Canvas Beta Release Notes (2015-12-28)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Dec 28, 2015Last modified by on Jul 15, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas has new features for Assignments, Authentication, and Notifications. We also have updates for Assignments, the New Canvas User Interface, and People, as well as several other updates. This release also brings the first round of Community Holiday features created from top feature requests to say thank you for supporting Canvas!


View the beta release notes and let us know your thoughts. We'll see you again in 2016!


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




SIS Sync Icon

Instructors using a supported SIS integration, such as PowerSchool or Skyward, can tell if an assignment, graded discussion, or quiz is set up to be sent to their institution’s student information system. Assignments can be enabled or disabled by clicking the sync icon in the index page.


The sync icon only appears for institutions using an SIS integration and is currently available in the Assignments Index Page and the Quizzes Index Page.




See a related update for this feature in the Community Holiday section.



Authentication Providers

Canvas supports authentication with a variety of third-party identity providers, such as Google Apps and Twitter. However, once the provider has been saved in Canvas, the provider’s authentication login credentials must be added to each Canvas user’s account through API or SIS import. (Currently there is no support for adding user credentials through the Canvas interface.)


Add Identity Provider

Admins can use the Authentication Settings page to configure an identity provider to their account. Each provider requires the admin to set an attribute to be associated with the account, such as a user ID, email, or login. Attribute-only services include Facebook, Github, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Google, CAS, LDAP, OpenID, and SAML require additional custom components for configuration.


Authentication providers can be removed from an account with the Remove All Authentication button. However, removing an authentication service restricts students from using the provider to log in to Canvas.

Note: The sidebar Remove All Authentication button only removes any previously configured authentication services. It does not affect single sign-on (SSO) settings or Canvas authentication.




Add User Credentials

Once the credentials for the provider has been saved in the Canvas interface, admins can add the authentication login credential attributes as parameters to each Canvas user’s account through API or SIS. Documentation for creating and adding authentication providers is available in the Authentication Providers API. Each authentication provider supports specifically recognized parameters; some providers may recognize additional parameters. Unrecognized parameters are not supported.


Just In Time Provisioning

As part of setting up a third-party authentication provider, admins can select the Just in Time Provisioning checkbox, which automatically creates user accounts if one does not already exist.


Currently when a user logs in to Canvas using a third-party authentication system, Canvas searches users in the account looking for a matching user parameter for that service. If a matching parameter is not found, Canvas returns the user to the authentication provider portal with a message the user could not be found. When Just in Time Provisioning (JIT) is enabled, Canvas automatically creates the user using an ID that matches the username used with the authentication provider.

JIT provisioning must be configured via API for the specific authentication provider (see the Authentication Providers API). It does not need to be configured for individual users via API or SIS.


Note: JIT Provisioning is available for all authentication providers except for Canvas, which already provides a similar concept through Self Registration. See a related update for Self Registration in the Other Updates section.





International SMS

Canvas offers SMS notification support to users outside the United States. Cellular numbers for can be added in a user’s profile. Unlike in the United States, international carriers are not required as part of the communication setup.


Currently SMS notifications are available for cellular numbers registered in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Honduras, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.


Note: Notifications cannot be sent from the Canvas beta environment.





  Updated Features




Moderated Grading

When creating Moderated Grading assignments and assigning students to a moderation set, the Moderation page only adds a second reviewer column when it is needed. Although the Moderation page supports provisional grades for two reviewers and one moderator, not all provisional grades may be needed in the course.


Additionally, if a student who was not previously in the moderation set is added to the set at a later date, the Moderation page adds a SpeedGrader link to the 1st Reviewer column. If the student received a grade before being added to the set, the SpeedGrader link is added to the 2nd Reviewer column and opens directly in the 2nd Reviewer tab.




As clarification, if a moderator does not want to use the score from the 1st Reviewer, the moderator can add a second review or a moderator review in SpeedGrader to use for grading.




New Canvas UI

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. The New Canvas UI will be an account opt-in feature until July 9, 2016.

Global Navigation

The Global Navigation links have been rearranged, with the User Account link at the top. Other links include Admin, Dashboard, Groups, Calendar, Inbox, and LTI Tools. Links are hidden unless the user has the proper permissions or the link includes content (such as being in a group to view the Groups link).


Dashboard Cards

The course cards on the dashboard have also been updated with a slightly refined look. Courses also display the course code. This change also helps with the Nickname functionality; as users can always see the code representing the original course name.




Course Navigation Menu

The Course Navigation Menu no longer collapses unless it is minimized manually by a Canvas user. Regardless of screen size, browsers no longer include a breakpoint that force the menu to collapse automatically.




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


Theme Editor Templates

The Theme Editor includes two additional templates: Minimalist Theme and State U. Theme. Both of these themes are intended as a foundation for admins to easily modify. Minimalist is for admins who prefer a more low-key look and feel, while State U. is intended for schools with a more vibrant brand palette.





Login ID/SIS ID Columns

The Login ID/SIS ID column has been separated into two columns. Only users with SIS ID viewing rights can view the SIS column.





  Community Holiday



Community Holiday is a collection of popular feature ideas specifically developed to say thank you to the Canvas Community.

Account Settings

Post to SIS Assignment Default

Institutions using a supported SIS integration, such as PowerSchool or Skyward, can choose to automatically enable the Post Grades to SIS checkbox for all assignments, graded discussions, and quizzes. Currently the Post Grades checkbox is only automatically applied to assignments.


Admins can enable this option in Account Settings. The Post Grades to SIS checkbox is located in the Settings tab under the SIS Grade Export Settings heading.

When SIS assignments are enabled as default, instructors can still manage individual assignments in their courses manually remove any assignments that should not be sent to the student information system.




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



Filter by Grading Period

If a course is using the Multiple Grading Periods feature option, Canvas users can sort and filter the Assignments page by grading period. This feature allows user to view assignments that are relevant within a specific grading period.

Note: This filter only appears in the Assignments Page.




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



Hide Assignment Group Totals with Final Grade

When an instructor chooses to hide the final grade from students in Course Settings, assignment group totals are also hidden from students.

Note: This setting does not affect courses using Multiple Grading Periods. To hide total grades from students when using Multiple Grading Periods, instructors can choose to disable the Display Total Grade feature option.




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



Remove Student Names from Message Students Who

When using the Message Students Who feature in the Gradebook, instructors can remove student names that are shown in the student list. If a student is removed from the message list, the student will not receive the message.




Percent Symbol in Percentage-based Assignments

When an instructor displays an assignment grade as a percentage, the percent sign appears in the Gradebook column. The percent sign is already included in the Student Grades page.




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



Inactive Enrollment Type

Admins and instructors can specify users as an inactive enrollment. Inactive enrollments allow admins and instructors to view prior activity in a course but does not allow the student to access course content. This status can be used for students who do not pay tuition or drop the course at a future date. Students cannot view inactive users.


An inactive enrollment:

  • Can be deleted like other enrollments
  • Does not appear in any messaging list
  • Cannot participate in the course
  • Can’t be assigned to groups
  • Includes no grading or moderation restrictions—grades still display and can be edited in the Gradebook


Note: Managing inactive enrollments is associated with the Add/remove students and Add/remove others teachers account- and course-level permissions.




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


Edit Enrollment Type

Admins and instructors can edit the enrollment type for a user in the course through the People page. Unlike section edits, role edits do not require the user to accept a new course invitation. This feature allows instructors to make modifications to course enrollment types without having to delete the existing enrollment.



  • Existing users cannot be edited to have an observer role. Additionally, existing observers cannot have their roles change to any other role type. Observers can only be added by adding a new user to the course.
  • Editing enrollment types is associated with the Add/remove students and Add/remove others teachers account- and course-level permissions. Users without the Add/remove other teachers permission cannot select teacher, TA, or any other custom role as an enrollment type. Users without the Add/remove students permission cannot select the student role as an enrollment type.




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


  Other Updates




Canvas Self Registration

The Self Registration option for Canvas authentication is now part of the Authentication Provider page. All accounts can view the Self Registration options at the end of the page and the current setting for that option has been retained. Canvas Self Registration cannot be deleted as an authentication option, but it can be disabled at any time.





Discussion Reply Performance Enhancements

The database query for loading discussion replies has been optimized for performance.


Course Settings

Link Validator

The Link Validator find links to deleted and unpublished content. Instructors can choose to hide unpublished links. Additionally, the Link Validator provides a warning when links direct to different courses.



Graded Anonymously Column

The Student Grades page no longer includes the Graded Anonymously column. Previously used for Anonymous Grading, the Graded Anonymously column showed students if an assignment was graded anonymously in SpeedGrader by hiding student names.





Individual View Download Submissions Button

In the Gradebook Individual View, quiz submissions do not display the Download Submissions button. Previously the button was only grayed out as quiz submissions cannot be downloaded.


Differentiated Assignments and Arranging Columns by Due Date

When arranged in the Gradebook by due date in the Gradebook Settings, assignments with differentiated due dates are ordered according to the latest due date. For instance, if an assignment with three sections includes a different due date for each section, the assignment will be arranged in the Gradebook according to the latest due date in the assignment.






Bounced Channels

If a user’s communication channel bounces once, Canvas displays a warning icon in User Settings. Bounces can occur from invalid addresses (caused by address typos, changed addresses, etc.) or blocked servers and does not allow the channel to attempt to generate or send a notification. Previously the channel had to bounce several times before the warning would appear.


Custom Role Names

When admins create custom user roles, users receive course notifications with the name of the custom role. For instance, if a custom role called Student TA is created based on the TA role, the user invitation will show that the user has been invited to participate in the course as a Student TA.

release-notes-bug-fix-icon.png This feature resolves a fixed bug in Canvas:

When an admin created a custom account role, the notification showed the base role name rather than the custom role name. This behavior occurred because notifications only generated the base role name. Canvas code has been updated to display the names of custom roles in Canvas notifications.







Assignment Group API

In the Assignment Group API, users can include submissions as a parameter when listing assignment groups or getting assignment groups.


Enrollments API

In the Enrollments API, users can inactivate an enrollment, or re-active an enrollment.


SIS CSV Format

In the SIS CSV Format page, users can set an inactive status in the enrollments.csv. When placed in an inactive state, the student is listed in the course roster for instructors but cannot view or participate in the course unless the enrollment is changed to an active status.


External Apps (LTI)

Media Full-screen Viewing

LTI tools that support media viewing can display embedded videos in full screen.