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Courseware Support would like to thank our users for their patience while our technical team worked on this issue.

Users who still seem to be experiencing issues can contact for assistance.

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 if you have any questions.

Final Exam “Dos” & “Don’ts”

Preparation Makes All the Difference


Chances are no one at the University of Pennsylvania needs to be reminded that final exams start Monday, May 4th and end Tuesday, May 12th, at least not at the Penn Libraries, where we’re seeing many students prepare for their exams. While there’s always a palpable undercurrent of anxiety involved in exam prep, it’s also true that the dedication to learning students display during this time of year is nothing short of inspirational, and it’s this positive aspect of the reading period on which I’d like to focus. Seeing students so devoted to doing their best on exams, I thought it would be useful for instructors, TAs, and staff who are prepping their finals this week to receive some tips for ensuring that everything goes smoothly when it’s exam time, hence the following final exam “dos” and “donts.”


  • Do ask your students to use supported browsers if they are taking the exam on their own devices. If they don’t and lose their internet connect while taking your exam, their responses won’t be backed up, as the capture mechanism for responses doesn’t work with unsupported browsers. Please share this list of supported browsers with students before they take the exam so they can see it if they need to update their browsers to a version Canvas supports: Which browsers does Canvas support?
  • Do talk to your Local Support Provider (LSP) before giving a Canvas exam in an on-campus building to make sure that the room you’re using has the technological configuration and capacity to support all of your students taking the exam at once. An LSP would know, for example, if the Wi-Fi in a building is strong enough to support multiple users accessing the exam simultaneously. If you don’t have your LSP’s contact information, please see: Faculty and Staff Support Directory
  • Do tell your students to clear the cache of whatever browser they’re using before logging into Canvas if they’re taking an exam in an on-campus computer lab, on a device borrowed through an on-campus service, or on another Canvas-user’s device (e.g., a friend’s). Please share these cache-clearing instructions with your students before they take your exam: How do I clear my browser cache on a Mac? and How do I clear my browser cache on a PC?
  • Do use the Test Student to take your exam before releasing it to students. Doing this will show you if the exam has been set up correctly and will show you how students will interact with your exam. For more information on using the Test Student, please see: What is Student View? and How do I access Student View?


  • Don’t save answer keys in your Canvas site before students take the exam. If you want students to have access to an answer key, add it to Canvas after they take the exam, or share it with them through some other safe means after the exam.
  • Don’t make your “Until” availability date, if you’re using one, the same as your due date. Rather, give a 5-minute window between the due date and “Until” date (e.g., if a due date is 5/5 at 5:00pm, make the “Until” date 5/5 at 5:05pm. The times on your students’ devices might be inaccurate, so using an “Until” date that’s exactly the same as the due date might bar students who aren’t aware of this inaccuracy from submitting. To learn more about availability dates, please see: What is the difference between due dates and availability dates?
  • Don’t set up another Canvas assignment or quiz for students who are taking another version of the exam or submitting an alternative format without contacting Courseware Support ( first. A Canvas quiz or assignment must be completed by all students in a course, so creating an additional assignment or quiz intended for just one or a few of your students will make it so that your other students will also have to submit the assignment or take the exam; if they don’t, it will negatively affect their total grades. Courseware Support can assist you with scenarios like this.

Get Help!

Please contact Courseware Support at if you need assistance with any of these suggestions or if you have any questions.

Canvas Production Release: April 25, 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.

4/25/15 Production Release Highlights:

  • Anonymous Peer Reviews: This release is the first part of this feature. Hiding the submitting student’s name from the reviewer will be part of a future update. Instructors can choose to create peer reviews with anonymous responses. Located in the “Peer Review” options for assignments and graded discussions, the “Anonymity” option allows instructors to hide the name of the student reviewer from the student with the submission. The student whose work has been reviewed cannot see the name of the reviewer. However, instructors can always view the name of the student reviewer in SpeedGrader and on the student submission page.
  • Assignment Shell Date Validation: In the January 31th release, Canvas introduced date validations for new and edited assignments. Now, due date validations also apply to Assignment shells, which act as a placeholder for an assignment until an instructor creates the assignment details. After an instructor saves the information for an assignment shell, Canvas validates the due date against the course start and end dates and generates an error message for an invalid date entry. If the assignment does not contain a due date, the assignment availability defaults to the course start and end dates. If the course does not include specified course start and end dates, Canvas validates the due date against the term dates for the course. This feature validates against the “Users can only participate in the course between these dates” check-box for start and end dates in “Course Settings.”
  • Email Processor for Bounced Communication Warnings: Canvas includes an email processor that moderates the number of times communication channels bounce, which means the channel cannot generate or deliver a notification. Bounces can occur from blocked servers or invalid addresses (caused by address typos, changed addresses, etc.). Once Canvas has attempted to send notifications to a bounced communication channel three times, the user’s account is flagged, and the user will receive a warning about the bounced channel. When a user is viewing any Canvas page, Canvas displays a warning banner at the top of the user’s browser window if the bounced email was added manually by the user. If a user’s email address was added by the institution via SIS import, Canvas only displays warning icons on the “User Settings” page.
  • Instructor Access to Files in Concluded Courses: Instructors were not able to view files in a concluded course if the Files link in Course Navigation had been hidden from students. This behavior was caused by a change in the April 4th release, which allowed instructors in concluded courses to only view the same items available to students. Canvas code has been updated to confirm user role permissions and allow instructors to always view files for a course.
  • Student Access to Comments in Muted Assignments: When an instructor left a comment or an attachment on a muted assignment, students were able to open the “Submission Details” page and view the comment or attachment. This behavior occurred because Canvas didn’t consider if the assignment was muted. Canvas code has been updated to hide comments from the “Submission Details” page if the assignment is muted.
  • Rich Content Editor: Copy and Paste Options: When users opened the Rich Content Editor, they could not right click and view the copy-and-paste menu option unless the user clicked within the height of the body element. This behavior occurred because the text field defaults to 20 pixels, which is not a large space for content. Canvas code has been updated to make the internal body element to 100 pixels and to display these options.

Other Canvas Changes:

  • As of April 20th, Google has deprecated the Google Docs API used in Canvas features such as submitting a Google doc to an assignment and Google collaborations. Users who have previously connected their Canvas and Google accounts will be prompted to re-authorize their connection, either by accessing Collaborations or a Google Docs assignment submission, or by manually re-enabling Google as a web service in their personal settings. Some users have reported error messages regarding collaborations. If you are the author of a collaboration and are receiving an error about your account or about the collaboration owner as no longer being an author, Canvas’ engineering team is currently working on a fix that should resolve the issue shortly.
  • On June 6, 2015, Differentiated Assignments (by section) will no longer be a Feature Option in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas users as a standard feature. Learn more at: What are Differentiated Assignments?

For a complete production release update, please see:

April 25, 2015 Canvas Production Release Notes

Welcome to the New Canvas Community!

A New Home for the Canvas Community

On April 15th, the Canvas Community moved to a new platform. We recommend visiting the new Canvas Community to familiarize yourself with its layout and features.

Here’s What’s New

In the new Canvas Community, you’ll get a great modern interface; a more powerful search than what was in the old Canvas Community; a known issues list; a personalized profile page; and a commitment from Canvas to be much more active, engaged, and transparent in their interactions with you.

The new Canvas Community is an excellent place to share ideas with other Canvas users.

How to Log into the New Canvas Community

The new community login will behave just like the current community. To start engaging in the new community, log into Canvas, go to the new Canvas Community, click on login in the upper right corner of the page, and then select from the “Which Canvas account would you like to use to log in to Canvas Community?” drop-down menu.

Here’s What Will Happen to Your Old Community Contributions

Canvas is curating content to bring over the most timely and relevant contributions. They’ll summarize content and make attributions to the original author. Canvas is constantly changing and many of the existing comments are historically interesting but not as actionable today.

Want to Learn More?

Please go to Canvas Community 2.0 FAQs for more information, and please email Courseware Support at if you have any questions.

Re-authorizing Your Google Integration on Canvas

Man looking at newspaper on tablet.

Breaking News! Google Docs Re-Authorization in Canvas!

On April 20, 2015, Google will deprecate the Google Docs API used in Canvas features such as submitting a Google doc to an assignment and Google collaborations. Some users attempting to connect to Google may have seen or will see an alert message about this change, but no action is necessary. In the next few days, Canvas engineers will deploy the updated API, and users who’ve already connected their Canvas and Google accounts will be prompted to re-authorize their connection.

If you have any questions, please contact Courseware Support at

Meet our new Canvas support team member!

Becky Moulder

Becky Moulder

Hi, I’m Becky Moulder, the newest member of the Canvas courseware support team. I’m excited to join the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center staff in assisting Canvas users and incorporating technology in education.

While my background is in professional writing, I have been very interested in the role technology plays in learning for some time. I earned a B.A. in English/Professional Writing from Kutztown University and an M.S. in Instructional Technology from Chestnut Hill College. For the past 8 years, I worked as a medical writer and editor for ECRI Institute, a non-profit healthcare research agency based in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Working in higher ed is a change of pace for me, but one that has already proved to be very fun. How many other people can say they work in a library housing an incredible collection of rare books and surrounded by a vibrant, buzzing community of students, faculty, staff, and visitors? And let’s not forget the close proximity to so many great food trucks!

In the coming weeks and months I hope to share some of my interests in instructional design, online learning, social media, and Web 2.0 tools. Be on the lookout for future blog posts and workshops on these topics! And if you see me around in Van-Pelt (most likely lost), please stop and say hi!

Modules: Sequencing Items for Guided Learning (Feature Highlight)

The Feature Highlights series shares information about neat and useful things users can do with Canvas features. Please email Courseware Support at if you have any questions about the features discussed in this series.

Guide Learning Outside the Classroom with Modules

In addition to their usefulness for chunking content, modules are perhaps the best tool in Canvas for guided learning.


When you use module-item sequencing, you control the order in which students work with content based on criteria you set.

Module-item-sequence example

Canvas prevents students from breaking the sequence by deactivating links until the preceding criterion for each item is met.

Student view of a module with sequenced items.

Please click on the following link for instructions on how to set up a sequenced-item module:

How do I require students to move through each Module item in order?

Need help?

Please contact Courseware Support at for assistance.