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Canvas User Updates Fall 2015

Important Canvas Notices

Course Deletion

Spring 2014 and older SIS courses (courses with a designated section number) will begin being deleted the third week in September. 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.

What does this mean for you?
Please create archives of the courses if you think you want to keep/reuse any of the content. The archive (export file) can be imported into another Canvas course at a later time. Note: A course export does not include student records.

Canvas Community

Canvas launched an updated Community feature for users in April. 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 for you?
All the links to old Canvas Guides will remain functional, however, we recommend moving any support links you provide to students to the new community guides as the old guides will no longer be updated.

Is Your Canvas Ready? Top Tips

Make sure you are ready for a smooth start this Fall 2015!

Customize You Course List

Access your courses quickly and easily by customizing your Course Menu in Canvas. Remove Spring 2015 and older classes from your list so that you can focus just on the current semester.

Is your course missing? follow these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Check your All Course List in Canvas.
  2. Verify that you have been officially scheduled as the ‘instructor on record’ in SIS (My.Maricopa). Instructors assigned to courses in SIS will have access to a Canvas shell.
  3. Is your course non-credit? Only credit courses are provided Canvas shells. To request a Canvas shell for a non-credit course, contact the MCC CTL at (480) 461-7331.
  4. If your course is still is not listed (after following the steps above), contact the MCC CTL at (480) 461-7331 for assistance.

Import (Copy) Content

You don’t have to start from scratch! Copy an entire course or select items that you want to copy from a previous course into your Fall course shell. Don’t forget to use the Adjust Events and Due Dates option to save yourself time. Please note it can take up to 2 hours for copies of courses from one semester to another to be completed (size and traffic determine speed).

Feel free to leave the copy page or logout of Canvas while the copy is being made. Additionally, pay close attention to any error notices at the end of the copy process. Review any alerts reported (posted notice in the import history) and take corrective action. Errors will most often be related to broken links or empty pages. Please review the import (copy) guidelines to get started.

​Publish Course Items

Publish any quizzes, assignments, discussions, content pages or modules that should be visible to students prior to publishing your course. Publishing the course will not publish items within the course that are still in ‘draft state’.  Learn more about Draft State in this short video.

Publish the Course

Don’t forget to publish your course to make it available to students. Once a course is published you can continue to make changes and updates as needed. Courses cannot be unpublished once students have submitted work to the course.

Cross-List (Combine) Sections

Do you want to combine two or more sections of the same class? Combining sections can be a great option for more easily managing courses of the same prefix/# and type (in-person, hybrid or online). When you cross-list all the students will be have access to and participate in a single Canvas course. This does not change the SIS enrollment. Learn more about cross-listing sections in Canvas.

Update Cycle Canvas is on a 3-week update-release cycle. The next beta (preview) release is on 8/17, production notes will follow on 8/24 with the release and documentation to follow on 8/29. Follow the release schedule on the Canvas Updates Calendar.

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What’s New in Canvas?

If you did not teach this summer you may notice that there have been many new and exciting additions and changes to Canvas. Here’s a list of highlights:

Assignments, Discussions & Peer Review

Excuse Me! Using Excused Assignments

As needed, you can use the Gradebook to excuse a student from an assignment, discussion, or quiz. You can also excuse a student from a group assignment.

When an assignment is excused, the assignment page and the student grade page will show the student that he or she has been excused from the assignment. Students cannot submit excused assignments and they are not calculated as part of a student’s total grade.

Canvas Excused Assignment FeatureLearn more about Excused Assignments.

A Big Difference! Differentiated Assignments

Using Differentiated Assignments you can create Assignments, Graded Discussions, and Quizzes for certain only a individual student(s), sections, or vary due dates for students in your courses.

How can this feature be used?

  • Honor’s & Special Projects – Assign special projects to only the students that need to complete this work.
  • Make-Up Work – When a student misses a class you can assign them an individual alternative assignment.
  • Varied Due Dates – Creating assignments for different users also allows for different due dates and availability date options for the same assignment. Great for cross-listing (combining) sections that meet on different days of the week.

What will it look like?
When using differentiated assignments with the Gradebook, the assignment appears as a column for all students, but grade cells are grayed out for students who have not been included in the assignment. On the student grades page, students can only view assignments that have been assigned to them.

Grades cannot be assigned for students who have not been included in the assignment, and assignments that are assigned to them, either individually or as part of a course or section, are not factored into overall grades. 

Canvas Differentiated Assignment FeatureLearn more about Differentiated Assignments.

The Easy Button! Assignment Submission Overhaul

The student Submit Assignment link has been moved out of the sidebar and placed more prominently as a (blue) button. The Re-submit Assignment link has also been re-purposed as a button.

Canvas Assignment Submission

What’s Not to ‘Like’? New Discussion Feature

Instructors can allow students to indicate ‘liked’ discussion replies within Canvas Discussions (graded and ungraded types) on a per-discussion basis.
When a discussion has liking enabled, students and instructors will see a gray Like icon within each discussion reply. When clicked, the icon will turn blued indicating that the discussion reply is ‘liked’. A total number of likes will appear next to the link and optionally instructors can elect to have replies with the most ‘likes’ appear at the top of the board.

The ‘like’ feature may also be limited to instructor use.

Canvas Discussion Like FeatureLearn more about the Like feature in discussions.

Peer Review Goes Undercover

Just in case you missed it in late April Canvas released the first iteration of Anonymous Peer Review.  Instructors can now choose to create peer reviews (for Assignments and Discussions) with anonymous responses.  This hides the name of the student reviewer from the student with the submission. Note: Instructors will always be able to see the name of the reviewer. Canvas plans on adding more functionality to the peer review feature in the future. Stay-tuned!

Canvas Anonymous Peer Review FeatureLearn more about Anonymous Peer Review.

Other Changes

Custom Calendar Colors

Canvas now allows users to set their own colors for each calendar in their account. Users can select from one of 15 default colors or insert a Hex code to create any color of their choice. Colors selected by instructors for a course calendar do not effect the student view of the calendar. Learn more about the calendar.

Etherpad Collaborations

Etherpad is no longer available as an option for class collaboration within Canvas. All existing Etherpad collaborations have been deleted. If you are interested in using collaborative documents in Canvas you have the option to use Google Docs or Pages.

Incomplete Quiz Score Icon

A new Quiz icon will display in the Gradebook when students complete a quiz that includes a manually graded question. When students hover over the icon, students can view a message indicating that grading is in progress. Learn more about Gradebook icons.

Module Tracking

A new Module Requirement feature option allows instructors to assign ‘Mark as Done’ for students to progress through course assignments and pages. When this is enabled, students are responsible for marking the module item as done before they can move on to the next module item. Learn more about Module Requirements.

New Files

The Canvas File cabinet has been completely overhauled making it easier to upload, organize and view files. The new interface for files includes creation and modification dates, file sizes, publishing options and more. Learn more about using Course Files.

Persistent Gradebook Customization

When rearranging and resizing columns in the Gradebook for ease of grading, the changes will now persist or remain in place across computers and browsers. Note: changes to the Gradebook in the instructor view does not change the student view. Learn more about customizing Gradebook.

Want even more?

Join Us for a Session

What’s New in Canvas? Personalized & Social Learning!
Explore the new features and updates to our learning management system, Canvas. From Differentiated Assignments to the New Community and “Liking” Discussions to Anonymous Peer Review, join us for a session dedicated to all things new in Canvas! Great for current Canvas users or new users looking to review Canvas features. (Note: Not a getting started session). Pick from the following sessions:

Tuesday, August 11, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
HCM Course #001826, Session #0008; CTL AS Building – Room 175; Register Now

Thursday, August 13, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
HCM Course #001826, Session #0010; CTL AS Building – Room 175; Register Now

Monday, August 17, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
HCM Course #001826, Session #0009; CTL AS Building – Room 175; Register Now

Review the Release Notes.

Did You Know?

Question Mark IconHelp is Just a Click or Call Away!

Contact the MCC Center for Teaching & Learning for all your Canvas questions at OR (480) 461-7331. We are here to help!
Be specific.
When sending emails, please be as specific as possible about your request. Include your name (first and last), the course section number (if applicable) and a brief description of the issue within your inquiry. This will help us address your question faster!

How do students get help with Canvas?
Students seeking assistance with Canvas should contact the MCC HelpCenter at: (480) 461-7217 OR Outside normal business hours students should contact the 24X7 assistance line at 1-888-994-4433.

Software BoxOut of the Box! MCC’s Getting Started Module for Canvas

Get a jump on your course design with the MCC Getting Started Module. This “Start Here” module includes everything you need to get students going in Canvas and in your course. The duplicative and customizable template includes a home page, welcome letter, syllabus sample, links to important student resources, Canvas tutorials, sample introductory activities and much, much more. This module was designed by the MCC eLearning Committee (according to Quality Matters standards) and can be used with any course format.

Preview & Download the MCC Getting Started Module Template into your course today!

Working with Publisher Resources

Many textbook companies offer a variety of instructor resources that can be can be used outside or within Canvas to supplement your content. Resources range from presentations and test banks to fully integrated applications with assignments and grade books.

Get represented!
Talk to your publisher representative to find out what types of materials are available and get an access account. Cartridges are the most convenient option for loading large amounts of publisher resources into Canvas. If your publisher offers an integration with Canvas, ask for a demo course so you can see how the integration might work for your course and decide whether you would rather keep the systems separate. Note: Security and privacy issues may have to be addressed for any integration of publisher systems with Canvas. Contact the MCC CTL for details.

How can the MCC CTL help?

The MCC Center for Teaching & Learning does not have direct access to publisher information and resources for textbooks. We can act as a consultant to help you in finding your publisher representative, reviewing the resource options available to you and your students, helping you download and upload course materials, and assisting you in integrating special publisher tools.

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Canvas Training

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MCC Center for Teaching & Learning Appointments, Workshops and Customized Sessions

The CTL is your partner as you implement innovative teaching, learning and workplace strategies. From general support, to consultation services, and/or tailored workshops, we are here to help you, your department, program or team reach your goals for student success. The CTL provides day-to-day support for faculty and staff on technology, teaching and productivity issues including Canvas. Stop by our offices, send us an email or give us a call for support or to set-up an appointment. We are here for you!

View our learning opportunity calendar.
Visit us on the web at
Email us at
Call us at (480) 461-7331

Online Resources, Tutorials & Guides

Canvas Instructor Orientation is an open enrollment course that will walk you through 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.

Canvas Instructor Video Guides contain quick and informative video tutorials to get you started with Canvas.

Canvas Guides are available that cover all major features of Canvas. They can be searched by topic (e.g. Assignments, Discussions, etc.) or by user/type (e.g. Instructor, Mobile, etc.) and are formatted as easy to navigate and mostly image-based walk thru demonstrations of how to use a particular feature. Best practice tip? Share relevant Student Guides in your Canvas course to help students be more successful in using Canvas.

Canvas Live provides free webinar trainings on a variety of best practices with teaching and learning on Canvas topics.  Join a live session or if you can’t make it sessions are archived for later viewing.

MCC Center for Teaching & Learning How-To Documents include a variety of helpful how-to guides such as the Getting Started with Canvas in 10 Steps resource.

[Student Resource] MCC Canvas101 is an open enrollment, self-paced course that introduces students to Canvas and walks them through the basics of setting user preferences, submitting assignments, replying to discussions, taking quizzes, viewing grades and more! Recommended for all students.