bCourses Updates: December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

Happy Holidays! We hope that everyone had a great semester, and that your holidays are restful, warm, and filled with joy. There are some new features and updates in bCourses that we'd like to share as we look forward to a new year and a new semester.

New Features

Moderated grading in Assignments

From the Canvas release notes: When creating an assignment, instructors can choose to have multiple graders evaluate a student’s work and create draft or provisional grades before the grade is marked as final for the course. This feature can also be used to create a sampling of students for assignment review to ensure grading is consistent and allows secondary grade reviews. Students cannot view any comments or grades until the grade is published.

For more detailed information about moderated grading, please see this Canvas guide: What is Moderated Grading?

ePub export

Screenshot of Canvas course content as an ePub fileFrom the Canvas release notes: Instructors can allow students to download a course as an ePub file. This feature allows students to view course content when they are offline, such as files, pages, assignment details, discussion topics, or quiz instructions. Students cannot interact with the course in ePub material; course materials are displayed in a read-only state and any tasks such as submitting an assignment must be completed online.

Please note that this is an opt-in feature for each course. It is disabled, by default, but any instructor can go into the course settings and enable it, should they want students to be able to take advantage of this feature. The ePub file is best viewed in the iBooks (Mac) or in Azardi (Windows and Android) apps.

For more detailed information about the ePub export, please see the follow Canvas guides:

Link validator

Instructors can verify all published and unpublished links throughout a course to ensure they are valid. This option is available in the Course Details tab from within Course Settings.

Screenshot of Link Validator results

The course link validator searches through course content and returns invalid or unresponsive links. If links are found, Canvas provides the name of the content item with a link so instructors can correct the error.

For instructions on how to use the Link Validator, please see this Canvas guide: How do I validate links in a course?

Anonymous grading

When grading assignments, the SpeedGrader option to Hide Student Names can now be enabled for all assignments as a course-level feature option. Previously, this was an option that had to be enabled per assignment.

When the Anonymous Grading feature option is enabled, the Hide Student Names checkbox is enabled by default.

Screenshot of Anonymous Grading Feature Option in Course Settings

If at any time the feature option is changed to allowed or off, the SpeedGrader option will be retained and must be changed manually.

Screenshot of Courses Page on the Canvas iOS app

iOS app: Courses page

The Courses page has been updated to display up to four icons representing course interaction features: [1] Announcements, [2] Assignments, [3] Discussions, and [4] Files. You can also show and hide grades in the Courses page, manage favorite courses and groups, as well as choose course colors.

iOS app: Profile and cover pictures

You can create a panda avatar, complete with various head, accessories, and clothing styles, or simply upload a photo from their phone to use as their profile pictures. You can also add a cover photo to their profile that appears behind the profile picture.

Changing a profile picture within the Canvas app also applies to the browser version of Canvas.

For instructions, please see the following Canvas guides:

iOS app: Push Notifications

The Canvas iOS app now supports push notifications. Push notifications allows the Canvas app to send pop-up screen notifications, even if users have not opened the app on their device. In the Notification Preferences page, users can select a communication channel and select the notifications they want to receive for that channel. They can also set notifications for all devices.

Please note that these are different from the email and/or SMS notifications that are available from the browser version of Canvas.

For instructions, please see this Canvas guide: How do I set Notification Preferences in the Canvas app on my iOS device?


Calendar export assignment descriptions

When you export your Calendar into another calendar tool or application (eg: bCal, iCal, Outlook, etc.) via the Calendar feed, the exported information will now include a description of the assignment (which include Assignments, Discussions, and/or Quizzes), in addition to the title and time of the event.

Screenshot of Assignment details in Calendar Feed (iCal)

Section-limited roles for students

When adding a user to a course, all user roles have the option to be limited by section so that users can only participate those who are in the same section. Previously only instructor-based (i.e. Teacher, Lead TA, TA, and Reader) roles could be limited by course section.

Limiting students to interact by section only affects the following tools:

  • Collaborations
  • Chat
  • People
  • Conversations

Discussions and Pages are not affected by section limitations and can be viewed by any student. These feature areas could be restricted by creating content in course groups. However, course groups cannot be organized by section and would have to be created manually.

When enrolling instructors, section limitations only allow those instructors to grade students in their same section(s).

Fixes (highlights)

Files Move Menu

From the Canvas release notes: After searching for a file in the search field, users can move the file via the Move option.

Explanation: When a user searched for a file in the search field, clicked the Settings icon for the file, and selected the Move option for the file, the file was not able to be moved. This behavior occurred because the Move option was not supported from the search field. Canvas code has been updated to move files that have been located in the search field.

Message Students Who and Large Enrollment Courses

From the Canvas release notes: Users in large enrollment courses can use the Message Students Who feature in the Gradebook.

Explanation: When an instructor used the Message Students Who feature in the Gradebook in a large course, not all messages were able to be sent and generated a browser timeout message. This behavior occurred because of a JavaScript error. Canvas code has been updated to prevent timeout errors in large courses.

Quiz Grade Fields

From the Canvas release notes: Quiz grade fields support multiple characters for grade entry.

Explanation: When an instructor graded a quiz question and entered a quiz value with more than two characters, the additional characters were hidden behind the window, such as 5.75. This behavior occurred because the quiz grade field was not large enough to support more than two characters. Canvas code has been updated to increase the side of the quiz grade field.

For the full explanation of new features, updates, and bug fixes in bCourses (Canvas), please see Instructure’s December 19, 2015 Canvas Production Release Notes, and the iOS 3.12 Release Notes. Please note: some New or Updated Features in Canvas might not be implemented in bCourses.