Canvas Beta Release Notes (2015-11-30)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Nov 30, 2015Last modified by on Jul 15, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas has new features for Assignments, Course Settings, and SpeedGrader, and updated features for the Calendar and People. We also have other updates for Calendar, Grades, the New Canvas UI, and People, as well as a new parameter in the Submissions API. 


Beta features are subject to change based on user feedback and testing.


The beta environment is for testing new and updated features, which are subject to change based on user feedback. Learn more about Canvas Beta.


  New Features




Moderated Grading

When creating an assignment, instructors can choose to have multiple graders evaluate a student’s work and create draft or provisional grades before the grade is marked as final for the course. This feature can also be used to create a random sampling of students for assignment review to ensure grading is consistent and allows secondary grade reviews.


For each assignment that needs to be moderated, instructors must select the checkbox that allows moderators to review multiple independent grades. Moderators can be any user in the course who has been granted the course-level Moderate Grades permission.




Once an assignment has been published, moderators can view a Moderate button for the assignment, which allows moderators to add students to the moderation set. The Add Reviewer button creates quick-access links to SpeedGrader.




The Moderator page displays a column for the first reviewer, second reviewer, and moderator. The first reviewer is the first person to grade the assignment, and the second reviewer is the second person to grade the assignment. Reviewers can be any user in the course who has been granted the course-level Edit Grades permission (commonly TAs).


Reviewers interact with SpeedGrader as they would with any other Canvas assignment. Once a reviewer grades the assignment, the grade appears in the Moderate page as a provisional grade in the appropriate reviewer column. Provisional grades are not included in the Gradebook and are only visible to moderators.


The Moderate page only supports up to two provisional grades and one moderator grade. The moderator grade can be edited or overwritten by any user with the moderate grades permission. Several provisional grades can exist for a submission, but a course does not need to have more than one reviewer.



  • Students not in the moderated students set can only be assigned one provisional grade.
  • When a course includes more than one moderator, each institution will need to set their own policies for which moderator controls official grade posting for the assignment.




Moderators can also view any previous reviews by opening SpeedGrader. Previous reviews display the grade and any comments. The moderator can also use the Add Review link to add a second review (if one does not already exist), add a moderator review, or copy a previous review as the moderator review.


Copying a review applies the grade as the final. The copy retains the grade and existing comments but allows the moderator to make additional comments. When copying a grade as the final, SpeedGrader will generate a warning and override any existing grade in the Moderator column.




To assign and post a final grade for the assignment, the moderator can click the radio button in any reviewer column, or click the Select button in SpeedGrader. The final grade is the grade that will appear in the Gradebook once the assignment grades are posted. Students cannot view any comments or grades until the grade is published.




Once a grade is published, the grade in the moderator page cannot be changed; all content is considered as a read-only status. However, grades can still be changed in the Gradebook.


Course Settings

ePub Exports

ePub Exports is used in conjunction with the ePub Exporting course-level feature option. 

Instructors can allow students to download a course as an ePub file. This feature allows students to view course content when they are offline, such as files, pages, assignment details, discussion topics, or quiz instructions. Students cannot interact with the course in ePub material; course materials are displayed in a read-only state and any tasks such as submitting an assignment must be completed online.


The default ePub organization is by module, meaning only items that students have access to view in each module will be included in the ePub file. However, instructors can set their course organization by content type (e.g. assignments, quizzes, etc.). This option can be changed by checking the ePub Export checkbox located in the Course Settings Course Details tab.




Students can generate ePub files by opening their User Settings page and clicking the Download Course Content button.




Any available courses appear in the ePub content page and can be generated as needed using the Generate ePub link. Once the ePub is completed, the user can download the file or regenerate the ePub file. If a course includes a file that isn’t supported in an ePub, the page also includes a link to download associated files, which downloads the non-supported files in a zip file to be viewed in their native apps.




Downloaded content can be viewed in any ePub reader, such as iBooks (Mac) or Azardi (Windows). Other ePub applications can be used, but iBooks and Azardi are recommended as they provide the best support for embedded media. In ePub content, students cannot interact with course content directly such as completing an assignment, but they can view the assignment details, availability dates, and point values.




Link Validator

Instructors can verify all the links throughout a course to ensure they are valid. This option is available in the Course Details tab in Course Settings.




The course link validator searches through course content and returns invalid or unresponsive links. If links are found, Canvas provides the name of the content item with a link so instructors can correct the error.



release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas Community.




Anonymous Grading

Anonymous Grading is used in conjunction with the Anonymous Grading course-level feature option.

When grading assignments, the SpeedGrader option to Hide Student Names can now be enabled for all courses in Canvas. When this feature is enabled, the Hide Student Names checkbox is enabled by default.




If at any time the feature option is changed to allowed or off, the SpeedGrader option will be retained and must be changed manually.

As noted in the October 31 and November 21 releases, the admin logging tool shows whether an assignment was graded anonymously. Students can also view whether or not an assignment was graded anonymously in both the student Grades page and the sidebar of the assignment submission page.

release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas Community.



  Updated Features




Calendar Export Assignment Descriptions

Calendar feeds include the description of an assignment, in addition to the title and time of the event.





Section-Limited User Roles

When adding a user to a course, all user roles have the option to be limited by section so that users can only participate with other section enrollments. Previously only instructor-based roles could be limited by course section.





  Other Updates




Scheduler Messages

When instructors use the Message Students Who feature in the Scheduler, messages that include over 100 recipients are automatically sent as individual messages.



Ungraded Quizzes and Student Grade Totals

When a student submits a quiz that has a manually graded component, the ungraded quiz does not factor into student’s grades view. Student grades are only updated when the manually graded question has been graded by the instructor.

release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas Community.


New Canvas UI

High Contrast Styles and Institution Logo

The New Canvas User Interface (UI) is an account-level feature option, which can be enabled by any Canvas admin in Account Settings. Enabling the New UI affects the user interface for the entire Canvas account. Adjustments to the New UI will be made throughout the upcoming year.


The New Canvas UI will be an account opt-in feature until approximately mid-2016. Watch the release notes for more details and updates on this feature.

The High Contrast Styles user-level feature option does not support viewing the institution logo at the top of the Global Navigation Menu. When users enable High Contrast Styles, the first item shown in the Global Navigation Menu is the Dashboard link.



Observers and Active Enrollment State

Users added to a course with the Observer role default to an active state so observers can participate in a course without having to accept a course invitation. This change does not change the process of removing an observer from a course; when the observed student is removed from the course, the observer is also removed from the course.



Firefox Crocodoc Annotations

When an instructor uses Crocodoc annotations for a supported assignment submission type (primarily Word documents and PDFs), the Firefox browser frequently removes the last annotation when updating the score field in SpeedGrader. This behavior is a Crocodoc-specific limitation within Firefox that cannot be resolved by Crocodoc at this time. To warn about the effects of Firefox and Crocodoc annotations, Canvas displays a warning banner that says “Warning: Crocodoc has limitations when used in Firefox. Comments will not always be saved.” To avoid losing any annotations, instructors may choose to use another browser when providing Crocodoc annotated feedback, or click the screen to retain comments before navigating to another student.

Note: Crocodoc is not available in Canvas beta environments.







Submissions API

In the Submissions API, users can use the [grouped] parameter to group responses by student groups.