What’s New in Canvas Fall 2021?

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

The following information will introduce you to notable changes in Canvas for Fall 2021. If you haven’t used Canvas in the past year, we recommend reviewing What’s New in Canvas Spring 2021? 

Assignments & Grading

SpeedGrader Comment Library

Graders can save frequently used comments in SpeedGrader that can be reused across multiple students, assignments, and courses. Comments can be edited in and deleted from the Comment Library at any time. Comments that have been added to the Comment Library are connected to a user’s account and are not available to other course instructors or TAs.

Learn more about using the Comment Library in Speedgrader.

Submission Reassignments

For online assignments with a due date, instructors can ask a student to redo their submission using the Reassign button in SpeedGrader. Please note the following requirements when using this feature:

  • Feedback must first be provided to enable the button.
  • Multiple submissions must be enabled via the assignment settings page. 
  • The reassignment does not change the original due date for the student.

Learn more about using the reassign feature in Speedgrader.

Student Annotation Assignments 

Instructors can use an online assignment for students to annotate a file and submit directly in Canvas. Previously students had to take a photo of the document or use a third-party tool to complete the submission.

Learn more about annotating an assignment submission as a student or creating an annotated assignment as an instructor

Webcam Submissions

For “File Upload” assignments, students have the option to use their webcam for file uploads from their web browser. Students will need to give permission to Canvas to access their computer webcam when using this feature for the first time.

Learn more about using Webcam Submissions as a student.

Updates to New Quizzes

Save and Build Button Workflow

The New Quiz creation page includes both a Save button and a Build button. The Save button saves the content on the existing page and returns the user to the area where the quiz was accessed. The Build button saves the existing page and launches the New Quiz editor. 

Item Bank Management

Item banks support a new “View” permission, which provides access to the bank as read-only. Additionally, item banks can be shared with an account or a course.

Using Classic Quizzes and New Quizzes Simultaneously

For a course with New Quizzes enabled, when adding a quiz item to a module, the Create Quiz option displays both the New Quizzes and Classic Quizzes quiz engines. New Quizzes is the default, but instructors can switch to Classic Quizzes. Existing quizzes in the module are identified as a Classic Quiz if created with the Classic Quizzes quiz engine.

Printing Options for New Quizzes

Instructors have the ability to print a blank quiz or sample answer key. The printing options are available from the New Quizzes build page. After selecting the appropriate option, instructors will be presented with a font size selector, followed by a standard browser print dialog. 

Learn more about using New Quizzes in Canvas.

New Tools & Features

New Rich Content Editor (Pretty HTML Editor)

The New Rich Content Editor (RCE) is an update to the existing text editor that provides a condensed, more intuitive toolbar that is grouped by common icons and interactions. The New Rich Content Editor also includes a pretty HTML editor in addition to the raw HTML editor, providing an enhanced HTML experience for users.

Learn more about the New Rich Content Editor.

Regular Canvas Maintenance Windows 

To better manage required maintenance and lessen the need for emergency maintenance, Canvas has implemented regular maintenance windows. Most maintenance windows will take place sometime between the hours of 12:05 am and 4:05 am EST on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month. Notification of any maintenance window downtime will be posted in Canvas and on the InfoCanvas site closer to the date.

Learn more about regular Canvas maintenance windows.

Course Development, Design, & Management

Canvas Course Templates

The Courseware Services Team has created a collection of optional templates for use in Canvas course sites. The templates are designed as a starting point for a variety of subjects and instructional settings. You can preview a live version of each template from the student’s perspective. Course templates can be applied to a Canvas site during the course creation process by request or self-service

Learn more about getting a Canvas course template for your course.

Resources for Instruction & Learning

The Resources for Instruction page has been updated to reflect the University’s plan to resume in-person instruction for Fall 2021. Resources are available for students and instructors using supported digital learning tools in an in-person, online, or hybrid environment.

Learn more about Resources for Instruction & Learning.


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

Last Updated: 27 Aug 2021

Leave a Reply