Canvas Changes Feature Clarifications [Archive]

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Aug 9, 2019Last modified by Erin Hallmark Administrator on May 18, 2020
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The Canvas Change Feature Clarifications document has been deprecated. This document is an archive for that previous document. 

For current features, please see  Upcoming Canvas Changes.


2 May 2020

SMS Notifications Deprecation

Official Release Notes Announcement Date: 2020-04-08



With the recent improvements and availability of the Canvas mobile apps, user notification preferences are shifting from SMS (text) notifications to push notifications.


Upcoming Change

The Canvas Notifications page only allows Announcement and Grading notification types to be selected for SMS notifications. Remaining notification types can be enabled through other communication channels. 


Customer Action

Customers should transition to the Canvas mobile apps and enable push notifications. These notification types are more consistent and reliable for all user roles.


Institutions concerned about this change should contact their Customer Success Manager to discuss their situation.



User Group


How-To Guides—Web


How-To Guides—Mobile




Product Blog

SMS: A love / hate relationship 


18 January 2020

Account Settings Feature Options

Release Notes Announcement Date: Canvas Release Notes (2019-09-21) 



Initially introduced in 2015, feature options are features that may change the workflow for common activities in Canvas during an institution's current term and allows Canvas admins to enable the feature based on their preferred timeline. However, after a specified period of time, feature options may become standard features in Canvas.


Upcoming Change

On January 18, 2020, the following feature options will be enabled for all institutions:

  • Enable Dashboard Images for Courses
  • Rubric Criterion Range
  • Student Context Card


These features are being enabled to manage customer expectations with features that will not remain optional.


Customer Action & Resources

If one or all feature options have never been enabled in an account, the following information outlines the behavior that takes place with the feature, as organized by introduction date:


Enable Dashboard Images for Courses


Rubric Criterion Range

  • Introduced in the 2017-10-07 release
  • Affects the entire account
  • Displays a Range checkbox in the rubric window and allow users to assign a rating for a range of point options instead of an individual point value
  • How-to lesson: How do I add a rubric in a course?


Student Context Card

  • Introduced in the 2017-02-18 release
  • Affects the entire account
  • Displays a window that provides insights and context about a student when a student’s name is clicked anywhere in a Canvas course, such as announcement replies, discussion replies, the Gradebook, and the Moderate page for moderated assignments.
  • Course exceptions include links in groups, and student links in the Course Analytics page, which link to the student’s individual analytics page.
  • Does not apply to context outside of courses, such as the Inbox
  • How-to Lesson: How do I view a context card for a student in a course?




New Gradebook

Release Notes Announcement Date: Canvas Release Notes (2019-05-11)


New Gradebook improves foundational items for Canvas grading and includes enhanced functionality for organization, flexibility, and communication. This feature was initially released in November 2017.



Exploration for Gradebook was conducted through interviews, surveys, feature ideas, and internal channels. New Gradebook was first introduced as a beta feature; feedback was received in a user group within the Canvas community. Community feedback contributed to additional enhancements. The beta label was removed 30 March 2019.


Upcoming Change

On 18 January 2020, the existing Canvas Gradebook will be replaced with the New Gradebook. No data loss will result in this transition and all features align with previous functionality included in the existing Gradebook as indicated:


Treat Ungraded as 0

The Treat Ungraded as 0 option changes the view of how grades are displayed in the Gradebook and does not directly affect student grades. This feature is not available in the Grid View Gradebook to minimize confusion about student’s actual grades. If instructors want to view grades as zeros, they should apply grades as zeros using the global Missing Policy option or use the Default Grade option for individual assignments.


Assignment Details

The Assignment Details link in the current Gradebook will be replaced by New Analytics functionality, which provides improved analytics capabilities.


Hide Student Names

The Hide Student Names feature in the existing Gradebook has been resolved in the New Gradebook by the Anonymous Grading and Moderated Grading features already implemented in Canvas.


Customer Action

The New Gradebook can be enabled at any time. No existing grades will be affected when initially transitioning to the New Gradebook. However, some LTI or SIS workflows may need to be adjusted by the developer as follows:

  • Any LTIs that support muting will need to be updated to fully support the New Gradebook Post Policies feature, which will be available by July 2019.
  • Late and missing policies do not apply to LTI assignments and missing policies and must be updated manually.
  • Some SIS provider pass back the final grade, which calculates grades based on the Treat Ungraded as 0 option. The SIS will need to be adjusted to pass back the current grade instead of the final grade.




3 August 2019

Internet Explorer 11 Browser Support

Internet Explorer 11 is a web browser developed by Microsoft in 2015.



Since the release of Microsoft Edge, more customers have been switching to more modern browser technologies. Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer 11 will ultimately be discontinued. Microsoft Edge is the default web browser on Windows 10 machines.


Upcoming Change

On 3 August 2019, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer be supported as a Canvas browser. Internet Explorer was previously downgraded to a functionally supported browser in March 2018.


Customer Action

  • If a Microsoft browser is required for your institution, Microsoft recommends transitioning to Microsoft Edge for a safer, faster, and improved browser experience.
  • Some older programs on institutional hardware (such as in computer labs) may require Internet Explorer 11. To support Canvas concurrently, another browser may need to be installed such as Chrome or Firefox.




15 July 2019

Canvas Release Schedule Adjustments

The Canvas Release Schedule will be adjusted to support two-week deploys and monthly releases every third Saturday of the month.



Existing three-week releases include code deploys for predetermined features, fixed bugs, backend changes, performance updates, API modifications, platform upgrades, and other code adjustments completed by our engineering teams. However, releases and deploys should not be synonymous terms. More and more software companies are moving to cloud-based continuous deployments because of both the engineering and customer benefits.


Upcoming Change

Beginning July 15, Canvas teams will make adjustments to the Canvas release schedule focusing on two key objectives: make new feature releases more predictable and improve the quality of Canvas code. Releases and deploys will be separate events. A deploy means making code available in a specific environment; code may or may not be visible. A release represents a scheduled event when code is intended to be visible.


  • Releases contain changes that affect user workflows for any Canvas-related product, including API/SIS integration adjustments.
  • Deploys contain non-customer-affecting code changes intended to fix bugs, improve performance, and prepare for new features.


Releases and deploys will take place on the following timelines:

  • Feature releases in the production environment take place on the third Saturday of every month, beginning August 17
  • A preview of the following month’s release will be available in the beta environment the same day as the production release, beginning August 17
  • Deploys of the main Canvas codebase to the production environment take place every other Wednesday, and beta deploys take place every other Thursday, beginning July 31 and August 1, respectively


Customer Action

Customers should note the change in the production release as noted in the Canvas release schedule. Users can follow the release schedule via the Canvas Updates Calendar and subscribe via HTML or iCAL.


For all specific date changes, please see the Timeline Implementation section of the Canvas Release Changes blog post.



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