Canvas Beta Release Notes (2016-02-29)

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

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.

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