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Canvas Release: Assignment Enhancements

Canvas Release: Assignment Enhancements

This document (last updated 2021-11-10) provides a summary of the Assignment Enhancements feature, which was originally introduced in the Canvas Release Notes (2020-01-18). For specific release updates within this document, please see the releases change log.

Supported assignments display an improved interface and submission workflow for students. This change improves the student experience in completing and submitting assignments, viewing rubrics, and locating instructor feedback.


Community Resources

Feature Releases

This document outlines up-to-date functionality for this feature. This document will continue to receive additional updates as indicated in the feature's release change log. Releases are subject to change.

Customer Feedback

Community feedback for Assignment Enhancements is welcome in the Assignment Enhancements Users Group forum.

Feature Documentation

How-to documentation for this feature is included in the Assignment Enhancements User Group Knowledge Base.

Affected user roles:

  • Instructors
  • Students

Lesson comments are welcome for functionality clarification. Lessons will also be updated with all future enhancements as indicated in this document.

Feature/Integration Setup

Feature Preview

Assignment Enhancements - Student

Student assignment enhancements involve the Assignment Enhancements - Student feature preview, which can be allowed on a course-by-course basis or turned on for all courses across the entire account. By default, this feature preview is set to Off. Canvas admins can manage this feature preview in Account Settings.

If this feature preview is not already turned on for the entire account, instructors can enable the Assignment Enhancements - Student feature preview for a course in Course Settings.


No additional permissions are required for this feature and inherently affects users with student roles.

Release Schedule

This feature was made available in the beta environment as of 2019-12-23. Additional enhancements will continue to be made to this feature as announced in future release notes.

As of 2020-10-17, this feature can be enabled in the production environment.

An enforcement date of this feature will be based on planned feature development and user feedback. Additional details will be announced in Upcoming Canvas Changes when available.


Supported Assignment Types

When this feature is enabled, all existing currently supported assignment types automatically convert to the new assignment type. No data conversation is required, as this feature change only affects the Canvas interface. Assignments are only updated in active courses; concluded courses are not affected. 

Supported assignment types:

  • Online
  • External Tools
  • No Submission, On Paper
  • Group Assignments

Not currently supported

  • Peer Reviews

Any assignment type that is not supported is redirected back to the existing assignments interface.

Microsoft Immersive Reader

Microsoft Immersive Reader is supported in Assignment Enhancements.

Submission Details Page

This feature currently only enhances the view of individual assignments. It does not affect the Submission Details page, which students can view via the Grades page. For supported assignment types, the Submit Assignment or Re-submit Assignment button redirects students to the new assignments view.

Backward Compatibility

After new assignments have been enabled, they can be disabled at any time but submission data is affected if a student has made multiple submission attempts. Reverting to the existing assignments workflow groups all comments into the latest submission.


Course-Level Features

Individual Assignment Overview

The individual assignment page for students offers clarity on submission workflows. Additionally, the following enhancements are available:

  • The assignment summary header is always visible when viewing the assignment and floats at the top of the page
  • The submission process is summarized in a circle timeline at the top of the assignment
  • Assignment details can be minimized within the page
  • Submissions can be drafted in the assignment without requiring an immediate submission
  • Submission types, comments, and any rubric grading is retained with each attempt and viewable by both the student and the instructor
  • For instructors, SpeedGrader displays comments based on submission attempt

Student AssigmentsStudent Assigments


Assignment Summary Header

Supported individual assignments load the new assignments interface with an assignment header, which includes the assignment title, due date, availability dates, point value, and calculation method. A circular tracker indicating each phase of the submission process is also visible at the top of the page and displays the current status for the attempt:

  • In Progress (Next Up: Submit Assignment)
  • Submitted (Next Up: Review Feedback)
  • Review Feedback (This assignment is complete!)

The assignment summary header is always visible and accompanies page scrolling. 

Assignment HeaderAssignment Header


Assignment Resources

Attempts & Dates 

The number of allowed attempts displays below the assignment summary header. Assignments that do not have a limit display as Unlimited Attempts.

Attempts and DatesAttempts and Dates


Assignment Details

Below the header, the assignment displays the details of the assignment. The Details section is expanded by default but can be collapsed when needed.

Assignment DetailsAssignment Details


If a rubric is provided for an assignment, the rubric can be reviewed by students to help them refine their submissions. Rubrics can also be viewed after the assignment is submitted. Rubrics are expanded in the assignment by default.


Submission Types

The submission type set by the instructor displays for the assignment. 

When an assignment allows multiple submission types, each submission type is displayed as a button. 

Note: If supported for the assignment, External App (LTI) tool icons also display as an allowed submission type.

Assignment TypesAssignment Types

The submission type that is active when the student clicks the Submit Assignment button is the type that will be submitted for the assignment. Drafts of other submission types will be deleted.

For example, if a student creates a text entry, changes the submission type to file upload, uploads a file, then clicks the Submit Assignment button, a message will indicate that a file submission is being submitted and any other submission (text entry) will be deleted.

Duplicate submission typesDuplicate submission types

Annotation Submissions

Student annotation assignments can be used with Assignment Enhancements. If this assignment type is enabled along with other types, the annotation assignment will always display as default, though another type can be selected. For best results, this assignment type should be the only type allowed for the submission.

Annotation Submission TypeAnnotation Submission Type

Online Files 

For all online submission types, students can draft a submission by creating/uploading the content for the submission type. Students can access the Files link to select files that have been uploaded to Canvas, or they can use the Webcam submission type to submit the assignment. External Tools that allow students to upload a file may also display.

Files can also be dragged and dropped from a computer or uploaded from Canvas. A progress bar indicates how long until the upload is complete.

Note: When an online assignment does not permit uploading image file extensions (e.g. PNG, JPEG), the webcam button does not display as an assignment upload option.

File UploadsFile Uploads

Canvas retains the submitted content until the assignment is submitted via the Submit Assignment button. File upload, text, and media submission drafts can be deleted and re-created; URL submission drafts can be changed by updating the website URL added to the URL field.


Text Entries

For text submissions, the Rich Content Editor is always visible on the page. Previously it was collapsed into a placeholder view when it was not being used by the user. Entries are saved automatically until the text is submitted to prevent content from being lost; previously entries had to be saved manually. 

After the text entry submitted for the assignment, the text displays in the assignment page and becomes read-only.

Submission Confirmation

After the student clicks the Submit Assignment button for the submission, the tracker updates to verify the assignment has been submitted. 

A preview of the submission displays in the assignment page, if available. If multiple files were submitted for the assignment, all files display and can be selected individually for viewing.

Submissions and PreviewsSubmissions and Previews


Comments can be added to the assignment after the assignment has been submitted. Comments can be added and viewed using the View Feedback button. Comments can be added to the assignment even when the assignment has not yet been graded.

User FeedbackUser Feedback


Grading Status

Once the assignment has been submitted, the submission workflow tracker indicates the next step is to review feedback from the instructor (if available) and receive a grade. 

Students can reply to comments using the View Feedback button within the assignment. When a new comment has been received for the submission, an indicator displays the number of new comments for the student to view. Additionally, the feedback sidebar opens by default and only needs to be opened if the sidebar is closed.

Graded Submission with FeedbackGraded Submission with Feedback

Feedback can also be viewed from the Grades page. When a new comment has been received for the submission, an indicator in the Grades Course Navigation Menu displays the number of updates for the student to view.

Offline Score

When a student receives a grade on an assignment without a submission, the assignment displays an Offline Score field, indicating a score has been given without the assignment being submitted. The page also displays how many attempts are allowed. Additionally, the submission workflow tracker displays the Review Feedback prompt. 

The assignment footer displays a Submit Assignment button that can be enabled if the student provided some content to submit.

Offline ScoreOffline Score


When student assignment enhancements are enabled for a course, SpeedGrader displays comments based on the submission attempt. 

Any replies to comments are also displayed to students within the attempt that was viewed by the instructor. Submission comments are paginated after 20 comments.

Comments for this Attempt HeaderComments for this Attempt Header

Multiple Attempts

Additional attempts, if allowed, can be submitted before or after the previous attempt has been graded. If the assignment allows students to submit additional attempts, a new attempt can be created by clicking the Try Again button in the assignment footer.

For assignments that contain multiple submission types, Canvas will automatically select the previously used submission type. Any comments added to the attempt are retained with the attempt.

Once a new attempt has been created, the footer displays a Cancel Attempt button in case the student no longer wants to submit a revised assignment file. If the student has selected any content for the submission before canceling the attempt, the page displays a confirmation dialog confirming the student wants to cancel their attempt. Canceling the attempt returns the student to the previously submitted attempt. 

Attempt 2Attempt 2

Previous attempts can be accessed via the Attempt drop-down menu.

Attempt MenuAttempt Menu

For additional attempts, comments cannot be added to the submission until the attempt has been completed.

Additional Attempts Message for CommentsAdditional Attempts Message for Comments




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