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During 2019, Higher Ed institutions across Australia and New Zealand using Canvas started the A&NZ Higher Ed User Group, in partnership with our Customer Success Managers from Instructure. I am lucky enough to be able to co-chair this group with Gemma Sinclair and had fantastic support from Eman Rashwan also. As such, I thought it would be an excellent time to share what we worked on together in 2019, and what we are looking to achieve in 2020. 


Currently, our group is made up of 2 representatives from each Higher Ed institution and meets monthly online to discuss and share our Canvas experiences in Higher Ed. The institutions we have as part of the group are:


  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Auckland 
  • Swinburne University 
  • RMIT University 
  • University of Adelaide 
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Canberra


(Note: if you are a Higher Ed A&NZ institution and want to be a part of this group, please reach out to myself or your Canvas CSM). 


In our last meeting for 2019 held on December 17th, we talked about our Canvas highlights and group achievements over the past 12 months, and I wanted to share a couple of those here. 


  1. During CanvasCon in 2019, we were privileged to be able to host our regular meeting as a group face to face, and come together before the event in Sydney - Thank you to the Sydney Instructure team for hosting us. We had some guest members join us for this meeting, welcoming representatives from the Instructure Product Management, Higher Education Strategy and Canvas Community into the room. The Instructure team were keen to hear how we are using Canvas in A&NZ Higher Ed, and share with us feedback and insights on how we can better share our thoughts and ideas in the community. 

    Post this meeting we have worked together as a group to come up with a shared template for raising Feature Ideas to the wider Canvas Community (attached for those who also want to use!)

  2. As a group, we have worked together to come up with our top collective challenges or Feature Ideas for Canvas, initially for each institution and then combined - without surprise that most of us are facing similar challenges or have related ideas! We have broadly approached documenting each problem to cover all of our institution’s needs, but clearly, articulate where there are differences in how A&NZ may approach some Canvas features compared to our fellow global users.

    At a high-level, we have collectively discussed and are currently contributing to, or documenting the following challenges/ ideas:

    A&NZ Higher Ed Challenges/ IdeasAn already existing community idea/ priority
    Allow 'Treat ungraded as 0' in New Gradebook 
    Allow assigning peer review to the students in the same group & allow students to edit their saved rubrics in peer reviewAssign Peer Reviews by Student Group
    Allow anonymous posts in Canvas discussionsAnonymous Discussion Forums 
    Canvas permissions should adequately support the roles and activity of Admins and Instructors in a coursePriority: Granular Permissions
    Improvements to the group user interface 

    Increase the limit of automatically created groups within a groupset  

    Search for Group Members (archived)

    Batch Group Management 

    Prohibit Submissions to Group Assignments without a Group Set 

    Assign Peer Reviews by Student Group 

    Large Courses/ Speegrader loading issues 

    SOLVED: Filter large course submissions in Speedgrader by filtering the grade book by section to combat long load times

    Early 2020 we will be working on posting Feature Ideas collectively into the Canvas community and sharing with this APAC group (among other Canvas groups) so that others who experience similar challenges or ideas can join in.

  3. About us, we have had one of our institutions go live in Canvas during 2019 for the first time, we have others just starting their Canvas journey, and some who are more advanced and been using Canvas for some time. During 2019, the institutions in our group took turns to share some of their learnings in each of our meetings. We have learnt about some of our group’s excellent implementation roll-out strategies and tools that others have in place that enhance the Canvas experience. Something we have enjoyed is the ability to share with and learn from each other, and having Instructure there also to help answer some of our questions and share their insight has been invaluable. we look forward to being able to share these learnings with the community in 2020. 



If you’d like to share your 2019 Canvas experience or submit any Higher Ed challenges or ideas you may have, then please share with us in the comments below! 


A big thank you to our Canvas CSM supporters: Avi Hanner Ruth Thornton and our group members: Mark Wittervan, Eman Rashwan, Gemma Sinclair, Kevin Morris, Ollie Coady, Marcus de Rijk, Kim Flowers, Jeremy Stevens, Arshad Hussanee, Jeremy Goh, Patrick StoddartDamian Sweeney, Colin Lowe and Claire Lockett


Happy Canvas’ing in 2020. 


Jayde Colquhoun

on behalf of the A&NZ Higher Ed User Group. 


Banner photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash