Canvas Release Notes (2021-5-15) - Canvas Skip to main content

Canvas Release Notes (2021-5-15)

In an effort to continually improve Canvas, Instructure, the parent company of Canvas, releases Canvas upgrades every third Saturday of the month along with Release Notes. Pertinent features and upgrades are listed below.

In this Canvas release (May 15):

  • Institutions can set a course ID as a course template for all new courses created in an account.
  • Instructors can use an annotated assignment type to upload a file for students to annotate and submit directly in Canvas.
  • The Auto-Show Closed Captions feature option allows users to enable captions to show by default in all Canvas videos.
  • New Quiz creation page includes both a Save button and a Build button.

This announcement lists pertinent updates that affect instructors and students and omits features that are not applicable for Rutgers Canvas.

View Full Release Notes on Instructure Website (5/15/2021)


New Features


Student Annotation Submissions

This change allows instructors to provide a file as an assignment and allow students to annotate the file directly in Canvas. Currently students have to either print the file and take a photo to submit, or use a third-party tool to complete the submission.


In the assignment creation page, instructors can select the option to create a Student Annotation assignment type. The file that should be annotated is uploaded for the assignment, and students can use the annotation tools with DocViewer to complete the assignment. This assignment type is included under the online assignment types so that instructors can select additional submission options for students unable to annotate onscreen.

Peer reviews are supported for student annotation submissions. However, Anonymous Peer Reviews are not supported for student annotation assignments, as the names of students are not displayed anonymously in annotations.

Completed submissions are viewed in SpeedGrader with the student’s annotations shown for grading.


Students can complete the annotation assignment directly in Canvas using the annotation tools in DocViewer. If a student later views a previously submitted attempt, the annotations on the file are shown as read only and additional annotations are not allowed.


Course Templates

A course ID can be designated as a course template for all new courses created in an account. This functionality is supported for both manually created courses and SIS import. This change provides a consistent user experience for students and will ensure all base materials are included with each new course by an institution’s admins and/or authors.

For full details about Course Templates, please see the Canvas Release: Course Templates document.


Updated Features

New Quizzes

Save and Build Button Workflow

The New Quiz creation page includes both a Save button and a Build button. This change aligns the Save button behavior with other areas of Canvas, and the Build button distinctively separates the workflow for building a quiz.


When an instructor creates and enters details for a quiz, the page displays both a Save and a Build button. Previously the page only included the Save button, which counterintuitively launched the New Quiz editor.

The Save button saves the content in the existing page and returns the user to the area where the quiz was accessed. . This change to the Save button mimics similar behavior located throughout Canvas regarding saving page content.

The Build button saves the existing page and launches the New Quiz editor.

User Settings

Auto-Show Closed Captioning

This change allows users to view captions added to videos by default without having to manually enable captions for each individual video.

All Users

Users can access the User Settings page to enable the Auto-Show Closed Captioning feature. This functionality is supported for captions added to recorded Canvas videos or uploaded videos in a course.

Captions can be added to a video when uploading a video, or they can be added any time by clicking the video in the Rich Content Editor and accessing the video options sidebar.

  • Note: Videos embedded from third-party tools, such as YouTube, are not supported. Additionally, videos embedded from Canvas Studio videos are not yet supported but will be in a future release.

Canvas Deploys

Canvas deploys contain code changes that are intended to fix bugs, improve performance, and prepare for new features, but they do not affect customer workflows. These deploys take place every two weeks and intended changes in workflow are noted in the Canvas Release Notes published monthly.

Deploy notes include notable fixed bugs and additional updates that do not affect existing user functionality. View last five full Deploy Notes: