Canvas Beta Release Notes (2016-11-28)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Nov 28, 2016Last modified by on Jul 15, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas includes a new feature in Groups and updated features in Courses, Files, Multiple Grading Periods, and Notifications. Other updates that do not affect Canvas functionality are included in Course Imports, Outcomes, the Rich Content Editor, and the Canvas User Interface.


Beta features are subject to change based on user feedback and testing. Please follow the release notes for the latest information.


The beta environment is for testing new and updated features, which are subject to change at any time.  Learn more about Canvas Beta.


Account-level features are not available in Free-for-Teacher accounts.


For advanced CSS and JS users: This release includes changes to Canvas that may or may not affect custom styles and code in custom applications. Please make sure to test your Beta instance for any customization conflicts.


  New Features




Group Assignments by Section

When instructors create a group set from the People page, the group structure supports randomly assigning students to a group by section. This feature allows instructors to specifically limit groups to users within a specific section. Section assignments also support instructors in large or cross-listed courses.


When this option is selected, students are only grouped together with students from their own section. The section designation is available as part of a new group set page and selecting the option to split students into a specific number of groups.




The option is also available when groups are created manually. In the settings menu for the group set, instructors can choose to randomly assign students in groups. Note that with this option, the checkbox to require members to be in the same section is selected by default.




Note: This feature is currently not available when creating a new group set in an assignment. However, creating a new group set with the self sign-up option has not changed and includes the option to require students to be in the same section.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Automatically assign groups within sections of a course!, Randomly assign groups within the same section within a linked (joined) course



  Updated Features




Course Auto-Favorites

For users who have customized their Courses list, Canvas automatically adds all new enrollments as a favorite. This change helps Canvas users locate new courses in the Dashboard and the Global Navigation Courses menu. Customizing a course list means a user has clicked the All Courses link in the Courses menu and manually favorited at least one course in the Courses list.




Favorite courses in the Courses menu and the Dashboard are still ordered alphabetically by course role and course name. Courses with instructor roles are listed first, followed by TA roles and any other custom instructor-based roles. Courses with student roles are listed last. If the Courses menu includes a large number of courses, the Courses menu includes a scrollbar. There is no limit for favorited courses.


  • For students, courses are not set as a favorite until the course is published. (Students cannot favorite unpublished courses.)
  • For instructors, courses are set as a favorites as soon as they are added to the course.
  • Courses will all roles remain a favorite even when the courses are concluded, but the course can be removed as a favorite at any time in the Courses list.


Note: This change does not affect users who have never customized their courses list, where Canvas automatically displays up to 12 courses alphabetically by role in the Dashboard and in the Global Navigation Courses menu. The Courses list is not affected and no courses are marked as favorites.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: add newly accept course to course menu by default


Sort Order Menu

The Course Filtering sidebar in the account-level Courses page includes a sort menu. This change helps admins sort courses more easily according to their preference. Courses can be sorted in four ways:

  • A–Z (by course name, ascending)
  • Z–A (by course name, descending)
  • Oldest to newest (by course creation date, ascending)
  • Newest to oldest (by course creation date, descending)


Note: The Course Filtering sidebar also displays in the Settings page, but the filtering options only work in the Courses page.




Term List Order Update

The Terms drop-down list groups terms into active and past terms. This change helps admins locate a specific term when an account includes multiple terms. By default, courses are shown from all terms.


Active terms have terms with active dates. Past terms have end dates in the past. Terms within each group are ordered alphabetically.


The Terms menu is updated in the following locations:

  • Account level: Courses page sidebar (Course Filtering section) and Add New Course window (via the + New Course button)
  • Account level: Users page sidebar (Choose Term section)





Name Confirmation Check Mark

When a user creates a folder or renames a file, the text field includes a check mark to save the folder or file name. Previously files and folder names were only saved by clicking the Enter key on the user’s keyboard. This change improves accessibility and clarifies the process for creating a new folder name or renaming a file.




release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Clarify how to complete creating a folder in Files



Multiple Grading Periods

This feature is used with the Multiple Grading Periods feature option, which can be enabled by an institutional admin in Account Settings.

Account Updates

Account features are not available in Free-for-Teacher accounts.


Default Start Date

For new grading periods in a grading set, the start date defaults to 12:00 AM.


Note: This change does not affect existing grading periods, which still display the default start date as 11:59 PM.




This feature resolves a fixed bug in Canvas:

When an admin created a grading period and tried to set the start date to 12:00 AM, the grading period readjusted back to the default of 11:59 PM. Canvas code has been updated to support 12:00 AM for start dates in new grading periods.


Time Zone Display

Grading periods reflect the time zone of an admin’s local account. If an admin has set a user time zone to be different from the account’s default time zone, the Grading Periods page displays the time adjusted for the admin’s user account time zone.


When a grading period is edited, the admin’s local time zone is displayed compared to the account time zone.




Close Date Course Verification Updates

Assignment, graded discussion, and quiz due dates, Gradebook default grades, and Gradebook curved grades validate grading period close dates. Grading period restrictions only apply to instructors; they do not apply to admins.


Assignment Due Dates

When Multiple Grading Periods are enabled in a course, the Assign field in assignments, graded discussions, and quizzes cannot be edited by an instructor for anyone who already has the assignment due in a closed grading period.




Instructors can continue to add additional differentiated assignments with due dates outside the closed grading period. The Assign field validates the due date against the closed grading period and requires the assignment date to be past the date of the closed grading period.


Assignments with due dates in open grading periods cannot be edited from an open grading period to a date in a closed grading period. However, the due date can be edited to any date within an open grading period.


Note: This change does not apply to availability dates, which can be set to overlap a grading period.




Gradebook Default Grades and Curved Grades

When an assignment is in a closed grading period for at least one student, the Gradebook menu disables the options to set a default grade and curve grades. These options are also not available in the Individual View Gradebook.




Student Grades and Assignment Group Weights

In the Student Grades page, if a course includes weighted assignment groups, assignment groups are only displayed in the sidebar if the groups are active as part of a selected grading period. An assignment group displays if the group has at least one assignment due for the student in the selected grading period. Instructors can also view the individual grades page for a student by clicking the name of the student in the Gradebook.





Instructor Role Group Announcement Notifications

Instructors, TAs, and other custom instructor roles can receive notifications for course groups. This change allows instructor-based roles to receive notifications without being added directly to a group. To receive a notification, the instructor, TA, or custom instructor-based user must be enrolled in the course and must enable announcements in their notification preferences.


Group announcement notifications are managed through the Announcement and Announcement Created by You notification preferences under the Course Activities heading. If a user with an instructor-based role has selected to never receive announcement notifications, they will not receive them from group announcements.



  Other Updates



Course Import

Common Cartridge Compliance Import Process

Canvas has updated the import process for common cartridge files. Canvas provides improved messaging for common cartridge options that Canvas does not currently support during the import process. This change helps users understand how imports are converted in Canvas or which files are ignored. For instance, when a user imports a file with a pattern match question, Canvas generates a message notifying the user that the question was converted to a Fill-in-the-Blank question.



Manage Rubrics Menu Placement

In both the account- and course-level Outcomes pages, the Manage Rubrics button has been moved inside an Outcomes menu. This menu will be used to add additional features in a future Canvas release. Users who do not have permission to manage rubrics cannot view the Outcomes menu.




Rich Content Editor

Minimize Preview Link Placement

When an instructor adds a file to a Rich Content Editor window and selects the option to auto-open the link’s inline preview, the content displays a Minimize Preview link. This link has been moved above the preview window. This change improves accessibility and also allows users to minimize the preview without having to scroll past the document window.



Underlined Hyperlinks

When hyperlinks are added to the Rich Content Editor, the links are underlined by default. This change improves accessibility and also aligns with standard HTML practices of underlining links in course content for all users.


Users who want to underline all non-user-generated content outside the Rich Content Editor can still enable the High Contrast and/or Underline Links user feature options.




This feature resolves a fixed bug in Canvas:

When a user created hyperlinks in the Rich Content Editor and a user did not enable either the High Contrast or Underline Links user feature options, the links were not underlined by default and users were unable to find the content links. Canvas code has been updated to underline all hyperlinks in user-generated content regardless of the user feature options.


User Interface

Global Font Update

The default font in Canvas has been updated from Helvetica to a modern typeface, Lato. This change helps improve typography standards in Canvas and across all Instructure products. Lato is an open-source font that supports over 100 Latin-based languages and over 50 Cyrillic-based languages (including Greek and IPA phonetics). Additionally, Lato improves legibility for all font sizes and provides better visual hierarchy in Canvas typography. Lato uses numeric weight sizing, which will provide additional font functionality in future releases, and supports four weights: Lato Light, Lato, Lato Bold, Lato Italicized, and Lato Italicized Bold.


This change may affect instructors who have designed course content to match Helvetica. Instructors may need to update their course content accordingly.



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