May 2021 Release Summary

This is the latest information on changes to UWM’s Digital Learning Environment which include changes to Canvas, Kaltura (a.k.a. My Media), Collaborate Ultra and other services available to Canvas. Updates are made regularly to bring new features, improve user experience, and fix bugs. In-general, these updates do not require downtime, but if it becomes necessary, an announcement will be made on the UWM Canvas website.

Upcoming Changes

  • Canvas
    • Annotated submission assignment type for students (deployed May 15, 2021)
    • New Quizzes Save and Build workflow (deployed April 28, 2021)
    • Term changes affecting Extend Student Access and course conclusions (deployed May 5, 2021)
  • Extensions and External Tools
    • New external tools available

Annotated Submission Assignment Type (Canvas)

When creating an assignment, the Student Annotation assignment type lets an instructor offer a document to individual students to annotate using the SpeedGrader tool. Instructors may then provide a grade based on the annotations.

  • Previously: The annotation of a document for an assignment relied on submitting a Microsoft Word document, using an unsupported third-party website, or using the Hypothesis external tool.
  • After the release: Instructors can use functionality in Canvas to offer annotated assignments to individual students as part of their course delivery.
  • How this affects teaching and learning: When offering an assignment to students, this type allows for greater flexibility in developing activities for students. Students can leverage well-developed functionality instead of visiting a third-party website. In-turn, this can make it easier for students to complete the assignment.

Importantly, there are limitations to the Student Annotation assignment type:

  • This assignment type is not currently accessible according to Instructure. Instructors should be prepared to offer an equivalent assignment to students who may be unable to complete the assignment.
  • The Canvas Mobile app does not currently work with the Student Annotation assignment type. If instructors have students who rely on mobile devices.

If using the Student Annotation assignment type is not practical, instructors should consider using the File Upload submission type.

New Quizzes Save and Build Workflow (Canvas)

Note: this feature was deployed to Canvas on April 28, 2021.

The Save and Build workflow in New Quizzes makes it easier to determine which action to take when viewing or updating a new quiz.

  • Previously: it was unclear how to modify the questions in New Quizzes from the Settings page.
  • After the release: the Build button can be used to edit the questions of a new quiz.
  • How this affects teaching and learning: when instructors must use New Quizzes, this workflow change makes it possible to deliberately visit the Build view of a new quiz.

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.

Term Changes Affecting Extend Student Access and Course Conclusions (Canvas)

Notes: this change was deployed to Canvas on May 5, 2021. This change does not affect UW Flexible Option subscription periods.

Changes to how Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer terms are configured will allow the Extend Student Access extension to work for more incomplete coursework scenarios and will change the way courses conclude for instructor roles (Teacher, TA, TA Grader).

  • Previously: students approved to finish incomplete work in a course could not use the existing course more than 6 months after the last day of the class term.
  • After the release: the Extend User Access tool can allow students to finish incomplete work up to 13 months after the last day of the classes term.
  • How this affects teaching and learning: this change will enable instructors to use the same Canvas course website for undergraduate Extended Incomplete or qualifying graduate Incomplete work as described in UWM Policy S-31: “Incomplete Grades”.

A side effect of this change is that courses will take longer to conclude. Instructors are encouraged to set end dates for courses and use Dashboard favorites to force courses onto the Dashboard. Students and Designer roles will not see a change.

New External Tools Available (Extensions and External Tools)

Three new tools are available for integration with Canvas courses. To learn more, click “UWM Canvas Tools” in the course which needs the tool. Then, click “Request an External Tool”. Alternatively, view this KB article: “How do I request a tool to be added to my course?”

  • GoReact: available by special request, with approval needed by your school/college or department.
  • Piazza: available by special request as both a free and premium version are available. The premium version must be approved by your school/college or department.
  • SAGE Vantage: available via opt-in request.

CETL and the UWM Help Desk cannot provide support for these tools. For assistance, contact the support office for the tool, or speak with your department’s contact for the tool. Select schools/colleges may offer support.

Additional Changes

  • Course Templates may now be defined by sub account. All courses created after the template is defined will adopt content and other settings from the Course Template. If your school/college or department is interested in this feature, contact CETL.
  • Users may enable a setting to show closed captioning for any Canvas video with closed captioning. This setting does not automatically show captions for videos hosted in My Media, YouTube, or other services.
  • A twice-monthly maintenance window is being introduced by Instructure for Canvas. Once the window date and time are finalized, the UWM Canvas website will be updated.

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.