Canvas Updates for April 20

Important Notices

Canvas Community Update

Canvas has launched an updated Community feature for users. The Community is a resource for students and instructors to find helpful guides on how to use Canvas, as well as to participate in feature discussions, find best practices and more.

What does this mean to you?

Aside from the valuable resource that the Community presents, the single most important takeaway from this is any current links to Canvas Guides will no longer work after June 30. If you have linked to Canvas materials to help students do or access something in your course related to Canvas, you will need to update those links to the new community links. This includes any college provided information (such as Getting Started modules, course templates, etc.) that links to Canvas guides.

Instructure, the makers of Canvas, will have redirects in place for the links until June 30, but after that time the redirects will no longer work.

Accessing the Community:

Canvas Course Deletion to Begin Fall 2015

To reduce the quantity of old courses on the server, Spring 2014 and older SIS courses will begin being deleted the 3rd week in September, 2015. This will be the first in a regular cycle of course deletions that will occur every semester throughout the district.

What does this mean for you?

Beginning the 3rd week of September courses from Spring 2014 and later will no longer be available for you to access. All course materials and student information associated with those courses will be deleted. These courses will also no longer appear in your course menu, inbox or calendar list.

Preparing for Course Deletion

  • Begin exporting your old Canvas courses. Even if you rollover your course from semester-to-semester, we recommend that you retain a copy of any of your courses that will be deleted, as the export file can be imported into another Canvas course at a later time. Note: A course export does not include student records.
  • Student grades and work (those you want to retain beyond the life of the course) should be downloaded at the end of each semester. Please pay attention to announcements about end-of-semester practices for details on these processes.
  • Once the initial course deletions are finished, you can expect five semesters of courses to be retained at any one time. Plan each semester to export your course content and download student records to make sure you always have a back-up of important course information.

What about records retention and dispute of grades?
The current deletion plan meets the records retention policy of the district and state of Arizona. MCCCD’s official policy on records and information management.

Summer & Fall 2015 Course Shells

Summer and Fall 2015 course shells have been opened in Canvas. You will find links to all your summer courses on your Course List. TIP: Customize your course menu to include summer and fall courses in your quick pick drop-down menu.

Don’t see your course listed?

Check the Class Schedule to make sure you are assigned as the instructor. If not, contact your department. If you are assigned as the instructor and your course still does not appear, contact the MCC CTL at (480) 461-7331.

Please contact the MCC Center for Teaching & Learning if you have any questions about this information or would like support using Canvas.

View More Notices

What’s New in Canvas?

Here are some highlights of the recent and pending changes to Canvas including a summary of the most recent production release on April 4 and the upcoming release on April 25.

April 4th Production Release –
Interface Polish & Discussion Creation Date Changes

In this release Canvas made adjustments to the Learning Outcomes and Learning Mastery Gradebook areas that included a change in calculation of mastery based on a decaying average and a change in language for mastery levels.

Other updates in this release included the continuation of user interface changes for consistency of the look and feel of Canvas. Original discussion creation dates are now also invisible to students and observers making it easier to move discussions from semester to semester.

student view of discussions
Finally, the Facebook integration with Canvas is no longer supported.Read the Production Release notes for details.

April 25th Production Release –
Anonymous Peer Review & Date Validations

The following features and updates are currently being reviewed in Beta and are slated for the April 25 production release. Note: The beta environment will be more sluggish than production (live) Canvas and resets every few weeks. Not all features in beta are available at MCCCD. Placing a feature in beta does not guarantee it will be part of the upcoming production release. Please view the April 20, 2015 Production Release Notes for complete release details.

Peer Reviews Go Undercover

By popular demand (learn more about voting feature ideas) Canvas is exploring a series of options to improve Peer Reviews starting with anonymity features. When setting up a Peer Review assignment, Instructors will have the option to hide the student reviewers names from the student submitting the work. Later updates will include the option to hide the name of the student submitting the work. Note: The Peer Review feature is available for assignments and discussions.

peer review anonymity options
Learn More:
Creating Peer Review Assignments
Creating Peer Review Discussions

Your Dating Skills will be Validated

Canvas will now validate all due and availability dates for new, edited and basic assignment shells. Instructors will receive an error message for dates that fall outside of the course or term start and end dates.

due dates error message
Learn More:
What are Assignments?
Availability vs. Dues Dates – What’s the Difference?

Mark Your Calendar – June 6 Brings Big New Features

On June 6, 2015, the following changes will be made in Canvas:

  • Differentiated Assignments (by section) will no longer be a Feature Option (not currently enabled in MCCCD) in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas users as a standard feature. What are Differentiated Assignments?
  • The new Files interface (Better File Browsing) will no longer be a Feature Option (not currently enabled in MCCCD) in Canvas and will be enabled for all Canvas users as a standard feature. This change will enable New Files on the course and user levels.Using Files as an Instructor.

Other Updates & Bug Fixes

Review the release notes site for details of all the recent changes to Canvas including the Bug Fixes. Want to ask Canvas to consider a feature option? All Canvas users are encouraged to make feature requests that can benefit the teaching and learning environment of the Canvas tool. Learn more about voting on Features and Sharing Feature Ideas.

Canvas “On-the-Go”! – Mobile (Android & iOS) Updates

Review the latest release notes for each mobile platform. Android (4.3) update features an internal calendar and improved notification set-up and the iOS SpeedGrader update features a completely updated and improved grading experience on the iPad.

Did You Know?

Why is Canvas Always Changing!?!

Understanding the Canvas Release Cycle
From the beginning Instructure, the makers of Canvas, wanted to create a Learning Management System that was responsive to teaching and learning needs. From adding new features that enhance the learning environment to fixing bugs/issues, the goal is to have a product that is flexible, current and innovative. To ensure this, Canvas is on a 3-week update-release cycle.

From Beta to Production

The Canvas Release Cycle includes a beta and production environment. Feature changes and bug fixes are first deployed in the beta environment so that the community can test and preview the changes before they are moved in to the live or production environment. Instructure publishes a set of notes prior to and with all releases (both production and beta) to let users know what has been updated and changed.Not all changes placed in the beta environment will come to production immediately or ever. The purpose of the beta is to “test” new features. Canvas may or may not release these features based on the results of the testing. That is why it is important for instructors to pay attention to the release cycle.

How can I get involved?

Instructors can take advantage of the release notes and beta preview period to familiarize themselves with the changes and to provide feedback to Canvas. This feedback is considered when Canvas moves features to production.

To get involved:
to the update release notes.

the beta releases (log-in to maricopa.beta.instructure.comwith your MEID/MEID Password).

Note: Do not use the beta environment to teach or update your course. It is not accessible to students and will be overwritten every 3-weeks.

When is the next release?

Production release notes were released on 4/20 with the upcoming release and documentation to follow on 4/25. The next beta release notes and release will be on 5/4.

Canvas Training

Online Resources, Tutorials & Guides for Faculty

  • Canvas 101 is an open enrollment course that covers the basics of setting up a new course in Canvas. To enroll, simply click on the “Join this course” button on the Course Home Page. There is no facilitator, but it is a good series of self-paced exercises for faculty wanting to learn Canvas basics.
  • Canvas 102 Demo Videos are a comprehensive 3 hour video presentation of all things Canvas for instructors. Part 1Part 2Part 3.
  • Canvas Guides are available that cover all major features of Canvas by question topic. They are easy to navigate and mostly image-based walk thru demonstrations of how to use a particular feature.
  • MCCCD Canvas Help Area provides how-to documents, and support information to all Canvas users, students and faculty.

CanvasLive Webinars

CanvasLIVE is a free webinar series designed to give Canvas users additional training and a place for members of the Canvas Community to share their knowledge. Each session includes a quick tutorial and overview on a Canvas tool or feature, followed by a focused demonstration and a short Q&A. Sessions are archived so if you are not able to attend a live session you can still benefit from the presentation.

  • Check out all of the upcoming sessions on the CanvasLIVE Schedule currently featuring the new Community (5/5), the Creative Commons in Canvas (5/11), Peer Reviews (5/17) and more!
  • Check out the forum that includes all CanvasLive Archives.
  • Have an idea for a future CanvasLIVE webinar? Click to Suggest a Future Topic

Keep Learning Blog

Keep Learning is an education technology blogging project created by the makers of Canvas, Instructure. The purpose of the blog is to engage educators in meaningful dialog around educational technology. Posts are written by educators and technologists around the world. If you would like to contribute, send an email to or just visit the site and Learn. Teach. Share.