What’s New In Canvas Spring 2021?

Desktop computer with a speech bubble icon on the computer's screen.

The following information will introduce you to what is new in Canvas for Spring 2021: 

New Tools & Features

New Rich Content Editor

The New Rich Content Editor (RCE) is an update to the current text editor that provides an updated, condensed, and more intuitive interface. On January 6, 2021, the New Rich Content Editor (RCE) will be enabled in all courses in the University of Pennsylvania Canvas instance. Highlights of the New RCE include an improved interface and auto-save feature. 

Compare the user interface changes between the Old and New RCE by dragging the slider across the image.

Learn more about the New Rich Content Editor

Penn Zoom Account & Canvas Integration

Penn has purchased a university-wide license to Zoom for all faculty, staff, and students. Log in at upenn.zoom.us/signin to create your account. The Penn Zoom account includes integrations with Canvas and Panopto (Class Recordings). These integrations make it easy for you to schedule Zoom meetings for your classes, invite students, and share recordings. 

Learn more about creating a Penn Zoom account and using the Zoom integration in Canvas.

Storing & Sharing Class Recordings

Class Recordings (Panopto) provides a secure way to store and share your lecture recordings, including lecture recordings you may want to use again in the future. Organize existing videos, record materials, perform inside-video searches, take quizzes, administer quizzes, and more. 

The easiest way to manage Zoom recordings of class sessions is to schedule or initiate recordings directly in Canvas. Zoom sessions that are initiated in Canvas and recorded to the cloud will automatically be posted to the Class Recordings  folder in Canvas and available only to people enrolled in the Canvas site.

Learn more about storing Zoom recordings and sharing video content with Panopto.

Piazza & Perusall Available in All Courses

Two new communication tools, Piazza and Perusall, are now available for all courses in Canvas. 

  • Piazza is a robust discussion tool that allows students to ask and answer questions under the guidance of their instructors. Encourage engagement by endorsing student answers, supporting collaborative editing, and allowing students to participate anonymously, 
  • Perusall is a social annotation tool that allows students and faculty to interact with reading materials in a style akin to social media posting.Instead of reading a document and engaging with it via a separate discussion thread, Perusall brings the discussion to the text.

Learn more about enabling Piazza or Perusall in a course

Course Development, Design, & Management

Resources for Remote Instruction & Learning

With the continuation of online instruction under the University’s COVID-19 recommendations, Courseware Services has developed a resource guide for students and instructors using supported digital learning tools in an online environment. 

Learn more about resources for remote instruction and learning

Office Hours & Instructional Design Consultations

Courseware Services is now offering virtual office hours and instructional design consultations. Schedule an appointment for individualized, hands-on assistance with your Canvas site and supported tools. Instructional design consultations are available for all teaching modalities including fully online, flipped, blended, face-to-face courses, and single-session class visits. 

Learn more about office hours and instructional design consultations

Assignments & Grading

New Gradebook

The New Gradebook has been designed to make grading more flexible and intuitive, as well as to elevate the Gradebook user experience. New Gradebook functions in much the same way as the Classic Gradebook, however, there are some important changes of which faculty and staff should be aware: 

Grade Posting Policy in New Gradebook. Available options are "Automatically Post Grades" or "Manually Post Grades."

Learn more about the New Gradebook.

Account Settings & Preferences

Personal Pronouns

All users have the ability to indicate personal pronouns in their Canvas profiles. Pronouns in Canvas display in several locations such as Discussions, People, User Profiles, Inbox, Speedgrader, and more. The default is “None” and users can opt-in to displaying a pronoun if they wish in their User Settings. Available pronouns include:

  • Another/Not Listed
  • He/Him/His
  • She/Her/Hers
  • They/Them/Their

Learn more about personal pronouns in Canvas.

Mute Notifications by Course

Users can specify and manage notification preferences for a single course on the Course Notification Settings page. Course notification settings only apply to the course in which they are set. Once a notification preference is changed in a course, the course course notification preference will override preferences set in your Account Settings. Any additional changes for that notification type must be managed within your course.

Learn more about managing notifications for a single course.


For additional help and support, please email canvas@pobox.upenn.edu

Last Updated: 20 Oct 2021


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