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Canvas Production Release Notes (2015-06-27)

Canvas Production Release Notes (2015-06-27)

Upcoming Canvas Changes

Differentiated Assignments: July 18

On July 18, 2015, Differentiated Assignments will no longer be a Feature option in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas users as a standard feature. This change includes both Differentiated Assignments by section and individual users, which is part of this production release.

In this production release, instructors can better manage student assignments on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, institutions benefit from stronger authentication and login changes. The production notes also include updates to existing Canvas features, other Canvas updates, and fixed bugs.

Canvas New Feature Screencast (2015-06-27​)

Next release schedule:

  • Beta release and notes: July 6
  • Production release notes: July 13
  • Production release and documentation: July 18

Production release notes indicate Canvas updates that will be included with Saturday’s release and are subject to change. New features may differ from those available in your beta environment. Learn more about the Canvas Release Schedule.

  New Features

  < BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Canvas Help

Ticketing System Choice

Canvas Support is moving from Zendesk to Salesforce Service Cloud. This feature allows institutions to use Service Cloud for support help or send tickets elsewhere using the Ticketing System Choice feature. More information about Ticketing System Choice can be found in the Canvas community space Canvas Labs. For additional questions about this transition, please contact your Customer Success Manager (CSM).

Gradebook

Excuse an Assignment

Instructors can use the Gradebook to excuse a student from an assignment in their course.

To excuse an assignment for a student, enter the value of EX in the corresponding Gradebook cell. The Gradebook will reflect that the assignment is excused for the student. Excused assignments are not included in the calculation for a student’s total grade.

Note: Currently, the Gradebook only accepts a standard Canvas-wide value of EX for assignment exemptions. In phase two of this feature, instructors will be able to choose from a list of statuses for the excused assignment or for a graded assignment, such as late, missing, absent, etc.


Students can also be excused from a Group Assignment; the other members of the group will still be able to view and submit the assignment.

Excused-Submission-GB.png


When students have been excused from an assignment, they can view the excused status on the assignment submission page, or when they view the grades page. Students who are excused from an assignment will not be able to submit the assignment, though they can still view the assignment details.

Excused-Submission-Assignment.png

In Modules, assignments are still shown as a module item. If submitting the assignment is a module requirement, students can progress through the Module as if he or she had submitted the assignment.

Notes:

(1) Discussions and Quizzes can be excused for students in the Gradebook, but students cannot see that they have been excused from the discussion or quiz. This behavior will be addressed in a future release.

(2) Sending notifications to students about any excused assignments will be included in a future release.


This feature was originally suggested by the Canvas Community.

Multiple Grading Periods

This feature is used in conjunction with the Multiple Grading Periods feature option.

This feature does not apply to the Learning Mastery Gradebook.

Multiple Grading Periods allows instructors to create separate grading periods within a specific course. This feature was specifically designed for K12 institutions where a course can exist during multiple terms and allows instructors to specify course work within a specific term.


At the account level, admins can view the Grading link in Account Navigation to create grading period templates, which appear at the course level for instructors. Each Grading Period includes a name, start date, and end date. Admins can create as many grading periods as necessary.

Gradebook 1.png


At the course level, instructors can manage the course grading scheme to view the Grading Periods page. If grading periods have been created at the account level, the account grading periods also appear and apply at the course level.

Notes:

(1) When at least one new grading period is added to the course, account-level grading periods will no longer appear in the course.

(2) Manage the course grading scheme by opening Course Settings and clicking the view grading scheme link.

Gradebook 2.png


Account-level grading periods are created as a resource for each instructor. Therefore, instructors can retain, modify, or remove account-level Grading Periods for their courses. They can also create their own grading periods.


Add/Modify Grading Periods

New grading periods are created by clicking the Add Grading Period link, entering the grading period details, and clicking the Save button. When an existing grading period is modified, changes will not be saved until the user clicks the Update button. Canvas will then generate a confirmation for the saved changes, and the grading period will be copied to the course level.

Notes:

(1) Modifying a grading period at the course level does not affect the account level unless the user also has account-level permissions.

(2) Once an account-level grading period template is removed from or modified in the course, the original grading period information can no longer be viewed unless all existing grading periods are removed from the course.

Gradebook 3.png

Gradebook View
The Gradebook lists grading periods for the course in a drop-down menu and displays all assignments that appear during the specified period. Grading periods are arranged by date, with the newest grading period listed first.


Assignments are grouped in the term according to the published assignment due date (unpublished assignments never appear in the Gradebook). If there is no due date for the published assignment, the assignment defaults to the latest grading period. Grading periods cannot be selected within an individual assignment.

Note: Multiple Grading Periods supports weighted Assignment groups and weights any graded assignments within the current grading period. For instance, if an assignment group is worth 20% of the total grade, and there are four grading periods, the 20% will be divided across each period according to the assignment grading period distribution (e.g. 5%, 5%, 7%, 3%). Additional support for assignment groups will be available in a future release.


Gradebook 4.png

Multiple Grading Periods in Individual View

The Gradebook Individual View lists grading periods for the course in a drop-down menu and displays all assignments that appear during the specified period. Grading periods are arranged by date, with the newest grading period listed first.

Gradebook 6.png

Student Grades View

Students can also filter their Grades page by grading period and view all applicable assignments.

Gradebook 5.png

Modules

Mark as Done

Instructors can assign Mark as Done as a module requirement for course assignments and pages. This change helps students keep track of their progress in Modules. For instance, an instructor may want a student to review a page multiple times before progressing to the next module item, or the requirement can also be used on assignments that are purely for self studying.

Modules instructor.png

When an instructor sets Mark as Done as a module requirement, students are responsible for marking the module item as done before they can progress to the next module item.

Modules student.png

This feature was a code contribution from the Canvas community.

  Updated Features

  < BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Authentication

Observers and LDAP/SAML

Institutions using LDAP or SAML authentication can now use the same authentication to register observers in Canvas. For LDAP institutions, observers will enter the student’s LDAP credentials directly from the registration page. For SAML institutions, observers will be redirected to the authentication page and log in with the credentials of the student they are observing. This authentication process is also used when observers add additional observees to their accounts.

Canvas Login

Password Reset Verification

When users try to reset their password, the email field validates against conventional email addresses. Users will receive a notification if they try to submit an entry for the password reset that is not a conventional email address.

Email-Verification.png

  Other Canvas Updates

  < BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Quizzes

Quiz Question Background Color

The quiz question creation page background design has been changed from blue to white. This change is purely for aesthetics and has no effect on accessibility.

Quiz-Background.png

User Settings

Bounced Warning for Single Communication Channels

When a communication method (or channel) is invalid for a user, Canvas generates an icon notifying the user that the channel has bounced, or has become invalid, and needs to be corrected. This icon now appears if a user only has one communication channel; previously the icon only appeared when a user had set multiple channels.

  Fixed Bugs

  < BACK TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Accessibility

Accounts

When an admin navigates through the account level Groups page, focus is retained on the search field. Additionally, the search field is focused before the Add Group button.

When an admin opens the menu to add a new user, an error message is only displayed if the full name is not entered correctly.

Announcements

Screen Readers can read the Add External Feed link.

Assignments

Keyboard users can access all assignment submission types in order. Focus is retained on the first tab of the available submission type.

Discussions

Individual discussions display a color contrast of 3:1 for the default Canvas interface and 4.5:1 for high contrast profiles.

User Settings

With High Contrast Styles enabled, checkboxes throughout Canvas display a color contrast of 3:1 for the default Canvas interface and 4.5:1 for high contrast profiles.

APIs

Account Reports API

Account reports API does not include reports if the parameter is set to false.

Explanation: When an admin generated an account report via API, the API was generating all reports regardless of status. This behavior occurred because the API simply verified the presence of a parameter, not how the parameter was set. Canvas code has been updated to disregard reports where a parameter is set to false.

Assignments

Assignment Submission Type Error Messages

Assignments generates error messages specific to the submission type.

Explanation: Canvas was generating inconsistent error messages for each assignment submission type. For example, when a user set the submission type to online but did not select a submission type, saving the page generated an error message asking to choose at least one submission type. However, when an LTI tool was selected but the URL was not entered, Canvas failed to generate an error but did not save the page. This behavior occurred because Canvas wasn’t correctly verifying external tools. Canvas code has been updated to show an error message for blank external tool URLs.

Course Imports

Course Settings and Grading Schemes

Importing Course Settings from a Canvas course export package also imports the grading scheme.

Explanation: When a user imported selective course content from a Canvas export package, the grading scheme was not included in the import. Importing the entire course was not affected. This behavior occurred because Canvas was not verifying grading standard copies if it was part of selected content. Canvas code has been updated to import the course grading scheme when part of selected course content.

Course Copy and Default Group Sets

Canvas finds or creates a group set for imported group assignments.

Explanation: When a course with a group assignment was copied into Canvas, the copied course did not include the group assignment or the selected group set. This behavior occurred because Canvas did not verify if the group assignment was assigned a group category. Canvas code has been updated to find the group category set for the group assignment, or to create a new group set for the assignment if no set exists. This change does not import groups or existing group members within the group set.

Angel Quiz Feedback

Feedback from Angel quizzes import correctly into Canvas.

Explanation: When a user imported a quiz from Angel, the quiz did not include the quiz feedback. This behavior occurred because the feedback identifier was incorrect for the quiz type. Canvas code has been updated to properly retain feedback from quizzes.

Discussions

Concluded Enrollments

Users with concluded enrollments cannot edit discussions if the course is still active.

Explanation: When a user’s enrollment was concluded in an active course, any discussions created by the user could still be edited by the user. This behavior occurred because of inaccurate permission settings. Canvas code has been updated to verify enrollment status in addition to course status.

Enrollments

Active Enrollments in Concluded Courses

Activating or reactivating an enrollment in a concluded course grants read-only access to the enrolled user.

Explanation: When a user activated or reactivated an enrollment in a concluded course, the active user received an unauthorized error upon accessing the course. This behavior occurred because Canvas was not verifying the state of the course. Canvas code has been updated to grant course access to users according to the course state. In concluded courses, users are granted read-only access.

Files

Scroll Bar in Firefox and Internet Explorer

Users in Firefox and Internet Explorer can scroll to view all file folder names in the left Files navigation panel.

Explanation: Users who accessed Canvas using the Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers were not able to view all file folder names in their course. In the left navigation panel, Files was missing the horizontal scroll bar. This behavior also affected file folders with long names and occurred because the browsers required a CSS flex property, which sets all items to be the same length regardless of content. Canvas code has been updated to define a flexible display in the left navigation panel.

Long Folder Names

Long file folder names are truncated on the Files page.

Explanation: When a user created a file folder with a long name, the folder name was not wrapping correctly in the left navigation panel. This behavior occurred because the page design was not correctly supporting long names. Canvas code has been updated to truncate long file folder names in the left navigation panel. To view the entire name, users can hover over the file folder.

Notifications

Unpublished Deleted Items

Canvas does not send notifications when deleting unpublished items in Canvas.

Explanation: When an instructor created an unpublished Calendar appointment group, assignment, or quiz, and then later deleted the item, all users received a notification that the item was deleted. This behavior occurred because Canvas had only been coded to verify that the state of the item had changed. Canvas code has been updated to only send notifications when the item state is active.

Pages

Page Edits in Internet Explorer

Users can edit more than four pages in Internet Explorer 10 and 11.

Explanation: When using the Internet Explorer browser, when a user created more than four pages in a course and tried to edit the last page, the Edit button disappeared from the page. This behavior occurred because of a misconfiguration in the popup dialog window. Canvas code has been updated to correct the menu display in Pages.

Tables and Page Sidebar

Table sizes do not affect the Page sidebar.

Explanation: When a user created a table in the Rich Content Editor that was wider than 800 pixels, the table started to overlap the Pages sidebar and affecting access to the page history view. This behavior occurred because the table overflow settings were not defined in the CSS. Canvas code has been updated to correct overlapping and overflowing tables in the page layout.

People

Student Interactions Report Messages

Instructors can message students from the Interactions Report page.

Explanation: When an instructor opened the People page, selected a student, and viewed the Interactions Report page, sending a message from the Report page generated a user error. This behavior occurred because the message was not associated with the course. Canvas code has been updated to include the course context when sending a message from the student interaction report page.

Quizzes

Quiz Extensions

Extra time granted to students persists in subsequent extensions.

Explanation: When an instructor moderates a quiz and adds additional time, the time was not being saved on any subsequent extensions, such as granting an extra attempt or unlocking the quiz. This behavior occurred because Canvas only verified the number of remaining attempts. Canvas code has been updated to retain any extra time values when moderating a quiz.

Quiz Submission Dates

Student quizzes are displayed according to the accurate submission time.

Explanation: When a student submitted a quiz, some of the submission dates were being shown as being submitted in the future. This behavior occurred because of an inconsistency with the end date, which also scheduled the submission for grading when the quiz was overdue. Canvas code has been updated to set submission times according to the fallback date, which verifies whether there is a quiz scheduled-submission date and the current time zone date and posts the submission date appropriately.

SpeedGrader

Group Assignments

Group Assignments show the associated group’s submission.

Explanation: In a group assignment, the drop-down menu in SpeedGrader was displaying a duplicate group that did not exist. When an instructor attempted to select the extra group, SpeedGrader redirected to another group’s submission. This behavior occurred because of a prior modification to the group membership and conflicts with deleted groups. Canvas code has been updated to not include deleted groups in assignment associations.

Complete/Incomplete Grades

Complete/incomplete grades display in SpeedGrader.

Explanation: When an instructor entered grades for an assignment as Complete/Incomplete, the points field only displayed a portion of the Complete/Incomplete indicator instead of expanding to a more suitable width. This behavior occurred because the points field was not coded to expand for any values other than points. Canvas code has been updated to expand the box for the Complete/Incomplete grading type.

Null Rubric Scores

Null rubric criterion are not highlighted on the submission details page.

Explanation: When an instructor created an assignment and used a rubric for grading, any field that were not scored as a criterion item were being highlighted on the student submission page, incorrectly suggesting that the criterion corresponded to the overall grade. This behavior occurred because SpeedGrader verified the criterion entries and not the point values. Canvas code has been updated to not display and highlight the criterion description to students if a criterion does not include a score. Scores of zero are not affected as they are intentionally scored as such and contribute to the overall grade.

Media

Media Files in Safari

Users can access media files in Safari.


Explanation: In the Safari browser, when a user tried to access a media file such as an audio or video comment, clicking the preview icon did not generate the media file. This behavior occurred because of a change in the Safari preload value for JavaScript media elements. Canvas code has been updated to redefine the preload value used for Safari.

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Comments

Diggin' the new intro music to the videos. 😃 Reminds me of the song "Kokomo". (Or maybe "Napoleon Dynamite" )  

Actually it kind of reminds me of the demo track on my grandparents' old Wurlitzer organ....

Question about the following:

Course Copy and Default Group Sets

Canvas finds or creates a group category set for imported group assignments.

Explanation: When a course with a group assignment was copied into Canvas, the copied course did not include the group assignment or the selected group set. This behavior occurred because Canvas did not verify if the group had an assigned group category. Canvas code has been updated to find the group category set for the group assignment, or to create a Project Group category if no set is created.

Is that in Beta?  Because I can't copy or import a course from another canvas course that has groups and have those groups brought into the second one.  Is it skipping beta and going to production?

Hi, we've actually had a question come up about this already and are working on verifying this change. We'll keep you posted!

Erin

Thanks Erin - this would be a HUGE help for our scalability issues!

When I copy a course, if a Group Assignment is set up in Beta it is copying for me with the "Group Set" showing under People and the Group Assignment options copying over correctly (i.e. Group Assignment enabled, Group selected, Assign Grades Individually checked).  There aren't any Groups within the group set but at at least I don't have to edit the Assignment and remember to enable Groups. 

One point of confusion though if this rolls out is that Discussions that have Groups enabled don't have a similar behavior.

So hopefully both Discussion group set copying and Assignment group set copying will be updated at the same time for consistency.  Right now we tell faculty group options and sets don't copy so it may be confusing unless it's tackled at once.  It's hard to explain why one copies and one doesn't.

Here's the feature request in case you'd like to vote -  Smiley Happy

FYI I tested the functionality on the free version of Canvas - http://canvas.beta.instructure.com

- Melanie

Thank you Melanie.  We were just testing this as well to prepare an update for that feature idea.

Here is the official update

Notes from the Community Team

The Canvas Production Release Notes (2015-06-27) indicate that importing a course with group assignments now brings the group assignment settings to the new course, however upon testing the group structures within a group set do not come with it.  For this reason we will keep this feature idea open for voting.  We will continue testing and update this post as soon as we have more information.

Thanks for the update Melanie.  I didn't have assignments with the group assignment flag so my groups didn't copy over.  I will test with a group assignment option set.

This release now includes an update to Modules, as well as the release of Multiple Grading Periods in the Gradebook.

Have a great weekend!

Erin

Looks nice, I like it erinhallmark​​.  I just tested it and it seems intuitive.  Any background on why just course assignments and Pages have this option?  I.e. Discussions can be ungraded as can surveys and practice quizzes.  The value of adding "Mark as Done" to an assignment is identical for Discussions and Quizzes/Surveys.  And...can you tell that inconsistency drives me nuts?  Smiley Happy

Any chance that quiz/Discussion options for "Mark as Done" will also be in a future release?  Thanks for any insight!

- Melanie

Hi Melanie,

The modules feature was actually developed and merged into Canvas by a member of the Canvas community and was designed for assignments and pages. As our product team felt the contribution would benefit the overall Community, they included the code exactly as it was submitted.

Pages can be viewed numerous times, and often pages are used by an instructor to provide information that students have to understand before progressing to an assignment or a discussion, for instance. So a student would need to feel they are confident with the material before moving on. As for assignments, assignments can always be resubmitted, so a student can resubmit an assignment as many times as they'd like before moving on to the next item; in this case, they would have to acknowledge that they are actually finished with a submission.

As to why I think Quizzes and Discussions were not included: Most commonly quizzes are only submitted once, and Discussions are often an ongoing item. However, I can see how your suggestion of ungraded discussions and ungraded quizzes and surveys (and that some regular quizzes may be left open to be submitted multiple times) could be beneficial for the module item status. At this point our product team would have to consider the demand of such an addition and include it in another release cycle, so I'd recommend creating a feature idea so that others can vote as well.

Thanks,

Erin

We have two issues so far with this update. One is some roles have a different behavior with no reason, and two when we link documents to text with Spanish accent marks, the HTML code is displayed "&aacute". I've created tickets for both of them, but I'm wondering if any institution has the same issues we're facing.

Great job with the "Excuse an Assignment" Canvas team. A+ for you!

Thanks!

 @farbelaez ​

Hi  @farbelaez ​,

I was having something similar happen to me all last week with the & sign and I think a couple other special characters so I'm pretty sure it is a pre-release issue.

Whenever I create a link to a file with a special character like &, it replaces it with the &amp;.  Plus if I edit the link it adds in the HTML code for the link.  Just hadn't found the time yet to log a bug Smiley Happy

- Melanie

There is an oversight in this release with the updated login message. We require students login with a username. We've changed the Login Label to username via the admin console. After the recent update when a student clicks Don't Know Your Password the message that Canvas generates still references the username, and the field on that page is also still username, try it here: https://nctc.test.instructure.com/login/canvas.​ When a student puts in their username they now receive an error message... not good. And nowhere on that page does it say to put in their email address, rather it says, "Enter your Username and we'll send you a link to change your password." None of our documentation instructs them to put in an email address either. This is a small change and I believe it's well-meaning and potentially helpful. But at this point it's already proving to be quite unhelpful as we are seeing an increase in support requests related to password resets just since yesterday. That error message absolutely needs to reflect what's designated via the admin console > Login Label. If it's blank then default to email. But if it's not it should be consistent with the label listed.

Hi Michael,

I've talked to our engineers and have submitted an engineering ticket so they can look into this for you. We apologize for overlooking that functionality change and will update you as soon as we can.

Thanks,

Erin

Thanks so much for the follow up, Erin!

Hi Michael,

It appears that the login label is being pulled into the password reset field instead asking for the email address. Our support team created a ticket on your behalf so you should receive an update when there is more information from our engineering team.

Thanks!

Erin

Come on, it is really your Wurlitzer organ isn't it?

Thanks, this helps.

Keep up the good work on the API.  First thing I do is scan release notes for those three letters.

It reminds me of almost all the background music in Napoleon Dynamite (the tracks composed by John Swihart).

Amazon.com: Napoleon Dynamite (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): Various Artists: MP3 Downloads

If, in fact, Instructure could license these tracks for use in these screencasts, I think you'd have a viral sensation on your hands.

I've clarified the text associated with this bug fix. This change does not import groups or existing group members within the group set.

Course Copy and Default Group Sets

Canvas finds or creates a group set for imported group assignments.

Explanation: When a course with a group assignment was copied into Canvas, the copied course did not include the group assignment or the selected group set. This behavior occurred because Canvas did not verify if the group assignment was assigned a group category. Canvas code has been updated to find the group category set for the group assignment, or to create a new group set for the assignment if no set exists.