Author Archives: Natalie Hebshie

May 24th Updates to Canvas

As you may know, Instructure updates and repairs Canvas every few weeks. Here are some highlights from last weekend’s update:

  • Calendar 1, Gradebook 1, and Old Conversations will no longer be available in Canvas.
  • Internet Explorer 9 will no longer be a supported browser.

New Features

Gradebook: Individual View

The Gradebook Individual View allows instructors to assess one student and one assignment at a time. Complete with all features in the Gradebook, this gradebook view is fully accessible to screen readers and improves the accessibility functionality found in Gradebook 1.

In the Gradebook, access Individual View by clicking the Switch to Individual View link. Unlike the standard Gradebook, Individual View does not take up the entire Canvas window and shows the Course Navigation menu. Like all Gradebook tabs, Individual View is persistent and will always display when it is the Gradebook last accessed by an instructor. To leave Individual View, click the Switch to Grid View link.

Gradebook Swith to Grid View link

Individual View contains all the global settings found in the standard Gradebook. Instructors can sort by section and assignments and set any preferred settings options.

Assignment Settings: Online Default

For new assignments, the assignment submission type defaults to online. Additionally, assignment settings are persistent to always remember and display the settings created or edited in the previous assignment in the course. For instance, if an instructor creates a group assignment that accepts text entry and file uploads, the instructor will automatically see those same settings the next time he or she creates an assignment. Note that this feature only applies to settings; it does not include assignment due dates.

Calendar: Undated Events & Assignments

Users can drag and drop undated assignments and events from the undated items list in the sidebar to the calendar month view and create due dates. Conversely, users can also drag and drop dated assignments and events from the month view back to the undated items list.

Calendar view for undated events and assignments

Updated Features

Submission Icons Update

The Gradebook submission icons have been updated to match the same icons located in other areas of Canvas. Icons are also darker throughout the Gradebook.

Profile Pictures

On the profile and settings pages, profile pictures are displayed in a circle. Additionally, the cropping tool in the profile picture uploader also crops in a circle. This change is to make profile pictures more consistent across all areas of Canvas.

Fixed Bugs

Assignments: Google Docs

Restricting file types also blocks Google Docs that don’t contain appropriate file extensions. Additionally, Crocodoc renders any Google Doc that contains an acceptable file extensions.

Explanation: When an instructor restricts file types for an assignment, students have been able to submit Google Docs because most Google Docs don’t display with a file extension. Moreover, Crocodoc can’t render documents with no extension. Canvas code has been updated to include additional parameters in the Google Docs URL and properly identify the file type.


Student View Scores

Scores generated by the Test Student are not included in Assignment data.

Explanation: On the Grades summary page, test student scores were being factored into the entire course, occasionally displaying as the highest, mean, and lowest scores. Canvas code has been updated to disregard any scores associated with Student View.

Student Detail Page

On the Student Submission Detail Page, students cannot view previous submissions.

Explanation: When viewing a submitted assignment, students could see a link to view the original assignment submission. Because this link is only available to instructors, Canvas code has been updated to remove the view original submissions link for students.

New Conversations: Submission Comments

Submission comments from assignments do not appear in New Conversations.

Explanation: When an assignment submission comment was the last item sent within a user conversation, the submission comments was appearing in the Conversations preview pane. Additionally, deleting all messages inside the thread only created an undeleted submission comment and did not fully remove the thread. Canvas code has been thoroughly updated to never display assignment submission comments in New Conversations.

If you’d like to see all the gory details, check out the complete Canvas 5/24/14 Production Release Notes.

November 16th Updates to Canvas

As you may know, Instructure updates and repairs Canvas every few weeks. Here are some highlights from last weekend’s update:

New Features

Conversations Updates (Beta Version)

Assignment Comments Do Not Appear in Inbox

Comments from assignments in SpeedGrader and the Gradebook no longer appear in the new Conversations Inbox. In the coming months Notifications will be improved for greater course-level management.

Reply to All Users Regardless of Enrollment Status

Users can reply to all conversation participants regardless of their enrollment status.

Interface Changes

  • The bulk message option will no longer appear when replying or forwarding a message.
  • The To field scrolls to allow viewing of multiple recipients.
  • The archive and unarchive features display separate icons.


Email Reply Functionality from External Email Clients

If a user receives an email notification and replies to a conversation from their email client, the incoming mail processor will only send the conversation reply to the conversation’s author. This change is specifically relevant for those who distribute group messages. Users responding to Conversations within Canvas are not affected.

About the New Conversations
The new Conversations was introduced as an opt-in feature as part of the 9/14 release. To try Conversations, click the question icon and select the Try New Conversations option. You can switch back to the old Conversations at any time. Click the question icon and select the Switch Back to Old Conversations option.

try new conversations

Grade One Quiz Question at a Time in SpeedGrader™

Instead of grading quizzes by student within SpeedGrader™, instructors can choose to grade quizzes by quiz question. This feature is especially helpful for grading essay and short answer quiz questions.

Note: Question grading is an opt-in feature. To try question grading, open the SpeedGrader settings link and click the Grade by question (beta) checkbox.
Grade by question


Fixed Bugs



  • The Add Due Date button can be read by screen readers.
  • When used with a screen reader, the View Rubric button will focus at the beginning of the rubric area.


  • Table header markup within Rubrics has been corrected for screen readers.


  • Select menus for matching questions have labels, which is identified as the text that precedes the select menu.
  • Quiz answer items are ordered more naturally for screen readers.
  • Answer indicators are identified by screen readers.
  • Icons in the new question tab have been labeled with alt text.
  • Keyboard navigation order is the same as the visual navigation order.


Users can access the Group tab for Collaborations.

Conversations (Beta Version)

  • When replying to a message in Conversations, the message will only be sent to the message author.
  • To limit the vertical length of the message recipient list, the To field will enable vertical scrolling once the recipient list is longer than 5 lines.


  • Instructors can access future courses, both published and unpublished.
  • The Courses & Groups tab directs to the courses list.


When a user uploads a file to a discussion reply, the file will be associated with the user’s files, not the course files.


Canvas displays an error message for grade entries in SpeedGrader, the Gradebook, and Assignment submission pages longer than 255 characters.


  • When using the “message students who” feature in the Gradebook, Canvas will send separate messages to each student.
  • Test student scores and submissions no longer factor into course analytics.


Integration with Facebook has been updated so that Canvas Facebook users can receive Facebook notifications.


  • Published quizzes can be deleted, even if they are associated with student submissions.
  • Popup window no longer appears when inserting a negative number in a formula quiz question.
  • The Quiz IP address filter correctly returns search results for institutions that use account level IP addresses.
  • If a quiz is auto-submitted because of a time limit, Canvas will submit the quiz completely so it can be moderated by the instructor.


The Mute link in SpeedGrader correctly mutes and unmutes assignments.

Other Canvas Updates


Canvas now supports German and Polish.


When sending notifications and bounce replies, Canvas includes the Auto-Submitted header in the outgoing message to indicate computer-generated messages.

If you’d like to see all the gory details, check out:

Next product update is December 7th!

The “undelete” trick in Canvas

Did you accidentally delete something in Canvas? Say, a quiz or an assignment? If so, you will want to know about Canvas’s awesome “undelete” option. You won’t see a button for this on your screen, and it’s not mentioned in any of the Canvas guides. I discovered this magical trick in the Canvas community forums when (Yes, you guessed it!) I was trying to help a faculty member recover a quiz that was deleted as students were taking it. Here is what to do:

  • From within your Canvas course, go to the url area of your browser and look for the course ID number. This is a six digit number that comes after the “”
  • Once you’ve located the course ID number, remove everything in the address following it except for the backslash (/) and type in the word “undelete.” The new url will look something like this:
  • Press Return.
  • A series of recently deleted items will appear and give you the option to restore!

When we used this trick to recover the deleted quiz, not only did the quiz reappear, but all of the students’ submissions and their corresponding scores reappeared as well. Amazing!

According to the Canvas community forums, there are a few caveats to using this command:

  • It is not fully supported and does not work 100% of the time.
  • Only the last 25 items will show up on the restore list.
  • If you restore a quiz that had student submissions, you need to make sure to restore the assignment as well, or else the submissions will not be restored.
  • If something is not showing up on the restore page, it’s best to submit a ticket as there are additional things the technical support team can do. Contact or click on the “Help” link in the upper right hand corner when you’re in Canvas.

Thank you, Canvas for being awesome!

Viewing Instructors’ Inline Comments in Canvas

Faculty are really excited about the ability to make inline comments on student papers in the Canvas Speed Grader. However, once the comments are made and the grade submitted, how does the student see those comments? It’s not very obvious on the student side so here are some quick and easy instructions.

  • Navigate to your Canvas course
  • Click on Grades and then on the graded assignment to see the Submission Details view (see below)
  • Click on the preview icon to the right of your submitted document:

  • You can click and drag on the lower right hand corner of the preview window (see below)
  • Or, you can download a file with the inline comments by clicking the download icon: