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Community Team
Community Team

Canvas Beta Release Notes (2016-02-29)

In this beta release, Canvas has new features for Analytics, Assignments, and Course Settings. Updates are also available in the Calendar, Course Imports, Dashboard, People, and Quizzes, as well as several APIs.

Beta features are subject to change based on user feedback and testing.

Unless otherwise mentioned, features apply to both the current and new Canvas user interface. On July 9, 2016, the new Canvas user interface will no longer be a feature option in Canvas and will be enabled for all institutions.

The beta environment is for testing new and updated features, which are subject to change based on user feedback. Learn more about Canvas Beta.

  New Features



Page Views Table

Account, course, and user analytics can be viewed in graph or table view. This change improves accessibility and allows keyboard users to access additional data that could previously only be viewed by hovering over the graphs. Analytics pages always default to the graph view.

To view data in tables, toggle the analytics view at the top of the page. Tables apply to every graph in its respective page, and each column defines the data within its respective graph.


Each table is paginated to 30 entries per page; additional pages can be viewed by advancing to the next page.



Differentiated Group Assignments

When creating a group assignment or group discussion, instructors can differentiate between groups. This feature allows instructors to create a group set in the course and differentiate assignment due dates for each group.


  • Since quizzes cannot be taken in groups, this feature is not available in Quizzes.
  • Group memberships should always be finalized before assigning assignments to groups. Changing groups after assignments have been submitted may misalign submissions and grades.

To enable differentiated assignments for groups in an assignment or graded discussion, the assignment must be set as a group assignment.


In the Assign section, select the name of the assignment group from the groups list. Groups can also be located by searching for the name of a group.


In graded discussions, instructors still view the links to all groups that were part of the group set (as with any other group discussion). However, not all groups may have been selected in the differentiated assignments list, so not all assignment groups may show a differentiated due date. Students can only view the discussion if they are a member of an assigned group. Otherwise the discussion does not appear in the group's Discussions page.

For instance, if the group set in the graded discussion includes Assignment Groups 1, 2, and 3, but only Group 2 and Group 3 were added to the discussion, all students in Group 1 would not be able to view the discussion.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas Community.

Course Settings

Blended Course Format

In addition to Online and On-Campus options, the Course Format menu includes a Blended, or hybrid, option. Admins can use course format information to track the formats of courses in their account; the blended option is used to define a course where some students are on campus and some are participating online.

The Blended option is also available in the Courses API.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas Community.

  Updated Features



Scheduler Student Signup View

When students sign up for an appointment in the Scheduler, the calendar defaults to the agenda view. This change improves accessibility and allows users with screen readers to view the dates and times of each appointment slot.


Course Imports

Thin Common Cartridge Standard

Institutions using the Thin Common Cartridge Standard (most commonly K12) can view and import specific content data into Canvas. Through the Select Specific Content import option, users can view an organized structure of the file and select which content items are imported to the course as module content. If users choose to import all content, all resources are imported into Canvas as one module.

Thin Common Cartridge is a lightweight metadata structure that allows publishers to provide digital resources using LTI links (external tools) and usually includes a significant number of resources in one common cartridge interchange file (.imscc). Thin Common Cartridge files are designed by creating items grouped into a folder or series of folders that defines how the content should be organized for the learner.

Thin Common Cartridge files are imported into Canvas as Modules. When importing content, Canvas uses metadata identifiers and titles to simulate the hierarchical structure within the Thin Common Cartridge file. This structure appears as nested content within the Modules content heading, allowing users to view a structured organization and locate the content they want to import into the course. However, users cannot view the external tools that are associated with each content line until the content is imported.

Once content has been located and selected, specify if the content should be imported as one module or imported as separate modules. By default, modules are imported as one module. All associated external tools will be imported with the content and should already be configured through the account-level LTI tool.


Note: Import settings are applied on a per-content basis. When importing several groups of content, expand each content group and select the import method, otherwise the content will always be imported as one module.


To Do List

For instructors, the To Do list indicates the number of submissions that require grading. The indicator supports up to three digits and matches the primary color of the account's theme as set in the theme editor. This change also aligns indicators and icons when associated with long course and assignment names.



Edit Observer Role

In the People page, the Edit Role option allows a user’s role to be changed to an observer. Once set to the observer role, observers can be edited to another role as long as the observer is not linked to a student.


To link or unlink a student from an observer, open the Settings menu for the observer and click the Link to Students link, where student names can be added or removed.


release-notes-feature-idea-icon.png This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas Community.

Deactivate User

The inactive enrollment setting has changed its terminology from Inactivate User to Deactivate User. This terminology change is part of the user’s Settings menu in the People page. The Enrollments API​ also includes commands to inactivate and deactivate a user, so admins currently using the inactive enrollment type are not negatively impacted by this change.



Instructor Quiz Previews

Instructors can only preview quizzes in Canvas. Previewing a quiz allows instructors to complete a quiz the same way that students will complete the quiz, including submitting the quiz. However, an official quiz submission is never created in Canvas.


  • For file upload questions, instructors can simulate uploading a file, but the actual file is not uploaded into the quiz.
  • This change does not apply in the Canvas by Instructure app.


release-notes-bug-fix-icon.png This feature resolves a fixed bug in Canvas.

Explanation: When an instructor took a quiz, the instructor was no longer able to manage the quiz, such as unpublishing the quiz. Additionally, the instructor’s attempt was logged in quiz statistics and the Gradebook history, and the instructor received a graded notification in the Course Navigation menu that could not be removed. These behaviors occurred because Canvas did not differentiate quiz submissions by user role. Canvas code has been updated to only allow instructors to preview a quiz.




For details about using Canvas APIs, please see

Submissions API

When listing assignment submissions, the Submissions API​ includes the group parameter to return the group ID and group name.

Users API

The Users API supports the integration_ID parameter for pseudonyms.

Labels (1)
42 Replies
Community Champion

 @millerjm , We mainly get errors in our enrollments.csv and it used to just say "user ###### didn't exist for user enrollment."  Now it says "User not found for enrollment ( User ID: #####,  Course ID:  ####, Section ID: ########)"   So now I can easily find for which course the enrollment is not working as well as the user account in question.

Community Champion

Thanks,  @canvas_admin  !  I was about to test it. 

Yay!  Smiley Happy

Now, if only the errors in users.csv could be more useful...

Getting closer to my feature idea: 

Community Participant

I'm also curious about this. Did a quick search in the Canvas Guides and didn't see anything about sub-modules.

Community Participant

Awesome.  Thanks so much for the blended course format option.  An easy but most useful change for institutions attempting to better track their efforts in these three recognized delivery alternatives that use their LMS.   I know this is picky but is it possible that the new optional format could be altered by the customer instance to read either blended OR hybrid?  The universe still has not completely landed on one term or another to describe the grey world inbetween F2F and online and this tweak would allow customers to use the label they prefer.  Thanks again.

Community Contributor

I think this is a Publisher/LTI thing (and probably more K12 than HE) when you see modules that look like:

    • Introduction
      • Week One
        • Content
        • Assignment
        • Quiz
      • Week Two
        • Content
        • Assignment
        • Quiz
    • Introduction
      • Week Three
        • Content
        • Assignment
        • Quiz
      • Week Four
        • Content
        • Assignment
        • Quiz
Community Champion

Good - we thought it was only us that didn't know what what they are! Smiley Happy

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Scott,

I went back and tried to clarify the notes; sub-modules are only terminology in the course import tool. I'll spend a little more time on this later today and create some better examples as to what it looks like when imported. Smiley Happy



Community Coach
Community Coach

Ok, I'm going to be the one to say it. While I'm happy to see that we will now have differentiated group assignments, in reading the original feature idea and comments - - I don't think this is what people really wanted. Specifically I don't think people wanted to always *grade* by group, just be able to assign deadlines or assignments/discussions/quizzes (especially quizzes) by group membership. I can think of a number of questions that have been asked in the Community about differentiated assignments and the use of groups, and the functionality of this new feature does not meet that need.

Ex 1: I have the same set of students (not a section and Instructor can't create a section in this scenario) that always needs to have different due dates/times on quizzes - think students with accommodations. Being able to create a group for these students and then the rest of the class would have made it super easy to use the differentiated assignment tool.

Ex 2: I have different topics that students get to pick from. The students from each topic have a different due date for when their various assignments are due; same assignments, just different deadlines. Yet, the students aren't working in a group, so I don't want them to submit one file/document for each assignment. I want them each to submit an assignment. In this case using the differentiate group feature would have been awesome because I could have easily created the groups and then assigned due dates for all the Assignments that this applied to.

The examples could go on and yes, I know this all could still technically be accomplished by picking individual students, but a lot of time could be saved by being able to use the group feature/tool. This is what I think a lot of us wanted when we voted and commented on the original feature idea.

Community Coach
Community Coach

There was an archived Feature Idea about the "Blended" option: ... (CC erinhallmark)

Community Champion

I'm glad to see this change and was thinking the same thing, as we use the term "hybrid" instead of "blended." I was also thinking that it would be great if we could add/customize our own course formats as an institution, as we also offer "web-enhanced" courses.