What’s New in Canvas: May 2021

Canvas released some great updates in March and April. We’ve highlighted some of those below, but you can access the full Canvas release notes on their community site.

Assignments: Webcam Submissions

For File Upload assignments, students have the option to use their webcam for file uploads. The first time they use the feature, they will need to give permission to Canvas to access their computer webcam. Like all other graded submission types, items submitted via the webcam functionality do not count against course or user quota.

Student view of File Upload tab for assignment submission showing the Use Webcam option.

Course Availability Date Enhancements

When an instructor views the Participation section in the Course Settings page, the Participation section displays a menu that defaults to Term dates for new courses. This option sets student course participation to the start and end dates defined for the term.

If preferred, instructors can change course participation to the Course option, where course participation is limited to the course start and end dates, which can be added in the course. Course dates override term dates; however, section dates that exist in the course override course dates.


  • Course dates default to midnight. If the course is set to end at midnight, the page displays a warning icon.
  • The Participation option is retained when the Course Settings page is updated.
  • The options to restrict students from viewing the course after the end date and before the start date have not been affected.
  • Existing courses will be set by existing dates. If a course includes custom course dates and the participation checkbox is selected, the new Participation checkbox will be set to the Course option. However, if the participation checkbox in the old interface was not selected to override term dates—even if custom start and end dates were included—the new Participation checkbox will be set to the Term option.
Course Settings menu differences between the old and new interface showing the Participation drop-down menu choices for Term and Course dates.

New Quizzes Support

When an instructor adds an item to a module and selects a quiz, the Create Quiz option displays both the New Quizzes and Classic Quizzes quiz engines. New Quizzes is the default, but instructors can switch to Classic Quizzes and create a name for the quiz.

Existing quizzes in the module are also identified as a classic quiz if created with the Classic Quizzes quiz engine.

File Preview Enhancements

Users who link to a file can open the File Options menu and indicate a preview type.

  • Preview in overlay displays the existing file preview functionality, where the file preview opens and overlays the entire page.
  • Preview inline loads the displays the preview directly in the Rich Content Editor window once the file is clicked. If the option to expand the preview by default is also selected as an option, the file is automatically expanded in the page and the user does not need to click the file to view it. Instead, the user can close the preview by clicking the Minimize Preview link that displays along with the image.
User view of the Link Options menu showing the Display Options for Preview in overlay and Preview inline.

Speedgrader Submission Reassignments

For online assignments with a due date, instructors can view a Reassign button in SpeedGrader. If they require a student to redo an assignment, they can reassign the assignment directly to the student from within their grading workflow in SpeedGrader. The instructor must first provide feedback regarding the assignment, which will enable the button. The reassignment does not change the original due date for the student.

When an assignment is reassigned, students see the assignment in the List View Dashboard with the instructor’s feedback. Students can resubmit the assignment and submit for additional feedback from their instructor.


  • The Reassign Assignment button is not available for External Tools (LTI), on paper, and no submission assignments.
  • The Reassign Assignment button is only available for assignments with due dates.
  • If an instructor returns to SpeedGrader after navigating away from the page, the Reassign Assignment button shows that the assignment has been reassigned.
  • If the assignment’s settings do not allow students to make an additional attempt, the Reassign Assignment shows that the assignment is not able to be reassigned.
Speedgrader Assignment Comments section showing the new Reassign Assignment button after comments are submitted.

New Quizzes: Multiple Attempts First Score Option

The Multiple Attempts menu now includes an option to retain the first score for grading when multiple submission attempts are allowed. This change allows instructors to allow students to retake a quiz but retain the first attempt score for grading.

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