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Canvas Release Notes (2019-01-05)

Canvas Release Notes (2019-01-05)

In this Canvas release (January 5), the Course Link Validator page includes design enhancements for link clarity, including identifying broken Course Card images. And the Course Details page has been updated to clarify term and course dates as well as the options to restrict students from viewing the course. No functionality has been affected.

LTI Tools

  • For institutions using Commons, Commons has been updated to include a new Preview feature and to simplify the user interface when viewing the resource details page.

Release notes also include API updates and fixed bugs.

Release notes describe upcoming Canvas functionality and are subject to change.

Canvas release summary by user roleCanvas New Release ScreencastCanvas Release Collaborative ChatCanvas API Change Log


Release Notes Change Log

Updated Features

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Commons

Resource Previews

This feature is used in conjunction with an external tool (LTI) in Canvas. Please view the content below for additional details. For more information about LTI tools, please see the Canvas Release Notes FAQ.

This feature is also part of a user group to collect feedback. For details about how to participate, please see the Feature Idea Contributions section.

Location to Enable Feature

Commons LTI

Configuration Details

Commons LTI

Affected Canvas Areas

Commons LTI

Any area with imported content

Beta/Test Environment Support

Functionality affects content in the beta environment only; New/updated features not available until production deploy

Permissions

Course Content - add / edit / delete

Discussions - view

Assignments and Quizzes - add / edit / delete

Affects User Interface

Yes

Affected User Roles

Admins, Instructors

 

Summary

Commons has been updated to include a new Preview feature and to simplify the user interface when viewing the resource details page. Resource Previews is currently an opt-in feature in Commons and must be enabled by an administrator.

 

Change Benefit

This change allows users to preview resource content before importing it into their course. Users will no longer need to import a resource from Commons to view all the contents of that resource. The user interface has also been simplified to make finding and importing Commons content easier.

Affected User Roles & Behaviors

Admins

Administrators in Commons can enable Resource Previews in Account Settings. This option allows users to preview resources in Commons from the Preview tab.

Button to enable Resource Previews in Commons for admins

Instructors

When Resource Previews are enabled, instructors experience three significant changes to the user interface.

 

The resource details page has been separated into three tabs. The Preview tab allows instructors to preview resource content before importing into a course.

 

Commons Preview tab

 

The Details tab displays information about the resource.

 

Commons Preview Details Tab

 

The Version notes tab displays any updates to a resource.

 

Commons Preview Version Notes tab

Feature Idea Contributions

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1086-canvas-commons-preview 

Canvas features are always welcome to feedback. Product teams may make adjustments at any time via the Canvas Feature Idea process.

Course Settings

Course Link Validator Design Enhancements

Location to Enable Feature

Course Settings                                                                                    

Configuration Details

N/A

Affected Canvas Areas

Course Settings

Beta/Test Environment Support

Yes

Affects User Interface

Yes

Affected User Roles

Instructors

Summary

The Course Link Validator page includes design enhancements for link clarity, including identifying broken Course Card images.

 

Change Benefit

This change allows instructors and course designers to better understand the context of each broken link and how to resolve the link. Additionally, Course Card images that may be removed by Flickr can be identified and resolved.

Affected User Roles & Behaviors

Instructors

When instructors validate course content by clicking the Validate Links in Content button in Course Settings, the page content includes several design enhancements.

Course Link Validator enhancements

The page description content has been updated to clarify the validator searches course content for invalid or unreachable links and images. Invalid means the link or image is no longer valid and the content should be removed or replaced. Unreachable means the link or image could not be displayed because of a situation with the host server, which may be temporarily unavailable. Unpublished content in the course is also displayed in the validation results If the Show Links to Unpublished Content checkbox is selected.

Once the link validation process has completed, the page displays the following design enhancements:

  • Content is grouped by object type (e.g. assignment, discussion, page)
  • The object type is displayed below the link to each content item
  • Each broken content item displays its relevant object type icon
  • Broken external URL items in Modules are grouped by module
  • Broken content within an object is identified as either a link or an image, with the appropriate icon displaying next to the broken content
  • Broken content displays the name of the item as it displays in the Rich Content Editor
  • Course Cards are a supported object type, which displays any course images added from Flickr that have been deleted

Feature Idea Contributions

https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/13053-show-a-broken-link-s-display-text-and-url-in-the-link-va... 

 

Canvas features are always welcome to feedback. Product teams may make adjustments at any time via the Canvas Feature Idea process.

Course Dates and Functionality Clarifications

 

Location to Enable Feature

Course Settings                                                                           

Configuration Details

N/A

Affected Canvas Areas

Course Settings

Beta/Test Environment Support

Yes

Affects User Interface

Yes

Affected User Roles

Instructors

 

Summary

The Course Details page has been updated to clarify term and course dates as well as the options to restrict students from viewing the course. No functionality has been affected.

 

Change Benefit

This change helps instructors understand how individual course dates affect course access for students when used with term dates. Additionally, the options to restrict students from viewing the course before or after the start date are located after the course dates and add additional clarification.

Affected User Roles & Behaviors

Instructors

When viewing the Course Details page, instructors can view options to add or modify course start and end dates in a course. New and existing text clarifies functionality for all course date settings. Clarification also applies to section dates in the Sections tab.

Course Details options placement changes

The course date explanation text has been updated to suggest instructors verify the term dates before modifying course dates.

The checkbox to limit participation in the course includes clarification for how the checkbox affects the dates in the course.

The checkboxes to restrict students from viewing the course also includes clarification about whether the course or term dates are considered to be the course start and end date, depending on the course date settings.

Feature Idea Contributions

Canvas features are always welcome to feedback. Product teams may make adjustments at any time via the Canvas Feature Idea process.

Platform/Integration

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API

API Change Log

Adjustments have been made to the following APIs as noted in the API Documentation change log:

  • Assignments API
  • Conversations API
  • Courses API
  • Developer Keys API
  • Enrollments API
  • Files API
  • Roles API
  • SIS Imports API
  • Submissions API
  • Navigation Tools

File Hosting

Domain Update

This change will be deployed to the production environment on December 20.

Canvas file uploads are uploaded to a new hosted domain. To improve security, and to clarify that uploaded files are not provided by Canvas when they're downloaded, the file hosting URL has changed from clusterX-files.instructure.com to aX-clusterX.canvas-user-content.com, where cluster represents the server for an institution’s account.

Any institutions that operate a firewall where URLs are whitelisted based on domain should add *.canvas-user-content.com as a whitelisted URL so users can continue to view all content uploaded to Canvas—including course content and student submissions.

Canvas has also been implementing an improved file system that only affects API functionality as previously noted in the Uploading Files API Documentation. For these changes, *.inscloudgate.net should also be added as a whitelisted URL.

Style Guide

Deprecation Banner

The style guide page (e.g. canvas.beta.instructure.com/styleguide) includes a banner noting the style guide is deprecated. The banner links to the InstUI blog post, which provides additional information in the community about style guide usage through InstUI, Instructure’s component library.

Fixed Bugs

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Accessibility

Announcements

When an announcement is created, the Post To field announces which sections are added or removed to screen readers.

The External Feeds button includes an aria label, and the Feeds heading has been changed to a H3.

Assignments

In the student File Upload submission window, previously uploaded files can be accessed by keyboard users.

Calendar

Agenda View retains focus for keyboard users within agenda items.

Global Navigation

The Global Navigation links include specific labels for screen readers to read the link that is being displayed.

New Gradebook

In the Submission Details tray, the icon for the text that notes a submission is not in any grading period does not include an aria-labelledby attribute or a title element.

The Missing submission grade, Deduct, For each late, and Lowest possible grade fields only read one label to screen readers.

Modules

External URL module items include a title attribute.

Outcomes

In the Create New Outcome window, the Describe this Outcome label in the Rich Content Editor is read to screen readers.

The Question Mark icon link next to the Criterion Ratings Question Mark icon has been changed to be read as a button to screen readers. Additionally, the title attribute for the link to learn about criterion ratings has been removed.

API

Courses API

This change will be deployed to production environment the week of December 17.

If a user has the Users - view primary email address permission, the List Users in Course endpoint always includes the email address.

Explanation: When a user with the Users - view primary email address permission tried to view the List Users in Course endpoint without using the include[email] parameter, the email address was not displayed. Canvas code has been updated to remove email from the include parameter and always include the email addresses as long as the user has appropriate permission.

Assignments

Cached Due and Availability Date Seconds

Cached seconds for due and availability dates are recorded as hh:mm:59 if the minute value is set to 59 (e.g. 11:59 pm). However, any due or availability date times manually changed to a non-59 minute value (e.g. 11:30 pm) are recorded as hh:mm:00.

Explanation: In the 2018-11-17 release, Canvas code was updated to always record assignment times as hh:mm:59 if the minute value is set to 59. However, the seconds value was not updated for cached due and availability dates. Canvas code has been updated to record cached seconds as hh:mm:59 for minute values set to 59.

Blueprint Courses

Front Page Title Edits and Home Page Settings

Editing the title in a course front page doesn’t affect settings for the course home page.

Explanation: When a Blueprint course included a front page used as the home page, and the front page title was edited, the home page setting in the associated courses would revert to modules in the next course sync. Canvas code has been updated to not overwrite home page settings in course syncs.

Calendar

Due Date Calendar Display

Assignment due dates on or after 11:31 pm display the time in the assignment title.

Explanation: When an assignment included a due date on or after 11:31 pm (or 23:31), the time did not display next to the assignment title. Canvas code has been updated to display the time for assignments due on or after 11:31 pm.

Conversations

Inactive User Group Messages

Group conversation messages are not sent to inactive users within the group.

Explanation: When a conversation message was sent to a group, inactive users within the group were included in the message. Canvas code has been updated to not include inactive users in group conversations.

Multiple Sections and Section-Restricted Users

In conversation threads with multiple sections, section-restricted users view an error when replying to a user in another section.

Explanation: In conversation threads with multiple sections, when a section-restricted user replied to a user in a different section, the user isn’t notified that the user did not receive the message. Canvas code has been updated to display an error if a message cannot be sent to a user in another section.

Courses

Multiple Instructor Enrollments and Course Search

In large course enrollments, the Courses page displays up to 25 names in the Teacher column.

Explanation: When the first page of results for a course search included a large number of instructor enrollments, the page was unable to load and generated an error. Canvas code has been updated to display up to 25 names in the Teacher column.

Dashboard

Event Date Order

Calendar events are displayed among all To Do items in chronological order.

Explanation: When a event was created for a course, the event displayed first in the To Do list, regardless of date. This behavior prevented users from viewing the most current To Do items for their courses. Canvas code has been updated to display calendar events among other items in the To Do list in chronological order.

ePortfolios

Embedded Images and Uploaded Files

In the Embed Images window, the Canvas tab displays previously uploaded files and allows users to upload new files.

Explanation: When a user tried to embed images using the Rich Content Editor, the Canvas tab was blank. This behavior did not occur in the Rich Content Editor in any other Canvas area. Canvas code has been updated to view and select uploaded files or upload a new file in the Canvas tab.

Notifications

Anonymous Grading and Submission Comments

When anonymous grading is enabled for an assignment, submission comment notifications do not display a student’s name.

Explanation: When anonymous grading was enabled for an assignment, and students made comments on their submissions, submission comment notifications to the instructor displayed the student’s name. Canvas code has been updated to anonymize student names in submission comment notifications.

Outcomes

Student Details and Learning Mastery Gradebook

Outcome details calculate for all students in a course in the Learning Mastery Gradebook.

Explanation: In the Learning Mastery Gradebook, the outcome details chart only displayed the details for students in the specific page being viewed. Canvas code has been updated to display results for all students in the course.

Permissions

Admin Roles and Student Context Card

The Student Context Card loads for admins without the Course Content - View permission.

Explanation: If an admin without the Course Content - View permission tried to view a student’s name in a Student Context Card, the page displayed an error. Canvas code has been updated to load the Student Context Card for admins without this permission. However, the Users - View List permission is still required to view details within the card.

SIS

Differentiated Due Dates and Assignment Duplication

Post to SIS assignments can be duplicated for differentiated assignments.

Explanation: When a user tried to duplicate an assignment with the Post to SIS setting, and the assignment did not include a due date for Everyone Else, the duplication attempt generated an error. Canvas code has been updated to allow Post to SIS assignments to be duplicated for differentiated assignments.

Release Notes Change Log

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Date
2018-12-17Release Notes Published
Labels (1)
Comments

I love the improvements Commons has been getting!  Thank you!

Thank you by pusheen - bouncing cat cartoon with balloon font words "Thank You"

Really looking forward to seeing the depth of the preview option! 

WAY WAY better than I  imagined... 

Question though-- The article alludes to a March release date. So what is available in January? 

Fantastic news about the conversations and section-restricted users bug fix!

I have a question and a comment regarding the course dates clarification. 

The question: Even though it appears to just be a change of verbiage from "Users can only participate in the course between these dates" to "Students can only participate in the course between these dates", are we totally sure the functionality is unaffected? Our SIS-created courses have that box checked by default, and my main concern is that it continues to function that way.

 

The comment: While I truly truly understand the term/course/section date confusion, I feel like the new explanation added under the Term, "Changing course dates may override term availability settings and placements in the Courses page and Dashboard. Please confirm term dates before modifying course dates" might cause new and different confusion. I'm already anticipating the question "How do we confirm term dates?". Because unless I'm wrong, only admins see the dates assigned to the terms. 

dianepbh@pps.net...

The screen shot in the above Release Notes has the "BETA" label on it, so my guess is that it will move out of "BETA" (maybe March?) once they have ironed out any bugs.  Things can change during a "BETA" release...so we might be seeing some updates to the Commons preview before then.  That's my guess, anyway.

dianepbh@pps.net‌, the feature option becomes available in January to test in advance of it being turned on for all accounts in March.

tdelillo@alamo.edu‌ has asked the very question that I had, as well.  This always crops up this time of year.  For example, our term ended on December 15.  That "Ends" date, however, has always been extended past the term end date to give faculty time to work on grading.  So currently, we tell our faculty to leave to leave the checkbox Tracy refers to enabled.  But with the new wording, if a well-meaning faculty member changes the new box to (for example) December 15, as well, seeing the magic words "students can only participate...." they may think that only applies to students while in fact they'll also be locking themselves out of their class on December 15, being unable to add grades, comments, etc.  Does this mean we should start extending our term dates in Canvas past their "real" end dates so as to allow faculty more time to work on their classes?   

I'm already anticipating the question "How do we confirm term dates?". Because unless I'm wrong, only admins see the dates assigned to the terms.

I'll add my +1 to this concern.

We actually DO extend the term dates past the course dates, so faculty can do various things including re-opening the course to students with incompletes. So I kind of like changing "Users" to "Students" because it's never been accurate for us that all users are locked out after the course end date. But yes, if the term dates are the same as the course dates, well, that's confusing in its own way.

I'm actually now more confused about dates than I have ever been, as functionality seems to have changed from what we have internally documented in the past.

I'm sure at some point in the past, the checkbox in course dates actually did affect all users in the course.  If you put in future date in the start box, and checked the box, nobody other than admins could access the course.  The end date functioned similarly once it had passed.  Now it seems the checkbox only affects students.  Did I miss this change somewhere along the line (I'm usually pretty good at keeping up with release notes).  The new wording seems to match functionality so I'm okay with the change being noted here, but I'm concerned than the functionality of the checkbox might have changed a bit under the radar at some point in the past few months.

With this current functionality, does teacher/ta access always follow the term settings with no way to override or provide extensions (either earlier for start or later for ending) for an individual course?

I'll reiterate as I have may times in the past though that setting dates at the course/section level is something that should be controlled by a permission.  Our course dates are explicitly set by the registrar and course schedule, and not something faculty have the authority to change on their own.  We've implemented javascript to disable the date boxes and the override checkbox for anyone other than admins, but it seems course imports can still change the course dates in certain circumstances, which we've had an issue with for years.

We were told by Instructure a few years ago that if we didn't want course imports to have an affect on the course date boxes, we had to populate them (without the override box being checked).  We do this now and set each course date to be the same as the term dates, but it's only because of a flaw (in my opinion) in the course import process that Instructure does not want to change/fix.  The term/course/date access date setup could use a complete overhaul in my opinion, but I doubt that will ever happen given how many things tie into dates.

I know this is somewhat outside the scope of the release notes, but I found the most recent mockup of a term screen I made for redoing term/course access (this mockup follows our policies for Canvas access).

Term date mockup

Basically my best idea so far has been to only have one actual date entry for the term.  Early/late access (whether full access/participation or read-only) for specific roles would be entered as a number of days before or after the term.  This is a more complicated screen than what exists now, but only admins (who will most likely understand the complexity) would see and configure this each term.  Additional flexibility is provided over current options, as I'd provide a way to extend both full and read-only access for a number of days or infinitely.

At the course level not much would change.  In course settings, the start/end dates would be the only thing shown and able to be changed, but all of the early/late role access set for the term would still apply to the new course date.  The same would apply to sections.

Being able to edit the course/section start/end dates would be controlled by a new permission.  For most higher-ed institutions I know of, term and course dates are generally setup in the SIS, and not something individuals are allowed to override on their own (which has always been an issue for us in Canvas).

It seems most policies around access involve X number of days early/late, and should apply the same way if a course doesn't have different dates than the term (if a course starts 7 days earlier than the general term, we'd still want students to have read-only access to the course 7 days before it starts).

This model would work really well for us, but I'm sure there are things I haven't accounted for in this mockup.  I just wanted to share it again as a pie-in-the-sky type of dream for better and more transparent access control.

-Chris

Agreed. It would be nice if the account level term access dates could be displayed in grey text to the right of the Starts: and Ends: entry fields (though I suppose that gets into the same question about which access date to display; term, student, teacher, etc.).  Maybe they could provide a link next to the "Term" field for, 'view access dates', or include a rollover tooltip similar to the one used for the blueprint checkbox that would display all access dates (though not sure how the tooltip is for accessibility).

How do instructors confirm term dates? The answer is: how have they confirmed them in the past? We anticipate that each institution communicates their term dates differently, whether it be via email, course catalog general information, or institution calendar. The current wording on the checkbox already mentions term dates. So instructors should be aware of term dates if they're checking that box.

We'd like to eventually do more with this page, like redo it completely, but that's a product decision that has to be prioritized (though I know a few product managers have it on their radar). The functionality for the box changed about a year ago in terms of how it affects the Dashboard, which is why the Dashboard is also mentioned. All the correct functionality is documented in the guides, and we do recognize that dates in Canvas can be confusing depending on how many variables are involved!

Eventually perhaps we could have term dates displayed within the page, and perhaps also make a change to lock down the course dates—enhancements based on the feedback we get in Canvas Studio. So be sure to take the ideas you post for future improvement and put them in our Canvas Studio space, as our product team doesn't look for enhancement ideas in the release notes.

Thanks!

Erin

 Hi erinhallmark

Our teaching staff are not the ones to check the box, nor are they expected to find term dates within Canvas - which is what the wording implies. The term dates in Canvas within our instance are set through our integration but do not always represent the teaching term. It is much more complex than is implied here. 

The full access to a course shell for our students and teachers in Canvas is not managed by term dates, rather a clever balance between the section and course dates. 

The tick box (currently called 'Users can only participate in the course between these dates' with the sub-note of: 'This will override any term availability settings') is ticked on all of our courses on creation, and we manage course end dates through our SIS - though we do allow teachers to update these dates themselves (remembering students are managed by section dates, so it is only the teacher access they are updating).

I think most will agree - this is going to cause great confusion to our teachers as it assumes we all run our courses using term dates - and as mentioned by someone else previously, I can already hear the responses "How do we confirm term dates?".

We would like to know the clear use cases behind this particular change and the benefit it adds if no functionality has changed? It will mean for most institutions a change in training documentation and configuration documentation, as well as communications out to all - so understanding why is really great. 

I know we are likely outside the norm on this issue, but our institution does not use 'terms' in Canvas. We have so many overlapping semesters that it made sense when we migrated our data integration Snapshot Generator from the previous LMS to base our configuration on our course ID's, which always begin with the semester 4-digit number. I make this explanation since we would like the option on whether to display term dates at all, not increase their visibility. 

Agreed. We communicate access dates to teachers, but we don't necessarily use the verbiage "Term Dates". Since we're K12, we typically only communicate start dates at the beginning of the year but don't bother to mention end dates that are 10 months off. Those go out in a separate communication towards the end of the year. Every now and then we have a teachers see empty start/end date fields and they think they need to input dates, which can create some problems. Rather than drawing attention to these field, which is what the new changes seem to be doing, I'd prefer to see editing the start/end date as a teacher permission that can be turned on or off based on an institution's needs.

I have a question about the File Hosting Domain update.  From what I am reading, will this only impact us if we utilize a firewall?  I am having trouble understanding the scope of this update.  

Regards,

Jason

I really like the changes to the end date text.

A group of us met yesterday to chat about the updates. Here are our collaborative notes and our chat archive!

See you next time: Release Notes (2019-01-26) Collaborative Chat

I like the clarifications to the course dates, but you know it still doesn't make clear that the "Restrict students from viewing this course" settings only take effect if the "Students can only participate in the course between these dates" checkbox is checked. If you leave that first option unchecked, then it doesn't matter what you select for the other two: they do nothing! This was very confusing to me when I first started using Canvas. Glad to see some small progress is being made toward spelling out this confusing logic, though.

Hi, Jason,

If you have a firewall and if you've specifically whitelisted IP addresses, yes. Otherwise you are not affected.

Thanks!

Erin

Looking forward to see how InstUI can be leveraged across our existing LTIs as it rolls out

We just switched to Canvas in May, and everything has gone very smoothly except the dates.  They have been (and continue to be) a nightmare.  Just when we thing we have everything like we want it, something changes...

Commons Preview is BEAUTIFUL!!!❤❤❤❤

Hello, everyone,

Notes for the next release are now published: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-16069-canvas-release-notes-2019-01-26 

Thanks!

Erin

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