The New Canvas User Interface Is Here!

If you've been using Canvas, the Learning Management System from Salt Lake based "Instructure" then you may have noticed a total overhaul to the way your user dashboard and class landing pages look.

Instructure released the news of their updated User Interface back in June 2015 at InstructureCon, but many School District and University Canvas Admins are just now turning on the new feature. UEN, for example, updated their Canvas Interface at the end of August just in time for the start of fall online classes.

Look to the left!
Perhaps the best way to explain the changes to the Canvas interface is to think of it like crossing the street in England – always look to the left first. That's where you'll find any real changes to the menus and quick links.


The Old Canvas Dashboard

Notice on the old Canvas dashboard that the quick links to Inbox, Settings, Logout and Help are all located in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Recent Activity appears in the center and the To To List and Feedback all fall on the right side of the page. All of these features are still available, but you'll need to look to the left for these items and more user friendly icons.


The New Canvas Dashboard

With the new interface the visual icons make finding things not only easier but also more intuitive. Each class appears in a colorful square with shortcuts to announcements, assignments, and discussions under each box when necessary. This will look very familiar to Google Classroom users! If you don't like the color of a class' square don't panic, you can adjust it on your screen by clicking the "cog" icon in the upper right hand corner to select a color you like better.

The To Do list, Coming Up notifications and Recent Feedback are all on the right side of your screen just as they were on the old interface. There's one more step, however, to logging out. The Logout icon is gone from the top and instead you'll click "Account" from the left menu and then Logout from the pop out menu. (see below)

Other than these new features on the dashboard, the rest of the updates will be found once you dive into your courses. Be aware that the course menu still remains on the left side of your screen, but the menu is interactive and browser responsive. In other words, if you have your window size too small the menu will hide under the Dashboard Menu until you click the settings grill icon which also looks strikingly similar to that in Google Classroom.


The New Canvas Course Landing Page with Menu Hidden

Click on this "Hot Dog" or "Hamburger" icon to open the menu…


The New Canvas Course Landing Page with Menu Open

Once you get a chance to interact with the NEW Canvas User Interface you should find it to be a little more friendly than the old interface, and much more intuitive. Personally I find it much easier to explain and demonstrate to new Canvas users.

If you need more help with the new interface be sure to check out the Canvas Guides demo at

100 – New Canvas User Interface Overview from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.



Michael Hakkarinen

Michael Hakkarinen specializes in helping teachers engage students in the classroom with technology such as Mac Tools, Google Apps for Educators, iPads and more. He earned a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Master’s in Elementary Education at Mount Saint Mary’s University, where he also taught Instructional Technology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He was a Technology Resource Teacher in Frederick County, Maryland, where he taught elementary school, and an EdTech for Canyons School District in Utah before joining the UEN PD team in 2014. He currently serves as President of the UCET Board.

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