What You Need to Know about the New RCE in Canvas

On January 4, 2021, Canvas will feature a new Rich Content Editor (RCE). The RCE is where you format text and embed media when creating Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Pages, Classic quizzes, and Syllabus.

RCE before January 4, 2021
RCE before January 4, 2021
RCE after January 4, 2021
RCE after January 4, 2021

The New RCE has a different look and feel, and the path to embed content is slightly different. You may notice the change but we expect you’ll be able to perform the usual functions without additional help or training.

Visual Appeal

The New RCE is different both visually and functionally. Visually, there is now a short menu bar [1] and a single, long toolbar [2] above the content field [3]. The Accessibility Checker and HTML toggle moved to the bottom [4].

RCE beginning January 4, 2021 showing menu bar, toolbar, content field, and Accessibility Checker

The New RCE is wider than its predecessor. On a narrow screen, the toolbar shifts buttons onto a sub-menu that’s reachable by clicking a vertical ellipsis.

Collapsing behavior on narrower screens


Where is the Content Selector?

The buttons to link to or insert Canvas content are side-by-side on the New RCE’s toolbar. The four buttons for Links, Images, Record/Upload Media, and Documents display a menu where you select a context to pull from.

When you click one of the Canvas content buttons [1] and choose to place content from the course [2] or user contexts, the Content Selector [3]  appears on the right. For detailed information on embedding Canvas content, read Canvas: New Rich Content Editor (RCE) and Content Selector

Content Selector when placing Canvas Content


Add Alt Text to Course and User Images

Embedding images that already exist in Canvas does not prompt you to add Alt Text. To add Alt Text, select the image [1], click Image Options [2], and enter Alt Text [3] or mark the image decorative in the tray on the right.

How to add Alt Text to an Image

Cautions About Using Canvas’ Built-In Record/Upload Media Button

The new Rich Content Editor includes a Record/Upload Media button. Some cautions:

  • Media recorded or uploaded using this feature does not receive auto-generated captions and there is not a workflow in the user interface for generating or editing such captions. Media uploaded and created using Kaltura receives auto-captioning and is the preferred media platform at the University.
  • Uploads via Record/Upload Media count against course storage quotas, and media files can use that space quickly.

Third-Party Tools and Embedding

Two more buttons wrap up the changes to the RCE. 

Third-party tools are accessed by selecting View All from the plug button.

Button to embed from a third-party tool

No longer buried in submenus, Embed is a button on the toolbar.

Button to paste embed code

Dedicated Buttons for Kaltura and Google

Google and Embed media from Kaltura buttons

The toolbar includes buttons for Embed Media from Kaltura and Google Apps. These tools get premium placement because they are the favored platforms for storing media. Kaltura and Google Apps have generous storage capacity and Kaltura auto-captions all your uploads which increases accessibility.


Embed Media from Kaltura modal window

Clicking the Embed Media from Kaltura button displays a simplified set of choices that walk you through an abbreviated process to Upload Media and Record Webcam. These paths omit an intermediate step where you can retitle what you uploaded and add tags and collaborators. When you have time you can navigate to My Media to rename the file, and add tags, a description, and collaborators.

Add New menu options

If you prefer the full range of capabilities at the moment of upload, select More Media Options. You’ll be dropped into the older Embed Media from Kaltura interface, where you can browse and select content from My Media, the Canvas course Media Gallery, and Media Gallery Playlists, as well as initiate any of the activities in the Add New menu.

Placing media via Add New incorporates the ability to rename a file and add tags, descriptions, and collaborators. Also available is the option to Record Using Kaltura Capture. For recordings longer than 10 minutes, Kaltura Capture is recommended among the several options for recording videos.


Click the Google button to browse and select content housed in your Google Drive.