After the Fall 2015 semester, UNCG’s Canvas environment will look a little bit different. Recently, Canvas introduced a new, updated User Interface (UI). While it may be a bit startling at first, the differences are really not as significant as they look. This article will help you to find what you’re looking for in the new UI.

Dashboard – Comparison

Here is a visual comparison of the old UI to the new UI:

Snapshot of the old Canvas dashboard

Canvas Old UI – click to enlarge

Snapshot of the new Canvas dashboard

Canvas New UI – click to enlarge

Many items have moved at least a little bit – here’s a quick list:

Course & Group Lists

THEY WERE: across the top, under Courses (or Courses & Groups)

THEY ARE NOW: down the left side, under Courses, and/or the separate Groups heading. Also, “starred” courses are now listed as color-coded “cards” on the Dashboard.

Recent Activity Feed

IT WAS: on the Dashboard by default, as you logged in.

IT IS NOW: on the Dashboard, if toggled on (toggle switches between course “cards” and Recent Activity feed)

User Profile

IT WAS: at the top right, in the small gray bar. It was accessible either by clicking your name, or Settings.

IT IS NOW: down the left side, under Account. Your avatar, if set, appears there.

Inbox (Conversations /  Messages)

IT WAS: at the top right, in the small gray bar. A “badge” (number in a blue circle) popped up with your unread message count, if you had 1 or more.

IT IS NOW: down the left side. The “badge” still appears if you have 1+ unread messages.


IT WAS: part of the User Profile. Once you clicked into your User Profile, you could see it on the left side navigation.

IT IS NOW: part of the new User Profile menu. Click on your Account button to see the link.

Getting Help

IT WAS: in the upper right corner, under “Help.”

IT IS NOW: at the bottom left (question mark icon).

Grades List

IT WAS: along the top as a main link.

IT IS NOW: a button at the bottom right labeled View Grades.

Canvas Calendar

IT WAS: along the top as a main link.

IT IS NOW: down the left side under Calendar.

Navigation Inside Your Course

The major difference between the old UI and the new UI is that the overall Canvas menu is now at the left side. In your courses, that was the location of your course navigation. Now, in the new UI, the course menu is still at the left, next to the Canvas nav bar.

snapshot of course screen in Canvas, new UI

Course Navigation in the new UI – click to enlarge

Responsive Design

Canvas will possibly display differently for your screen, depending on your screen size / resolution. For larger screens, everything should be displayed on the page, as in the above image. For medium screens, the course navigation collapses and is not displayed on-screen by default. The three-bar icon Screen_Shot_2015-11-11_at_1_08_34_PM 2 will appear. To unfold the course navigation, click this icon. On small screens the screen may collapse further; your right-hand information / buttons may collapse down below your main content area.

The reason for the different layouts is to prioritize the display of both the Main Navigation and the Main Content Area.

snapshot of collapsed navigation in new Canvas UI

Collapsed course nav – click to enlarge

More information

Instructure has published some helpful resources if you would like to learn more details about the new UI. You may visit the links below for more information: