Canvas Production Release: June 27, 2015

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

6/27/15 Production Release Highlights:

  • 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. 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Complete/Incomplete Grades: Complete/incomplete grades display in SpeedGrader. 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.
  • Media Files in Safari: 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 pre-load value for JavaScript media elements. Canvas code has been updated to redefine the pre-load value used for Safari.

Other Canvas Changes:

As of July 18, 2015, Differentiated Assignments are no longer a Feature option in Canvas and are enabled for all Canvas users as a standard feature.

For a complete production release update, please see:

June 27, 2015 Canvas Production Release Notes

Please click here to view the script for this screencast.

We’re Back from InstructureCon 2015

inflateable panda with "Canvas" logo posted outside at InstructureCon 2015

The Courseware Support team has returned from the scenic climbs of Park City, Utah ready and eager to apply for our users’ benefit the knowledge we acquired at InstructureCon 2015. We made a lot of new friends; learned invaluable information in workshops led by Canvas gurus; and avoided sunburn, dehydration, and the ever-dreaded altitude sickness (less learned from InstructureCon 2014!). Before we start sharing our new Canvas smarts on this blog (which we’ll do soon–stay tuned!), we wanted to address a rather important component of the conference, one which framed the experience and made it truly transformative for us. Amid the depth and breadth of experiences at InstructureCon 2015, the most poignant insight we took from it was a rather simple message–empathy is an important part of our jobs.

During the first keynote of InstructureCon 2015, Josh Coates, Instructure CEO, said, “universal design is driven by empathy,” and this sentiment set the tone for the rest of the conference. For each session we attended, the topics under discussion foregrounded the Canvas user experience and were inclusive of all possible users (teachers, students, staff, etc.). The conversations we had in and out of sessions centered on questions like “How will this (method, tool, suggestion, etc.) affect users?” Answers to these questions weren’t just hypothetical, as many teachers from colleges and universities from across the world shared their concerns.

It was evident that Instructure were listening carefully to these teachers, and the same can be said for the technical and support people in attendance. The quality of conversation around sundry topics, everything from the mundane to the sophisticated and esoteric, derived from the basic assumption that to serve our users, we must first empathize with them.

We’d like to thank Instructure, the presenters, and our fellow attendees for making InstructureCon 2015 such a rewarding, enriching event! Thank you all! As for our dear readers, please keep checking the blog for posts about what we learned and how we will use this knowledge to help Canvas users at the University of Pennsylvania!

InstructureCon 2015: Here We Come!

A Meeting of the Minds!

Penn’s Courseware Support team is gearing up for our trip to InstructureCon 2015, and we couldn’t be more excited! Each year, the best-of-the-best in educational technology and instructional design from across the country convene in Park City, Utah to share ideas about Canvas and to listen to what Instructure, the makers of Canvas, have in store for the future. For several days, we’ll be learning from, experimenting with, and talking to colleagues from other schools so we can  better serve the Canvas users (that’s you!) who inspire us to grow in our design and support roles.

Across the Country, but Really Just a Click Away!

There will be lots of these going off at InstructureCon 2015!

There will be lots of these going off at InstructureCon 2015!

We know that many of our users are plugging away at their Fall 2015 Canvas sites or are actively engaged in Summer Session courses using Canvas, so please be assured that while we are out of the office from Monday, June 15th through Friday, June 19th, we will be responding to support requests sent to If you need help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Check the Canvas at Penn Blog and Twitter for Updates from InstructureCon 2015!

We will regularly update the Canvas at Penn blog and Twitter with all sorts of neat info from the conference. We would love it if you followed the blog and @CanvasPenn on Twitter so you can see what we’re learning!

New Feature Ideas from 6/3!

Why Canvas Feature Ideas Matter, and Why You Should Participate!

Have you ever been working in Canvas and thought, “Gee, I wish Canvas were better designed for my course”? If so, then you should consider using Canvas Feature Ideas. By placing and voting for Feature Ideas, Canvas users can influence development decisions for future Canvas releases. Pretty nifty, eh?

The word "now" in red block letters with a clock in place of the "o."

It’s Time to Improve Canvas!

For the most recent Canvas release update, please see Canvas Production Release: June 6, 2015.

If you are new to Canvas Feature Requests, please click here to learn more about the great influence Canvas users wield over its development.

June-3rd-Feature-Idea Highlights

Here are a few of the June 3rd Feature Ideas that stood out to Courseware Support at Penn. To view a Feature Idea, please click on a link and, if it sounds like something you want to see in Canvas, vote for it! You can even leave comments about the Feature Idea if you’d like to add anything to it or want to start a conversation with other Canvas users about a particularly awesome idea.

Ability to restrict “Send messages to individual course members” at the course level

Ability to change a users role without deleting the user

Allow students to set online status

Full Points for Any One of Multiple Correct Answers

Option for Extra Credit in Quiz

Download Assignments in Concluded Course

Extend Times Per Student Not Per Quiz

Expanded View for Quiz Editing

Default Font Size

Provide Tool to Disable an external tool

Robust Errors for SIS Imports

Export Entire Course Sites

Want to See More June 3rd Canvas Feature Ideas?

Click here to see the full list!

If you have any questions about Feature Ideas or anything else Canvas-related at the University of Pennsylvania, please contact Courseware Support at

Canvas Production Release: June 6, 2015

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

6/6/15 Production Release Highlights:

  • Calendar Custom Colors: Canvas allows users to set their own colors for each calendar in their account. Canvas will assign an arbitrary color for each calendar unless a custom color is chosen. Each calendar contains 15 default colors, but users can insert a Hex code to create any color of their choice.
  • Differentiated Assignments by Individual: In “Assignments,” instructors have the flexibility to differentiate assignments between individual students and select which students are required to complete specific tasks. When enabled, this feature is available for all assignments (a.k.a. anything set up for grading in a Canvas site), such as Assignments, Quizzes, and Graded Discussions. In the Gradebook, assignment grade cells are grayed out for students who have not been included in the assignment. Assignments that are not assigned to a student are not factored into the student’s overall grades.
  • Student Submission Exports: On their “User Profile” page, students can download all of their assignment submissions from Canvas as a ZIP file. Submissions are for both current and concluded courses and only include any files that were submitted to fulfill an assignment; they do not include any submissions modified by instructors, such as annotated submissions. The download also includes submissions for group assignments, even if the submission was made by another student in the group.
  • Etherpad: “Collaborations” no longer includes Etherpad as a collaboration tool. This change resolves concerns with Canvas user authentication. Only Google Docs will be available to create new collaborations in Canvas. Users that have links to existing collaborations will see a warning message notifying them to migrate any necessary content before August 8th, when all Etherpad collaborations that are hosted by Canvas will be permanently deleted.
  • Total Grade Rounding: If the “Total” Gradebook column is shown as a percentage, the percentage is rounded to two decimal places. This change is also shown in Gradebook CSV exports. For instance, if the total grade for a student is 99.567, Canvas previously rounded the grade to 99.6%. With two decimals, the grade is now rounded to 99.57%.
  • Persistent Gradebook Columns: Canvas saves a user’s custom Gradebook preferences and associates them with the user’s profile. This change allows users to rearrange a column in the Gradebook, including the size of the column, and have the changes persist across any computer or browser. This feature only relates to assignment columns in the Gradebook.
  • Courses and Student Grades: Canvas code has been updated to allow students to view their own grades in concluded courses.
  • HTML Characters in Announcement Links: When an instructor created an announcement and included a hyperlink that had a special character, such as an ampersand or an equals sign, the special character converted to an HTML character and caused notifications not to be generated. Canvas code has been updated to send announcement notifications regardless of invalid links.

Other Canvas Changes:

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.

For a complete production release update, please see:

June 6, 2015 Canvas Production Release Notes

2015-06-06 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

2015A Canvas Sites Now in “Past Enrollments” for Students

As of today, 2015A Canvas sites are now in students’ “Past Enrollments” list.

To access the “Past Enrollments” list, students must enter Canvas, click on Courses, and then click on View All Courses. On the next page under “Past Enrollments,” students will be able to view their past courses.

Students Sitting on School Building Steps

Students can find their 2015A Canvas sites in their “Past Enrollments” list.

If an instructor has placed a 2015A site in another term, it will still appear in a student’s Courses tab until the instructor asks Courseware Support to place the site in the 2015A term.

Students who want their 2015A sites to remain in their Courses tab can follow the customization instructions in this link:

How do I customize my Courses drop-down menu?

On May 31st, 2015A Canvas sites will be moved into the “Past Enrollments” list for Teachers, TAs, and Designers.

Please see this blog post if you have any questions about term restrictions, and please email Courseware Support at for assistance.

Submitting Final Grades


Wondering how to transfer Grades in Canvas to CIT? The answer is here!

As you wrap up grading for the semester, you might be wondering how you can use the Canvas gradebook to submit final grades for your courses. Although many instructors calculate and include final grades in their Canvas sites, there is no direct integration between Canvas and Courses InTouch (CIT).  Since CIT is the official record for student grades, final grades must always be added there.

If you use Canvas for grading and calculating a final grade, you can export the Gradebook as a CSV using the instructions here and work with it offline in Excel:

How do I download scores from the Gradebook?

If you have any questions, please contact Courseware Support at

Canvas Production Release: May 16, 2015

Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle through which features are added or updated. Courseware Support posts highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content to the Canvas at Penn blog a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

5/16/15 Production Release Highlights:

  • Discussions Like Icon: Instructors can create Discussions and allow students to indicate “liked” Discussion replies. The Canvas Like icon is only available in Discussions and is enabled on a per-Discussion basis. To enable the liking feature as part of a Discussion’s options, instructors can select the “Allow liking” check-box.
  • Save & Publish Option: When creating Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, and Pages, instructors have the option to save and publish them at the same time by clicking the Save & Publish button. Alternatively, instructors can still save the item in a draft state by clicking the Save button and then publishing at any time as a separate step.
  • Student Submission Detail Page: On the student Submission Detail page, the submission feedback/preview bar no longer includes a green background. This change makes the View Feedback/Preview buttons more accessible to keyboard users and screen readers.
  • Big Blue Button Enhancements: All conferences now display the End button, which previously only appeared as part of long-running conferences. When a user with the appropriate permissions clicks the End button, the conference immediately concludes on both the “Conferences” page and on the server. In Groups, users who create a conference are also able to end a conference.
  • Assignment Columns and Return/Enter Key: The Gradebook supports the Return/Enter key in advancing through each cell in the Gradebook column. This feature benefits instructors who enter all student grades for an assignment at once. When an instructor reaches the end of the column, the Return/Enter key advances to the top of the next column.
  • Quiz Question Answer Comments and Rich Content Editor: Instructors can post images, format text, and perform other Rich Content Editor functionality in correct answer comments, wrong answer comments, and general answer comments.
  • Multiple Sections in Course List: If a user is enrolled in more than one section in a course, only one enrollment appears in the course list.
  • Media Previews: Media uploads can be previewed in New Files. Canvas code has been updated to ensure media files are always uploaded for processing. If the media file has not yet been processed for the preview, Canvas will generate a message stating the file has been queued for processing and to try again in a few minutes. Important: Courseware Support doesn’t recommend storing media files in the “Files” area of your Canvas site. For an explanation and alternative media-sharing method in Canvas, please see this blog post.

Other Canvas Changes:

On June 6, 2015, Canvas will no longer host new Etherpad collaborations because Etherpad cannot integrate with Canvas user authentication. Users that have links to existing collaborations will see a warning message notifying them to migrate any necessary content before August 8th, when all Etherpad collaborations that are hosted by Canvas will be permanently deleted. As an alternative to Etherpad, users can also create Google Docs Collaborations in Canvas. The Canvas at Penn blog will posts reminders about migrating Etherpad content before the deletion deadline.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes (2015-05-16)

2015-05-16 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Canvas End-of-Term Grading Checklist

The following checklist has been designed to help your end-of-term grading run smoothly.

1.) Download and Save the Current Version of the Canvas Gradebook

It’s a best practice to download and save a course’s Canvas gradebook before entering final grades. Here are instructions for how to download the Canvas gradebook:

How do I bulk download Assignment submissions in Canvas?

For a longer discussion of why downloading and saving a course’s gradebook is a best practice, please see:

Best Practices: Downloading the Gradebook at the End of the Term

2.) Finish Entering Grades in Canvas

Depending on the type of assignment or “quiz” (exam, test, quiz, or survey), you may have a several feedback and grading options. To learn about these options, please see the Grades and SpeedGrader sections of the Canvas Instructor Guide.

Woman frustrated  in front of laptop.

Avoid grading headaches by following these simple steps!

3.) Unmute All Assignments and Quizzes

Muting in Canvas is when you hide feedback and grades from students. If you have used muting throughout the semester, you should double-check see if all of your assignments and quizzes are unmuted. Not only will you want to unmute assignments so students can receive your feedback and grade, but you will also want to unmute assignments and quizzes for the total grade that your students see in their Canvas grade summaries so that it match the course grade you enter in Courses InTouch (CIT). If you don’t unmute assignments and quizzes, your students will not see their real total course grade in Canvas, as it will not include their muted assignments.

For more information about muting and an in-depth explanation with screenshots of why you should unmute your assignments and quizzes at the end of the semester, please see:

Hiding Grades from Students

4.) Download and Save the Final Version of the Gradebook

Please see the instructions in the first step. It’s a good idea to keep both versions of the gradebook–pre-final grading and post-final grading–for your records.

5.) Upload the Gradebook to Courses InTouch (CIT)

Follow the directions at to upload your grades to Courses InTouch. (See Section 13.4 “Uploading a Grade Roster”).


Please email or click on Help > Report a Problem from inside Canvas for assistance.