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Community Participant

What are the best hidden gems in Canvas that you didn't think you could do originally?

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Hello all!

I'm putting together a workshop focusing on all of the great things that can be done in Canvas that you didn't think you could do. The idea behind the workshop came to me as I was continually asked questions with the premise of the idea that "I used to be able to do this in Blackboard, but I can't in Canvas". When in reality, you can usually do the same or better things in Canvas!

Some ideas that I already have:

  • Using Redirect tool to add a custom link in the Course navigation
  • Using "/api/v1" in the assignment link to see when the assignment was originally created
  • Revision history on Pages
  • Using the Test Environment to recover course information (depending when the environment is refreshed)
  • Adding apps
  • Enabling optional course features such as Mastery Paths and other beta features

What is your favorite thing you've found you can do in Canvas that you didn't think you could do originally? 

43 Replies
Community Contributor

I love this one. I learned it from watching your CanvasLive event, here: How to Use Twitter Widgets (not the Twitter App) in Canvas - YouTube  

It works for other javascript widgets, as well. I just wrote up this process in the context of using an upload embed widget for Box, for large file submissions (it works on the mobile app, too!). 

Community Contributor

I love that you can upload an entire HTML website (with CSS! and calling webfonts and other web collateral!) to the Canvas file structure, link the index.htm as a module item, and the whole thing will render right there within Canvas. You can also iframe the index in on a Canvas page, if you'd rather. It gives you more control over the display area. Also, it doesn't work very well as a module item in the mobile app.

There are several tricks to this. One is that you may have to play around to get your images at the right hierarchy level in Canvas. Another is figuring out the file URL if you want it to be framed in on a content page (see laurakgibbs walkthough, above, for figuring out the URL for an HTML file in Canvas). 

But, it's possible!

Community Contributor

Wait--where can I find this list with the instructions? This is amazing! 

Community Contributor

Okay, this one is super helpful, and I hadn't even thought about it: direct links to specific discussion board posts. If you search for the post by author, then copy the View in Discussion link at the bottom of the post, it will lead directly to that post, and you can use the link to refer back to that specific posting. This is great if you're summarizing a discussion board at the end, or wanting to direct someone to something interesting that had been said in a previous discussion. 

That is really neat, especially when I’m answering the same question twice in the same discussion. I’m used to saying “as I replied to Frodo elsewhere in this discussion.” Giving a link in that reply will also be more helpful to those who read their discussions via email subscription. 

Community Contributor

And don't forget the Live API, which even us non-programmers can use! Just type in your institution's Canvas URL followed by /doc/api/live. So something like You can access Test and Beta the same way! See more here: Live API for Admins.

Community Participant

Hey Brittany!


We've had a couple teachers here in Brookline who've done damage to their courses and I had a brainwave and turned to the test environment to get data set back!

It's a great hack!

Two other ways to potentially recover information, depending on the nature of that information: 

undelete: Someone mentioned it above. Just go to the course homepage and append /undelete to the course URL. It's not 100% effective, but it's a great thing. You have access to the most recent 25 or so deleted items, and the list refreshes if something is further back in the queue than that--just keep restoring items and reloading the page. If it's an assignment, for example, just restore the assignment object, and the student submissions and grades will be accessible from the course again.

Grading history: records are kept of changes to grades. You can access the grading history from the Gradebook, if someone accidentally overwrites something they shouldn't (misapplication of set default grade, for example). 

You may already know about these, but just in case. 

Community Contributor

Ooh  @tom_gibbons ‌, I never thought of checking Grading History for a score! Is this community awesome or what?

Community Champion

Hi, John!

Do you find that changing the URL to copy is better than using the External tool for Google APPS in the assignment submission?