Tag Archives: update

New Canvas Features – March 1st Update

Canvas continues its incremental updates with additional faculty-requested features. Let’s start with a small, but welcome addition.


Within the Gradebook, when one downloads a CSV file, it now includes your assignment group columns. Here’s what Instructure had to say about it:

Assignment group columns are part of the CSV download from the Gradebook. This feature allows instructors to examine the overall performance of their course related to each assignment group and student scores. Each assignment group in the CSV file displays current points, final points, current score, and final score. Assignment group columns are read-only columns calculated by rules or percentages set in Canvas, and changes made to these columns within the CSV file will not be recognized if the CSV is uploaded to the Gradebook. (source)

Screenshot of the new downloaded CSV.


Now to some big news! You can now set student grades to be viewed as point totals instead of percentages. That sound you hear is all of the CC-100 faculty cheering.

If an instructor grades by points in the Gradebook, students will also view their total grade in points. This option only applies if an instructor changes the grading option within the Gradebook total column from percent to points.

Reminder: Instructors can only grade by points if they are not using weighted assignment groups.


When students open the Grades page, the total column displays the total grade as earned points compared to total points possible (this view is different than the Gradebook view, which only shows the number of earned points). The hover text displays the percentage breakdown of those points. Both instructors and students still view assignment groups as a percentage. (source)



Finally, a nice touch has beed added to importing content from a previous course. When doing a selective import, things are now deselected by default. This should make it much more apparent what one’s options are when it comes to moving past content from course to course. Here’s more from Instructure:

The Select Migration Content process has been redesigned within Course Imports. When admins or instructors copy or import courses and choose to select course content, Canvas will no longer select all content by default.

The import screen is grouped by content type. Content types that include more than one item are placed within a group that indicates the total number of content items. To expand the group, click the drop-down arrow next to the content type.


To import all content for a content type, click the checkbox next to the content name. If the content type is a group containing multiple items, Canvas will automatically select all items within the group (no need to expand the group and select the items individually).

To import only a few items from a content group, expand the drop-down arrow and click the specific items to be imported. Canvas will place a dash in the content checkbox, indicating that only a few items are selected within the group.

If a content type should not be imported, leave the checkbox blank. (source)


We hope these new features will be helpful, and as always, please don’t hesitate to contact ITG with any questions or requests you may have. Email us at itg@emerson.edu or give us a call at 617-824-8090. For further information about the other components of this update, click here.

More Faculty Requested Features Now in Canvas

Instructure, the company behind Canvas, is always improving its product, and the last few weeks have seen many great new features. At ITG, we wanted to highlight three that have been requested by Emerson faculty that finally made it into production. First, Groups have been redesigned to be more intuitive and versatile. Here is what Instructure had to say:

To allow for a better user experience, we’ve redesigned the Groups page. The new design more closely aligns with the look and feel of other pages within Canvas. The sidebar has been removed to maximize the Groups view, and creating groups within a group set is more intuitive with the new Group and Group Set buttons. Each group has its own gear icon where you can not only edit and delete the group but also access the Group homepage. Functionality remains the same in that you can continue to drag and drop students within groups and collapse and expand the group lists. (source)

Image showing the new group interface.


The Gradebook also got a little love from Instructure with the ability to add a new “Student Notes” column:

Instructors can use a Notes column in their Gradebook to keep track of extra information in their course, such as SIS IDs or just general student notes. This feature is the second-most-requested feature by our users, so we hope it helps with your course management.

To show the Notes column in the Gradebook, click the Gear icon in the Gradebook drop-down menu and select the Show Notes Column link. When the column is shown, Gear icon drop-down option will change to Hide Notes Column. (source)

Image of how to access the new show notes feature.

To make a comment in the notes, click the note field for the appropriate student and type into the text box. Click the Save button to save your note. The note field allows up to 255 characters. (source)

Image showing how to add a note.

Finally, with an uproarious cry of excitement, faculty can now select and perform functions on multiple messages within the Conversations tool! Here is more from Instructure:

When multiple or all messages are selected, the right panel displays a multiple conversations message, and users can collectively archive, delete, mark messages as unread, or star or unstar the messages. (source)

Image of multiple messages selected.

As always, if you have any questions about how these work in more detail, or how to integrate these new features into your course, don’t hesitate to contact ITG at 617-824-8090 or email itg@emerson.edu.

WordPress 3.8 update

Happy New Year! In the spirit of starting fresh, on Thursday, January 9th, from 6 – 8 a.m., WordPress will be unavailable while it updates to the latest version, 3.8.

Version 3.8 includes the usual security updates and patches, but also a gorgeous new dashboard design, that offers eight color scheme options for your enjoyment. However, all functionality within the Dashboard, while updated, remains the same.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ITG at ext 8090 or at itg@emerson.edu.

December 7th 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

Test Student Placement in the Gradebook

The Test Student (populated when using Student View), will always be listed at the end of the Gradebook, no matter how the Gradebook is sorted.

screenshot of gradebook showing Test Student at the bottom

The Test Student can still be removed from the Gradebook completely by managing your course section enrollments.

As deployed in our 11/16 release, the Test Student no longer affects analytics.

Note: Placement of the Test Student at the end of the user list does not apply to CSV downloads, which will be updated in the 12/28 release.

Individual Messages Option Update in New Conversations

In the New Conversations (Beta Version) compose window, the bulk message checkbox has been renamed to Send individual messages. This change makes individual messaging more intuitive and functions similarly as an email BCC (blind carbon copy) feature.

To send a conversation as individual messages, enter your recipients in the To field, and then select the Send individual messages checkbox. Otherwise Canvas will send the message as a group message, and all recipients will be able to view all recipients of the message.

screenshot of "Send Individual Messages" checkbox

In new Conversations, reply to all is never the default option for group conversations. As in email, users can always choose how to reply to a message: they can respond only to the sender with the reply icon [1], or if they want to reply to the entire group, they can click the gear icon [2] and select the reply to all option [2].

screenshot showing the reply icon and gear icon

When composing a reply, users can also check the intended recipient(s) in the To field and add or remove names as necessary.

screenshot of the "To" field of a message

Fixed Bugs

Calendar 2: Dates and Times

  • After importing a course, Calendar 2 will enter the date and time of an event exactly as it exists in the original course or content package.
    • Explanation: When a calendar event was imported, the Start/End times changed to the UTC offset (e.g. for Mountain Time it defaulted to 6pm) on the previous day if no date or 12:00am were used. Canvas code has been updated to accept the date and time as per the imported event.


Partially Submitted Quizzes

    • Canvas saves all student answers within a quiz and no longer auto-submits quizzes that are closed before the quiz is completed.
      • Explanation: Some quizzes were being auto-submitted with unsaved quiz questions. Canvas engineers determined that pressing the back button within a browser window would cause Canvas to stop auto-saving quiz questions, causing quizzes to be partially completed when auto-submitted. This situation occurred when students clicked the back button and chose to remain on the page, when students clicked the back button and closed the quiz window, and also when students downloaded a file.
    • This fix is a followup to a bug addressed in our 11/16 release: 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.

Question Groups

  • Canvas truly randomizes quiz questions within question groups.
    • Explanation: When an instructor sets up a quiz question group, some students would not get a truly randomized quiz with quiz question groups containing more than 25 questions. Canvas would not generate randomized quizzes consistently, often only randomizing one or two questions.

Regrade Questions

  • When notifying students about the number of quiz questions affected by a quiz regrade, Canvas will consider all regrade attempts.
    • Explanation: When an instructor regrades a student quiz where a quiz question was affected by the regrade, Canvas will notify the student with the following message: “Your new score reflects # questions that were affected.” However, this message only reflects the student of the number of scores affected over the last two regrades. Canvas will consider all regrade attempts in reflecting the number of affected questions.

 Other Canvas Updates

Accessibility Updates


If you’d like to see all the gory details, check out https://help.instructure.com/entries/23285064-12-07-13-Canvas-Production-Release-Notes-Featuring-the-Gradebook-Test-Student-and-Individual-Message