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.

Fall 2016 Final Exam “Dos” & “Don’ts”

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DOs

  • 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’Ts

  • 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 12/16 at 5:00pm, make the “Until” date 12/16 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 (canvas@pobox.upenn.edu) 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 canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you need assistance with any of these suggestions or if you have any questions.

Turnitin Maintenance: Saturday, December 3rd, 10am-2pm

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On Saturday, December 3rd from 10 am-2 pm, Turnitin will 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.

Turnitin Maintenance: Saturday, December 3rd, 10am-2pm

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On Saturday, December 3rd from 10 am-2 pm, Turnitin will 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.

Canvas Production Release: November 19, 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.

11/19/16 Production Release Highlights:

  • Mastery Paths: The Canvas MasteryPaths feature allows instructors to customize learning experiences to students based on student performance. Instructors and course designers can identify activities for each learning path and decide whether an assignment should be required or optional. They can also allow students to choose their own content and assignments within a specific path. MasteryPaths requires the Mastery Paths feature option in account settings, which can be enabled by any Canvas admin. When allowed at the account level, the feature can be enabled on a course-by-course basis. When enabled for a course, MasteryPaths affects Modules and items in Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, and Pages. For more information, please see: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-8492. If there is interest in enabling this feature, please let us know.
  • LTI Add and Edit: The Permissions page includes the LTI Add and Edit permission, which allows admins to decide if users in a specific role can manually install or edit LTI tools. By default, the LTI permission at the account level is enabled for account admin roles, while the LTI permission at the course level is enabled for instructor, TA, and designer roles. When enabled, this permission allows users to install external apps manually as well as through the Canvas app center. However, if the permission is disabled, users can only install approved apps via the Canvas App Center. When users attempt to manually add an app, Canvas displays a message that the action has been restricted. Additionally, for any existing LTIs, users cannot edit the configuration but can still view placements and delete the app.
  • Concluded Courses & Analytics: Instructors with analytics permissions can view analytics in concluded courses. The course analytics button displays on the Course Home Page.
  • To Do List and Submission Terminology: In the student Dashboard, No Submission or Not Graded assignments with a due date display in the To Do list as Complete the assignment instead of Turn In the assignment.
  • Week and Agenda View Updates: The Calendar Week and Agenda Views have been updated to simplify the look and feel. No functionality has been affected. In Week view, the day of the week and the date are more prominent at the top of the page, and the horizontal gridlines have been removed from the background. In Agenda view, assignments and events are displayed in one line, with the event date or assignment due date left aligned in the page.
  • Wiki Terminology Update: To help with consistency throughout Canvas, Pages terminology has been changed from wiki to page(s) in the following locations: Course Settings, Modules & Permissions.

For a complete production release update, please see:

Canvas Production Release Notes: November 19, 2016

2016-11-19 New Feature Screencast from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Please click here to view the transcript for this video.

RESOLVED: Intermittent Document-Preview Issues in Canvas Occurring Again

Our vendor reports that the issue affecting document previews in Canvas has been resolved.

Earlier this week, some users had reported encountering problems with document-previewing in SpeedGrader. For these users, the following message appeared when they attempted to preview SpeedGrader documents: “Service is currently unavailable. Try again later.” This is the same issue that had been reported on the Canvas at Penn site and Twitter on November 2nd. The issue has been resolved again after it returned for some users earlier this week.

If you are still seeing this message when attempting to preview a document in Canvas, please try logging out of Canvas, clearing your browser’s cache, closing your browser, opening your browser again, logging back into Canvas at canvas.upenn.edu, and previewing the document again. Here are instructions for how to clear your cache:

If the issue persists after following these steps, please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu for assistance.

We apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused. Thank you for waiting for a resolution to this issue.

Intermittent Document-Preview Issues in Canvas Occurring Again

Some Canvas users may still be encountering problems with document-previewing in SpeedGrader. This is the same issue that had been reported on the Canvas at Penn site and Twitter on November 2nd. The issue had been resolved but has now returned.

The following message appears in place of SpeedGrader document previews for users whom this issue affects: “Service is currently unavailable. Try again later.”

Our vendor has provided  the following update on this issue:

“We are aware that this issue is still affecting some Canvas users intermittently and are continuing our efforts to work with our partner company in order to reach a long-term solution. We apologize for any inconvenience caused and appreciate your patience. Further updates will be posted as they become available to  http://status.instructure.com/

Refreshing your browser or clearing your browser cache can temporarily resolve the issue. Please note that we only recommend refreshing your browser after you have saved any text you have entered in the “Assignment Comments” text-box in SpeedGrader. For instructions on how to save draft comments, please see the “Submit Comment”section  in our vendor’s documentation on “Assignment Comments” in SpeedGrader.

Updates on this issue will be shared on the Canvas at Penn website and Twitter.

We apologize for any inconvenience this issues may cause. Please check the Canvas at Penn website and Twitter for updates on these issue, and please contact canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you need assistance.

 

RESOLVED: Intermittent Document-Preview Issues in Canvas

Our vendor reports that the issue affecting document previews in Canvas has been resolved.

Earlier today, some users had reported encountering problems with document-previewing in Canvas. For these users, the following message appeared when they attempted to preview documents: “Service is currently unavailable. Try again later.” Courseware Support only received reports from users who encountered this issue in SpeedGrader, but it could have also affected file previews in other areas of Canvas as well.

If you are still seeing this message when attempting to preview a document in Canvas, please try logging out of Canvas, clearing your browser’s cache, closing your browser, opening your browser again, logging back into Canvas at canvas.upenn.edu, and previewing the document again. Here are instructions for how to clear your cache:

If the issue persists after following these steps, please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu for assistance.

We apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused. Thank you for waiting for a resolution to this issue.

Intermittent Document-Preview Issues in Canvas

Currently, some users have reported encountering problems with document-previewing in Canvas. The only reports Courseware Support has received have been related to previewing assignments in SpeedGrader, but the issue could be affecting file previews in other areas of Canvas as well.

The error that appears when you attempt to preview is “Service is currently unavailable. Try again later.”

Our vendor is currently working to resolve this problem and posting status updates here:

http://status.instructure.com/

Refreshing your browser or clearing your browser cache can temporarily resolve the issue. Please note that we only recommend refreshing your browser after you have saved any text you have entered in the “Assignment Comments” text-box in SpeedGrader. For instructions on how to save draft comments, please see the “Submit Comment”section  in our vendor’s documentation on “Assignment Comments” in SpeedGrader.

Updates on this issue will be shared on the Canvas at Penn website and Twitter.

We apologize for any inconvenience this issues may cause. Please check the Canvas at Penn website and Twitter for updates on these issue, and please contact canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you need assistance.