Academic Systems Key Feature Updates

Knowing the latest updates on the learning systems we use at Western--Canvas, Zoom, Panopto, and Socrative--can help you teach and learn at your best. 

Top Tech Things To Know (Fall 2023)

For more on each of these items, scroll down for links and additional details.

  1. Common Canvas user gotchas
    • Students cannot see modules? Make sure module content is published.
    • Added students cannot see your course? Western’s Banner system takes 4 to 6 business hours to transmit updates to Canvas courses. If it has been more than one day, have them contact
    • Need to give students early course access? Specify a Start Date AND an End Date, or else your course will not conclude after the term.
    • Know how to customize your notifications? Set preferences for both your account and for each class (students, too!).
    • Waitlisted student need access? Except in limited circumstances, institutional policy disallows adding students to CRN Canvas courses manually. Complete the Add Waitlisted Student to Canvas Course form to get Registrar approval.
  2. Zoom's best updates yet. (Update your Zoom software for the best experience!)
    • Smart Recording can now be enabled under user settings. Smart Recording uses AI technology, which may include third-party models, to create meeting recording highlights, smart chapters and next steps. Zoom does not use any audio, video, chat, screen sharing, attachments or other communications-like content (such as poll results, whiteboard and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party AI models.
    • Chat now allows for rich text editing, images, emojis, replies, and deleting. See: Enhanced formatting for in-meeting chat
    • Breakout rooms allow for meeting host to talk to all rooms (in addition to sharing screen), search for participants in rooms, and save room assignments for future use.
    • Zoom-to-Panopto Recordings can be automated. See Moving Zoom Recordings to Canvas Automatically Via Panopto
  3. Panopto just works.
  4. Socrative polling gets collaborative. (Pro licenses available for free)
    • Shared Libraries allow you to create collections of quizzes you can share with and collaborate on with colleagues.  

Fall 2023

CANVAS - Learning Management System

See: Canvas Help

  • Microsoft Immersive Reader: Provides an enhanced reading experience by improving accessibility and boosting reading comprehension. Students can use the Microsoft Immersive Reader when viewing a Course Home Page, a Syllabus, or viewing an individual assignment or page. See How do I use the Microsoft Immersive Reader in a course as a student?
  • Anonymous Instructor Annotations: When creating an assignment, teachers can enable anonymous instructor annotations in DocViewer supported submissions. When students view a submission with anonymous instructor annotations in DocViewer, comments do not display an instructor's name. This option only affects comments added in DocViewer in the SpeedGrader submission window. Comments added in the SpeedGrader sidebar are not anonymous. Anonymous instructor annotations is currently a course opt-in feature. See How do I enable anonymous instructor annotations in student submissions?
  • Assignment Enhancements: An update to the Classic Assignment Details page that improves the assignment interface and submission workflow for students. See What is Assignment Enhancements?
  • Enhanced Gradebook Filters: Allows teachers to select and manage condition types and conditions used in a gradebook filter and enable or disable a filter. A filter may be used once or saved for future use. See How do I use Enhanced Gradebook Filters? 
  • New Course and User Analytics: Provides a richer analytics experience for course grades, weekly online activity, and individual student view. All analytics also include mobile page views. New Analytics includes improved analytics for tracking student data in published courses using an interactive chart or table. See New Analytics

ZOOM - Videoconferencing and Online Meetings, and Webinars

See: Zoom for Western | Zoom Learning Center


  • Moving Zoom Recordings to Canvas Automatically Via Panopto: Set up your Zoom recordings to move to Panopto automatically (removing them from Zoom) and potentially set up the destination for recordings to map to a Canvas course or other specified Panopto folder.
  • Enhanced formatting for in-meeting chat: Allows for in-line image previews, rich text formatting, screenshots, threaded replies, reacting to messages with emojis, and message quoting. Messages can also be deleted after being sent.
  • Using Q & A in a Zoom Meeting: Allows participants to ask questions during the meeting, and for the host and co-hosts to answer their questions either privately, for everyone, or mark them as something to be answered live.
  • Enhanced access to cloud recordings: Cloud recordings can be more easily accessed and shared from the desktop client. Additionally, a notification will appear when a recording is finished processing.
  • Broadcast mic audio to all breakout rooms: Meeting hosts can broadcast their microphone audio to all breakout rooms in a meeting. Previously, only device audio could be shared to breakout rooms from the main session.
  • Share audio with content to all breakout rooms: Hosts are able to share computer audio, along with shared content, to all breakout rooms. This can be enabled when beginning the share, or while sharing is in progress. This also supports the Share Video option as well for Breakout Rooms.
  • Search breakout rooms: Hosts and co-hosts are able to better manage breakout rooms with the ability to search for participants in breakout rooms by name, allowing them to quickly view, assign, or move participants between breakout rooms.
  • Rename participants in Waiting Room: Hosts and co-hosts can rename meeting participants in the waiting room before they enter the meeting. After locating a participant's name in the waiting room section of the participant list, an option appears in the ... menu to rename that participant. The participant is notified of this change.
  • Save Breakout Room assignments for future use: When breakout rooms are created, the host can save that current configuration of participants to use in future sessions. This is only available for recurring meetings and limited to 10 saved configurations per user.


  • Simultaneous sharing for panelists: Webinar attendees can now experience the sharing of simultaneous presentations by panelists. This is the same functionality that is already available in Zoom Meetings. The webinar attendee can choose which screen to view, such as seeing the content in their language when a presentation is shared in different languages. This can be helpful when sharing presentations in multiple languages.
  • Show invitee list in Participants panel: Displaying the invitee list in the Participants panel allows hosts, co-hosts, and alternative hosts to view a Not Joined section in the Participants panel of the meeting. This section lists the people who were invited to the meeting but have not yet joined, as well as their calendar response. This feature requires hosts and users to have the Calendar and Contacts Integration (Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar) configured in their Profile.
  • Webinar Backstage: The webinar host and other panelists can move between the backstage area, which is not visible or heard by attendees, and the live webinar area, which is visible to and heard by attendees. Panelists backstage can still hear and view the live webinar to keep an eye on the presentation and know when to rejoin. This feature requires version 5.10.0 or higher for panelists, and the host must have a Zoom Events license.
  • Webinar Session Branding: Hosts can customize the appearance of the in-webinar experience by adding a wallpaper behind the video tiles, setting a common virtual background for all panelists, and providing name tags for each panelist. This requires version 5.10.0 or higher to use and/or view, but does not require this version to join the webinar.

PANOPTO - Video Management and Creation System

See: Panopto for Western | Panopto Documentation

SOCRATIVE - Live Polling/Student Response System

See: Socrative Pro: Student Response System