Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-01-16)

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Jan 16, 2017Last modified by on Jul 15, 2018
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In this beta release, Canvas has a new feature for instructors to view student data throughout courses. Updated features are available in Accounts, Assignments, Calendar, Course Imports, the Dashboard, Modules, Pages, Quizzes, and User Navigation, and additional icons have been updated in several Canvas areas.


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 how to access the beta environment.


Beta features will be available in production environments according to the Canvas release schedule.


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


  New Features




Student Context Card

This feature requires the Student Context Card feature option, which can only be enabled for an entire account. Canvas admins can enable this feature option in Account Settings.

Instructors and admins can now view more standardized interaction with student data in a course. Currently, when an instructor or admin clicks the name of a student in a course, the link displays the student’s user details page. With the Student Context Card feature, instructors and admins can click a student’s name in a course and view a sidebar-type overlay that shows quick insights and context about the student. Users with student roles cannot view context cards in a course.


Context cards are meant to be a simplified overview of a student’s progress. The context is generated from grades in the Gradebook and standard page view and participation activity in course analytics. Mobile data is not included unless a user accesses Canvas directly through a mobile browser, or if a user accesses content within the mobile app that redirects to a mobile browser.


Context Card Users

Context cards are not supported for user names where the user is not a student (e.g. observer, TA, or other instructor). Clicking links for these user roles will always direct to the user’s details page or profile page (if the institution has enabled the Profiles feature).


Currently, student context cards do not display for inactive students or students with pending course invitations. The pending status displays in the People page, while the inactive status can be displayed in Discussions, Announcements, the Gradebook, and SpeedGrader.




Context Card Details

Context cards can display the following details:


  • Profile picture (if applicable)
  • Masquerade: masquerade as the student (link only available to users with masquerade permissions)
  • Student name or email: view the student’s user profile page
  • Mail icon: send a message directly to the student from the page
  • Course name and section: view the name of the course and section (section name only included for courses with multiple sections)
  • Last login: view the last login date (does not display if the student has never logged in);  the card only displays the time when the login is on the current date, the day of the week when the login was within the current week, and the full date for any later logins
  • Grades: access the student’s grades page
  • Analytics: access the student’s analytics page (button only available to users with the course analytics permission)
  • Current grade: view current grade as displayed in the Gradebook (according to grading scheme); for courses using Multiple Grading Periods, the grade displays the current grade for all grading periods
  • Number of missing assignments: view the total of missing assignments based on student analytics data, which generates data for both online and no-submission assignments in Canvas; for submissions not submitted online, assignment calculations may not be entirely accurate as they are attempted based on the assignment’s grade and when the assignment was graded
  • Number of late assignments: view the total of late assignments based on assignment due date
  • Number of last graded items in the course: view a maximum of the last 10 recently graded assignments with the assignment’s grade (shows according to grading scheme, but grades default to points if the grading scheme does not fit)
  • Participation activity compared to class: view the standard deviation of the student’s participation in the course compared to other students (none, low, moderate, or high)
  • Page views compared to class: view the standard deviation of the student’s page views in the course compared to other students (none, low, moderate, or high)


Context Card Link Locations

Context cards are supported anywhere in a Canvas course that displays a link to a student’s name. (They do not apply outside a course, such as in the Conversations Inbox.) No extra permissions are required for this feature; context cards are inherent specifically to instructor and admin roles.


In addition to the People page (course roster), frequent areas where student names display in courses include announcement and discussion replies, the Gradebook, and the Moderate page for moderated assignments. Current exceptions include links that direct to group context (such as clicking the name of a group leader) and student links in the Course Analytics page, which link to the student’s individual analytics page.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Message Students Directly From People Tab



  Updated Features




Default Term in Term List

The Terms drop-down menu places the Default Term at the top of the list, regardless of set term dates. This change helps admins always locate the Default Term.


At the account level, the Terms menu is updated in the following locations:

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


Reports Term List Order

In the Account Settings Reports tab, all report configurations require a term. The Terms report configuration matches the Terms list grouping in other account areas and displays terms by Default Term, followed by active, future, and past terms.





Close Dates and Assignment Name

This update applies to institutions using the Multiple Grading Periods feature option, which may be enabled for an entire account or on a course-by-course basis.

If an assignment is in a closed grading period, instructors who edit the assignment can only view the assignment name in a read-only state. Assignment names in closed grading periods cannot be edited.


Grading period restrictions only apply to instructors; they do not apply to admins.


New Group Set Window

When instructors create a group assignment and create a new group set, the group creation window matches the options located in the People page when creating groups.


Most significantly, the structure supports randomly assigning students to a group by section. This feature aligns the group set menu found in the People page and 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 when selecting the option to split students into a specific number of groups.




release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Randomly Filled Groups of Equal Number Limited to Students in the Same Section




Recurring Event Occurrence Clarification

This update applies to institutions using the Recurring Calendar Events feature option, which may be enabled for an entire account or on a course-by-course basis.

When an instructor enables recurring events for a course, the repeat text field has been changed to For __ additional occurrences. This text change helps clarify how many additional occurrences will be created from the initial event. For example, setting the additional occurrences to three means the calendar item will create the event for the first date and then three additional occurrences of the event, creating a total of four events.




Course Imports

SCORM Content

This update applies to institutions using the SCORM LTI. Admins can enable SCORM by contacting their Canvas Customer Success Manager.

SCORM content is included when copying or exporting a Canvas course. This feature helps instructors copy SCORM content seamlessly within Canvas. All SCORM packages display as they were created within the previous course.


Because of the LTI account configurations for SCORM, courses with SCORM content should only be copied within accounts that use the same key and secret configuration.


Note: SCORM is not available for testing in the beta environment.



To Do List and Past Assignments

In the student Dashboard, No Submission and Not Graded assignments display in the To Do list until their due date. After the due date, these assignments no longer display in the To Do list.


White Course Card Background Color

When users enter a custom background color, white is not accepted as a hex value. This change helps improve accessibility and includes any code variation of white. If the entered hex value displays a warning icon, the value is not accepted as a background color.


Dashboard course color limitations also apply in the Calendar, which can also be used to set a course color.





MasteryPaths Assignment Descriptions

This update applies to institutions using the MasteryPaths feature option, which may be enabled for an entire account or on a course-by-course basis.

When instructors create Mastery Paths and allow students to choose their assignment path, students can view the entire description for each assignment. This change helps students understand what is required for each assignment and select their assignment path accordingly. The description content is content created for the assignment in the Rich Content Editor.





Instructor Course Home Page Announcements Display

When a course home page is set to display the pages Front Page, and an instructor has chosen to display announcements as part of the course home page in Course Settings, delayed announcements do not display to instructors. When instructors view the course home page, the announcement display is also the same view that their students will see in the home page. Delayed announcements do not display until the date set for each announcement.


This feature resolves a fixed bug in Canvas.

When an instructor created an announcement and delayed the date of the posting, instructors were able to view delayed announcements as part of the course home page, which created a different from what they students saw in the course. Canvas code has been updated to only display delayed announcements in the course home page on the date set for each announcement.



Student Quiz Responses Clarification

When an instructor retains the default quiz option to let students see their quiz responses, the checkbox explanation text mentions that incorrect questions are included in student feedback. This text change helps clarify the functionality of the checkbox in that quiz responses include both the student’s responses and incorrect questions.




release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png Canvas Community contributions: Let Students See Their Quiz Responses" Setting



User Navigation

Profiles Link

This update applies to institutions using the Profiles account feature. Admins can enable Profiles by contacting their Canvas Customer Success Manager.

The User Navigation Menu only displays the Profiles link to users whose institutions have enabled the Profiles feature. This change helps minimize confusion as to whether or not users have access to Profiles. The Profiles feature allows users to create a user profile shown throughout Canvas.





  Other Updates




Remove All Authentication Button

The Remove All Authentication button has been moved to the bottom of the Authentication sidebar. Additionally, to help emphasize the potential danger of admins using the button, the button style has been changed to red to match of other danger buttons that may display in Canvas.




User Interface

Canvas Icon Updates

The following icons have been updated in Canvas:

  • Unpublished course icon (shown in the account Courses page and in any unpublished courses listed as an enrollment in an account-level user’s details page)
  • Mute icon (shown in student Grades and the Gradebook)
  • Yellow discussion icon (shown in Canvas error pages)
  • Yellow lock icon (shown to students when they try to view a locked file in a page or assignment; also shown in pages or assignments associated with a locked module)
  • Peer review assignment icons (shown in the peer review page where instructors manually or automatically assign peer reviews)
  • Delete icon in User Settings page (shown in the list of a user’s approved integrations)
  • Profile picture icons (shown to admins in profile picture management page)
  • Profiles user sidebar icons (shown in the Profiles page when the Profiles feature is enabled)
  • Bookmark icons (shown in question banks)
  • SIS sync icon (shown in the Assignments and Quizzes pages when courses use student information system configurations)







For details about using Canvas APIs, please see the Canvas API Policy page.


External Tools API

By default, Canvas handles LTI launch URLs with query parameters by including the query parameters in the URL and the post body. In the External Tools API, creating an external tool includes the oauth_compliant parameter, which allows a tool provider or admin to configure a tool (via XML or API) without duplicating query parameters in the POST body without adversely affecting the other tools that are installed.


To enable this feature via XML a tool can be installed with an XML node for <lticm:property name="oauth_compliant"> true </lticm:property> in tool the configuration XML as a direct child of the <blti:extensions platform=""> node.

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