Canvas Production Release Notes (2018-01-06)

In an effort to continually improve Canvas, Instructure, the parent company of Canvas, releases Canvas upgrades every three weeks along with Production Release Notes. Pertinent features and upgrades are listed below. In this production release, instructors using the New Gradebook can apply late and missing policies to course assignments, and submissions that need to be graded only display one assignment icon regardless of assignment type. Additionally, instructors can enable the New Gradebook on a per-course basis. Previously the New Gradebook could only be enabled on a per-course basis by your Canvas admin.

When a submission is graded in SpeedGrader, rubrics support excess points above the maximum point value for each criterion. In the Rich Content Editor, the Accessibility Checker includes a minor design update and a new content contrast rule. The Rich Content Editor Whitelist supports the Audio Controls element, and the Content Selector Images tab includes an alt text field and decorative image checkbox when uploading new images to course files. Production release notes also include fixed bugs. You may view the full Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018, and its accompanying screencast. The next release will be on January 27.

Flash Content Reminder: Canvas displays Flash content as supported within major browsers. Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox default to HTML5 as the preferred method for displaying website content, which promotes a faster, more secure browsing experience. These browsers will eventually block all Flash content. For best performance in Canvas, course content should be designed to support HTML5. Recorded media content within the Canvas Rich Content Editor currently still relies on Flash and is being addressed by Canvas engineers. Any recorded content can still be accessed by manually allowing permission for flash content in the browser.

New Features

New Gradebook

Late Policies

For full details and scenarios regarding Late Policies, please see the Late Policies FAQ in the New Gradebook Users Group.

The New Gradebook supports late policies, which allows instructors to automatically apply grading rules for late and missing submissions in their courses. This feature improves the Late and Missing functionality introduced in previous releases and helps instructors establish and manage policies related to each status. Late policies can be noted to students through the course syllabus.

In the New Gradebook, assignments are late when submitted past the due date, and assignments are missing if they are never submitted by the student. On-paper (in-class) assignments are not included in Late Policies as they do not include online submissions that can be calculated by Canvas. Any on-paper assignments must be managed individually by the instructor.

Late and Missing assignment statistics are also shown in the Student Context Card feature.

Late Policies can be specified in the New Gradebook Settings window. Late Policies only apply to the course where they are configured; they do not apply to any other course. Please see Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018: Late Policies for image.

Missing Submissions

The Missing submissions policy allows instructors to apply an automatic grade to missing submissions. Grades are noted as a percentage of the total points possible and must be entered as a number. For instance, if an instructor set the missing submission grade at 20% and an assignment is worth 10 points, all missing submissions for the assignment are awarded a grade of 2 points (10 x 20%).

If an instructor wants to award all missing submissions with a grade of 0, the Missing submission grade can be set to 0%.

When a submission applies to a missing policy, the adjusted grade is shown in the New Gradebook but is not indicated in the Grade Detail Tray. Instructors can manually grade a missing assignment at any time and the Missing submission policy will no longer apply, and the grade will display in the Grade Detail Tray indicating the grade was manually awarded.

Students can view the adjusted grade for the Missing submission policy in the student Grades page, along with the Missing label. However, as the Missing submission policy only applies grades for students, the policy itself does not display to students. Please see Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018: Late Policies - Missing Submissions for images.

Late Submissions

The Late submissions policy allows instructors to apply an automatic deduction to the grade in a late submission. Grade deductions as noted as a percentage of the total points possible and must be entered as a number. Additionally, deductions are applied to a specific time interval—day or hour—that the submission is late. For instance, an instructor grades an assignment worth 10 points and awards the full 10 points. If the late policy is set to deduct the grade 10% each day the assignment was late, and the assignment was 1 day late, the student’s 10 points would be deducted 1 point for a grade of 9 points.

Instructors can also set a percentage as the lowest possible grade a student can receive for the assignment. If the same assignment included a lowest possible grade of 60% and was submitted 8 days late, the late policy would deduct 8 points (1 point each day) for a grade of 2 points. The lowest possible percentage, however, notes the lowest point value as 6 points (10 x 60%), so the final grade for the student’s submission would be 6 points instead of 2 points.

When a submission applies to a late policy, the Grade Detail Tray notes that the late policy has been applied and shows the value deducted from the student’s grade according to the selected interval.

The late policy interval can be adjusted manually in the Grade Detail Tray if needed (number of days/hours late). For instance, an instructor grades a on-paper assignment worth 10 points and awards the full 10 points. If the student submitted the assignment 1 day late, the Late label could be set and the interval changed from 0 to 1, and the Late policy would adjust the grade accordingly.

Students can also view the adjusted grade in the student Grades page, along with the Late label. The late deduction is displayed in the grading details. Please see Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018: Late Policies - Late Submissions for images.

Policy Adjustments

Late and Missing policies should be set before grading submissions. Changing the Late policy will affect all submissions that have already been graded. The Missing submission policy can be changed at any time but still applies to all missing submissions.

For full details and scenarios regarding Late Policies, please see the Late Policies FAQ in the New Gradebook Users Group.

Feature Option Change

When your Canvas admin allows the New Gradebook at the account level, instructors can individually enable the New Gradebook at the course level.  This feature option change should be used with caution. The New Gradebook cannot be disabled by any user when one or both of the following features are applied:

  • Manually adjust a submission status to none, late, missing, or excused
  • Enable late or missing policies in the Settings menu

The above features are not compatible with the current Gradebook, so enabling their functionality will prevent an instructor from returning to the current Gradebook.

Grading Icon Update

When an assignment needs to be graded, the New Gradebook only displays one assignment icon regardless of assignment type. Each submission type uses the same logic to show a submission icon, and this change helps simplify the various items presented in the New Gradebook. A submission is noted as needing to be graded in the following conditions:

  • A submission has been received but has not been graded
  • A submission was graded but the grade was removed by the instructor
  • A submission was resubmitted

Please see Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018: Grading Icon Update for image.

Updated Features

Rich Content Editor

Accessibility Checker Content Contrast Rule

The Accessibility Checker verifies content color contrast without having to enable High Contrast Styles. Both linked and non-linked content validate with a contrast of higher than 4.5:1.

Please note that High Contrast Styles must still be enabled for verification if a user overrides a link color in the Rich Content Editor.

Note: Canvas engineers are currently investigating behavior where a link with a contrast issue displays as two issues.

Accessibility Checker Design Adjustments

The Accessibility Checker sidebar includes minor design adjustments, which are already available in the production environment. These adjustments include placement of the Next and Previous issue buttons and the Help icon that provides clarification about each issue. Please see Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018: Accessibility Checker Design Adjustments  for image.

Audio Controls Whitelist

The Rich Content Editor supports the Controls attribute for audio HTML tags.

Image Alt Text Field

In the Content Selector, when a user opens the Images tab and selects an image to upload, the sidebar displays a text field to add alternative text for the image.

The image can also be specified as a decorative image, which does not require alternative text. If the Decorative Image checkbox is selected, the alternative text field is grayed out.

Please see Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018: Image Alt Text Field  for image.

SpeedGrader

Excess Rubric Criterion Points

When an instructor grades a submission in SpeedGrader and uses a rubric for grading, the rubric supports excess points above the maximum point value for each criterion. This change allows instructors to provide extra credit through rubric criteria and aligns consistency with other Canvas features that support additional point values. Please see Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018: Excess Rubric Criterion Points for image.

Fixed Bugs

Please view the full Canvas Production Release Notes for January 6, 2018 Fixed Bugs Descriptions and its accompanying screencast for more information concerning accessibility improvements and other bug fixes.