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Canvas Update – Fall 2021

Here’s what’s new for Fall 2021

(Additional updates will be added throughout the quarter)

Canvas Overview Sessions

Need help setting up your Stanford on-campus Winter 2022 course or have questions about Canvas? We are offering Canvas training sessions via Zoom.

  • Basic Canvas Overview: Tuesdays and Thursdays, December 14 & 16, 2021 and January 4, 6, 11, 13, 18 & 20, 2022 from 11am-12pm.  
  • Beyond the Basics: Wednesdays, January 5, 12 & 19, 2022 from 11am-12pm.

Zoom information can be found on your Canvas Dashboard starting on December 1, 2021.

Can’t attend a session? Please check out our Canvas First Steps and Tips and explore our Teaching with Canvas resources for ideas to save time, enhance student engagement and support collaboration.

Note: Not for Continuing Studies or School of Medicine faculty. For SoM, contact For Continuing Studies, contact

Removal of Conferences Tool

Learning Technologies and Spaces (LTS) removed the Conferences tool (recently renamed to “BigBlueButton (Formerly Conferences)” from Canvas. Instructors are encouraged to use Zoom in Canvas for all video conferencing needs. Zoom includes more features, more flexibility, and will automatically import all cloud recordings into Panopto.

Canvas navigation tools

New Quizzes

New Quizzes is now enabled in Canvas. Prior to using New Quizzes, please refer to the New Quizzes blog article and familiarize yourself with the Missing or Changed Functionality in New Quizzes guide before using New Quizzes in a live Canvas course. Instructors are welcome to request a sandbox site to start testing out New Quizzes by emailing

New Quizzes edit view

Peer Review Date Text Clarification

For Assignment Peer Reviews where an instructor has selected to Automatically-assigned peer reviews, there is now an explanation under the “Assign Reviews” field to let the teaching team know that the assignment due date will be used if the date field is left blank. Either a date in the Assign Reviews field or Due Date must be added or Canvas will not automatically assign peer reviews even after students have started submitting to the assignment.

Peer review options

Differentiated Assignments Student Secondary Information

When an instructor goes in to assign an assignment to a specific student, any student names with an exact match will display in the list of students. Secondary information for each student, if available, displays in parenthesis after the students’ names to help differentiate between students with the same name.

For New Quizzes added to Modules, there is now a direct link to the quiz Build page to allows instructors to immediately make changes quiz questions, settings, or quiz moderation options. Previously, instructors had to click on the title of the New Quiz, get dropped on the Edit page, and then click Build.

Ed Discussion Demo site

The Canvas Team built a Canvas Ed Discussion demo site for new Ed Discussion users. The demo sites covers the differences between the standalone Ed Discussion option versus the Canvas integration, the various features Ed Discussion supports, how to request an Ed Discussion site, the option to join an Ed Discussion site with various feature samples. You are welcome to enroll and explore the Canvas Ed Discussion demo site.

Peer Review Date Text Clarification

In a Peer Review assignment where ‘Automatically Assign Peer Reviews’ is selected, there is now clarifying text to explain that if the Assign Reviews field is blank, the due date will be used to automatically assign peer reviews. If no date is listed under Assign Reviews and no date is listed in the due date field, then Canvas will not automatically assign peer reviews.

Differentiated Assignments: Student Secondary Information

When assigning an assignment to specific students, any students with the exact same name will have a secondary information to differentiate between students. The SIS ID will appear in parenthesis next to any students with the same name when creating differentiated assignments. For students who have unique names within the course, there is no secondary information presented.

SpeedGrader: Submission Status Labels

When grading in SpeedGrader, there is now a pencil icon to allow instructors to easily select an appropriate status for a student’s submission. This change is most helpful for excusing a student from a quiz. Previously, the score box would be grayed out in SpeedGrader, requiring instructors to excuse a student by navigating to the Canvas Gradebook. Now, instructors can excuse students either through the Gradebook or SpeedGrader. Status changes either through SpeedGrader or the Gradebook will sync with the other.

The Canvas Account, Course, and User navigation menus now remain sticky and always visible when scrolling. Previously, for lengthy pages, the navigation would disappear when scrolling. The navigation is now always visible regardless of page length.

Course Notification Customization

Canvas users can now customize their course specific notifications from the account level, rather than needing to go directly into a Canvas course to make adjustments. When navigating to Account > Notifications, all active courses will be listed in the drop-down menu under ‘Settings for’.

Gradebook: Name & Assignment Search Fields

The Canvas Gradebook now includes two search fields instead of one. Instructors can now search and display results based on both student names as well as assignment names. Typing in ‘ka’ will display all students whose name includes ka. Previously, instructors were only able to search based on student names, not assignments.

Instructors have the added option to do advanced filtering. Instructors can click on the drop-down menu in either of the two search bars and select multiple students and/or assignments. The Gradebook will then filter and display results based on the selections chosen.

Starting October 27, 2021, the Gradebook History page will include a link to navigate back to the Canvas Gradebook without the need to click on Grades via the lefthand navigation.

Assignment Submission Feedback Indicator

Students are able to see when new comments have been added to their submission through the Assignment Details page. The Show Rubric link and View Feedback link will display a blue dot if there are comments that have not been read.

Settings Tab URL Links

The Canvas Account and Course Settings tabs now have specific URL references so Canvas can remember exactly which tab you were on so when you refresh the page, you’ll be dropped back on the same page rather than always being dropped on the Course Details page.

SpeedGrader: Text Entry Word Count

SpeedGrader now displays the word count for assignment submissions where students submit through the Text Entry type. Only the Text Entry type is supported so word count won’t display for other submission types such as file uploads.

New Quizzes: Stimulus Orientation

Instructors using New Quizzes can choose whether questions attached to a stimulus continues to display to the right of the stimulus or beneath the stimulus. The default selection will be to the right of the stimulus conten.

Gradebook: Settings Sidebar

Anytime the Gradebook Settings icon is clicked on, the menu will display as a sidebar rather than a separate pop-up in the middle of the screen. This change is so that the action is more consistent with other menus in Canvas. 

Course Publish Buttons

Course team members have the ability to publish and unpublish a course through the course settings page. Once the new addition is in place, instructors have many options when it comes to where to go to publish their course (Canvas dashboard, course home page, and course settings page). 

Course Import Warning Message

Starting December 15, Canvas will continuously display a warning message explaining how importing the same content into a course will overwrite existing content.

Gradebook Late Policy Support

Starting December 15, when course content is exported into an export package, the Gradebook Late Policy is included in the export. Additionally, if the course is imported or copied to another Canvas course, the Late Policy is also retained as part of the import or copy.

Notifications Delivery Details

Starting December 15, the Notifications page displays the date and time of when daily and weekly notifications are sent out per user, given notification delivery differs based on user.

Rich Content Editor: Image Options Percentage

Starting December 15, when an image is added to the Rich Content Editor, the Image Options sidebar includes pixels and percentage options for resizing an image. By default, images are still displayed in pixels. However, the percentage radio button can be selected, and a percentage can be entered to resize the image. Percentages must be a number and must be at least 10%.

LTS Canvas Roadmap

Learn more about the work the LTS Canvas team is working on by checking out the Canvas Roadmap.