What’s New in Canvas for Spring 2017?

The word

Welcome back!

The following information will introduce you to what’s new in Canvas for Spring 2017.

Third-Party Tools

Using OneClass Chrome Extension? Remove It and Change Your PennKey Password

The OneClass extension for Google Chrome is malware which can capture your PennKey username and password. If you use this extension, please uninstall it and then change your PennKey password.

Piazza Careers

Piazza has a new opt-in feature called Piazza Careers. When students create Piazza accounts for their courses, they will see a prompt to join Piazza Careers.

It is recommended that students who do not want to share their personal information select the option labelled “I don’t need any help . . .” and then click on the “Continue” button.

Red rectagle surrounding the second-option in the Piazza Careers sign-up form.

Select “I don’t need any help . . .” if you don’t want to share your personal information through Piazza Careers.

If you decide to join Piazza Careers, you can click on the Control what information is shared link below the second option to apply advanced settings to information-sharing in Piazza Careers.


When you click on Control what information is shared, this pop-up will appear:


Make sure you have only selected options for those entities with whom you wish to share personal information!


Comprehensive documentation for Turnitin is now available on Canvas at Penn: Turnitin Instructions: Instructors & Students

Cengage Mindlinks/Aplia LTI

Instructors using Cengage Mindlinks (a.k.a Aplia) can add this tool Canvas Sites via the “Navigation” tab under a site’s Settings (displays as “Cengage”) and Modules (displays as “Cengage Learning Mindlinks”): Instructor Guide for Aplia Integration in Canvas.

Canvas Features

No More Scheduler: Create Appointment Groups in the Calendar

As of Spring 2017, Canvas has replaced the Scheduler feature with the ability to create Appointment Groups via the Calendar. This change has been made to provide a better user experience–both for those creating Appointment Groups, as well as for those signing up for them: Canvas Appointment Instructions.

System-wide Announcements

Please note that you can remove system-wide announcements from your Canvas User Dashboard.

Stay Informed!

Want to be notified whenever changes are coming to Canvas? Follow Canvas at Penn! Canvas operates on a three-week release cycle, and all upcoming release information is  posted to Canvas at Penn several days before these changes will take place.

If you ever have any questions about what’s new in Canvas, please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Canvas Production Release: January, 7 2017

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 a few days before the production release, which usually occurs on Saturdays. Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

1/7/17 Production Release Highlights:

  • Disable Announcement Comments: In “Account Settings,” admins can set an option to disable comments on announcements by default. When an admin selects the option to disable comments on announcements, all sub-account and course announcements are shown to all users with a lock icon, meaning the announcement is closed for comments. However, instructors can choose to open comments on a per-announcement basis.
  • Course Home Page Announcements Display: If a course has a content page set as the course home page, instructors can display a certain number of recent announcements at the top of the page. This change allows instructors to show announcements as part of the course home page when users view Canvas in a web browser. To enable this feature, instructors can select the “Show Recent Announcements” checkbox in “Course Settings” and specify the number of recent announcements that should be shown (up to 15). By default, the interface displays three announcements unless the number is adjusted. Announcements display in the home page for two weeks.
  • Student Scheduler Events: When students click the Scheduler button, Scheduler displays all events available to them, even if the students are not viewing a calendar for a specific course. This change helps students be able to view all Scheduler events regardless of Calendar visibility.
  • Copy a Canvas Course Order: In the “Copy a Canvas Course” option, the course drop-down menu is sorted in order from newest to oldest terms, then alphabetically by course. This change helps admins and instructors more easily locate terms and courses for course copies. Note: The course drop-down menu does not display for users with access to more than 100 courses; users must use the search field to locate a course.
  • Course List Enrollments Default: For users who have never customized their courses list, Canvas has increased the number of courses automatically displayed in the Dashboard and Global Navigation “Courses” menu from 12 to 20. If the “Courses” menu includes more than 12 courses, the “Courses” menu includes a scrollbar.  Note: Once users customize their courses list, the Dashboard and Global Navigation “Courses” menu only display courses that have been set as a favorite. Customizing the course list means a user has clicked the All Courses link in the “Courses” menu and manually favorited at least one course in the “Courses” list.
  • Rich Content Editor Sidebar Update: The Rich Content Editor sidebar has been updated with backend improvements, resulting in small interface changes. The sidebar includes a visual style update, and each content section supports pagination. Currently, the Rich Content Editor sidebar update only affects “Pages” and the “Syllabus.” Additional feature area updates will be available in a future release.
  • Canvas Icons Update: The existing Canvas icon font has been updated with a new Instructure icon library that compiles icons as SVG files. This new library also enables consistency across all Canvas products and is already incorporated into the Canvas mobile apps.
  • External Tool Module Items: External tools retain their published state in course imports.
  • Special Character Folder Names: Files can load folders with special characters in the folder name.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes: January 7, 2017

2017-01-07 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Please click here to view the transcript for this video.

How to Close a System-Wide Announcement in Canvas

What’s a “system-wide announcement”?

Have you ever logged into Canvas and seen a message appear at the top of your User Dashboard?

Canvas User Dashboard with system-wide announcement outlined in a thick red square.

An example of a system-wide announcement (indicated in red).

This message is a system-wide announcement. It is used to share important information to Canvas users at the University of Pennsylvania, such as:

  • Information on how to request Canvas sites near the start of a new term
  • Maintenance-related outages for tools used in Canvas (e.g., Turnitin)
  • Events and services of interest to Canvas users at the University of Pennsylvania

It can be useful to allow a system-wide announcement to display as a reminder of important information, and they go away automatically when they are no longer relevant. However, if you no longer need to see a system-wide announcement, you have the ability to remove it from your User Dashboard.

How do I remove a system-wide announcement from my User Dashboard?

You can remove a system-wide announcement from your User Dashboard by clicking on the X in its upper-right corner.


Click on the “X” in the upper-right corner of a system-wide announcement to close it.

Important: Please note that once you remove a system-wide announcement, it is permanently deleted from your User Dashboard, so please be certain that you want to remove a system-wide announcement before doing so.


Please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions.

Turnitin & iThenticate Maintenance: Saturday, January 7th, 10am-6pm

stop sign with a hand-symbol instead of an

On Saturday, January 7th from 10am-6pm, Turnitin and iThenticate may be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance by the vendor. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Instructors who use Turnitin are encouraged to modify assignment due dates either before or at least several hours after the scheduled maintenance window. Canvas and all other integrated tools will be available and unaffected by this maintenance.

Please direct any questions to canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Submitting Final Grades for Fall 2016


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@pobox.upenn.edu.

Video: Grading in Canvas at the End of a Term

We hope you enjoy this video geared towards faculty and TAs managing grades in Canvas using the gradebook! It shows six steps for finishing up grading in Canvas at the end of a term.

Please note: This video was made before the introduction of the new Canvas UI, which is why Canvas looks a little different in this video from how it looks currently. Nevertheless, the steps covered in the video can be used in the new Canvas UI despite Canvas’s different appearance.

Six Easy Steps:

  1. Download and save your Canvas gradebook
  2. Hide (“mute”) assignment grades and feedback from students
  3. Hide total course grades from students
  4. Grade all ungraded assignments
  5. Unhide assignments and total course grades
  6. Download and save finished gradebook

If you have any questions, please email Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Canvas End-of-Term Grading Checklist for Faculty & TAs

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?

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:

How do I mute or unmute an assignment in the Gradebook?

How do I mute or unmute an assignment in SpeedGrader?

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 http://www.upenn.edu/registrar/CIT/CIT-OLG-user-guide.pdf to upload your grades to Courses InTouch. (See Section 13.4 “Uploading a Grade Roster”).

Please note that although these instructions make reference to Blackboard, the spreadsheet-configuration requirements still apply to the downloaded version of the Canvas gradebook you will upload to CIT.


Please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Canvas Helps Student Accommodations for Final Exams

Learning from Experience

Stumped about accommodating students in Canvas? We can help!

Stumped about accommodating students in Canvas? We can help!

Over the years, Courseware Support has helped instructors accommodate their students when the standard final-exam schedule conflicts with external circumstances or conditions in a student’s life. If you’re using Canvas for final exams, then there are a few things you should know about in case you need to accommodate a student. What follows are some of the more common scenarios for which instructors have requested our help in past final-exam periods. Through these examples, we thought it’d be useful for our readers to see how they can quickly and easily accommodate their students.

A Student Needs Extra Time for an SDS-Approved Accommodation (Before Taking the Exam)

The University of Pennsylvania’s Standards for Accommodating Exams for Students with Disabilities states, “SDS (Student Disabilities Services) encourages faculty to provide exams to students approved for accommodations.” While there are many accommodations for which students may receive approval from SDS (please click on the link above for a list), Canvas lends itself particularly well to the time-extension accommodation, which grants SDS-approved students “extended time (25%) (50%) or (100%) more time for in-class tests and quizzes” (borrowed from the “Definitions of Specific Accommodations” in the above link).

If one of your students needs the time-extension accommodation, you can set up your exam in Canvas so that this student, and only this student, has extra time. For instructions on how to do this, please see the section called “Adjust Additional Options” in the following link:

“Once I publish my Quiz, how can I give my students extra attempts?” (Reminder: A Canvas “quiz” is any question-and-answer-based assessment [e.g., final exam] created and given in Canvas).

Students Needs Extra Time While Taking an Exam

In certain situations, students might request extra time on a timed-exam, or you might decide they need extra time while taking your timed-exam. If you accept this request or make this decision, you can add extra time to the exam while students take it by following these instructions:

Once I publish a timed quiz, how can I give my students extra time?

A Student Needs to Re-Take an Exam

If you have decided to let a student re-take an exam, you can do this by following these instructions:

Once I publish my Quiz, how can I give my students extra attempts? (Same link as SDS-approved accommodations. Covers all extra-attempt scenarios)

A Student Needs to Take an Exam Early

If you are letting a student take your final exam before the standard exam time, you can do this by following these steps:

I. Add an availability date to your exam. The availability date should be the date and start time scheduled for your exam. For an explanation of availability dates and instructions on how to use them, please see:

What is the difference between due dates and availability dates?

Important: Please make sure to set the availability date before you publish the exam. If you reverse these steps, the exam will be available to all students until you set the availability date.

II. Publish the exam. Please see the section called “Publish a Quiz” in the following link for instructions:

How do I use Draft State in Quizzes?

III. Use the “Moderate This Quiz” feature to make the exam available to the student. To do this, you will use the quiz-moderating feature. In the following link, you will see the setting you have to enable, labelled “Manually unlock the quiz for the next attempt,” in the “Adjust Additional Options” of the page:

Once I publish my Quiz, how can I give my students extra attempts?

Need Assistance?

Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions.

Canvas Production Release: December 10, 2016

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 canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about an upcoming production release.

12/10/16 Production Release Highlights:

  • Group Assignments by Section: When instructors create a group set from the “People” page, the group structure supports randomly assigning students to a group by section. This feature allows instructors to specifically limit groups to users within a specific section. Section assignments also support instructors in large or cross-listed courses. When this option is selected, students are only grouped together with students from their own section. The section designation is available as part of a new group set page and selecting the option to split students into a specific number of groups. This feature is currently not available when creating a new group set in an assignment.
  • Course Auto-Favorites: For users who have customized their “Courses” list, Canvas automatically adds all new enrollments as a favorite. This change helps Canvas users locate new courses in the Dashboard and the Global Navigation Courses menu. Customizing a “Course lists” means a user has clicked the All Courses link in the “Courses” menu and manually favorited at least one course in the “Courses” list. Favorite courses in the “Courses” menu and the Dashboard are still ordered alphabetically by course role and course name. There is no limit for favorited courses.
  • Sort Order Menu for Administrators: The course-filtering sidebar in the account-level Courses page includes a sort menu. This change helps admins sort courses more easily according to their preference. Courses can be sorted in four ways:
    • A–Z (by course name, ascending)
    • Z–A (by course name, descending)
    • Oldest to newest (by course creation date, ascending)
    • Newest to oldest (by course creation date, descending)
  • Term List Order Update for Administrators: The “Terms” drop-down list groups terms into active and past terms. Terms within each group are ordered alphabetically This change helps admins locate a specific term when an account includes multiple terms. By default, courses are shown from all terms.
  • File Name Confirmation Check Mark: When a user creates a folder or renames a file, the text field includes a check mark to save the folder or file name. Previously files and folder names were only saved by clicking the Enter key on the user’s keyboard. This change improves accessibility and clarifies the process for creating a new folder name or renaming a file.
  • Minimize Preview Link Placement: When an instructor adds a file to a Rich Content Editor window and selects the option to auto-open the link’s inline preview, the content displays a Minimize Preview link. This link has been moved above the preview window. This change improves accessibility and also allows users to minimize the preview without having to scroll past the document window.
  • Global Font Update: The default font in Canvas has been updated from Helvetica to a modern typeface, Lato. This change helps improve typography standards in Canvas and across all Instructure products. Lato is an open-source font that supports over 100 Latin-based languages and over 50 Cyrillic-based languages (including Greek and IPA phonetics). Additionally, Lato improves legibility for all font sizes and provides better visual hierarchy in Canvas typography. Lato uses numeric weight sizing, which will provide additional font functionality in future releases, and supports four weights: Lato Light, Lato, Lato Bold, Lato Italicized, and Lato Italicized.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes: December 10, 2016

2016-12-10 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Please click here to view the transcript for this video.