What’s New in Canvas for Spring 2019?


Welcome back!

The following information will introduce you to what is new in Canvas for Spring 2019:

For Students

New Student Dashboard

There is a new student dashboard view that includes a list of to-do items. This will help make information about upcoming tasks, missing assignments, and recent feedback much more visible to students.

View of the new student dashboard that indicates where to find item-types based on icons (for example, assignments), due dates, item names (for example,

For Faculty, TAs, & Staff

Course Development, Design, & Management

Updates to Course Reserves in Canvas

The following updates have been made to the Penn Libraries Course Reserves in Canvas:

  • The Course Reserves button now appears as Course Materials @ Penn Libraries. The process for requesting and accessing content though the button is the same, but the name of the button has changed.
  • Users in the Observer role can now access Course Reserves materials in Canvas.
  • You will need to re-enable the Course Materials @ Penn Libraries button in Fall 2018 Canvas sites to access Course Reserves materials that were added to them. Instructions for how to re-enable the Course Materials @ Penn Libraries button.

Improved Link Validator

Canvas as improved its link validator. As a faculty or TA, you can verify all external links throughout your course to ensure they are valid. You can check these links using the course link validator, which searches through course content and returns invalid or unresponsive external links in both published and unpublished content. However, please note that some links flagged as unresponsive are inaccessible by Canvas servers and will still work for students. The link validator also includes deleted links. Deleted links are links that are still in the course, but their linked content has been deleted (such as a course file or page). It is recommended that you validate links before publishing your Canvas site.

Improved Accessibility Checker

Canvas has improved its accessibility checker:

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

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.

example of the accessibility checker issue window

New Analytics

Canvas has updated its analytics. Learn more about Canvas analytics updates.

Assignments & Grading

New Gradebook 

The New Gradebook is available in Canvas as a feature optionLearn more about the New Gradebook.

Please Read before Enabling the New Gradebook

The New Gradebook feature option 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.

Improved Anonymous Grading Tools

Anonymous grading in Canvas now works with anonymous instructor annotationsPlease note: Anonymous instructor annotations are a course-level feature option that must be enabled.

Turnitin Canvas Plagiarism Framework (CPF)

If you are using Turnitin in your course, please note the following:

  • New Turnitin CPF: There is a new version of Turnitin available called the Canvas Plagiarism Framework (CPF). Both the CPF and the LTI (the older version of Turnitin) versions will be available for the Fall 2018 term. Learn more about how the CPF and LTI versions of Turnitin compare. Please consult the Turnitin page on Canvas at Penn for instructions and more information about the CPF and LTI versions of Turnitin.
  • Copied Turnitin LTI Assignments: If you copy a Turnitin LTI assignment from another course, you will have re-enable any optional settings you customized previously and will also have to open the assignment before students can submit to it.
  • Converting a Turnitin LTI Assignment into a CPF assignment: When working with a Turnitin assignment copied from a previous term, the faculty member for whom you are a TA might want to change the type of Turnitin assignment from an LTI to a CPF, the latter of which tends to be easier to manage (please see the link in the preceding bullet-point for more information). The LTI-to-CPF Turnitin instructions explain how to make this change.
  • Create Turnitin Assignments before Students Submit Their Work: Turnitin must be enabled for a Canvas assignment before students begin uploading their submissions. If students have already submitted an assignment, you will not be able to enable Turnitin retroactively and will instead need to create a separate Turnitin assignment and then have students re-submit to that assignment. For more information, please consult the directions for creating a Turnitin LTI assignment in Canvas.


Please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu

Last Updated: 20 Oct 2021

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