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All Places > Canvas Admins > Blog > 2015 > July

In this episode, recorded on July 2, Kona Jones joined me to talk about instcon 2015 and the Canvas community.


Episode 0.5 by The Canvas Podcast

Guest Host:

Kent Gruber and Sam Bachert

Topics of Discussion:

Beta Release Notes

  • Recurring calendar feature (big one that people have really wanted)
  • Submit and Re-Submit button placement
  • Rename Course Catalog to Public Course Index


Listen Now: Episode 0.4 by The Canvas Podcast

I have a few Chrome browser settings and extensions that I thought might be useful to other admins, and would bet that many others in the community have developed other shortcuts to save time. Please share yours in the comments!


Easily search for a user or course

Chrome’s “Custom Search Engines” allow you to type a few letters in the URL bar to easily search your Canvas users or courses. 

Start by doing a search in Canvas to make sure you have the URL for a search. For example:

Chrome allows you to easily fill in what appears above as “awesomeness” to whatever your course search might be.


In Chrome Settings, under Manage Search Engines, add a new search engine at the bottom. Give it a name and paste the URL you grabbed into the URL box — and change “awesomeness” to %s. Finally add a letter combination that you’ll remember (I use “cp” for Courses on Production). Searching for a course is now as easy as going to the url bar (command L makes this even quicker), typing cp, and entering the name of the course you want to search for. Repeat for users, other instances, or even other websites you search frequently.


Log into the Community single sign on with a default Canvas instance

I was always mildly annoyed at having to pick a Canvas instance with the SSO for the Community and ticketing system (perhaps I have too many). I recently discovered a Chrome Extension, Edit This Cookie, which allows you to edit and lock the cookie such that only your default Canvas instance is loaded, eliminating the dropdown menu that adds a few clicks to the login process.

When you see the SSO page on login, edit the cookie for such that the last_known_canvas_host has only the value of the Canvas instance you want and protect it so that it won’t be overwritten when you visit other instances.

I've been working with one of our instructors for several months and helping him with Groups he's got set up in his course.  One of the challenges he's had is there isn't an easy way to find the student groups links from an instructor's point of view compared to a student's perspective.  Instructors must go through the People tab of a course, click on the tab for the Group Set, and then click on the cog wheel to the right of a Group name to Visit Group Homepage.


But I discovered a work-around.  It's possible to enroll a person in a course with two different role types.  So, I did some testing in our "Test" environment.  The instructor was already enrolled as the Teacher, so I enrolled him in the same course as a Student, too.  Then, I masqueraded as the instructor, logged in to his course, and added him to the student group he had created.  After refreshing the course page, I saw the result of what I was hoping for.  These marked areas aren't normally displayed from an instructor's view in Canvas.




There are a couple potential downsides that I can see with this, however.


  1. You are now a member of one or more groups in that course...initially meant for students.
  2. You are now listed as a student in the Gradebook.


Maybe these aren't big deals, but I thought it would be good to point them out.


Our instructor created this Feature Idea (open for voting until August 5th), Same Groups view for instructor and students, where I posted much of what I've written here.  The main purpose of his Feature Idea is to have an easy way for instructors to access groups in the same way that students can...without having to be "dual enrolled".


EDIT (08/26/2015): I had used the above process to "dual enroll" one of our instructors in his "Economics" courses.  He was also using the Pearson MyLabs LTI app.  He contacted me saying that, inside of the "My Labs and Mastering" button, he was unable to access some of the MyLabs screens he was used to seeing so he could connect his MyLabs content back to Canvas.  After some troubleshooting with Pearson tech support, the instructor told me it was because I had "dual enrolled" him as a Teacher and a Student.  Once I dropped him from the courses, sent him re-invites to the courses, and he "Accepted" the invites, he was able to complete the necessary setup of MyEcon Lab with Canvas.  I don't know if this will also be the case with other LTIs that look at the role type, but I'm posting this information just in case.


EDIT (03/03/2016): There is a new feature idea here: Simplify access to Group Homepage for Teachers


EDIT (09/26/2016): Today Mark Anthoney posted a hidden gem that I was not aware of on how to easily switch between groups within a Canvas course.  Mind blown!



Jordan Dayton requested that I post this here. Honestly, it feels sort of odd to write an entire blog post about a single API endpoint, but here goes.


When installing External Tools (aka Apps, aka LTI tools), especially from commercial publishers, you will often find that the resulting course menu items appear active by default. That's fine, even preferred, when an instructor installs the app in a single course. However, when an admin installs such an app at the account or sub-account level, you generally want it to appear disabled by default. Otherwise it will appear in every course menu in the account, and in most cases, need to be disabled manually. Currently there is no easy way to correct this. Admins can not control the default availability of course links. If, like me, you wish you could, please go vote for Allow account admins to set default course navigation menu.


In the meantime, the only way I know of to disable the links by default is to hit the edit external tool API endpoint:

PUT /api/v1/accounts/:account_id/external_tools/:tool_id?course_navigation[default]=false

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