Canvas (LMS)

Canvas Learning Management System by Instructure

What is A Learning Management System?

The Global Navigation Menu

On this page, you'll learn how to navigate your account using the Global Navigation links.

Key Points

Global Navigation

  • The Global Navigation Menu is the black bar at the top of the Canvas page.
  • The links on the Global Navigation menu are available no matter where you are in your account.
  • The Global Navigation links access information about your courses as a group. They do not access information for just a single course.
  • The Help Corner in the upper-right corner of the page contains links to your account settings, your message inbox, and help.
  • Each of the links in Global Navigation will be described in future pages.


  • The Dashboard appears in the content area below the Global Navigation menu when you first log into Canvas.
  • The left side of the Dashboard displays recent activity for all of your courses: announcements, discussion posts, messages, etc.
  • The right side of the Dashboard displays upcoming assignments due and events for all of your courses, as well as assignment feedback responses from your students.
  • You can return to the Dashboard at any time by selecting the Sofia logo in the upper-left corner of the page.

  • The appearance of both the Global Navigation menu and Dashboard is the same for both students and instructors, though some links access different information

How Do I Use The Global Navigation Menu

How Do I View My Canvas Courses

Key Points

  • The recommended web browsers for using Canvas are Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Canvas does not support Internet Explorer 8 or below.
  • Make sure your browser version is up-to-date.
  • To keep this page available while accessing your own account, open a new tab or window in your browser before proceeding.

Updating Your User Settings

Key Points

  • User Settings allows you to add a profile picture, adjust notification preferences, upload personal files, and create a professional ePortfolio.
  • The Settings link is in the Help Corner in the upper-right corner of the page.
  • Adding a profile picture allows others to see your picture next to your Canvas messages and discussion posts.
  • Notification Preferences allows you to select how and how often you want to be notified when various events occur in your courses.
  • Notifications can be sent by email, SMS text message, Twitter, and/or Facebook.
  • The email addresses and phone numbers you use as contact methods will not be accessible to other users.
  • You can choose to receive notifications immediately, daily, weekly, or never. You can set different notifications for different types of activities.

Navigating A Course

  • You can access your courses by hovering your pointer over the Courses menu in Global Navigation.
  • Course Navigation, in the left sidebar, only appears when you're in a course.
  • The Course Navigation links only pertain to the course you're currently viewing. In a different course, the same links go to content for that particular course.
  • Course Navigation and Global Navigation have some similar links, but are differentiated by whether they pertain to a specific course or your whole account.
  • The gray Course Navigation links indicate that they do not contain content. They are still active, allowing you to create new content of the indicated types.
  • The right sidebar contains tools that are relevant to the type of course content you are currently viewing.
  • Breadcrumb Navigation appears above the content area of the page. Breadcrumbs leave a trail that help you see the hierarchy of parent pages in which the current page is contained.
  • When you first visit your course, the Course Setup Checklist appears in a pop-up pane at the bottom of the page. Since most of the checklist items may not pertain to your course, you can choose to close this.

Navigating the Course Home Page

Creating Courses In Your Own Canavas Account

This page describes how to create your own free Canvas account that allows you to build your own courses.

  • You can build your courses before they're available on the Wilkes Canvas site.
  • Creating a course on your own also allows you to experiment with the course in ways you can't on the Wilkes site.
  • Once your course is available on the Wilkes site, you can export the course content from your created course and import it into the Wilkes course.

Create A New Course

Setting Your course Start and End Dates

On this page, you'll learn how to adjust your course dates to specify when it's accessible to students. You'll also learn other course settings that are available to you.

Key Points

  • The settings for your course are accessible through the Settings link on the left sidebar.
  • By default, all courses are visible to students Monday of the first week of the quarter. This may not coincide with the first week of your course.
  • Adjust the Starts setting if you want students to preview your course or access pre-course materials. You can lock modules you don't want them to access yet.
  • By default, all courses are locked to students on Monday one week after the last week of the term. This may not coincide with one week after the end of your course.
  • Students will still be able to see the content of your course after the course ends, but they will no longer be able to participate such as post to discussions or submit assignments.
  • Adjust the Ends setting if you want to allow more time for students to participate in the course after the term ends.
  • Do not start or end your course more than 30 days before or after the term starts or ends.
  • Adjusting the course start and end dates does not affect student access to your syllabus in Canvas.
  • Student View allows you to preview how your course content will appear to students.

Organize Your Course Navigation Links

On this page, you'll learn how to arrange the Course Navigation links for your course, as well as how to hide links you don't want them to access directly.

Key Points

  • The Navigation tab in course settings allows you to rearrange the order of the navigation links for your course, as well as hide selected links.
  • Be aware that if you hide the Files link, students will not be able to add upload images directly to their Discussion posts.
  • Changes to navigation links only affect the current course.
  • The Home link is fixed as the top link in the list. You cannot move or remove that link.
  • If you have hidden links from student view, they will still be visible to you but will appear in gray.

Reorder and Hide Course Navigation Links

Creating And Organizing Modules

On this page, we'll cover how modules allow you to organize your content, providing an easy way for you to manage content as well as for students to locate what they need.

Key Points

  • Modules are containers that organize related content items (Files, Discussions, etc.) into groups, much like folders.
  • Instructors commonly create a separate module for each class, lesson, or week of the term.
  • Modules can also be used to separate content by type, such as lectures, videos, forms, etc.
  • Modules create a sequential structure for your content, allowing you to guide the order in which your students follow your course.
  • Module items include Previous and Next buttons at the bottom of each page (like this one), allowing the user to navigate to other items in sequence.
  • Modules allow you to lock content from student access until a specified date or until some prerequisite action is completed in the course.
  • Modules allow you to track student progress through a sequence of content.
  • The Modules link on the left sidebar accesses the Modules page.
  • Modules can be rearranged by dragging and dropping.
  • Modules can be renamed or deleted.

Creating An Organizing Module Items

On this page, we'll explore how to add items to your modules that link to your course content.

Key Points

  • Module items link to other content you've created in your course.
  • A module item can be linked to a file, external web page, assignment, discussion, content page, or quiz.
  • Each module item includes an icon that identifies the type of content it is linked to.
  • Sections within modules can be separated by a text header. Items within a section can be indented to indicate their subordinate position within a section.
  • When you create a module item, you can either link it to existing content or create new content as part of the process.
  • If you delete a module item, the content it is linked to is still in your course and you can always create a new module item for the content.
  • You can create multiple module items for the same activity, such as a continuing weekly discussion on the same discussion topic or to remind students of an important activity.

Controlling Student Access To Modules

On this page, you'll discover how to use modules to lock selected content from student access and set prerequisite actions that must be completed in order for students to see selected content.

Key Points

  • Modules include options that allow you to control student access to course items.
  • To access module options, select Edit from the gear pulldown on the right side of the module name.
  • A module can be locked until a specified date and time. This allows to you to limit student access to only some content before the course starts or prevent students from looking ahead during the course in order to control the pacing of the class.
  • You can set requirements that must be completed in one module before another module can be accessed. Requirements include viewing a page, posting to a discussion, and submitting an assignment.
  • Once you've set requirements for a module, you can then set completion of those requirements as a prerequisite for accessing a module.
  • You can also set a modules option that requires students to visit required items within that module in sequential order.

Setting Your Course Home Page

In this page, we'll cover how to change the first page your students see when entering your course, as well as how to create a custom rich-content home page.

Key Points

  • The Home Page is the first page your students will see when entering your course. It can be accessed within a course by selecting the Home course link.
  • By default, your course Home Page is the Course Activity Stream.
  • You can set your course home page to your course Modules, Syllabus, Assignments list, or a rich-content page you've designed yourself.
  • A custom home page allows you to provide students with a friendly introduction to the course, an orientation of the content and structure of the course, and how to get started. It can also provide quick links to content that they can jump to over the course of the term.
  • The home page you choose should allow for the easiest access to your course content by your students.
  • You can access the home page setting from the Home course link.

Adding Files To Your Course

In this section, we'll explore how to upload files from your computer to your Canvas course for students to view and download.

Key Points

  • Canvas allows you to upload most file types to your course for students to download. Students must have an application on their computer that opens the file.
  • There are several file types that students can view directly within Canvas without downloading.
  • Files can be uploaded to a course using the Files link on the left sidebar.
  • Files can be renamed and organized into folders.
  • Files and folders are organized alphabetically only.
  • Uploads are limited to 50 MB per file. The file storage limit for a single course is 500 MB. Your current storage use can be viewed in the Files page.

Upload A File

How Do i Create A Folder

Move and Organize Files

Document Types That Can Be Viewed In Canvas

Media File Types That Can Be Uploaded

Creating An Assignment

Key Points

  • An assignment is any Canvas activity that is graded, whether it is submitted in person or online.
  • Assignments appear in the Canvas course Gradebook, allowing you and your students to track which assignments are submitted and complete.
  • Assignment due dates automatically appear in the course Syllabus, Calendar, and Grades pages. Students are also alerted of assignments coming due or past due in their Assignments link at the top of the page and their Dashboard.
  • Students can be automatically notified when an assignment due date is changed. The due date is also automatically updated throughout the course.
  • You can provide grades and feedback to students on individual assignments using text, rubric items, video, audio, and file attachments.
  • You can allow students to submit assignments online as text entry, documents, video and audio recordings, web pages, or file uploads.
  • Assignments submitted online as Word or PDF files allow you to mark up a copy of the document with highlights, comments, in-line text, and drawings.
  • An assignment can be designated a group assignment, in which one member of a class group submits the assignment on the behalf of the group. All members will receive the same grade.
  • You can assign peer reviews of an assignment, in which one or more students in the class are designated to provide feedback on another student's submitted work.
  • You can add a rubric to an assignment to help inform students of your expectations, then use the rubric as part of your assignment feedback. The same rubric can be used for multiple assignments.
  • The Assignments link on the left sidebar accesses all assignments for the current course.
  • The Assignments link at the top of the page accesses assignments from all courses that have student submissions that need to be graded.
  • Be sure to open Advanved Options each time you create a new assignment.
  • Sofia faculty commonly select Complete/Incomplete for the Grading Type.

Creating A Discussion

Key Points

  • You can give students the option to create their own discussions.
  • You can delay the posting of a discussion topic to a specific date, as well as require students to post a reply before reading other students' replies. Be sure to make clear to students if you've set this option.
  • A discussion can optionally be graded as an assignment.
  • A discussion can be focused, which allows a single layer of replies to a topic plus others' comments on those replies, or threaded, which allows participants to create multiple layers of replies.
  • Most instructors prefer threaded discussions. If you choose focused discussions, remind students that they can respond to other students' replies by hovering over the bottom of the reply.
  • You can edit or delete students' discussion posts, as well as allow them to edit or delete their own discussion posts.
  • You can limit the dates a discussion topic is available.
  • By default, discussion posts are automatically marked as read when you view them. The Discussion settings includes an option that allows you to manually mark posts as read.

Adding Events To The Course Calendar

On this page, we'll cover how to create course events so they will appear on your students' calendars

Key Points

  • The Canvas Calendar displays events and assignment due dates for all of your courses, as well as reminders you create in your own personal calendar.
  • The Calendar link at the top of the page opens your Calendar.
  • To reduce clutter, you can choose which calendars to view or hide.
  • Course events appear on each student's calendar, as well as on their Dashboard when an event is coming up.
  • Course events also appear in the table at the bottom of the Syllabus page.
  • Events might include class meetings and assignment due dates.
  • If you create or change an assignment due date or event date on the Calendar, it will show up in all other locations in Canvas that refer to the event and vice versa.
  • Students can be automatically notified if an event is changed during the term.
  • The Calendar can be used to quickly move assignment and event dates from previous terms.
  • Calendar events are different than Assignments in Canvas. Events you create on the Calendar will not appear on the Assignments page or in the gradebook. But they will show up on the Syllabus page, on student calendars, and in the Dashboard.

Add An Event To The Course Calendar

Creating A Quiz or Survey

Key Points

  • Quizzes can be for more than just assessing student learning. A quiz tool can also be used as a survey, questionnaire, or prompted response assignment.
  • There are four types of quizzes: Graded Quiz, Practice Quiz, Graded Survey, and Ungraded Survey.
  • Surveys have the option of being anonymous, which can be useful in allowing students to provide you with anonymous mid-quarter feedback
  • Question types include multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, fill-in-multiple-blanks, multiple answers, multiple dropdowns, Likert-scale, matching, numerical answer, formula, and essay.
  • Questions can be stored in a question bank. Individual questions from the bank can be added to one or more quizzes.
  • You have the option to allow students multiple attempts of a quiz.

Content Pages and Text Formatting

In this page, you'll learn about creating and formatting text on content pages, as well as how the Rich Content Editor ("the editor") can be used to add a variety of elements to your course content

Key Points

  • Content pages are custom web pages that you can use to display text, hyperlinks, files, images, and video.
  • The majority of this course is composed of content pages.
  • Content pages allow you to pull content into one organized location, allowing you to create menu pages, lesson pages, outline pages, and more.
  • Content pages can be used to flip a residential course, allowing you to include your lecture as part of your week's course "readings," freeing up class meeting time for experiential activities and discussion.
  • Canvas keeps a history of all saved versions of a page, allowing you to review previous versions.
  • You have options to hide a page from students, allow students to edit a page, as well as notify users that the content of the page has changed.
  • The Pages link on the left sidebar allows you to access course pages.
  • The Rich Content Editor is the main tool for entering text, links, images, files, multimedia, and hyperlinks in Canvas.
  • The editor appears almost everywhere in the system where you can enter content, including content pages, discussions, and quizzes.
  • Your students also have access to the editor wherever they have editing permissions.
  • The Rich Content Editor has several features you will recognize from desktop word processors like Microsoft Word.
  • Canvas does not support multiple typefaces.
  • The Insert/Edit Table toolbar button lets you adjust the attributes of a table as you create it. It also lets you edit the attributes of a table you've already created.

Adding Links and Rich Content to A Page

On this page, we'll explore how to add links to external web pages and course content, as well as embed course files and images.

Key Points

  • You can quickly add links on your page to external web pages by typing or pasting the URL into the editor. Canvas automatically converts the URL to a hyperlink.
  • You can turn any text on your page into a hyperlink to an external web page by using the Link to URL button on the editor toolbar.
  • Links to YouTube videos automatically embed a thumbnail of the video that can be played on the page.
  • You can create links to ANGEL resources that are not protected by a login by linking to the URL of the destination ANGEL folder, page, or file.
  • The Embed Image button on the toolbar allows you to embed an image on your page from a URL, your course files, or Flickr Creative Commons.
  • Be sure to use the Embed Image button to add alternate text to every image to accommodate the blind.
  • Flickr Creative Commons is a database of publicly-available images. Creative Commons resources are publicly available for reuse, as long as the user follows the use terms of the author.
  • The Content Selector on the right sidebar allows you to add additional content to your page.
    • The Links tab creates links on your page to other content in your course.
    • The Files tab embeds course files on your page that can be either downloaded by the student or previewed directly on the page.
    • The Images tab embeds images on your page either from your course files or Flickr Creative Commons.
  • If you add links to course files on your syllabus, those files can be accessed by anyone, even if they're not enrolled in your course.

Course Design Guide

What do you want your students to see first when they enter your course?

  • Home Page
  • Change Start Home Page Tutorial
  • Ideas for Home Page Elements
  • Start here--first time users
  • Lesson links--for returning students: lesson number, title, dates, brief description, small image relevant to lesson adds appeal to page, primes student for topic, creates anticipation

Ideas for Home Page Layouts

How will you convey to students the structure of the course?

  • Modules
  • Modules grouped by lesson, organized in chronological sequence
  • Course Modules Page

How will you establish the learning environment you want in the class?

  • Class Agreement--include etiquette and confidentiality/privacy

How will you convey to students what activities need to be done when?

  • Modules Page