March 2021 Release Summary

Beginning March 20, 2021, Canvas will receive several improvements and updates as part of the regularly scheduled upgrade cycle by Instructure. On March 11, Collaborate Ultra received improvements as part of the regularly scheduled upgrade cycle by Blackboard. Updates are made regularly to bring new features, improve user experience, and fix bugs. Such updates do not typically result in downtime.

Upcoming Changes

  • Submit Pictures to File Assignments Using a Webcam
  • Changes to Canvas Course Dates
  • Choose between Classic Quizzes and New Quizzes from Modules/Home
  • Linked File Previews in the Rich Content Editor

Other minor or low-impact changes are listed under the “Additional Changes” heading.

Submit Pictures to File Assignments Using a Webcam

If students have access to a webcam, students can submit photos from their webcam to a File assignment type.

  • Previously: students take a picture with their phone or digital camera, upload it to a cloud service or transfer it to their computer, then upload to their courses File assignment.
  • After the release: students can use the Use Webcam button on the assignment’s File Upload tab to take a picture and automatically upload the image.
  • How this affects teaching and learning: for assignments where pictures are submitted, this can drastically reduce the number of steps to submitting an assignment. This ultimately means more students are likely to participate in assignments with less stress, and instructors are more likely to have predictable submissions.

Changes to Canvas Course Dates

The Course Settings page is changed to make course availability easier to configure. Rather than show date fields and a series of checkboxes, a new dropdown menu is presented which allows the instructor to choose whether the course dates are controlled by Term, or by dates the instructor defines.

  • Previously: two date fields, and four checkboxes are displayed on a course’s Settings page.
  • After the release: a dropdown menu is shown allowing the instructor to apply pre-defined term dates or select their own dates.
  • How this affects teaching and learning: It will be easier for instructors to configure their course availability by eliminating several steps, and by eliminating complexity in the Canvas interface. As a result, students are more likely to have the intended access to the course, with fewer technical hiccups.

Choose between Classic Quizzes and New Quizzes from Modules/Home

When a quiz is created by using the + icon in Modules (or Home), the instructor is presented with the option of choosing Classic Quizzes or New Quizzes.

  • Previously: Instructors could only create Classic Quizzes from Modules.
  • After the release: Instructors are presented with the option to create a Classic Quiz or a New Quiz.
  • How this affects teaching and learning: This change makes Modules behave in a somewhat similar way to the Quizzes page, which will have a positive impact on instructor productivity. It will have no meaningful effect on student success.

CETL and school/college support do not currently recommend using New Quizzes unless it is needed for specific question types or capabilities. Contact CETL or your school/college support for additional information; and continue using Classic Quizzes whenever possible.

Linked File Previews in the Rich Content Editor

Files linked using the Rich Content Editor may be previewed on the same page (“inline”) or by visiting a different page (the original behavior, which is now called “overlay”).

  • Previously: When linking to course files, the person clicking the link would leave the page. The preview of the file would load on a new page.
  • After the release: The person editing the page with the Rich Content Editor can select whether a file shows on a new page (“overlay”) or in the page (“inline”).
  • How this affects teaching and learning: Rich Content Editor users have the option to control how their readers access content for appropriateness. When files have more relevance displayed with other content, inline can be selected to improve the user experience. When the need arises to draw focus to just the file, overlay can be used. Thoughtful use of this feature will have a positive effect on student success by fine tuning the “clutter” around the point of focus.

Additional Changes

  • If your course uses the Learning Mastery Gradebook, the gradebook can show results for inactive and concluded enrollments using filters.
  • After an instructor comments on a file or online assignment with multiple submissions, commenting will allow an instructor to reassign an assignment to students for re-submission. The re-submission request appears on the student’s To-Do list when their Dashboard is in list view.
  • (Collaborate Ultra) The chatbot support service is available on error pages and on the Report an Issue page.

Learn More

To learn more about updates, and to see how the changes may affect instructors’ and students’ work, refer to the audience-specific release note links. Remember that some features may not be enabled for UWM or the UW System.