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Summer-Fall 2017 Updates

Educational technology evolves, requiring occasional changes and updates. At CIDI, we try to time updates to minimize interruption to users. As a result, many of our updates occur over the summer term. Listed below are some Canvas and other changes you can expect to see as you teach this summer or when you return to teach in the Fall:

1. The checkbox setup for Turnitin is re-enabled.
    (The "external tool" option still exists, too.)

At the start of 2017, Turnitin discontinued their original Canvas integration, which allowed a teacher to enable Turnitin by checking a box in the Canvas assignment settings. Their replacement integration required the teacher to create an external tool assignment that loaded Turnitin within an iframe. Although the new integration provided some advantages, regular use by teachers and students revealed some significant shortcomings. User concerns were collected and sent to both Canvas and Turnitin. As a result, Turnitin has announced that they will once again support their original checkbox integration. No information has been given on the duration of their renewed support, but we felt it would be best to re-enable the checkbox option so faculty can use it as long as it is available. The newer, external-tool-based integration also remains available as an option for teachers who were finding success in using it.

The checkbox option for enabling Turnitin has been re-enabled in Canvas since April 18, 2017.

2. Courses more than three years old will be archived.

USU is now six years into its use of Canvas, and many faculty have a lot of courses built up in their Canvas enrollments list. This has begun creating problems for tools that connect to Canvas and must retrieve course lists. It is also becoming difficult for faculty to sort through. 

Beginning this summer, we will begin removing enrollments from Canvas courses that are more than three years old. These old courses will no longer appear in faculty and students' lists, but will continue to exist in Canvas. All user submissions and comments associated with the archived courses will be saved in case they need to be retrieved. 

Note that only the academic courses that were connected to Banner will be archived. Manually created courses, like those used for advising, orientation, research, or development, will be unaffected.

This will be recurring process each semester. Moving forward, faculty and students will continue to see only the last three years of academic courses in their lists. Faculty can contact CIDI to request access to courses older than three years.

3. Students will be able to create discussion topics unless the teacher disables the option.

In some courses, teachers want students to be able to create their own discussion topics rather than just reply to a topic the teacher has created. Canvas can provide this ability, but it does so by making student topic creation available in all courses unless the teacher chooses to turn it off. After much consideration and feedback, we have decided to enable this feature for our institution. This means that, by default, students will be able to create discussion topics in your course. If you do not want this, you must disable the option using the following steps:

  • Go to the Discussions area in Canvas
  • Click the Gear button example of gear button to edit discussion settings
  • Uncheck the box under Student Settings to "Create discussion topics."
    Example of discussion settings box with the create discussion topics option unchecked.
  • Save settings. 


4. Teachers will see more contextual information about their students through context cards.

When you click on a student's name in the People list or Grades, a flyout panel will appear displaying information about the student's latest assignment grades, activity relative to the course, and more. The intent is to provide more information to help you identify where the student may benefit from feedback.
Context card for an example student showing grades, assignments, participation, and page views.

5. Advanced quizzing tools are anticipated.

Canvas developers are currently testing and demonstrating an advanced quizzing toolset that we anticipate will be released this summer. If all goes as hoped, there may be a new set of quizzing tools to use by Fall. The existing quiz tool will still be available, so we don't expect that any faculty will be required to change their existing exams. However, we expect the new tools to open new possibilities in quizzing.


We anticipate these changes will, overall, lead to a better user experience for USU faculty and students as a whole. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 435.797.9506 or