors would adjust their schedules.

“Professors will recognize that the system was down and will adjust the schedule of things, because it was totally out of everyone’s control,” she said.

Contact Paige Fry at pfry@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @paigexfry

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