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“The thing that we are trying to do at facebook, is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently.                                                                                                                                                                                - Mark Zuckerberg


What is an LMS? Is it just a collection of courses and students and grades? A place to do school work? That’s how LMSs are traditionally viewed—a repository of learning artifacts. Canvas is more than that—it’s a learning system and a platform to communicate ideas and communicate. 


What is learning but communication? Thoughts, ideas, discussion, relationships. Learning IS communication. It’s the transfer of knowledge and ideas from one to another. As Canvas has grown and evolved through the years, our educators and their students, and the way they learn and communicate are evolving as well. 


Communication: a Memoir of Sweaty Horses and Lasers

The way people live, work, and communicate is evolving at breakneck speed. Last Saturday I spent a few hours riding a motorcycle down the old Pony Express trail in the west deserts of Utah, not far from Instructure headquarters. 


This deep trail was originally worn into the western desert floor by horsemen riding at a blistering pace with leather bags full of mail tied to their horses. Then settlers started following the trail, and more recently, moto riders trying their best to socially distance from everyone. This trail was the backbone of communication across this continent for a couple of years in the late 1800s.


Then, evolution happened again, and this dusty trail was replaced by a trans-continental railroad that was faster and more reliable. It also had the benefit of being less likely to kick you in the teeth unexpectedly.


The railroad was replaced by telegraph lines, which are now plastic tubes carrying pure light and Star Wars–style satellite communications. Which, even though I understand it, still seems like magic. 

Communication is constantly evolving, and we are evolving with it. As people have moved away from email toward more convenient forms of communication, SMS (Short Message Service, or Text), was one of the ways we have delivered information to students.


SMS Messages and Canvas Notifications

SMS messages have always been limited as a means of communication. Originally conceived to utilize the spare bandwidth used to manage telephone calls, SMS messages were a way to test the phone system and deliver very short, text-based content with the spare capacity in the telephony system.


Due to the low cost to carriers, and convenience, SMS messaging was made available to customers and added to Canvas as a notification option, and its use exploded in popularity. The original Twitter limitation of 140 characters in a tweet was largely based on the original limitation of 140–160 characters in an SMS message, depending on the carrier.


As SMS use has ramped up, so have the bandwidth requirements for the providers. The limitations in the SMS protocol became obvious fast. Everyone has experienced multiple text messages that arrive out of order, or dropped messages that never get there at all. (How many critical texts were claimed to be “dropped” that never were?—a modern day “the dog ate my homework” excuse). I know I have used that excuse to get me out of trouble with my wife once or twice.


These limitations of SMS have made text messaging a relatively clunky way to interact with Canvas. We have always wanted a better way to interact with students, without having to log in to the web portal.

Enter the Canvas Mobile apps! FINALLY, a better way to both communicate with students and give them a way to interact with the system. Students can get the data they need and react to it right in the app, without having to go to their web browser to do anything.


Mobile Apps Transition

The arrival of the Canvas Mobile apps, with its richer interface, the ability to interact with Canvas right in the app, and ability for users to manage their messaging preferences in a much better way, is giving us an opportunity to refine how we communicate with students inside Canvas.


Communications vendors are also charging increasingly higher costs to move data over the SMS system—especially large amounts of data—the improved functionality of the Canvas mobile apps is making this the right time to change the primary way we communicate with users in Canvas.


In this time as we are being forced to evolve even faster with the emergence of COVID-19 and schools moving online at lightning speed, we want to make messaging easier, more responsive, and make the most important messages easy for user response.


On Saturday, 2 May, all types of Canvas SMS notifications except announcements will be disabled within Canvas. Announcements are a good fit for the SMS model as they communicate information without requiring action and are usually of high importance.


Any schools that specifically rely on text alerts for communication and cannot transition to mobile apps should contact their CSM to discuss their situation. 


Instead of using SMS notifications, we want to encourage users to install the Canvas mobile apps for their user role and use it as their main source of communication and notifications from Canvas. Recent updates to the mobile apps and the Canvas web allow users to more easily log in to the apps using a QR code, which makes logging in as simple as using your mobile device’s camera. The Upcoming Canvas Changes page includes various resources to help everyone learn how to use the mobile apps, including full how-to documentation and videos.


The evolution of education and how people interact with their teachers and peers and learning environment is constant and never-ending. We are looking forward to a better way to communicate with students and teachers who are communicating thoughts and ideas in the Canvas framework, and we will continue to evolve with our educators, students, parents, and administrators to make learning as easy and efficient and even as fun, as possible.


As always, thank you for your feedback, your ideas and your passion for learning. Our users are the most important thing to us as a company, and making your jobs easier and making learning better is why we get up in the morning.


Matt Meservey

Canvas Product Team

For quite some time now, teams at Instructure have been working on a more scalable, robust, accessible quizzing engine for Canvas. Sixteen months from now, in July 2021, New Quizzes is going to be the out-of-the-box tool for Canvas assessments.


Transition Timeline

The transition from Classic Quizzes to New Quizzes is a big milestone in the evolution of quizzing in Canvas. I’d like to highlight other significant dates that are part of this process.


December 2020: Quizzes Cross-fade

This December is an inflection point in the “cross-fade” period where New Quizzes and Classic Quizzes live side by side. December will see two important events:

  • Content migration capabilities will be available for Course Copy and Course Content Import. I’ll share more details about this functionality later in this post.
  • New Quizzes will be enabled for all courses in all Canvas accounts.

The cross-fade period will help customers ease into the July 2021 milestone instead of everyone having to “forklift” quizzing activities from Classic Quizzes to New Quizzes in one fell swoop.


February 2021: Classic Quizzes Deprecation

In February of next year, Classic Quizzes will officially be deprecated. You can learn more about  deprecation in our Upcoming Canvas Changes document.


July 2021: No Student Submissions, etc.

July 2021 is the fulcrum on which this whole plan pivots.

This milestone of Classic Quizzes Sunset affects creating, attempting, and submitting Classic quizzes.

  • Students will not be able to attempt or submit with Classic Quizzes.
  • Instructors will not be able to create with Classic Quizzes.

Classic Quizzes APIs for creating, attempting, and submitting will be disabled at this time.

This milestone means that beginning July 2021, New Quizzes will be the only out-of-the-box assessment engine that can collect student submission.


October 2021: No Content Editing

In the three months after New Quizzes takes the reins from Classic Quizzes, instructors will be still be able to edit Classic quizzes and question banks. While the same content could be migrated to New Quizzes and then edited, we wanted to provide a window where instructors and staff could make adjustments in Classic Quizzes before migrating the content. Classic Quizzes editing will be disabled October 2021.

From October 2021 until the next milestone, Classic Quizzes content and information will be read-only in Canvas.


July 2022: UI End-of-life

July 2022 marks the end-of-life for Classic Quizzes user interfaces. At this point, instructors will no longer be able to view quizzes or question banks authored and delivered with Classic Quizzes. Student data will still be presented in the Gradebook.


July 2026: API End-of-life

July 2026 is the last milestone in Classic Quizzes Sunset. Five years after New Quizzes becomes the assessment engine for Canvas, Classic Quizzes APIs will be unpublished.

Please note that Classic Quizzes Sunset does not change current data storage policies or procedures. End-of-life for the user interfaces and APIs changes modes of access, but they do not change storage and archival.

The above timeline is fundamental to our plan for the future of quizzes in Canvas. There are two other cornerstones for our work—content migration tooling and development of critical capability for New Quizzes.


Content Migration Tooling

Content migration is crucial for the transition from Classic Quizzes to New Quizzes. You must be able to carry your institution’s quizzing content into the future. We are working on a very elegant workflow that seamlessly augments existing activities.

When instructors and staff create and prepare courses, they will have an option to import assessment content as New Quizzes. This option will appear in the Course Copy and course Content Import screens. With this option, administrators and teachers don’t have to learn how to use any new tools or screens. They can simply check a box to add quizzes, banks and outcomes to the course as New Quizzes content. 


Development of Critical Capabilities

We know there are many high-impact improvements that could be made to New Quizzes. We’ve had to be extremely focused when prioritizing work to be completed before July 2021. Plans are, of course, subject to change based on work of other teams and evolving information, but here are some details about what we’re working on in this space.

We are in the final stages of work on a partial-scoring option for multiple answer questions. We’re also in the process of validating Respondus Lockdown Browser support and expect that to be available in a few months.

As these efforts are nearing completion, we’ve started to ramp up work to improve the liquidity of New Quizzes data. This will include integration with Canvas Data Access and the Learning Mastery Gradebook.



There’s a lot going on over the coming months and there will likely be no shortage of questions and feedback. I hope this information can provide some structure for the conversations to come. The New Quizzes User Group will be a great place to keep the conversation going. Please feel free to ask additional questions in the group, and my team and I will be happy to respond.


We’re looking forward to working together for a brighter (more scalable, robust and accessible) future!

Hello everyone!


I wanted to take a few minutes and share some of the latest developments coming from my sphere of the Canvas product world. 


My team - known as the Learning Activities team in Canvasland - manages the creation and structure of a course along with any learning objects, including modules, assignments, discussions, pages, files, RCE, syllabus, mastery paths, direct share, course exports, and Blueprint courses. Whew, that was a lot to type. 


Needless to say we stay pretty busy, but here are some highlights of what we’ve been up to. 


  • In the very near future, instructors will be able to control the number of submission attempts on an assignment. This is coming in the March beta release.


  • We’ve got an auto-save option in the RCE that will recover your content in case you accidentally navigate away from the page before you had a chance to hit that save button.


  • In January we released improvements to the student workflow of assignments. In today’s workflow, we don’t do a great job of surfacing instructor feedback. Students have to dig into their submission details. But now the submission, instructor comments, and rubric are all on one page. Plus students have a better way to track their submission progress and manage multiple attempts. This is currently in beta, and I’d like to hear from more of you on what’s working or not working with this before we roll it to production, so please comment in the user group.


  • On the Syllabus page, you can now hide the auto-generated course summary.  This idea has been out in the community for a long time, so check it out if you’ve been waiting for it! This is available in beta today, and will be in production in March. 


The RCE is another very hot topic, so let’s discuss. We’ve got a chunk of work to complete before the July enforcement date, and I know there’s a lot of feedback. I’ve been reading it! Here are a few things that are top of mind:


  • We’ll soon allow Administrators to choose two LTI “favorites” that will show directly in the toolbar. We’re starting this work in March. It’ll look something like this within the Admin settings. 



The two favorites that you choose will show directly in the toolbar, and the other installed LTI tools will be within the existing modal under the plug icon. 

  • For those of you utilizing the Usage Rights feature for your content, we need to make sure that’s easy to do while you’re uploading documents, photos, media, etc. 
  • I know Kaltura is a really popular media tool for content, and we want to make sure that things are working as you expect before July. I’ll be reaching out to a handful of you via CSMs so we can get that right. 
  • In terms of accessibility, we’re tidying up media subtitles/closed captions and alt-text for images, whether you're uploading content for the first time, or coming back to edit it. 
  • We’ve cleaned up the Alt+F9 menu - you might find a couple goodies in there soon. 


I’ve made a goal to post quarterly updates, so as soon as it starts feeling warmer here in Utah (can’t wait!), I’ll be in touch again.

We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on the similarity score icon changes that will be going to production with the next release. Some questions have come up about how many different icons we display, the nature of the icons, and the purpose behind the changes. I’d like to address some of those questions in this post. 


What were the goals of this project?

Our goal with the current icon changes was twofold. First and foremost, we wanted to make the icons that we have accessible. The previous icons all had the same shape and were distinguished only by color. Second, we wanted to bring a bit more consistency to how and where the icons were displayed throughout Canvas. Depending on the integration method and the plagiarism detection provider, icon behavior could vary.


What’s changed with this project?

The three “bands” or levels of similarity scores have remained unchanged. The change for this release simply modifies the iconography to be accessible and a bit more consistent. This objective was the extent of this project’s scope.


What can be changed in the future?

We’ve received fantastic suggestions about how we can make our icons more useful by adding additional granularity. This is something we’ve been considering as part of a separate, larger and more complex project. Some of that complexity comes from the varied interpretations of similarity scores. Some users see a 30% similarity as unconcerning, while others want to investigate anything that is above 10%. Some see a very low score as a red flag, while others do not. Factors can vary based on class size, assignment type, subject matter, institutional practices, and a host of other considerations. 


Another layer of complexity comes from the nature of a gradebook. By definition we’re trying to convey as much information as possible to graders, while keeping the gradebook easy to use, navigate, and understand. Changing information that is being displayed in every cell of the gradebook has the potential to introduce something that will be distracting. We also need to be careful to always keep the actual score at the center of the gradebook. While other information is important, we want to be sure that the various status and icons don’t overwhelm the assignment grade that was given.


We didn’t want to wait for this larger project to be ready to make the similarity score icons in Canvas accessible. So we broke it up into two parts. This first smaller project keeps the underlying logic unchanged, and we were able to place it on the roadmap much sooner, with the emphasis focused on improving accessibility. The second project will be more complex and introduce more granularity. However, we don’t yet have a timeframe for the larger project.


As always, we deeply appreciate the feedback that’s been shared. If you’re interested in giving feedback on designs for the future similarity score project, keep an eye on the Ideas space for opportunities to contribute when available. 

Data is a powerful tool that has the potential to transform the way we offer education to students. Over the past five years, the Canvas data sharing product has been very important to our users and institutions.


In its current offering, Canvas Data is very limited in the type of datasets we share and sharing capabilities. Our customers have been asking to improve the existing product as they consider Canvas Data to be an essential feature of their Canvas learning management system.


We are working on an improved version of our data sharing feature. This updated edition will provide access to various Instructure educational product data, allow more scalable ways of downloading large datasets, and most importantly, deliver data changes just in time to make time sensitive decisions. 


We have already reviewed and planned to implement basic datasets around scores, submissions, enrollments, courses, users, and a handful of learning activities such as assignments, discussions, and quizzes. At this time, we need your help to prioritize what you would like to see in the next version of the datasets schema. If you are interested in sharing your feedback, please fill out our Data Access Feedback Form. This form will only take a few minutes of your time. Email addresses are required, so please log in using an account where we may contact you if we have additional followup questions.


Please share your thoughts so we can make product choices that include your voice.


Responses will be accepted through Monday, February 17. [CLOSED FOR VOTE]


Thank you!



UPDATE 2/21/2020


We conducted a successful survey to collect all of your thoughts around data you prefer to see in our  Data Access Offering. Thank you so much for participating and sharing your thoughts! 

These are the results of the survey; we will use them to guide us through planning our Data roadmap.

Addressing some of your feedback 

  1. We still need access to all data that is currently available in the old Canvas Data but not listed in survey.

The new data offering will provide access to all datasets currently available in old Canvas Data. The survey conducted simply aimed to identify a subset of additional datasets that we may make available as part of this solution.  

  1. Need the ability to have datasets scoped by access role/account so faculty could have access to it; need the ability to receive the report via email. 

To address this feedback, let me share the vision for this new product.

 The new Data Access Offering is a set of services and technologies that will provide you with access to your institution raw data across various Instructure educational products. It is a revamp and expansion of our “Canvas Data” offering, and the purpose  of this offering is to allow institution IT/data teams to retrieve their school’s LMS data in bulk so they can conduct their own research and build custom analytics dashboards and tools to meet the unique needs of the institution. The intended audience for this tool is institution data analysts, developers, or data administrators with some knowledge of raw data collection and transformation. Features that allow users to interact with analytics or generate reports from within the Canvas LMS UI are not part of this work.

The following list displays the datasets prioritized by your votes:

  1. Modules
  2. New Quizzes
  3. Account: roles, account users
  4. Rubrics
  5. Outcomes
  6. Originality Reports [ Plagiarism related data]
  7. Conversations
  8. Attachments
  9. Master Courses
  10. Wikis
  11. Developer Keys
  12. Mastery Paths
  13. Calendar
  14. Commons
  15. Catalog


Other  datasets you requested in the survey comment that we haven’t considered yet:

  1. Studio
  2. Portfolium 
  3. Faculty Journal 
  4. Attendance [ Roll Call]
  5. SCORM 
  6. User Access Tokens metadata only  [ who created them]
  7. LTI tools data access level


Note : if you don’t see your feedback addressed above, we’ve already placed it on the roadmap, or it is an idea that is more difficult to implement and we are considering options to breach the gaps. I am also planning on reaching out to some of you directly to get more details about your specific feedback. Please stay tuned for more updates! 

Over the last few months, the Canvas product team has been navigating some process changes within Canvas. We’ve been improving how we work with our engineering teams, how we work with our customer success teams, and how we provide information to you, our customers.


One of our most recent projects has been the release of a new product podcast. It’s called the tl;dr, which stands for too long, didn’t read. The premise of the podcast is to review upcoming release features, so if you didn’t read the release notes, we want to highlight some of the production changes. We know that the release notes reach a variety of audiences. We hope that the podcast offers a little more detail for everyone about why we do what we do. Maybe we’ll also help you learn something about the product team that you didn’t know and hope to offer more behind-the-scenes insights, perhaps from our engineers as well.


Our first episode is available at You can listen to the podcast directly on our webpage, or you can subscribe to your favorite podcast platform using the links in our product subscription page. On Twitter, we'll also publish clips from the podcast using the hashtag #canvastldr.


We plan to publish our podcasts monthly on the Wednesday following the previous release date. The schedule for the podcast can be found in our podcast events page.


Check out the podcast and let us know what you think!

Last July you may remember we announced our new partnership with Unsplash. Now that the new Rich Content Editor is available in the production environment, you’ll enjoy improved content creation tools, including awesome images with Unsplash.


Why Unsplash?

Unsplash provides curated, high-resolution professional photographs for free, which means safe searches at no cost! Images can be used for both commercial and noncommercial purposes. The Unsplash library has over 1 million images, so you will certainly find beautiful images to support your content. For questions about images, view the Unsplash License page.


How do I use Unsplash in Canvas?

Unsplash is used in any feature that includes the Rich Content Editor, such as announcements, assignments, discussions, and pages.


The New Rich Content Editor is currently a feature option, which means some admins may not choose to enable the New Rich Content Editor for an account at this time. However, those institutions that are using the Rich Content Editor can find Unsplash as its own tab when uploading an image.



Where else is Unsplash available in Canvas?

Along with the new Rich Content Editor, Unsplash options are available for instructors when adding a thumbnail image to a shared Commons resource and adding an Unsplash image to Dashboard course cards.


Let us know what you think about Unsplash!

“What's in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


What’s in a name? What does it mean? Why is it important? 

A name is a set of words that a person, place or thing is known or addressed by. Names are important. They are one of the first things we get when we are born, and they are something that we generally carry with us till we die.


They contain our family history, our past, sometimes our future. They literally label and define who we are to the world. So they are important.


Canvas is releasing the Personal Pronouns feature to allow people to choose their own personal pronouns for their names. This is a feature that has been heavily requested in the community for years—something that’s on a list of features we’ve been wanting to get to for a long time but haven’t been able to address because of other priorities that always seemed to win in the constant balance of needs and resources.


That time has come to an end for this feature. 


As we talk to customers and gather feedback—from the community, through conferences and calls, and in person—we always hear what is important to our educators, the things they need, and what’s on top of their minds. Personal pronouns was a topic we heard about over and over.


Initially this surprised me—I love being surprised in my job and this was one of those times. I initially believed personal pronouns was important for the simple reason that some students or educators wanted to more clearly express who they were, what their name was, and how they wanted to be addressed.


It was so much more complex than that.


Canvas has always had the ability for users to edit their names in their profiles, so they could add a personal pronoun there, but that wasn’t what people were really asking for. This was not directly about changing how their name was displayed. 


As I talked to more and more schools and students, I found out that Personal Pronouns was less about being able to add a pronoun to a student’s name and more about creating a space where it was safe to do so. They wanted support from the school in deciding how they would represent themselves.

I was also surprised that traditionally gendered students—ones who did not have a direct need to display a gender as part of their name—were also interested. Some students have the fear of using pronouns incorrectly, or not knowing how to proceed, and they expressed a need to know how to use gender pronouns. Additionally, some expressed relief in knowing how they could use pronouns, especially in the fast-moving and often transient environments of schools and classes, without offending people.

So we decided that now was the time to give our schools the ability to create the type of learning environment their students were asking for.

We feel like we’ve achieved a good balance with the first release of the feature: 

  • It can be enabled or disabled at the account level
  • The administration retains control over the available list of pronouns


This first version is based on two pieces of feedback. First, administrators wanted the ability to set the list and make sure to avoid duplicates, misspellings, or other things that would make the list of available pronouns less usable. Second, cis-gendered students would have a list of pronouns they knew were vetted and OK to use at their school.


When lists are enabled by administrators, students can choose from the list the personal pronoun that best represents who they are to the world. If students would like another option, they can request it be added to the list so it can be displayed by their name in their profile correctly.


Pronouns has been an interesting feature, and we’re proud to continue to deliver features to customers that allow them to build the best educational experience possible for their students. There’s more to do with pronouns in the future: we’d like to tie it to the SIS, and we may add a custom field for students to add another pronoun if their preferred pronoun isn’t in the list, just to name a few. As customers use this first version, we’ll work closely with them and get feedback to evolve the feature.


As always, we are deeply appreciative of our customers. We work for you, and our entire lives revolve around delivering the best experience possible. If you have questions about this feature, let me know! 


If you have ideas about how to make pronouns better in the future, take a look at the list of existing pronoun-related feature ideas that have already been added in the Ideas space and feel free to add your thoughts, or add a new idea.


Best wishes from the Canvas Product Team,



Over the last several months, the Instructure product team has been working with Google to transition the existing Google Apps LTI to the new Google Assignments tool. This transition allows Google to maintain their own integration with Canvas, which will result in greater attention and updates than Instructure has historically been able to provide. Google Assignments is currently in beta—we’re excited to introduce this tool and make it available to any interested institutions.


Assignments brings together the capabilities of Google Docs, Drive, and Search into a new tool for collecting and grading student work, right within Canvas. It helps save time with streamlined assignment workflows, ensures the authenticity of student work with originality reports, and provides methods for  constructive feedback through comment banks. 


Canvas admins can sign up to try Assignments today. The following FAQs include information for admins to learn more about Assignments. 


How is Assignments different than Google Apps LTI? 

Assignments includes all the current functionality of Google Apps LTI (excluding Collaborations, coming in 2020), plus a ton of other great features.


What does Assignments do? 

Assignments streamlines the creation and management of coursework, and tackles some of your biggest frustrations:

  • Allow students to submit Drive files to Canvas assignments that you can then grade in SpeedGrader
  • Check for missed citations and possible plagiarism with the originality reports feature
  • Embed Drive files with the Canvas rich text editor
  • Add Drive files to Canvas Modules


If you choose to grade with Assignments, you can also:

  • Stop typing the same feedback over and over by using a comment bank
  • Use Google's new originality reports to detect possible plagiarism
  • Automatically lock work once it’s turned in with permissions management 

Google Assignments LTI in action

Instructors and students can use virtually any file type with Assignments: Docs or Word files for papers, spreadsheets for data analysis, slides for presentations, sites for digital portfolios or final projects, Colab notebooks for programming exercises, and much more. 


How do originality reports work? 

With originality reports in Assignments, you can check student work for missed citations and possible plagiarism without interrupting your grading workflow. When students turn in a document, Assignments will check students’ text against hundreds of billions of web pages and tens of millions of books. 


If you enable originality reports on an assignment, students can also check their work for authenticity (a limited number of times) to correct issues, turn in their best work, and save instructors time grading. Since both you and your students can see originality reports, they’re designed to help you teach your students about authenticity and academic integrity. 


Using Google to look for plagiarism in assignments


How do I get started with Assignments?

Starting today, admins can sign up to get access to Assignments. Assignments is already available for free as part of G Suite for Education. Admins can install Assignments LTI within Canvas.


NOTE: Assignments is an improved and expanded version of Course Kit, so if you’re already in the Course Kit beta, you automatically have access to Assignments. 


What if my school already has Google Apps LTI installed? Do I need to uninstall it?

Uninstalling Google Apps LTI is not necessary to get started with Assignments LTI and having both installed will not affect or break the other.  


However, when both are installed at the same time, there will be some feature redundancy. For example: Students will see two "Google Drive" options to upload files when submitting work—both will work. Learn more about using the Google Apps LTI with Assignments at the same time—and how Admins can hide visibility of Google Apps LTI features.


When will Assignments be out of beta?

We’re excited to share that Assignments will be generally available by Summer 2020. 


Will I be required to eventually transition to Assignments from the existing Google Apps LTI?

Google Apps LTI will eventually be deprecated a calendar year after the general launch of Assignments and Assignments will replace it. We are encouraging all Canvas users to install Assignments and try it out! Instructure will announce the deprecation date for the Google Apps LTI after we are able to anticipate a more definite timeline.


What if I have more questions about Assignments?

You can view the entire list of feature benefits and additional FAQs in the Google Assignments FAQ page.

Thanks for your feedback! We've made several improvements in the last few Canvas releases that are now in your production environment. For further questions, feel free to visit [ARCHIVED] New Gradebook Users Group 


Hey everyone, 

We're grateful for all of the feedback we've received on Post Policies. The team has been working hard to address the most pressing issues and we've released several bug fixes over the last few weeks. And there's more work to come. To that end, we're looking for feedback on some proposed changes to Post Policy. Our goal with these changes is to make the feature more intuitive and reduce confusion. We also do not want these changes feel too disruptive to people who have already been using Post Policies. And we're anxious to get feedback on if we're heading in the right direction. 

Ok, let's get into it. 

1 - Updated Iconography 

The first proposed change is to the icons that we're using. Our goal here is to make the icons more streamlined between Gradebook and SpeedGrader, while still providing users the information that they need. 

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the new Post Policy feature, in New Gradebook you’re now able to set the policy for a course or an individual assignment that governs if grades are made available to students immediately as they are entered or if they are hidden until explicitly posted by the teacher. An assignment that has grades hidden by default has a “manual” policy, while the default behavior that makes grades available immediately to students is called an “automatic” policy. 

After grades are entered for students using an automatic post policy, they can be hidden if necessary; any new entered grades or changed grades are identified as being hidden (automatic hidden status). When using a manual policy, new entered grades or changed grades are also identified as being hidden (manual hidden status). Hidden grades must be posted before they can be made available to students.

This is what the new icon chart looks like:

Here’s a mockup of what the icons would look like in Gradebook headers:

Let me talk through the changes. First, you’ll notice that we’ve added a dot to the eye icon. We believe that most of the confusion around the eye icon has come from us trying to convey two different bits of information in a single icon. By using the eye icon to indicate the post policy for the assignment and a dot to indicate if there are grades actively being hidden, we hope to remove ambiguity and make the icon much more intuitive. The crossed out icon always indicates a “manual” post policy, while the dot will always indicate that a grade is hidden. We’ll also be updating the color of the badge in the individual cells to match the blue you see in the mockup. If an institution uses a custom color scheme, the badge will take the primary color.  

We’ve streamlined the icon between Gradebook and Speedgrader to make its meaning more consistent. In both places you’ll be able to see not only the post policy for the assignment, but also if there are grades that are ready to be posted to students. 

We’ve also changed the icon in the total column to more closely match what we’re trying to convey there, which is the total score includes at least one score that is hidden from the students. 

2 - Simplify posting to automatic assignments 

We’re proposing getting rid of the "Graded" option when posting to automatic assignments. If the assignment is set to post grades automatically, any posting that happens will have the same result if you post to everyone or graded. Since those two actions yield the same results, we can get rid of one of them to reduce any confusion.

3 - Posting to “everyone” sets policy to Automatic

When posting grades to everyone on a manual assignment, we're proposing also changing the policy for that assignment to automatic. This will get rid of the manual icon in the header and feels more in line with what users expect that action to do. We’ve added some wording to the post description to inform users that the policy will be changed:

We will also updated the confirmation alert with similar language. Post to a specific section or only to students that have been graded will not change the policy to automatic. 

We’re hopeful that these changes reduce confusion and make this feature even easier to use. Let us know what you think in the comments!


UPDATE September 4th

Wow! Thanks for all the feedback. We’re so lucky to have such a passionate community of users and we genuinely appreciate everyone taking the time to chime in. 


While most of the comments so far have focused on the icons, it does sound like we’re on the right track with #2 and #3 mentioned above. Watch the release notes to see #2 and #3 be implemented in a future release. We’re excited about these changes!

I wanted to take a minute to give a bit more context for the icon proposal that we made and talk through some of our thinking. We’re proposing 2 icons for Post Policy. 

Eye Icon

First, an “eye” icon. This will most often appear with a slash through it and will indicate when an assignment has a manual policy, which means grades and comments are hidden from students until they are explicitly made available. As has been pointed out, an eye with a slash through it conveys something not being visible. We agree. The eye is meant to convey to faculty that the grades for an assignment will not be visible to students as they are entered.

It has been suggested that a different icon be used to indicate the policy on an assignment. This is certainly a possibility. However, no matter what icon we use, there will need to be some learning for faculty initially. We feel like the slashed eye icon does convey that grades entered for that assignment will be hidden from students. 

Dot Badge

The second icon is a colored badge. As has been mentioned in the comments, this is used elsewhere in Canvas to denote when something needs the user’s attention or when something new has happened. In a similar way, the dot here is meant to let the instructor know that something is requiring their action. There are grades that are ready to be posted as soon as the faculty is ready to make them available to students. If they post all of the grades that have been entered the dot disappears, and reappears when there are more grades that need to be made available to students. The blue dot in the header will also have consistency with the individual cells in the gradebook, as well as the hidden count in the tray.

UI Help

One common suggestion has been that we provide an easy way for users who are unsure of what the icons denote to learn more beyond the user guides. We’re exploring repurposing the current keyboard shortcuts model to be a more general “help” section. We could then include a key to these icons (as well as the keyboard shortcuts) directly in the UI.


Here’s a different view of the icon table above: 

Thanks for your thoughts!




UPDATE September 9th

Hey everyone! 


Back with another update. First off, let me say one more time how grateful we are for everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts and feedback with us. We’ve been reading and discussing every single comment. 


It’s clear that using the eyeball icon to convey the policy state is confusing. It’s also clear that it will be the most intuitive to have two totally distinct and independent representations of the policy and the current visibility state of submissions. With this feedback in mind, we’ve got a new proposal that we hope will address many of your concerns. 


First, we’re proposing that we use the eyeball with a slash through it to indicate that there are graded submissions that are hidden from students. It will only appear in the gradebook header if there are grades/comments currently hidden from students for a given assignment. 


Second, we’re proposing displaying manual post policy status where muted status used to be conveyed - right below the assignment title. This will put it front and center for instructors and remove any ambiguity associated with a new icon. Additionally, this placement will feel familiar to users who used mute functionality in the past. 


Here’s an example of what 2 assignments would look like, both with manual policies. The first doesn't have any graded submissions that are currently being hidden from students, while the second one does.

We will only show the policy state if it has been set to manual. Similarly, we only show the eyeball if there are graded submissions that are hidden from students.  


Let us know what you think in the comments! 



UPDATE September 18th

Hello Everyone! 


I’m back with another update. As is always the case with this awesome community, we’ve been yet again privileged to receive so much great feedback on my previous update. We spend a lot of time reading and discussing each comment. Thank you for the time you take to engage with us and share your thoughts. 


Let me also take a moment to say thank you for your patience as we take in and process feedback and put a plan in place to more forward. We think the worst thing to do here would be to introduce changes that end up needing to be changed again down the road. We want to make sure we’re moving forward in a positive direction, and that admins can confidently train their faculty knowing that we won’t be ripping changes out in a few weeks.


OK - let’s get into it. 




Based on the feedback we’ve received it sounds like the most recent proposal is a step in the right direction. Whenever grades are hidden from students the eye with a slash will be present in the header. A manual policy will be indicated by the word Manual in the header. The slashed eye in the Total Column will remain and will be visible whenever the total score for that student includes one or more grades that are hidden from them. The “Hidden” pill will still be used in SpeedGrader to indicate a grade that is hidden from students. Watch the release notes for this to be released in the near future.




There have been questions about why this change was made in the first place. Some have indicated that mute/unmute worked well for them. We appreciate this perspective. I wanted to take a moment to share some of our thinking that went into this project and what our goals were. 


There were three main goals with this project:


1 - We wanted to make it easier for teachers to manage grade visibility preferences across an entire course. In the world of Mute/Unmute this had to be done for every assignment, one by one. With Post Policies we hoped to make it simple and quick to set something course-wide that would hide grades from students as they were entered. This can be done with a course level post policy. 


2 - We wanted to give teachers more flexibility around how they release grades. Mute/Unmute was all-or-nothing for an assignment. In order to give additional flexibility, we needed to separate the default behavior for grades that are entered from the current visibility to students. For example, I might want to post grades to section A before I’ve graded (or even received) submissions from section B. Even though grades are now visible for section A, I still need grades to be hidden by default as they’re entered for section B. This can be done by setting a post policy for an assignment (or course as mentioned above) and then posting grades to a subset of my class. 


3 - We wanted to create more intuitive language and iconography. As has been expressed in the comments here, the term “mute” can be offensive to some. Additionally, it does not translate well across all of the languages we support. On the icon front - the bell icon seemed ill-suited for what it was conveying. Now, as the bulk of this discussion attests, we missed the mark here with our initial release. We’re excited to be making improvements to the icons and taking a step forward in hitting this goal. 




Now, if I may, I’d like to say something about perspective. Each institution has different practices and feature needs. It can be tempting to look at a feature through the lens of one’s own needs only. Let me give 2 examples from this project. 


First - There have been some comments suggesting that the policy state on assignments does not need to be indicated. This is actually how our initial designs were set up. The only thing that was readily visible to teachers in the gradebook was the current visibility of grades. In those early designs a teacher needed to open the Post Policy tray in order to see the policy status. However, in our user testing we received universal feedback that the policy state was critical for teachers to see. As they enter the first grade for an assignment, it needs to be very clear whether that grade would be visible to students or not. Based on the prevalence of this feedback we adjusted our designs to make the policy state visible in the gradebook. 


Second - Some have suggested that an all-or-nothing approach to posting grades is sufficient and that adding more granularity only creates unnecessary complexity to a formerly simple feature. It is true that posting grades now requires a few more clicks. It is also true that there are now 2 pieces to this feature instead of one. However, the desire to have more control over whose grades are released is a request we’ve heard repeatedly. Since releasing Post Policy we’ve received positive feedback from institutions who welcome this added flexibility. And there are some who would like even more. The Post Policy work sets us up to offer more granularity in the future, like posting/hiding for an individual student.  


Our overarching goal is always to deliver features that are flexible enough to cover the vast array of needs, while still being easy to use and understand. It’s a hard line to walk and we obviously don’t always hit the bullseye. Sometimes features aren’t flexible enough, other times they are overly complex. We’re always looking to adjust as we get feedback.


Thank you again for all your input. Have a great day!

Hello all! My name’s Daniel Nehring and I’m on the data science research team here at Instructure.  We’ve been busy behind the scenes working on improving our Nudge project that was implemented last year as a part of Canvas X.  


We are not currently seeking any more volunteers for Canvas X for the Fall Aug-Dec 2019 semester, however, I just wanted to create a quick update for the community/interested parties. 


Nudge is a prototype service that helps students effectively manage their time and coursework. Nudge currently messages students via canvas conversation messages. In this pilot students have the ability to opt-out of receiving nudges and provide feedback whether the nudge was or wasn't helpful. 


When enabled, Nudge sends the following messages to students through Canvas:

  • Upcoming Assignments: An assignment is due soon and the student hasn’t turned it in yet. Prompt them to turn it in / finish.
  • Late Assignments: An assignment due date has passed and the student has not turned it in. If the assignment has an applicable “until date”, we prompt them to submit late.
  • Positive/Generalized Nudges*: This category is more  broad, at the moment we will be sending general study habits, encouragement, and praise.   

Nudge leverages machine learning to determine if/when to send a Nudge.  This is a departure from a threshold/rules based approach. So instead of setting a rule “send message x hours before an assignment is due," our new model takes in a series of inputs and outputs either an optimal date/time or a “no nudge”.  This is significant because we do not to send too many Nudges to students, which could lead to students ignoring Nudge altogether. Conversely, we do not want the students to become reliant on the Nudging system and use it as another assignment reminder system. 


We're pretty excited about Nudge and If we have any further updates we'll posting them here in the Community page.


Privacy Notice: Canvas is committed to keeping you and your student’s personal information private. All participants will be able to opt out at any time. Any and all use of the data from this experiment will be used to make Canvas a better product and not shared publicly without express prior consent.

Recently, IMS Global announced the deprecation schedule of the LTI 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, and 2.0 specifications. Going forward, LTI Core version 1.3 (LTI 1.3) will be the recommended specification for new integrations and any integrations wishing to upgrade their LTI security framework. The LTI 1.3 specification has an enhanced Security Framework and also allows tools to layer on new services (LTI Advantage) for a deeper integration experience.

With the IMS announcement also comes a security update, LTI versions 1.0.2 and 1.1.2, for tools that do not wish to update to LTI 1.3. After reviewing the CSRF threat described in the IMS announcement with our security team, we agree with the IMS recommendation to upgrade to LTI Core version 1.3. Instructure has no current plans for supporting versions 1.0.2 and 1.1.2 in Canvas LMS. This decision was made in part because the work to support them for LTI integrations is nearly as resource intensive (for tool providers and platforms) as supporting LTI 1.3, which Canvas is already certified for.  If this is a concern, please reach out to your Instructure CSM or Partner Manager so we can discuss your concerns.


Some useful resources for adopting LTI 1.3 and LTI Advantage services are listed here:

From IMS:

  • LTI 1.3 and LTI Advantage Overview: Within this link you will find public documents outlining the core LTI 1.3 specification, Advantage service specifications, an implementation guide, and more.

From Instructure:

Lauren Williams

Instructure + Unsplash

Posted by Lauren Williams Employee Jul 25, 2019

If you attended InstructureCon 2019, you heard us announce a new partnership with Unsplash, a leading community of photographers that supplies a large library of beautiful images. You may have even met some of the team or attended a presentation about the Unsplash platform. We’re excited to bring great content into Canvas through our integration with Unsplash.  


Why Unsplash?

Unsplash provides curated, high-resolution professional photographs for free. Curated images means safe searches! No more unsavory content showing up for you or your students. And with a library of over 1 million photographs, you’ll surely find something you can use to enhance your courses. 


Additionally, if you find an image that you love and want to see more from that photographer, you can easily click their name on the image thumbnail to visit their Unsplash profile. 


Where do I find Unsplash?

Right now, you’ll find Unsplash options in Canvas Commons and Canvas Course Card Images. Plus, if you’ve enabled the new RCE in beta, you’ll find it there in image options.


Watch for more information about the RCE being available in the production environment coming soon!

We all know education is about more than just learning long division and how to compose a sentence. Education is also about fostering thoughtful and respectful human beings. As a platform for learning, it’s not often that we get an opportunity to help with the latter. While at SXSWedu this year, I saw a film called “The R Word” (which I highly encourage you to see) and I saw a different kind of opportunity for us. One of the things I learned from the documentary is that people can grow when they have the opportunity to learn more about how their behavior (even unintentional behavior) can be harmful. It’s certainly not a new idea, but something clicked for me during the Q&A for the film. It occurred to me that one of the challenges organizations like Special Olympics face is getting their materials distributed into the hands of folks who can make a difference. I just kept thinking, “How can I help? How can I help?” While content is freely available on their website, it still requires instructors to know it’s there, take the time to seek it out, and then customize it for Canvas. We have this awesome tool called Commons. If we could find some Instructional Designers to help us tailor the content for Commons, we could make it so much easier for folks to get this awesome content into their courses. Thus, the idea for “Featured Content in Commons” was born and we couldn’t be more excited for the possibilities this new feature will open up. We teamed up with Designers for Learning to make sure the content looks awesome in Canvas. By the way, if you’re an instructional designer who would like to help with this in the future, you should reach out to them!


We’ve only just begun this new kind of partnership. And while we’re piloting this new feature with Special Olympics (and another organization that we’ll tell you about at Instructurecon), we want to hear your ideas for organizations that you’d like to see us partner with for more awesome featured content. Look for the Special Olympics featured content to appear in Commons during Instructurecon in just a few short weeks!


Speaking of Instructurecon... join us for a chat IRL if you're going to be there!

tl;dr: Newly-submitted ideas will start out in a new non-voting stage: Initial Stage: We are reviewing your idea.


Next week, starting on Monday, June 17, we will change how newly-submitted ideas behave and display. When someone creates a new idea, it will be in a not-yet-open-for-voting status called: Initial Stage: We are reviewing your idea. This should improve the experience for the vast majority of users.


Why the change?

We are aligning the behavior of a brand-new idea with what has long been the practice. A member of the Community Team reviews every idea that comes in. Many of these new ideas turn out to be duplicates of existing ideas, or contain multiple separate requests; when that’s the case, we move the ideas into a non-voting status. While our documentation asks our members to wait for the review process to unfold before promoting the idea, we recognize that not every person has seen that directive before submitting a new idea. And while we strive to review each idea as quickly as possible, the reality is it might be a day or two before one of us gets to it.


What problem does this change solve?

When new ideas arrive in the Ideas forum open for voting by default, we’ve seen scenarios unfold that do not make for a good user experience. For example:

  • If the author and/or proponents of an idea promote it widely and many people vote upon it before the Community Team has performed its review, and a member of our team then closes it for voting, it results in a poor user experience for those who have voted upon the idea, only to find that they are now being directed elsewhere. (In case you’re wondering why we don’t just merge the votes for the new idea with the ones for the existing ideas: yes, we’d love to be able to do that, but our platform does not afford us that functionality.)
  • If the idea has been promoted widely and a member of the Community Team moves it to Moderating status to request clarification, ask the author to edit the idea, or archives it as a duplicate, that too creates a poor user experience for those who have received the idea link and come to the Ideas forum with the intention of voting for it, only to find that they are unable to do so.


What can I expect?

Starting next week, when you write a new idea, it will automatically go into a non-voting status called Initial Stage: We are reviewing your idea. We hope the stage name and its status will make apparent in the UI what has already been the documented practice for ideas.


This small change is part of our continuous review of our ideas process. If you’re interested in the evolution of the ideas process over time, please have a look at Adaptation: Feature Idea Process Changes.


Thanks for being a part of the Community and sharing your feedback and ideas with us!