Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-09-16) & Canvas Feature Update: Conferences

In an effort to continually improve Canvas, Instructure, the parent company of Canvas, releases Canvas upgrades every three weeks along with Production Release Notes. Pertinent features and upgrades are listed below. You may view the full Canvas Production Release Notes for September 16, 2017, and its accompanying screencast. The next release will be on October 7. 

Flash Content Reminder: Canvas displays Flash content as supported within major browsers. Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox default to HTML5 as the preferred method for displaying website content, which promotes a faster, more secure browsing experience. These browsers will eventually block all Flash content. For best performance in Canvas, course content should be designed to support HTML5. Recorded media content within the Canvas Rich Content Editor currently still relies on Flash and is being addressed by Canvas engineers. Any recorded content can still be accessed by manually allowing permission for flash content in the browser.

Updated Features

Interface Enhancements (Conferences)

Conferences includes several enhancements to improve the user experience. Please view the screencast for these enhancements and view the full Production Release Notes for September 16, 2017 for images. The Conferences interface has been updated with a brighter design and modern icons, which render as a font to provide better support for higher resolution monitors. Additionally, the menu bar buttons have been simplified and grouped together for easier access.

  • Presentation Downloads - When adding files to a presentation, presenters can choose to let viewers download the presentation. By default, this option is disabled. When enabled, the download icon is included in the bottom of the presentation window. Promote Viewer to Moderator - In the user settings, a presenter can promote a viewer to be a moderator at any time. Presenters can also change a moderator’s status back to a conference viewer.
  • Public Chat Downloads - In the chat window, the Options tab allows users to download the chat transcript as a text (.txt) file. Users can also copy the chat contents, and clear the public chat history. Clearing the chat history cannot be undone.
  • End Meeting on Logout - When logging out of a conference, moderators can choose to log out and end the meeting at the same time. Ending the meeting will remove all users from the conference and start to process the recording (if applicable). Note: Canvas will currently still show the meeting as In Progress and allow others to join. If a new user joins the conference, a new meeting with the same name will be created. Clicking the End button in the Conferences page will conclude the conference and make it inaccessible for others join.
  • Full Screen Mode - Conferences provides a full screen mode, which allows moderators to display presentations in a full-screen window. This update is helpful to users who may present the conference on a separate screen and want to display the content in a maximum presentation size.

Multiuser Whiteboard (Conferences)

The multiuser whiteboard feature helps users engage in the presentation. This feature can also benefit users participating in a tutoring session or study group. The presenter can enable the multiuser whiteboard at the bottom of the presentation toolbar. When enabled, users can view the toolbar options and contribute to the whiteboard. The name of each user displays next to the user’s cursor. Additionally, each user has a separate layer in the whiteboard and cannot affect another user’s whiteboard (including clearing annotations). The presenter can disable the multiuser whiteboard at any time. Once the multiuser whiteboard is disabled, the presenter can click the Clear button to remove all annotations from the whiteboard. As an additional enhancement to the whiteboard, shapes drawn with the pen tool are smoothed automatically.

Shared Notes (Conferences)

The shared notes feature allows all users to collaborate during the presentation. Shared notes are accessed via the Shared Notes layout. Notes are not recorded as part of a presentation. In the Shared Notes window, users can view when another user is typing in the notes window. The Undo/Redo icons undo or redo content for the last user who contributed to the notes. Shared notes supports a text toolbar for content formatting that can be opened and closed using the Text icon. Before the session ends, users can also download notes as formatted text (.html) or plain text (.txt). Moderators can manage settings for the shared notes to create up to two additional note windows. These additional windows are separate shared documents, and they display to users as a popout window regardless of their layout. Users can reposition the additional note windows anywhere in their browser window. The notes window can also be minimized to the bottom of the browser window. Moderators can also clear all note content for all users. Clearing content cannot be undone.

Download Expiration (Course Import)

After a content file import, the imported file displays as a file download in the Current Jobs section. The imported file expires after 500 days and can no longer be downloaded. Previously the files had no expiration date.

Other Updates

Student Assignments Filter Buttons (Assignments)

When assignments are organized by assignment group, the student Assignments page displays buttons to filter by date and by type. The buttons have been updated to read as Show by Date and Show by Type, respectively. This change resolves a fixed bug in Canvas: When focus was placed on the Date and Type buttons in the student Assignments page, the buttons contained no labels for screen readers. Canvas code has been updated to replace the existing buttons with updated Canvas styling and screen reader functionality.

Course Sender Name (Notifications)

When users view course notifications in their email, all notifications are sent from the course name. This change helps students more easily identify notifications from a specific course. Previously course notifications were also sent from Instructure Canvas or the institution’s name.

This update ensures sender notifications display according to their appropriate context:

  • Notifications in a user context always display the user name (e.g. Conversation messages).
  • Notifications in a course context always display the course name. However, if a nickname has been set by a user in the Dashboard, the nickname overrides the default course name.
  • Notifications in an account context display the default account name. However, if a custom account name has been set in Account Settings, the custom name overrides the default account name. Account notifications are used for daily and weekly course notification summaries.

Fixed Bugs

Please view the full Canvas Production Release Notes for September 16, 2017 and its accompanying screencast for more information concerning accessibility improvements and other bug fixes. Below are some fixes that may have affected instructors:

Peer Review Reminder Icon (Assignments)

The instructor Peer Review assignment page displays the student reminder icon. Explanation: When an instructor viewed the Peer Review assignment page and wanted to remind a student about an existing peer review, the icon was not available. Canvas code has been updated to replace the Peer Review reminder icon for instructors.

Sakai MathMan QTI Files (Assignments)

Sakai QTI import files retain equation images in Canvas. Explanation: When a Sakai QTI file was imported into Canvas and included an equation image, the equation image could not be viewed. This behavior occurred because of the MathMan plugin in the Rich Content Editor. Canvas code has been updated to manage equation images in QTI imports.

Student List Section Menu (SpeedGrader)

Instructors can view the section menu in the student list. Explanation: When an instructor opened the student list and accessed the section menu, SpeedGrader displayed a space between the list and the menu and prevented instructors from being able to view sections. This behavior affected the latest versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome. Canvas code has been updated to remove the space between the student list and section menu.