Canvas User Updates September 1

Important Notices

Bounce Back from Inbox Message Issues

An unexpected change in the way Canvas handles user email addresses may have an impact on the sending and receiving messages using standard email. Specifically, when replying to a message that was received in an email account  Canvas is now verifying that the email address of the sender matches the preferred contact information provided by that user within NotificationsIf they do not match, this may lead to messages being bounced back as undeliverable.

What does this mean for you?
What this means is that if you reply to a Canvas message from your Maricopa Gmail, with one of your email aliases ( that does not match the email address that you have used to set up Notifications in Canvas (, that message will not be delivered.

What should you do?

Option 1: If you are electing to route your Canvas messages to your Employee Gmail be sure to add your account to your preferred contact methods in Canvas and adjust your Notifications for receiving messages accordingly to this account.

Option 2: Within Employee Gmail, remember to select the appropriate alias when replying to a Canvas message. For example, if your preferred contact email address within Canvas is then when replying to a message in Gmail select this alias from the “From” field. Note: If you are using an email app from a mobile device, you may not have the ability to change the “From” address when you reply.

Option 3: Streamline your communications by only replying to messages within Canvas. Use Notifications sent to email to alert you to messages to manage in Canvas. The advantage of this option is that you will only have one account to manage and the common issues with routing of messages will be avoided.

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.

Canvas Update Cycle

Update Cycle Canvas is on a 3-week update-release cycle. The next beta (preview) release is on 9/8, production notes will follow on 9/14 with the release and documentation to follow on 9/19. Follow the release schedule on the Canvas Updates Calendar.

What’s New in Canvas?

Clone Group Sets

Groups will have you seeing seeing double the awesome!

Canvas allows for student group work either independently of assignments (study groups) or within the Assignment or Discussion features (group projects, activities, etc.). Moving students from groups caused a variety of issues once student work for that assignment had been submitted. In this latest update, Canvas has added a warning to instructors if they try to modify a group set that has existing student submissions. Instructors can choose to modify the group, or they can clone the existing group set.

Clone Group Set
Learn more about Groups in Canvas.

How can this feature be used?
  • Remove or add a student to a group for a future assignment without having to redo the group set-up or disrupting grading.
What will it look like?

Cloning a group set will copy the entire group set, including all groups, group leaders, and memberships; instructors can then make changes. Group sets can also be cloned at any time in the Settings menu for the group set.

Other Updates

External URLs in the SpeedGrader

When assessing web links (URLs) submitted in the SpeedGrader, a new link will appear to open the submission in a new tab. Learn more about the SpeedGrader.

Canvas Mobile

Review the latest improvements to the iOS and Android Canvas Apps.

Time Zones

Canvas has improved the accuracy of the displayed time even if a user’s computer browser and Canvas profile are set in different time zones, Canvas will display the profile time zone in a user’s account settings. Learn more about User Settings.

Review the Release Notes for more updates & bug fixes.

Did You Know?

Accessibility of Canvas: A Product Commitment

Instructure, the makers of Canvas, are committed to creating a learning environment for all users. Canvas is built on modern coding technologies and is dedicated to meeting web accessibility guidelines.

Learn about the basic accessibility features of Canvas or review the Canvas Voluntary Product Accessibility Template to more deeply understand Canvas’ conformance with the accessibility standards under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Accessible Content: Our Commitment

Although Canvas is constantly striving to meet and improve upon its accessibility, this does not guarantee that a course is accessible. Only we can ensure the accessibility of the content we place in Canvas.

5 Tips for More Accessible Courses in Canvas

Tip 1: Layout & Design

Keep it simple and clean. Chunk information and use the descriptive header styles built in to the Rich Content Editor. When using color font, select high contrast options. Use the WAVE Tool to check your text-based content for accessibility.

Tip 2: Images

Alternative (alt) text is required to provide a text alternative to non-text content or images in web pages and digital files. Embed images in Canvas to provide a descriptive text that will be read to those using a screen reader. Learn how to embed images in the Rich Content Editor.

Tip 3: Links

Ditch the “click here” or pasted web address links for descriptive words that link to a web URL. This will help all users understand where a link will go before they click on it. Learn more about descriptive links.

Tip 4: Captions & Transcripts

All videos should be captioned and a transcript alternative available for audio podcasts. Videos uploaded to Canvas can be captioned by the built in resource Amara. Learn how to create captions for new or uploaded Canvas videos.

Tip 5: Files

Verify that MS Word, PowerPoint, PDF and other non-native files to Canvas pass accessibility guidelines. For MS Office, use the accessibility checker utility to quickly scan and correct errors or learn how to create accessible PDF documents.


Learning Opportunities

MCCCD Canvas Webinar Learning Series

Join the Maricopa Centers for Teaching and Learning (CTLs) for the fall Canvas Series. For nine weeks the CTLs will provide you with up-to-date informational sessions on tools, instructional techniques, and best practices for Canvas. Each campus will specialize in a topic important to Maricopa faculty. Sessions will be held in Adobe Connect so you may attend from anywhere. Topics include:

  • Humanizing and Social Presence in Online Courses (Register)
  • Using Collaborative and Social Tools in Canvas (Register)
  • Alternative Ways to Use the Quiz Tool in Canvas (Register)
  • Using Groups in Canvas to Achieve Learning Goals (Register)
  • Practical Peer Review Tips in Canvas (Register)
  • Grading the Easy Way: Using Rubrics in Canvas (Register)
  • Embedding Google Docs and Using Google Apps in Canvas (Register)
  • Using Images to Enhance Content Delivery in Canvas (Register)
  • Module Release in Canvas (Register)

MCC Center for Teaching & Learning

CTL LogoAppointments, 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 Tutorials, Resources & Guides

Canvas Logo

  • 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 .” target=”_blank”>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.
  • MCCCD Canvas Help Area provides how-to documents, and support information to all Canvas users, students and faculty.
  • [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.