Instructional Technology Group

The Instructional Technology Group supports faculty use of technology for teaching and learning.

Excused Assignment Feature

June 25th, 2015 Christopher Connors

This Saturday, June 27th, Instructure will be bringing a new feature to the Canvas Gradebook that we’ve been hearing faculty request for quite some time. Now, instructors will be able to excuse individual assignments without having to worry about altering a student’s grade. Here is what Instructure says of the new feature:

To excuse an assignment for a student, enter the value of EX in the corresponding Gradebook cell. The Gradebook will reflect that the assignment is excused for the student. Excused assignments are not included in the calculation for a student’s total grade.

Students can also be excused from a Group Assignment; the other members of the group will still be able to view and submit the assignment.

Note: Currently, the Gradebook only accepts a standard Canvas-wide value of EX for assignment exemptions. In phase two of this feature, instructors will be able to choose from a list of statuses for the excused assignment or for a graded assignment, such as latemissingabsent, etc.

Excused Submission Screenshot








When students have been excused from an assignment, they can view the excused status on the assignment submission page, or when they view the grades page. Students who are excused from an assignment will not be able to submit the assignment, though they can still view the assignment details.

Excused Submission Screenshot


In Modules, assignments are still shown as a module item. If submitting the assignment is a module requirement, students can progress through the Module as if he or she had submitted the assignment.

We hope that this makes managing your grades just a little bit easier, and as always, feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions or requests. ITG can be reached via email at or by phoning 617-824-8090.

Missing Notifications from Canvas? Your Gmail may be too vigilant!

April 3rd, 2015 Paula Damigella

If you’ve noticed you’ve 1) stopped receiving notifications from Canvas, 2) redirect your Emerson email to a personal Gmail, and 3) were previously receiving notifications no problem – it may be Gmail’s built-in spam detection filters.

First – check your spam folder. If indeed you have a whole slew of emails – then Gmail has started to clean up your inbox for you. When you delete enough emails from a specific sender without opening the email – (maybe just skimming the title to get an idea of what the email is about – we all do it) – Gmail starts marking them as spam.

To remedy this, you will need to set up a filter on Gmail. Log into your Gmail, then navigate to Settings.

Drop down menu in Gmail, highlighting Settings

With Settings open, choose Filters from along that top navigation.Gmail Settings

This will bring to a list of all your filters (or a blank page if you don’t have any). Down the bottom, look for an option that says “Create a New Filter.” Though the window that appears has several options, you only need to enter “” in the “From” field. Then click “Create filter with this search.”Gmail Filter page

The next screen will allow you set up options for the filter. First, check off “Never send it to Spam.” Then, if you wish, you can choose other options for the filter – always mark it as important, apply the label, categorize, etc – but you must choose “Never send it to Spam” if you do not want to lose another notification.

Finally, you will Create Filter. Note, you can also apply the filter to any conversations that have been marked as spam/are in your inbox already if necessary.Final Filter options in Gmail - Never Mark as Spam

If you continue to have issues, please put in a ticket or contact ITG at ext 8090. Also see Gmail’s Help for more information.

SpeedGrader App Update

March 30th, 2015 Christopher Connors

Great news for faculty who enjoy the SpeedGrader functionality of Canvas and have an iPad! Instructure has released an updated version of the app (search for “Instructure SpeedGrader” on the App Store) that has some great new features. The latest version requires iOS 8.0, so be sure to check your software by going to the Settings app and taking a look at the “General > About > Version” section. Here’s more about the update from Instructure:


SpeedGrader includes a completely redesigned dashboard modeled after the Canvas by Instructure app. By default, the dashboard displays favorite courses as selected either in the Canvas browser or in the Canvas by Instructure app (favorites cannot be modified in SpeedGrader). Toggle the button at the top of the window to view all courses.

Course colors can be changed by tapping the course arrow. Within the course assignment page, assignments are displayed by course color.

Submissions are indicated by a circle with the total number of submissions in the course that need to be graded.

Screenshot of SpeedGrader app

User Navigation

The user navigation menu provides simplified access to instructor account information, help with the app, and all SpeedGrader settings.

SpeedGrader App screen capture.

Assignment List

Tapping the name of a course displays the list of all assignments, quizzes, and discussions in each course. Assignment submissions are indicated by a circle with the number of submissions. For courses with sections, assignments can be filtered by section in the menu bar. Tap an assignment to view the submissions.

SpeedGrader app screen shot.

The menu bar displays the name of the first student in the course. Swipe the screen to advance forward or backward through the list of students. To view all students for the assignment, tap the name of the current student to display the entire student list. By default, student names are shown as last name, first name. You can also toggle between sorting by name and sorting by grade.

SpeedGrader screen capture.

When viewing an assignment, you can use the assignment menu (or sidebar) for grading, which includes all options available in the browser version of SpeedGrader. Grades supports all grade format types.

Use the mute icon in the menu bar to mute the assignment for grading so students can’t see their scores.

Crocodoc is also supported in SpeedGrader; use point comments to create annotations within a submission.

SpeedGrader screen capture.

As always, if you have any additional questions for ITG, feel free to contact us by emailing or by calling 617-824-8090.

Canvas Update – March 2015

March 13th, 2015 Christopher Connors

Hey there! We here at ITG wanted to share a new feature of Canvas that allows you to publish or  unpublish a file directly from a Module. Here’s what Instructure has to say about the change:

Instructors can manage files directly from the Modules page. This feature aligns publishing functionality of all items within Modules and allows an instructor to publish, unpublish, or restrict a file.

First screenshot of new modules feature.

2nd screenshot of new module feature.

The state of the file is aligned with the Files Index page. If a file is unpublished within Files, the file will also be shown as unpublished on the Modules page.

Third screenshot of new Canvas module feature.

This new feature will give faculty even more control over how students will interact with their course contents. As always, if you have any questions about this or any of the other new Canvas  features presented here, don’t hesitate to contact us at or call 617-824-8090.

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