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Canvas Release Notes (2020-12-19)

Canvas Release Notes (2020-12-19)

Upcoming Canvas Changes


  • End-of-Life for Rich Content Editor—Enforcement of New Rich Content Editor
  • Deprecation of Multiple Push notification types

For more information, please see Upcoming Canvas Changes.

In this Canvas release (December 19), newly recorded media and uploaded media via the Upload/Record Media link is stored in the Course, Groups, or User Files folder, respectively.

For instructors, the Gradebook View menu includes the View Ungraded as 0 option, which is a visual change only and does not affect any grades. [DELAYED]

Additionally, the Student View button displays in supported individual Canvas pages.

Feature Options

  • A new Outcomes feature allows institutions to separate mastery scales and calculation methods for outcomes, replacing per-outcome criterion ratings and calculation methods.



For all resources and feedback information related to this release, see the Release Resources section at the end of this document.

Related Links


Updated Features

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View Ungraded as Zero


Production Feature Availability

DELAYED TO 2021-02-20

Location to Enable Feature


Feature Functionality Details


Affected Canvas Areas


Affects User Interface


Affected User Roles


Related Idea Conversations

Allow Treat Ungraded as 0 in New Gradebook

Feature Video

Gradebook: View Ungraded as 0 (2020-12-19 Release)



The Gradebook View menu includes the View Ungraded as 0 option, which is a visual change only and does not affect any grades. 

Change Benefit

This change aligns parity with the Individual View Gradebook and provides instructors with a visual change in identifying grading calculations for ungraded assignments.

Affected User Roles


The View menu includes the View Ungraded as 0 option, which allows instructors to view student grades as if all ungraded assignments were worth zero points. This setting also persists for the Individual View Gradebook.


When the View Ungraded as 0 setting is enabled, Ungraded as 0 displays as a heading in all assignment group columns and the total column to indicate this feature is turned on in the Gradebook. This feature also includes grading periods, if used for a course. 

Canvas will not populate zeros in the Gradebook for student submissions within individual assignments. Only the assignment groups and total columns will automatically factor in all scores of zero into the overall percentages for each student. 


Enabling this option has no effect outside of the Gradebook; students cannot see any difference in their grade pages. Similarly, TAs or other instructors in the course will not see any change in their view of the Gradebook. Only the user who enables this option in the Gradebook will see the affected grades.  

Note: This feature affects the configuration of the Total Column in the Gradebook, which also applies to CSV Exports. The CSV file displays columns for the Current and Final scores: the Current score reflects the total while ignoring unsubmitted assignments (option disabled), and the Final score counts unsubmitted assignments as zero (option enabled).

New Rich Content Editor

Uploaded Media File Placement


Affected Canvas Areas

New Rich Content Editor

Beta/Test Environment Support


Affects User Interface


Affected User Roles

All Users

Related Idea Conversations

Canvas Media Recordings

Feature Video

New Rich Content Editor: Uploaded Media File Placement (2020-12-19 Release)



Newly recorded media and uploaded media via the Upload/Record Media link is stored in the Course, Groups, or User Files folder, respectively.

Change Benefit

This change ensures users can reuse media uploaded or recorded as media content. Previously, newly recorded and uploaded media could not be repurposed without being exported as part of course content.

Affected User Roles

All Users

When users record media or upload media using the Upload/Record Media link, the media file is stored in the Files folder for the media location (course or group). For students who record or upload media for an assignment submission, the media file is stored in the User Files folder.

These media files can be downloaded and shared like all other files in the Files page. Media files default to an unpublished state.


  • This change does not affect institutions who are using their own media tool and have disabled the Upload/Record Media link.
  • This change only applies to media files created or uploaded after December 19.

Storage Quotas

This change to newly recorded or uploaded media via the Upload/Record Media link does not affect Canvas file quotas. However, media files uploaded via any other method (such as the Upload Files link) do affect the course, group, or user files quota, respectively. To learn more about available options for using media files in Canvas, view the Canvas Media Comparison PDF.



Account and Course Level Outcome Mastery Scale Management


This feature can be enabled in Canvas via a Customer Success Manager. Please view the content below for additional details.


Location to Enable Feature


Feature Functionality Details

Contact Customer Success Manager

Outcome Mastery Scale Feature Option

Affected Canvas Areas

Outcomes, Rubrics

Beta/Test Environment Support


Affects User Interface


Affected User Roles

Admins, Instructors

Feature Video

Outcomes: Account and Course Level Outcome Mastery Scale (2020-12-19 Release)



Mastery scales and calculation methods have been separated for outcomes, replacing per-outcome criterion ratings and calculation methods.

Change Benefit

This change allows mastery scales and calculation methods to be set individually at both the account and course levels. Admins can have more control over the mastery scale and default proficiency calculations used for their account.

For full details about this feature, please see Canvas Release: Account and Course Level Outcome Mastery Scales (2020-12-19).




Individual Page Student View

Affected Canvas Areas

Home Page, Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Modules, People, Pages, Files, Syllabus, Outcomes, Quizzes

Beta/Test Environment Support


Affects User Interface


Affected User Roles


Related Idea Conversation

Quick Toggle Student View

Feature Video

Pages: Individual Student View (2020-12-19 Release)


The Student View button displays in supported individual Canvas pages.

Change Benefit

This change allows instructors to view individual pages using the Test Student more quickly.

Affected User Roles


The Course Settings page includes the Student View button, which allows users with instructor-based roles to view the course with the student perspective. Individual buttons have also been placed at the top of most course pages, which provides quick Student View access for the specific page.

In the Home Page, the Student View button has been removed from the sidebar and replaced with the smaller button at the top of the page, since the Home Page can be viewed by students.


The Student View button does not display in pages that are not visible to students, such as the Course Settings page.

If an instructor clicks the Student View button from a page or other location that has been hidden to students, such as in Course Navigation, the page redirects back to the home page.


Change Log

Back to Table of Contents




Delayed release for Gradebook: View Ungraded as Zero

Added Feature Videos


Release Notes Published


Release Resources

Back to Table of Contents


User Summaries

Release features are summarized for individual roles in the User Summaries page.

Canvas Chat

Want to chat with other customers about any of these features? Sign up to view and join our Release Notes Collaborative Chats. Chats take place ten days after these notes are published.

New Feature Screencast

View a screencast of all the updates included in this release in the New Feature Screencast page.

tl;dr Podcast & Blogs

Features in this release may be included in product blogs and our product podcast, the Canvas tl;dr. For related links, check the Canvas Release Archive for this release date.

Feature Enhancements

The release notes indicate available functionality for a feature. If you want to see any future development planned for any features included in these notes, please visit the Roadmap. Have an idea you don't see prioritized in the next three months? Visit the Idea Conversations page.

Feature Support

All items listed in the release notes are immediately available for testing in the Canvas beta environment, unless otherwise indicated. If functionality in the beta environment does not match the functionality shown in the release notes, please submit a support case through your institution's preferred method as shown in your Global Navigation Help Menu. The Canvas Support Team can help escalate behaviors that may need to be resolved before they are deployed to the production environment, which takes place on the date of these release notes. When submitting a case, please indicate that the behavior is occurring in the beta environment.

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Hi Canvas,

I've checked the Student View button in Beta and in our case, it's being covered by the Atomic Search box. Please advise if there's any way around this. Thank you.Capture-StudentViewbutton.JPG

As the developer of the browser extension Canvas Quick Student View, I recognise the design of the new feature as probably inspired from that extension. 

Not being a beta tester, I have a question: one (in my view important) functionality of CQSV is that the link becomes hidden when the user is editing content, thereby preventing loss of unsaved changes if the link would be clicked in such situations. Is that functionality also incorporated in the new Canvas feature?

Could the iconography in Canvas for the "View Ungraded as Zero" feature make it more clear that this is a visual change and does not populate the gradebook with zeros? These release notes make that clear, and we'll release a notification about it in our newsletter, but that only goes so far if faculty don't read the newsletter or the release notes.

A popup would be helpful, or just something that more clearly warns the faculty that this is visual only. I don't think the small words that say "Ungraded as 0" above the total columns make that crystal clear, nor does not changing the dashes to 0s, although the latter is a good step.  

I don't know what the change would be, but even in the idea request you linked to, there were people who were confused as to what this feature would actually do. "Ungraded as 0" could still be interpreted as something that actually changed the course grades.

When the notes say "This change to newly recorded or uploaded media via the Upload/Record Media link does not affect Canvas file quotas" does that mean the media doesn't count against file quotas? Just confirming.

I am very disappointed to see the return of the "view ungraded as 0" option in the form described here.  I know many teachers like the quick toggle this feature provides, but having one person in a course see a different gradebook that the others (whether its a teacher and a TA or a teacher and students) caused nothing but problems in the past when it was available with the old gradebook.  Teachers generally do not understand that they are the only person seeing the 0s when they enable the feature, and it often causes students to think they are doing better than they are if the teacher just enabled this view and doesn't actually even enter the 0s.  If anything, this feature should be course-wide when enabled and affect everyone's view of the gradebook.  Instructure, please reconsider how this feature works, or at a minimum, make a HUGE and OBVIOUS disclaimer on the grades page when the feature is enabled telling the user that others (especially students) will see different grade entries and calculations from what they currently see.



Hello @dan_baeckstrom  

Regarding the Student View Button. 

I tested editing the various items (Quizzes, Pages, Discussion Forums etc.) in Canvas and noted the following:

I agree with you that it would be good for the Student View button to be hidden in these two items when editing.



I also saw it when editing in the Syllabus tool, but I didn't get it when in Edit Assignment Dates. 

I agree with Bruce and Dan about hiding it when editing!

Glad to See view ungraded as zero is coming back. I do agree though that a clarification message would probably be a good idea especially since this is releasing when many institutions will be submitting final grades for the fall.

@bricha44  : some confusion here I am afraid. CQSV (Canvas Quick Student View) is the browser extension that I developed. That one should hide its SV link when content is edited. I guess you are referring to the new built-in Canvas feature "Individual Page Student View"?

If "Individual Page Student View" indeed does not hide the link when editing is done, that's a clear drawback, and I would recommend using the CQSV extension instead.

If CQSV in your hands fails to hide the link when editing, please notify me. That would be a bug in the extension (on my computer, editing always makes the link disappear)

@grayat We've got a ticket to fix the LTI placement overlap issue.

@dan_baeckstrom @bricha44 @venitk I'll see what we can do for this! I agree it's not ideal. FWIW, if the RCE auto-save flag is on, the edited content in syllabus (and anywhere using RCE) won't be lost when you switch to student view and back. 

Thanks for the feedback!

@peytoncraighill : It is quite easy to trigger hiding  of the link. Have you had a look at the source code of the extension, which manages this just fine?




var edit = false;
  if($(this).attr("contenteditable")) {
    edit = true;
} else {




@chriscas  I think there is a better solution to the problem you describe than objecting to an option that teachers find very useful.  Since the problem is confusion about what grade total students see, why not request a column that specifies the student view total?  The CSV file already generates this column so displaying it in the gradebook should be a simple update.  That update would help with more cases than only treat blanks as zeros, because muted grades also impact what score teachers see without changing the total that students see. 

@venitk  Maybe the zeros added by treat ungraded as zero should have the hidden grades indicator used with manual grade posting or hide grades.  That eye icon is already the accepted indicator that the grades shown to students are different than what the teacher sees. 

Hello @dan_baeckstrom 

You are correct. When I mentioned CQSV (Canvas Quick Student View), I was really referring to the "Individual Page Student View" option.

@dan_baeckstrom ...

You stated, "Not being a beta tester..."  Do you have access to your school's Canvas "beta" environment?  You should be able to access this by following the steps in one of the top two Guides:

Hope this helps!!!

@venitk ...

"When the notes say 'This change to newly recorded or uploaded media via the Upload/Record Media link does not affect Canvas file quotas' does that mean the media doesn't count against file quotas? Just confirming."

Yes...that is my interpretation as long as it is uploaded via the Upload/Record Media link.

"This change to newly recorded or uploaded media via the Upload/Record Media link does not affect Canvas file quotas. However, media files uploaded via any other method (such as the Upload Files link) do affect the course, group, or user files quota, respectively."

I have to agree with @venitk , the 'return' of Treat Ungraded as Zero needs some more obvious indicator. We had to work to avoid confusion when this feature was available originally, and are concerned we have to visit that again. We also use Grade Passback to PeopleSoft, and the possible CSV affect now has to investigated.

Thanks @grayat and @peytoncraighill - just to be on the safe side, I raised a support case with the supplier of Atomic Search.

@peytoncraighill and @RobDitto Thanks for the update, I have let the Atomic Jolt team know about this as well. 


@peytoncraighill Can I please be updated on that ticket so we can test when it is fixed?

Love the individual page student view button. I can see this being heavily used. Great addition! I am not seeing it in Files area though. Does anyone else have the same experience as me?

@kirsten_ryall  I also don't see it in Files, regardless of whether it was on the navbar for students or not. 

It looks like it's sometimes on Outcomes (when there are no outcomes entered, or when there are outcomes entered and the Outcomes link is enabled on the student navbar) and sometimes not (when there are Outcomes but the link is not enabled on the student navbar). I think it would make sense to only have the button visible when the student view would actually show something; so, in this case, disable the button when there are no outcomes entered.

Where does recorded media show in Files? I recorded two videos and can't locate them in my course files. 

Is there a way we can get a version of "View Ungraded as Zero" that is NOT a visual change only and DOES affect grades?

Yes, exactly what @degensp28 said.  This is what the faculty intuitively think is happening when they would choose this option in the past, and it's absolutely a feature they want. 

Please don't reintroduce this confusion creating option to the gradebook again, in the same fashion.  At least provide the option to enter zeroes in the blanks, even as a pop-up when they choose to use this.

I discussed this with other campus admins and it was pointed out to me that getting this tool to actually enter 0s would likely be too much programing before the December release. BUT it would likely be very doable to at least get a notification up that provides the needed clarifications on exactly how this tool works. The information is already here in these very notes. They would just need to be moved from the "Affected User Roles" area into a confirmation window.

I still feel the same way @vanzandt, but perhaps this would be an easy first step?

@erinhmcmillan We have concerns around the release timing and the expectations set by the "View Ungraded as Zero" feature. This change is coming at a critical time for grades in what has been an exhausting semester for instructors (and students, and staff).

While our initial internal discussions determined there could be some improvements in the execution of the feature (see below), the main question we’re finding ourselves asking is “why now?” Would postponing this for 1-2 months until we’re into Spring (February would be safest for us) really cause some kind of problem?

Such a postponement would give instructors time to learn the functionality before they actually have to act based on the feature - entering final grades. We’re unclear why this change is so important to push right now, at a critical time for grades. We have schools entering final grades from now through mid-January, and we’re not the only university In this position.

As to actual improvements to the feature:

  1. The first we identified would be making it clearer that the view options does not change any grades even though the Total column clearly changes when this is “on.” It is not safe to assume that because the instructor has to turn it on, and it says “view,” that they understand it’s simply changing the view and not underlying data.
  2. The second is that this causes a potential gap to form between the instructor’s understanding of the final grade and the students’. If the instructor in #1 above starts entering final grades into our SIS by manually looking at the Canvas Gradebook’s Total column with “View ungraded as zero” toggled on, they’re going to enter different grades than what the student sees in their gradebook.

Both of these have been echoed in some form elsewhere in these comments.

I've corresponded with our CSM as well, and we're asking for the “View Ungraded as Zero” change to be delayed until the February release. 

Thanks for reading.

Agreed. We are asking our CSM to pass along that before View Ungraded at 0 is implemented, at least we'd like a popup or something that warns the instructor that students will see something different on their side. We'd like other improvements to this feature (I love all the ideas here) before it's implemented, but this is the bare minimum to prevent confusion among our faculty.

@atcarver @venitk @vanzandt @degensp28 @straussi @chriscas our product manager has some plans to update the ungraded as zero feature; I've reached out to her to get a timeline estimate. 

@degensp28 if you want to affect grades, I'd recommend using the Default Grade feature.

@dan_baeckstrom our team has added a fix for the icon showing when editing the syllabus and assignments page. Thanks!

@kirsten_ryall the team didn't add that functionality to Files since there's a lot happening in that page, but they're discussing how to make it happen. Any additions will be announced in a future release or deploy!

@skreitzer media files are added to the Uploaded Media folder. You can see an example of this functionality in our New Rich Content Editor: Uploaded Media File Placement feature video.


Hello @erin

Thanks for the targeted feedback. I am aware of the Set Default Grade feature, and spend time with the instructors I train to make sure they are using it early and often. Sadly, it does not meet all of my 850+ instructors needs. Many come to me too late in the semester wondering why students grades are inflated, and are overwhelmed by the amount of clicking required to do this for each assignment.

Instructors that have a few major papers and exams can do as you suggest with just a bit of annoyance, but instructors with courses requiring daily practice become a nightmare to ensure every missed assignment receives the 0 it needs. I could call out any number of STEM courses, foreign language courses, and writing courses that I have worked with that run into this problem.

Instructors who attempt to give many lowstakes chances to practice material find themselves punished at the end of the semester when they find out that they have dozens of assignments that need to have a default grade set. Default Grade is a great tool, but needing to do it that many times introduces frustration chances for user error when when needing to be done multiple times by an already frustrated and frazzled instructor.

A "Set Default Grade" that would impact every item in the Grades area would be a massive boon. Sadly, there are a number of instructors that mistakenly thought the "Treat Ungraded As Zero" did that. The name change is a great first step, I just want to see the tool taken further.

I hope this helps explain my ask.

@erinhmcmillan can you clarify your prior comment, "our product manager has some plans to update the ungraded as zero feature; I've reached out to her to get a timeline estimate" a bit?

Does this mean the feature may be delayed?

Or that Instructure intends to implement on 12/19 despite the timing issue and need for enhancements and then update after the release at some point?

Thank you!

I appreciate the addition of the Individual Page Student View. Having this functionality available in more locations definitely makes it more usable. However, it has not been included on any of the Index pages: Announcements, Assignments, Quizzes, etc.

This seems to be an oversight, in particular as instructors and students see different layouts on the Assignments Index page. Since the structure of the assignment groups has such a big impact on the gradebook, adding the shortcut link here could only benefit students and instructors.

I would also posit that the use of the word "Page" in the title is misleading. This change applies to more than pages and of all the Canvas features, pages are the only ones I can think of that look the same to either students or instructors. The "Quick Toggle Student View" used in the related idea seems more appropriate, especially as we consider the implications in the Student & Instructor Guides.

I don't have a lot more to add, but just want to make sure their voices don't stand alone...

Re: @atcarver 's request to delay to February.  We totally agree, and support this request to not roll-out in the midst of a grading period.

RE: @degensp28 response to Set Default Grade. Couldn't have said it better, this is our faculty experience as well. Great tool, but overwhelming when you have lots of assignments (which many are currently doing moving to during remote instruction). Having it available for the entire gradebook at once would be great.

Thank you to both of them for taking the time to write up these use-case/responses.

So, I have a serious hate-on for "View ungraded as zeros." I wish this implementation weren't sticky (I would prefer that when the gradebook reloads the view would revert, to make it abundantly clear that we're in a "what-if" environment), and I would wish for more visible notification in the UI that you're viewing the gradebook with hypothetical calculations (the labels at the top of each column aren't very prominent). 

But, the request for a global "Set default grade" confuses me a little, since there already is one, though by a different name. @degensp28: At the end of a course, set the missing submission grade to 0. It drops in 0s for all missing assignments. No need to click "Set Default Grade" for each assignment. 

If you're running multiple grading periods, I'm not sure how that would impact things. And, if you're using submission types outside of native Canvas submissions, you'll have some issues with things not necessarily registering as "missing." But it's a start. 

@tom_gibbons Setting up your grades to give 0s to missing submissions only works for items that require a digital submission. This means On Paper and No Submission type assignments do not gain this benefit. This is especially problematic for my foreign language and mathematics instructor. Both tend to have hand written work they expect to see during the next class period, and the foreign language courses will have in class spoken assignments. Something that actually addresses those is not needed by all my instructors, but those that do need it need it desperately. 

@degensp28 Right. I did say that non-native submission types wouldn't register. But a big part of my initial response was targeted not just at you (but @-mentioned you, so that you would see, just in case you didn't know), but for anyone reading this thread later who might be frustrated, because they didn't know that there actually is at least a partial solution for the problem that you're pointing out. 

Be well and happy December!

As have been mentioned by others, with the view ungraded as zero, we admins need some functionality in place to prevent teachers from shooting themselves in the foot with this feature. We can't have teachers reporting a failing grade at the end of a marking period because they have this view turned on, while students and parents see and expect an entirely different grade on the report card. While I understand that "view" means that this is just a different look/filter, that verbage is not clear enough to teachers that they are the only ones seeing the results of the ungraded = 0 calculation in the gradebook.

Please put the words "Student View" back on the button, at least on the course home page. I train faculty on Canvas, and replacing clear wording with cryptic symbols no one knows is the opposite of helpful. 

I agree with @mpfaff1 . Please keep the "Student View" wording at least on the Home Page and Settings pages where it already exists, include the icon to generate familiarity, and then use the icon on other, new places that it will surface.

I would like to third @mpfaff1 and @vanzandt 
The image alone is not sufficient for the Home area.

We would also echo the concerns over implementing the Student View symbol without language, and upvote @mpfaff1's comment and @vanzandt's recommendation - especially in keeping the button in its original location in addition to the new buttons, so as to not disorient users.

+1 to a Student View button text label. In addition to the comments here from the Canvas Community, see the Nielsen Norman Group's article on Icon Usability.
"Summary: A user’s understanding of an icon is based on previous experience. Due to the absence of a standard usage for most icons, text labels are necessary to communicate the meaning and reduce ambiguity."

I echo what @mpfaff1 @vanzandt @degensp28 @atcarver @swind said.

Thanks for the feedback on the student view button! This wouldn't be difficult to change, so I can create a ticket. But to clarify, is the request to add a second student view button to home? Or remove the student view button from home and re-add the old button to the menu?

For context, this update adds a student view button everywhere student view applies today, with a tooltip that immediately appears on hover:

Screen Shot 2020-12-17 at 3.44.41 PM.png

(In case you were in the flow of accessing student view from course settings, it still appears in the side menu there, though you get redirected to your course home in student view because students can't access course settings.)

(Could also add 'Student View' text to the button on course home.)

Hi @peytoncraighill, thanks for your responsiveness to our feedback. It can be confusing to users when a button changes appearance or position but still functions the same, so for clarity, I propose the following:

  1. Add a text label to all instances of the Student View button
  2. Maintain consistent top-right placement in all areas, including Home

Our instructors are in the habit of accessing this feature from the Home page. As an admin, I didn't even realize the Student View button appears on the course settings page. I don't think it belongs there in this new quick toggle context, and suggest it be removed.

@peytoncraighill Thank you for your response! I agree with @swind that faculty use the button from the Home page, not Settings. (They're already on the Home page, probably checking to see whether they've remembered to publish everything; getting to Settings would be an extra click.)

I also agree that it would be helpful to have the text appear on all instances of the button, and have the placement consistent (top-right corner) throughout Canvas. I understand the tooltip is there to reduce confusion. Unfortunately, the Venn Diagram of faculty who will email us because the button moved and now they can't find it, and faculty who have no idea what a "tooltip" is or how to use it, is a circle.

@peytoncraighill I echo the recommendations above:

  1. Add extra text to the button instead of a tooltip
  2. Keep the button as-is on the home page sidebar to avoid disorienting users 

Thank you for your responsiveness!

Based on the conversation here, I was surprised to see that the original Student View button is now gone. Perhaps I misunderstood the back and forth, but I expected the talk to result in the original Student View button staying on the Home area.

Like @degensp28 said: I was also surprised. And guess what, I have already got 2 support questions from teachrs wondering what's wrong in their course rooms when the Student view button is gone!!! Strange or what?

Depending on the size of the browser, while the tool buttons on the right side of screen in Home view appears at the bottom of the screen, the "Student View" tool icon disappears. The tool disappears at 640*480.  

Thanks to everyone for their feedback. Modifications to the interface will be made in a future release. Stay tuned!

Notes for January have been published: Canvas Release Notes (2021-01-16) - Canvas Community