Canvas Updates: What’s New for Fall 2015

fall leaves
Photo by Flickr user Lali Masriera CC by 2.0

It has been a busy summer for Canvas! They have been releasing useful new functionality for managing assignments, grades, and the needs of individual students. Below are some of our favorite new features.

Would you like to learn more about what’s new in Canvas? Contact the Instructional Design team! Interested in trying new things in Canvas this Fall? Check out our Fall Workshops schedule.


Screenshot of the differentiated assignments area at the bottom of assignments
Screenshot of the differentiated assignments area at the bottom of assignments.

Differentiating Assignments

Canvas now allows instructors to create assignments that are targeted to a specific course section or even an individual student. Once set up, it will only display the assignment to the students to which it is assigned, and it will only display a grading option for eligible students in the gradebook. This functionality is useful for situations where students may need to complete make-up assignments or if you want to allow students to select how they want to be assessed in your course by choosing from a variety of options (this is sometimes done in gamified classes).

You can also use this functionality to vary the due dates in your course so that certain students or sections have a different due date than their peers. This is helpful when one or two students have to complete an assignment on a different timeline.

You can find these options at the bottom of any graded assignment. Learn more in the Canvas Guides: How do I assign an assignment to an individual student or course section?


Excusing Students from Assignments in the Gradebook

Canvas has made it possible to excuse a student from individual Canvas assignments so that it does not count toward or against that student’s grade.

To excuse an assignment for a student, the instructor can enter the value of EX in the corresponding Gradebook cell. The Gradebook will reflect that the assignment is excused for the student in both the student and teacher views. Students can also be excused from a group assignment, and the other members of the group will still be able to view and submit the assignment.

Excused grade in the gradebook
Typing EX in any cell in the Gradebook will excuse a student from that assignment.


New Location for the Submit Assignment Button

The button that students use to submit their assignments to Canvas has been made more prominent, so it is now easier for students to figure out how to turn in their work.

New submit button for students
The Submit Assignment button has been made more prominent in students’ view.


Quiz icon in the gradebook
The quiz icon indicates that items in this quiz need to be graded.

Icon Is Shown When Quiz Items Are Not Yet Graded

When students complete a quiz that includes at least one question that needs to be graded by the instructor (such as essay questions), the Grades page will display a quiz icon instead of the current score. This helps to communicate to students that their score is not yet final and reminds instructors that there are questions that need to be graded. When students hover over the icon, they see a message indicating that grading is in progress.

Once all questions are graded, the icon will be replaced with the student’s final score. If all items in the quiz can be graded by Canvas (such as true/false or multiple choice questions), then the score will show automatically and the icon will never appear.


Students Can Mark Items in a Module as Done

Canvas allows instructors to mark items within a module as required. When items are marked as required, students can more easily track their progress through a module because checkmarks will appear next to the items and modules they compete. This functionality can also be used to limit students from advancing in a course until they complete certain requirements, and it gives instructors additional options for tracking students’ progress through the modules.

As an enhancement to this feature, instructors can now give students the option to mark items as “done.” This option could be especially helpful in online, hybrid, flipped classroom, and independent study situations where students may be completing various independent tasks in preparation for completing their assignments.

Student view of marking an item as done
If module requirements are set up, students can mark items as done and checkmarks appear next to the items in the module view.

The module requirement settings can be applied by clicking on the gear icon next to any module. Learn more about adding module requirements in the Canvas guides: How do I add requirements to a module?


Questions about any of these features?

Contact the Instructional Design team!

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