Discover new features, bug fixes, and improvements.

  • Canvas operates on a monthly release cycle through which features are added or updated. The information below contains highlights from Canvas’s production release notes, a link to these notes, and other relevant content.  These updates will occur on weekdays.  
  • For more information, review All About Release Notes.
  • The full set of Release Notes are available via the Canvas Community.

Summary of Canvas Release Notes – May 15, 2021 

Teaching with Canvas

Assignments – 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. On 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. Annotations can also be created on the Canvas Student app.


  • This assignment type is included under the online assignment types so that instructors can select additional submission options for students unable to annotate onscreen.
  • Student annotation assignments cannot be used for group assignments.
  • If usage rights are enabled for the account, the instructor will need to set the appropriate usage rights for the file before the file can be uploaded
  • Completed submissions are viewed in SpeedGrader with the student’s annotations shown for grading. 
  • 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.

Student & Teacher Experience

Assignments – Webcam Submissions 

Studio supports adding annotations to individual media. This functionality enriches the Studio experience for viewers by allowing media owners to share more information in their media.

Media owners can add annotations by pausing the video where the annotation needs to be placed, and then click the Add icon.

Notecard details can be added such as a headline, description text, and hyperlinks.

The annotations will display in the media timeline. To view and edit the annotation, click the annotation icon.

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. This functionality is supported for captions added to recorded Canvas videos or uploaded videos in a course.

Users can access the User Settings page to enable the Auto-Show Closed Captioning feature.

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.

Users  – Maintenance Windows

Regular maintenance windows will be implemented for each region, beginning in July 2021. The maintenance window for each institution will be displayed below the Time Zone field in Account Settings, and below the Time Zone field in User Settings. 

Although windows are always scheduled for two hours, most likely maintenance will only last a few minutes. Additionally, maintenance may not always be required. 

Note: The date displayed for the maintenance window for each account may be adjusted before July 2021, which is when maintenance windows will officially begin.

Assignments – Users – Maintenance Windows | Canvas Release Notes: May 2021
(Image: Canvas)


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