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Every month in Canvas Corner, we discuss the new features and enhancements available in Canvas. This month, we cover updates to Rubrics, SpeedGrader, and Accessibility.  Plus, there have been several updates to Canvas on mobile, including comments, contacts, and context cards.

Rubric Criterion Range

Rubric criterions can include a point range instead of just an individual point value. When the Range checkbox is allowed and selected, each rating displays a maximum and minimum point value. Ranges are managed the same way as non-range rubrics. Ratings can be divided, edited, and removed individually, and total point value changes automatically adjust for all rating values.

When a rubric is added to an assignment, range options are not displayed if the free-form comment option is selected.

In SpeedGrader, rubric values can be selected by the entire range. Students can also view the ranges in the assignment details page and when viewing the rubric on the Grades page. The first value in the range is assigned for the point value. If the instructor wants a point value within the range, it will have to be typed into the Pts box manually.

SpeedGrader Performance Update

SpeedGrader has been optimized for performance in large courses and includes a JavaScript improvement for loading students in the student menu. Although all values for an assignment are loaded and saved in the browser to reduce load time, the browser JavaScript inefficiently managed values when switching students. Instead of updating for all students, the student menu is only updated where a student’s status could change and only updates affected students accordingly.

Accessibility Checker

The Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checker assists instructors and course designers in maintaining accessibility requirements in Canvas content. This tool only verifies content created within the Rich Content Editor.
The Accessibility Checker is located in the Rich Content Editor menu bar. Depending on the size of the browser window, users may have to scroll the menu bar horizontally to view the Accessibility Checker icon.

The Accessibility Checker verifies attributes within the editor and notifies the content creator of common accessibility errors. The Accessibility Checker provides a user-friendly explanation about any errors and provides the fields or menus needed to fix the error. The explanation also provides a link to additional resources to educate content creators about the accessibility guideline. The content creator can easily correct the error and apply the fix using the editor.

This tool verifies the following accessibility rules:

  • Table captions: Tables should include a caption describing the contents of the table.
  • Table header scope: Tables headers should specify scope and the appropriate structure.
  • Table header: Tables should include at least one header.
  • Sequential headings: Heading levels should not be skipped (e.g. H2 to H4). However, the tool does not check if the first header starts with H2 or whether the headings are sequential with the rest of the content in the page. Tables do not begin with H1, which is allotted to the page title.
  • Heading paragraphs: Headings should not contain more than 120 characters.
  • Image alt text: Images should include an alt attribute describing the image content. In an upcoming release, alt text can be included when uploading an image to help minimize this error. Additionally, users can identify image as decorative, which do not require alt text.
  • Image alt filename: Image filenames should not be used as the alt attribute describing the image content. Currently, files uploaded directly to Canvas create a redirect that does not correctly verify image filenames, which will be corrected in an upcoming release.
  • Image alt length: Alt attribute text should not contain more than 120 characters. In a future release, alt text can be included when uploading an image to help minimize this error.
  • Adjacent links: Adjacent links with the same URL should be a single link. This rule verifies link errors where the link text may include spaces and break the link into multiple links.
  • Large text contrast: Text larger than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1.
  • Small text contrast: Text smaller than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.

Please Note: For text contrast, the Accessibility Checker verifies color using the same calculations as the WebAIM tool.

Move-To Menu Sidebar

The Move-To Menu within the Assignments page has been changed to a sidebar and displays a nested structure of move options. This change helps improve consistency with other Move-To Menus in Canvas.
When a user clicks the Settings menu for an assignment and selects the Move-To option, the sidebar menu first asks the user to select the new assignment group, then select the placement of the assignment. The selected menu change is applied immediately on the Assignments page.
Previously the Move-To Menu included both the assignment group and the placement fields in the same window.

Within Pinned discussions, the Move-To Menu has been changed to a sidebar and displays a nested structure of move options. This change helps improve consistency with other Move-To Menus in Canvas and applies to both course and group discussions.

When any user clicks the Settings menu for a pinned discussion and selects the Move-To option, the sidebar menu first asks the user to select the placement of the pinned discussion. If the Before or After an option is selected, the user can select the order of the discussion compared to other pinned discussions. The selected menu change is applied immediately on the Discussions page.
Previously the Move-To Menu only moved a discussion before an existing discussion and did not provide any other location options.

Discussion Duplication

Discussions can be duplicated in the Discussions page or the Assignments page. The duplication option is located in the Settings menu for every available discussion. When a discussion is copied, the word Copy is added to the end of the discussion name.

Duplicating a discussion defaults the copied discussion to an unpublished status. All items in the discussion are duplicated including the name, description, and options. The person who copied the discussion is shown as the author of the discussion and is immediately subscribed to the discussion, and the date the discussion was copied displays as the last posted date.

In graded discussions, duplication exceptions include the following situations:

  • Copied peer review discussions retain the peer review setting and Assign Review date, but the number of reviews per user will be set to zero.
  • Copied discussion are always assigned to everyone in the course; differentiated discussions are not retained for individual users, groups, or sections.
    • If a differentiated discussion includes an Everyone Else date, the copied discussion retains the Everyone Else due date, if any.
    • If a differentiated discussion does not include an Everyone Else date, the copied discussion does not include a due date.

Ratings Rubric Descriptions

When a user splits a rating, the rubric displays an Edit Rating window that includes the rating score, rating title, and rating description. Rating descriptions are not required, though any content in the description also displays as part of the rating in the rubric. Rating titles and descriptions are never truncated, though content should generally be short and concise.

Rubric description ratings display in all areas where rubrics can be viewed including the course and account rubrics pages, associated assignments, and the student Grades page. In SpeedGrader, descriptions are included when a rubric is used for grading, but they are not included in the rubric summary after grading is complete.

Please Note: Description ratings only apply to rubric ratings; they are not currently available in outcome ratings. Outcomes added to a rubric only display the rating title and point value.

Updates to Canvas Mobile

Audio & Video Comments

Assignments support audio and video comments on assignment submissions. Teachers can record audio or video comments by tapping the Add button in the Comment field.

Audio comments provide teachers with a convenient option to leave feedback on student assignment submissions. Video comments allow teachers to leave verbal and visual feedback on student assignment submissions. Video comments can have a maximum duration of 60 seconds.

 

People

The Teacher App now supports the People page for courses. The People page allows teachers to quickly view information about users in their course. Teachers can view all users in a course and filter the list by user role.

 

Student Context Cards

The Teacher app supports context cards for students in a course. Context cards provide teachers with a simplified overview of student information and can be viewed by tapping a student’s name from People, assignment submissions list, SpeedGrader, SpeedGrader comments, inbox messages, announcement replies, and discussion replies.
Student context cards display a student’s email address, section, last activity date/time, submission details, grade, and submission details.

Teachers can send a message to a student from their context card. When the context card is opened from the People page, teachers can also open student submissions by tapping the submission.

Attachments (iOS & Android)

Teachers can add an attachment by tapping the Attachment icon when creating a new announcement. Attachments cannot be added to replies to announcements from the Canvas Teacher app.
Conversations supports attachments for all messages. Teachers can add an attachment by tapping the Attachment icon when creating a new message. Attachments cannot be added to replies to messages from the Canvas Teacher app.
Teachers can add an attachment to a Discussion post. Teachers can add an attachment by tapping the Attachment icon when creating a new discussion. Attachments cannot be added to replies to discussion posts from the Canvas Teacher app.

Attendance

The Teacher App supports Attendance for courses. Attendance allows instructors to take attendance in their class using their mobile device. Students can be marked as present, late, or absent.

iOS & Android

Submission Section Filter

Instructors can filter assignment submissions by section. Section filters can be combined with other filters for submission status, grading status, or score.

iOS & Android

WalkMe Guides

WalkMe provides real-time guidance that is easy to follow by providing on-screen, step-by-step guidance that you can utilize to complete any task successfully. To access a WalkMe guide, simply click on the Canvas WalkThru menu and type in a question or task, then follow along as WalkMe shows you where to click, what settings to choose, and explains the options. If you ever experience an error in a WalkThru, please contact the helpdesk.

Related

Every month in Canvas Corner, we discuss the new features and enhancements available in Canvas.
This month, we cover the New Gradebook, modules, the option to remove the front page, rubrics, and a few enhancements to the mobile app.

New Gradebook for Canvas

The New Gradebook is a beta feature that provides an improved version of the Gradebook. This version will make grading more flexible and intuitive and elevates your Gradebook user experience. To take advantage of the New Gradebook, you will need to enable it within the settings for each course.

Once enabled, the New Gradebook will replace the current Gradebook functionality. If at any time, you are unhappy with the New Gradebook, it can be disabled at any time without harming Gradebook data.

In the New Gradebook, the student Grades page includes a status column,  displaying late and missing labels to students, and the following enhancements:

  • Additional views to sort and filter assignments
  • Custom color status options
  • Improved keyboard accessibility on grade entry

For more information about the New Gradebook, please visit New Gradebook Users Group and the Canvas Release: New Gradebook document.

Duplicating Module Items

Assignments, graded discussions, and pages can be now be duplicated within a module. To duplicate an item, click on the Settings menu and choose Duplicate. This will have to be done for each module item you wish to duplicate. When a module item is copied, the word Copy is automatically added to the end of the item name.

Duplicating a module item defaults the copied item to an unpublished status. The item’s name and other supported options are duplicated except in situations as indicated by the item type. For details about specific item duplication limitations, please see Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-07-15) (assignments and pages), and Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-10-28) (graded discussions).

Items duplicated in the Modules page follow the same behavior as a new item created in a module. The item displays in the Modules page but is also visible in the item’s respective index page.

Front Page Removal

The new Remove as Front Page feature allows you to remove the Front Page designation from the Home page allowing the Pages Course Navigation link to directly link to the Pages Index Page.

Please Note: If a Course Home Page is set to the Front Page, removing the Front Page will automatically change the Course Home Page to Modules.

Rubrics

You are now able to duplicate criteria within a rubric. This Duplicate feature allows you as instructor or course designers to easily copy and modify existing criteria.

The duplication option is displayed as part of the link to add a new criterion. When a criterion is copied, the criterion is duplicated exactly as the original criterion, including the criterion title, ratings, and point value, and placed at the bottom of the rubric.

Please Note: Outcomes added to a rubric can also be duplicated in the rubric, be careful not to do this.

Canvas Mobile Improvements

Simplified Calendar Assignments and Events

The Calendar in iOS has been simplified to display a single blue dot for any date that contains an event or assignment. Previously, a unique dot would display for each course with an event or assignment. This new method will cut down on the clutter in the Calendar feature.

Conversations Enhancements on iOS

The Conversations tool has been updated for an enhanced user experience in iOS devices. For instructors will find these updates mirror the Conversations tool in the Canvas Teacher mobile app. Also, the “Messages” icon has been renamed “Inbox.”

Inbox Filtering

iOS users can now filter messages in the Inbox by unread, starred, sent, or archived messages. They can also filter messages by course. With this update, you will no longer be able to archive messages using the Canvas Student app. If you wish to archive messages, this can still be done using Canvas in a web browser. Messages can be still be deleted in the app

Courses Files with Canvas Teacher App

The Android version of the Canvas Teacher app now supports Files for courses, allowing you to view and manage course files and folders. You will also be able to upload new files and create new file folders.

As an instructor, you can edit course files in the Teacher app for Android. Editing options include changing file names, publishing or unpublishing files, managing access settings, and deleting files.

Pages with Canvas Teacher App

The Teacher app for Android supports Pages for courses, allowing you as an instructor to view and manage course pages and add new pages to a course. You can also edit page content, manage page settings, and delete pages.

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