Canvas Release Notes (2019-01-05)

In an effort to continually improve Canvas, Instructure, the parent company of Canvas, releases Canvas upgrades every three weeks along with Release Notes. Pertinent features and upgrades are listed below.  In this Canvas release (January 5), the Course Link Validator page includes design enhancements for link clarity, including identifying broken Course Card images. And the Course Details page has been updated to clarify term and course dates as well as the options to restrict students from viewing the course. No functionality has been affected. In the Rich Content Editor, HTML5 is used instead of flash when used in Firefox and Chrome browsers.

LTI Tools

  • For institutions using Commons, Commons has been updated to include a new Preview feature and to simplify the user interface when viewing resource details page.

Production release notes also include API updates and fixed bugs. This announcement lists pertinent updates that affect instructors and students and omits features that are not applicable for Rutgers Canvas. You may view the full Production Release Notes (January 8), and its accompanying screencast. The next release will be on January 26, 2019.

Updated Features

Commons

Resource Previews

Commons has been updated to include a new Preview feature and to simplify the user interface when viewing resource details page.This change allows users to preview resource content before importing it into their course. Users will no longer need to import a resource from Commons to view all the contents of that resource. The user interface has also been simplified to make finding and importing Commons content easier. Instructors experience three significant changes to the user interface. The resource details page has been separated into three tabs. The Preview tab allows instructors to preview resource content before importing into a course. The Details tab displays information about the resource. The Version notes tab displays any updates to a resource. Please view the Production Release Notes: Resource Previews for images.

Rich Content Editor

HTML5 Media Recorder

This updated feature was previously announced in the December 8, 2019 Release Notes; roll of this feature was completed in late December 2018.  

HTML5 is used instead of flash within the Rich Content Editor in Firefox and Chrome browsers. This feature is also supported for students in the Submission Details page and for instructors in SpeedGrader. This change allows recorded media without requiring flash within the Firefox and Chrome browsers. Internet Explorer and Safari browsers do not support this functionality. Users will not notice any change and still require the use of Flash.

Users can click the Media button in the Rich Content Editor and view an improved interface when recording media. Users can confirm their microphone and webcam, and if more than one device is supported, select which device should be used. If a user does not have a webcam, the audio option will be selected automatically.

Note: The browser may briefly display a flash message, even though flash is not required. Additionally, the browser may ask to allow access to the computer’s microphone and webcam before initial use.

As part of the HTML5 media change, the backend Flash media server that transcribes videos will also be transitioned to an HTML5 video transcription service over the next two weeks in the beta environments. Recorded videos should not be visibly affected by this transition; videos should render as expected in the Rich Content Editor. In the production environment, all accounts will be updated on Monday, December 10, 2019. Please view the Production Release Notes: HTML5 Media Recorder for images.

 

 

Course Settings

Course Link Validator Design Enhancements

The Course Link Validator page includes design enhancements for link clarity, including identifying broken Course Card images. This change allows instructors and course designers to better understand the context of each broken link and how to resolve the link. Additionally, Course Card images that may be removed by Flickr can be identified and resolved.

When instructors validate course content by clicking the Validate Links in Content button in Course Settings, the page content includes several design enhancements.

 

The page description content has been updated to clarify the validator searches course content for invalid or unreachable links and images. Invalid means the link or image is no longer valid and the content should be removed or replaced. Unreachable means the link or image could not be displayed because of a situation with the host server, which may be temporarily unavailable. Unpublished content in the course is also displayed in the validation results If the Show Links to Unpublished Content checkbox is selected.  Please view the Production Release Notes: Course Link Validator Design Enhancements for image.

Once the link validation process has completed, the page displays the following design enhancements:

  • Content is grouped by object type (e.g. assignment, discussion, page)
  • The object type is displayed below the link to each content item
  • Each broken content item displays its relevant object type icon
  • Broken external URL items in Modules are grouped by module
  • Broken content within an object is identified as either a link or an image, with the appropriate icon displaying next to the broken content
  • Broken content displays the name of the item as it displays in the Rich Content Editor
  • Course Cards are a supported object type, which displays any course images added from Flickr that have been deleted

Course Dates and Functionality Clarifications

The Course Details page has been updated to clarify term and course dates as well as the options to restrict students from viewing the course. No functionality has been affected. This change helps instructors understand how individual course dates affect course access for students when used with term dates. Additionally, the options to restrict students from viewing the course before or after the start date are located after the course dates and add additional clarification.

When viewing the Course Details page, instructors can view options to add or modify course start and end dates in a course. New and existing text clarifies functionality for all course date settings. Clarification also applies to section dates in the Sections tab. Please view the Production Release Notes: Course Dates and Functionality Clarifications for image.

 

The course date explanation text has been updated to suggest instructors verify the term dates before modifying course dates.

The checkbox to limit participation in the course includes clarification for how the checkbox affects the dates in the course.

The checkboxes to restrict students from viewing the course also includes clarification about whether the course or term dates are considered to be the course start and end date, depending on the course date settings.

Platform/Integration

File Hosting

Domain Update

This change was deployed to the production environment on December 20.

Canvas file uploads are uploaded to a new hosted domain. To improve security, and to clarify that uploaded files are not provided by Canvas when they're downloaded, the file hosting URL has changed from clusterX-files.instructure.com to aX-clusterX.canvas-user-content.com, where cluster represents the server for an institution’s account.

Any institutions that operate a firewall where URLs are whitelisted based on domain should add *.canvas-user-content.com as a whitelisted URL so users can continue to view all content uploaded to Canvas—including course content and student submissions. 

Fixed Bugs

Please view the Canvas Release Notes for January 5, 2019 Fixed Bugs descriptions and its accompanying screencast for more information concerning accessibility improvements and other bug fixes. Some bugs that may have affected Rutgers users are stated here.

Assignments

Cached Due and Availability Date Seconds

Cached seconds for due and availability dates are recorded as hh:mm:59 if the minute value is set to 59 (e.g. 11:59 pm). However, any due or availability date times manually changed to a non-59 minute value (e.g. 11:30 pm) are recorded as hh:mm:00.

Explanation: In the 2018-11-17 release, Canvas code was updated to always record assignment times as hh:mm:59 if the minute value is set to 59. However, the seconds value was not updated for cached due and availability dates. Canvas code has been updated to record cached seconds as hh:mm:59 for minute values set to 59.

Dashboard

Event Date Order

Calendar events are displayed among all To Do items in chronological order.

Explanation: When a event was created for a course, the event displayed first in the To Do list, regardless of date. This behavior prevented users from viewing the most current To Do items for their courses. Canvas code has been updated to display calendar events among other items in the To Do list in chronological order.

Notifications

Anonymous Grading and Submission Comments

When anonymous grading is enabled for an assignment, submission comment notifications do not display a student’s name.

Explanation: When anonymous grading was enabled for an assignment, and students made comments on their submissions, submission comment notifications to the instructor displayed the student’s name. Canvas code has been updated to anonymize student names in submission comment notifications.