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Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning: Canvas Interface Transition

Providing services that encourage, empower, and support faculty, staff, and students in innovative academic endeavors throughout the entire Marian University system.

Overview: Primary Changes to the Interface 

See a visual overview of the changes

The changes to the user interface are limited to the browser version of Canvas. These changes make Canvas easier to use on a wide range of screen sizes, including low-resolution classroom projectors, small monitors, tablets and phones. Most of the changes are visual, but they can be a bit surprising. 

Global Navigation

  • Global Navigation has been moved from the top of the screen to the left-hand side. 
  • The logout link has been moved behind the Account icon. Click on your avatar photo to access account settings and the logout link. 

The Dashboard

The dashboard--the page that loads as soon as you log in to Canvas--looks significantly different.     
  • The global activity stream--the list of announcements, discussion posts and other activity for all of your courses--has been replaced by a grid of multi-colored course cards.
    • Each course card has tabs along the bottom for Announcements, Discussions, Assignments, and Files. These reflect the course navigation, so if these items are hidden from students, they will not appear here. If there is new activity in any of these areas, the tab will be highlighted with a blue stripe. Click on the tab to go to the area in the course. 
    • Colors are customizable by the individual user. Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the card to change the color. 
    • Only classes that are favorited in the all courses list will be shown as cards on the dashboard. 
    • The global activity stream can be restored by using the toggle above the cards area. 
  • The Grades link has been moved from the global navigation to the right side-bar on the dashboard. Please don't hide the Grades tab from your course-level navigation--otherwise students will have to navigate to the dashboard to view grades. 

Responsive design

  • When the width of a browser window is reduced, the left-hand course navigation will collapse into a "hamburger" menu (a square icon of three horizontal lines: menu icon ) Click on the icon to bring the menu back. 

  • When the width of a browser window is reduced, the right-hand sidebar will drop under the main content area.

Canvas Community Resources


New Canvas Interface Introductory video - Click to view

Introducing the New Canvas Interface from MU-CITL on Vimeo.

You can also find information about the changes in the Canvas Release Notes

There is a Canvas Focus Group on the new user interface, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document.