How do I...

The following links will take you to the Instructure Canvas Guides to get you started with using the various tools available in Canvas. If you are looking for something specific and do not find it, please email us athelp@uw.edu.

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Global Dashboard (the page you see when you first login)

The Global Dashboard; is the first page you see when you login to Canvas. It is designed to answer the questions, "what is going on in all of my courses?" and "What do I nee to do next?" There are four main areas:  consists of four main elements

1. Global Navigation Menu: The Global Navigation menu is the primary menu for navigating
throughout Canvas. This bar runs across the top of every page and includes four links:

  • Courses: Dropdown menu that links to all of the Courses in which you are teaching or enrolled.
  • Assignments: Dropdown menu allows you to see the assignments that need grading or what assignments need to be done for all of your courses.
  • Grades: A page that allows you to see the grades for all of the courses in which you are teaching  or enrolled (if grading is used by the instructor.)
  • Calendar: A page that allows you to see the calendar events for all of the courses in which you are teaching or enrolled.

2. Global “Recent Activity” Stream: The Global Stream contains a stream of recent activity from all of your courses. There are announcements, discussions, assignment notifications, and conversations.

3. Sidebar:;The Sidebar contains three helpful feeds:

  • To-Do: Lists the next five assignments on your calendar that you need to turn in (if you are a student) or you need to grade (if you are an instructor).
  • Coming Up: Lists the next five calendar assignments or events in the next week.
  • Recent Feedback: Notifies students when their instructor has left a comment or a grade for one of their submissions. The same feed will notify instructors when students have left comments about work they have evaluated.

4. Help Corner: The Help Corner provides several links to access your profile and get help with Canvas.

  • Your Name: Links to your Profile page. 
  • Inbox: Links to your Conversations, which are private messages separate from your Course Announcement and can be sent to any Canvas user.
  • Settings: Links to your Personal Settings page (NOT course settings).
  • Logout: Log you out of Canvas.
  • Help: Links to Canvas help & guides.

For more information, visit the Canvas guides on the Dashboard
OR
Watch a video on the Dashboard

 

Course Level Navigation

What do we mean by "navigation"?  Basically, this is the means by which users will interact with your course site; we want to make it easy for them to know what they can do, where to go, and how to get there.  This goes for us as instructors as we design navigation links within our content to help students as well as the navigation that Canvas has built to help us design. 

"Global" or "universal" navigation and "utility" navigation are all up in your top purple bar.  These govern the options you have on every page in Canvas for all of your courses.  Thus, the "Settings" tab, in the upper right hand corner (purple bar), is "universal" settings where you can set your profile information and notifications.  

Once you hover over the Courses & Groups drop down menu click on the course you wish to enter, you'll find navigation for building your course.

Along the left you will see a Course Tools menu. This lists all course tools and can be customized for your course, meaning you can choose to hide the tools you will not be using or do not want students to access.  Those in black text mean you have something "there" while grayed out ones are not being used.

The main portion of your screen is your course Home Page, which is customizable.  See the Course Design page for more information on customizing your home page.

The Sidebar appears in the pane to the right. The Sidebar is constantly changing, depending on where you are in Canvas. It will contain the actions available for the page you are viewing. Most pages will contain a CreateNew, or Edit item for that particular page.

To return to the course Home Page from anywhere within the course, click the Home tab on the top of the Course Tools menu.

How do I reorder and hide Course Navigation links?

Your Profile

In Canvas, each user has a Profile associated with his/her account that includes contact and other information. Users can add a profile picture, maintain a portfolio, and add communication services through which you and your students can communicate, such as text messaging (SMS), Facebook, or alternative e-mail accounts.

Editing Your Profile

  1. Click Settings in the top right corner of the page.
  2. Add another e-mail address or a text messaging number in the widget on the right.
  3. Change your full name, display name, or time zone by clicking Edit Settings in the widget on the right.
  4. Register any of the following web services or social networks that you already have accounts for at the bottom

View the Canvas Guide on how to edit your Profile

Editing Your Settings

The Settings menu allows you to edit personal information such as display name, time zone, language, and even link your Canvas profile to other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

View how to change your Profile Settings (Video)

Notification Settings

Notification allows you to select how and when you want to be notified of Canvas events. Notifications can be sent to any of the contact methods you configured in your profile’s Settings menu. Be aware that some settings can be set to "never" and this gives the students an option to opt out of announcements! It is a good idea to remind them to turn notifications on if they have previously turned them off!

View the Canvas Guide on how to setup your notification preferences

Notification Preferences (Video)

 

Homepage

This is the first entry point and "landing spot" for your students each time they enter your course!

  • Make it purposeful; directing them to the most important resources they will need to be successful.  By default, Canvas courses show an activity stream of all recent activity within the course on the course Home Page. You are not locked into this view for your course Home Page. 

icon of choose homepage

icon of homepage menu

Choices:  

  • To choose from the above, click on the Chose Home Page link in the right menu. Provide clear navigation links to help them find what they might be looking for in your course site. Choosing a “Pages Front Page” will allow you to design a page yourself.  You can use that page as a welcome page, letting the students know who you are, how to contact you and how to get started in the course on Canvas.

To choose the Pages Front Page option you have to create a page first. Here is how to do it!

  1. Create a New Page (make sure you Publish it once you are done creating it)
  2. Set the page you just created to be you Front Page by clicking on the gear icon on the far right. icon of menu
  3. Go back to “home” in your course navigation and select the “pages Front Page” option. You will then be able to select the page you just created as the default homepage.

*Note:  if you choose any of the last three options (the Course Modules/Sections, the Assignment List, or the Assignments with Syllabus) you will not need to show the corresponding tabs on the left navigation menu as this would be redundant!  Hide them by going to course Settings-->Navigation Tab.

 

Sample Course Organization

To aide you in understanding how a completed Canvas course might look, several faculty have graciously made their courses available for your use.

When you click on a course link, it will open in either a new browser tab or new browser window.  Simply close the tab/window or click on the Canvas Logbook tab to return to this page. 

You have student access to each course.  No login is required. 

Sample Course using Files and Pages

Great homepage layout with links taking students to the file area for access to documents. The instructor keeps the homepage up to date, linking to the current week information which are built out using Pages.

Anatomy & Phys II FL 12 03

Human Genetics FL 12 01

Sample Courses using Modules

Setup using Modules. Homepages are "I'll design one myself" layout and have nice graphics and a good "getting started" layout for students.

History of Ancient Civilization

U.S. History 2

Contemporary Management

Modules

Why use Modules to organize content in Canvas?

MODULES help keep course content organized not only for you, but for your students.
Managing course content is not unlike managing everything you store in your office. Papers, journals, books, schedules, reports, and mail plus gadgets, desk toys and personal items  reside in your work space. If left unorganized, course content can clutter a student's learning space. 

MODULES allow you to define content delivery.
In your course outline you detail what will happen in your course.  Some faculty group the information by week while others group content by topic. MODULES can be used to deliver your course materials int he same way. For example, you may set up a module for each week or for each topic. Those modules would contain related information, such as an introduction; a reading; a web resource or video; an assignment; a quiz or survey.

MODULES help student navigate the course content.
Modules in Canvas are the only tool that provides a forward and back button. These buttons can be helpful for students to view content for the first time or for quick review. Modules provide an area where the teacher can deliver content using an instructional scaffolding approach to help students understand core concepts prior to attempting to complete an assignment or quiz.

Control Modules

Control Items within a Module

Control student access and progress

Pages

Pages can be used to create a course Home page (also called the Front Page), create a content page to include in modules, create a resource page, or create a collaborative space to which all course participants can contribute. Pages can include text, video, audio clips, math equations, images and links (to websites, files, and other pages you have created in your course). If you’ve ever used a wiki, this is essentially a wiki with a more usable interface.

Pages can be accessed by clicking the Pages button in the course tools menu along the left side of a course space. When you access the Pages tool, the Sidebar along the right will list common pages, the recent pages (those that have been edited recently) and all pages. Here you will also see an Edit this Page button that allows you to edit the page being displayed. You will also see a Create a New Page button which allows you to create new pages. Once you have created pages, you can link them to one another or include them in modules. You can also link to pages from various places in the course (e.g. Discussions, Assignments, Quizzes, Announcements, Calendar). 

Files

Course Files

Often you'll want to simply upload files that you've created on your own computer into Canvas. You can upload files in various places in your course (e.g. Discussions, Assignments, Pages, Quizzes). There is a course Files tool that houses everything you upload. This is accessible by clicking the Files button on the Course Tools Menu. You can also directly upload files here.

By default, Files are accessible to everyone in the course. You can hide the Files tool on the Course Tools Menu which prevents students from accessing course files. You can also leave Files accessible, but lock individual folders and files.

It is recommended that you do not give students access to your files area unless you have them organized in an easy to follow folder structure. Canvas places files alphabetically. This is not ideal, especially if file names are not intuitive or do no match what students are told to read. An better way to give students access to files is through Modules or Pages

Personal Files

In addition to course Files, each Canvas user has Personal Files.  Personal Files are accessible through Profile (upper right corner of your Canvas page) > Files. Files stored in the Personal Files area are accessible only to the individual user.  As an instructor, you can access your Personal Files while looking at course Files by clicking the link at the bottom right of the screen to show all course files.  This allows for easy copying of files from personal files to course files, as well as copying files between courses.

Accepted File Types

Cavnas will allow you to upload any file type to the Files tool. However, only certain types can be viewed without having to download them. The following text file types will work with the built-in Scribd previewer:

  • .doc, .docx - Microsoft Word
  • .ppt, .pptx - Microsoft PowerPoint
  • .xls, .xlsx - Microsoft Excel
  • .pps, .ppsx - Microsoft PowerPoint Show
  • .pdf - Adobe PDF
  • .ps - PostScript 
  • .odt, .odp, .sxw, .sxi - Open Office
  • .txt - Plain Text
  • .rtf - Rich Text

Syllabus

Many of you may choose to display the Syllabus as your course Home page (which is an excellent choice). The Syllabus tool has three areas:

  1. The top portion can be edited using the rich-text editor and can include any text, images, or videos. You can copy and paste your syllabus into this area or upload a syllabus file (Word or PDF) and link to the file in this area. 
  2. The bottom portion of the page is automatically populated with items that will be graded and have been assigned due dates. If a due date changes, items are automatically reordered.
  3. The sidebar contains the course Calendar and the Weighted Grading (if it is created).

Assignments

Assignments in Canvas can be used to challenge students' understanding and help assess competency by using a variety of media. The Assignments page will show your students all of the Assignments that will be expected of them and how many points each is worth.

Assignments can be used to:

  • Assess how well students are achieving course Outcomes
  • Set up online submissions that can be quickly graded in the SpeedGrader™
  • Grade online as well as student work submitted "on-paper"
  • Create varied due dates for sections
  • Set up peer reviews
  • Grade Discussions, either by the whole class or student groups
  • Open Quizzes for a limited amount of time
  • Record attendance
  • Create ungraded activities that align with course Outcomes

Things to Consider

  • Rubrics are great assessment tools used to evaluate a student's performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria rather than a single numerical score. It is a working guide for both you and your students. It gets your students to think about the criteria on which their work will be judged and helps them understand the connections between assignments and course goals. Learn how to integrate rubrics in your assignments.
  • With the integration of video into the rich content editor, students can submit video assignments directly through the Assignments tool, whether uploading video clips or capturing the video with their webcam. You can also integrate video into the Assignment instructions.
  • In peer review assignments, students have the option to give audio or video feedback, and they can upload files with their comments. You can also randomly assign papers to students or pair them up. Learn more about Peer Review.

Assignments

Assignment Groups

You will need to setup Assignment Groups if you weight your grades. For example, if your assignments are setup like this:  Papers worth 30%, exams worth 40%, discussions worth 10% and so on, you would have  group created for Papers, Exams and Discussions with the assignments entered under the appropriate group heading. That way the assignments under each group will get weighted correctly in the gradebook.

Individual Assignments

Assignments for Groups working together

Turnitin Plagiarism Detection

Quizzes

Quizzes is used to deliver graded quizzes, practice quizzes, or surveys on course material. As with quizzes in a regular classroom environment, the quizzes in your course space will give you the opportunity to gauge student understanding of course content. You can create quizzes or they can be imported from publisher test banks. There are eleven question types:

Quiz Options
When using the Quizzes tool, there are several variables you can choose from that allow you to create just the type of assessment you want (e.g. timed assessment, single or multiple attempt assessments, and objective assessments that can be automatically graded).

Question Banks
Question Banks are a place to house questions that can be added to quizzes across courses or accounts.

Publishing and Grading

Grading

The gradebook is a tool that will allow instructors to keep track of student grades in the course. Through the gradebook, instructors can easily input grades and have them calculated for themselves and the students. The gradebook provides a comprehensive view of grades in the course and additionally allows the instructors to group, weigh, and assign points or percentages to assignments.

  • You can mute/unmute a column in your gradebook so that no grades or comments are released to students until you are done grading all the work.
  • Canvas also includes a feature in the gradebook called SpeedGrader which simplifies the process of grading student work.

Assignments

Setting Due Dates

Group or Peer Reviewed Assignments

Turnitin Plagiarism Detection

Weighting Grades

SpeedGrader

Crocodoc Annotation Tool

Turnitin

UW Tacoma has Turnitin’s Originality Check® to help instructors and students check their work for improper citation or potential plagiarism by comparing it against their text comparison database.  When a file is submitted, Turnitin shows how much of the student’s paper matches content from their databases so instructors and students can quickly understand how much of the paper is unoriginal or improperly cited.

The instructor and student will be able to see the results in the Originality Report, within the Canvas Gradebook, including what percent of the student’s document matches other documents, and what those other documents are. 

Rubrics

Rubrics are an assessment and evaluation tool used to communicate expectations and standards of quality for online-submitted student work.

Each rubric is comprised of various course outcomes that can be uniquely created for a specific assignment or built using existing outcomes. Rubrics consist of rows, which are used to define the criteria to grade an assignment, and columns, which dictate levels of performance for each criterion.


Rubric example


All rubrics and coursework evaluations on Canvas are stored in Outcomes, which acts as a central rubric repository where creating and editing rubrics can take place.

Why use Rubrics?

Rubrics are used to:

  • Communicate coursework and assignment expectations to students.
  • Align pre-determined learning objectives and outcomes to course assessments.
  • Assess and evaluate online submissions, in combination with SpeedGrader.

Peer Review

Analytics

Analytics evaluate individual components of a course and evaluate student performance. Course Analytics takes a three pronged approach to creating substantive data for Canvas users.

  • Justification focuses on system reports and how the system is being used.
  • Intervention looks to predict at-risk students and how to meet their needs.
  • Learning focuses on learning outcomes, the effectiveness of the teaching style, and the division of time between students achieving competence and those falling behind.

Announcements

An Announcement is designed to give information to everyone in the course. You create an announcement as part of your course and Canvas sends it out to everyone in the course.  

All of the announcements are archived and accessible by clicking the Announcements button in the Course Tools Menu. Each announcement is also added to the discussion forum so that anyone can ask a question or make a comment about announcements. There is also an option to receive the announcements as an RSS Feed.  Students may also set their Notification Preferences to receive notifications of new announcements outside of the course (as texts, on Facebook, etc.). 

Notification settings for Announcements

Tips on Working with Announcements

  • Going away for a few days, but need to remind your students of an upcoming important assignment? Create an announcement and delay the posting until a specific date and time.
  • If you want to be sure that your students receive Announcements immediately rather than the next time they log into canvas, have them set their Notifications to receive an email, tweet, or text message whenever you post one. Going over this type of expectation early in the quarter can help to prevent students from missing important or time-sensitive information.

Conversations (your inbox)

Conversations is a fresh approach to private messaging in an LMS that makes it easy for students and teachers to communicate. It also makes it easy for Canvas users to keep track of all of the different kinds of communication going on inside the platform, whether it's a conversation about an assignment, within a group, or with another user.

Conversations are accessed by clicking Inbox on the upper-right hand corner.  With Conversations, there are no subject lines so the actual dialogue gets the focus. There is history of all your past conversations. You can see who the conversation is with, how many messages there are, and a chronology of all messages in each conversation.

115 - Conversations Overview (CC) from Instructure on Vimeo.

Conversations in Canvas

Creating/Replying/Sending/Deleting

Communicating with Groups

Tips and Quirks for working with Conversations

If you are have been commenting with a student about a graded assignment thorough Grades, MAKE SURE students continue to go through the assignment or grades area to continue the conversation. Some make the mistake of going into the inbox to start a new conversation. This will produce two separate conversations that will not be linked or recorded in the Grades area!

Discussion Boards

Discussions are asynchronous online forums where you and your students can discuss a topic. When utilizing the discussion tool, users have the ability to use whatever format they are most comfortable with to communicate. Users can type text, or use the multimedia feature to record and upload video or audio.

Discussions can be integrated into the curriculum of the course by having the discussion be gradable. A graded discussion shows up to the student as an assignment and the SpeedGrader feature allows the instructor to easily grade and give points for online discussions. Instructors can also create group discussion boards for groups which are viewable only by people within a group.

Discussions are useful for:

  • Following up on a conversation or lecture in the classroom
  • Conversations and debate about topics in the class
  • Introduction to an upcoming assignment or class discussion
     

Setting up a Discussion Board

Adding Content to a discussion post entry

Chat

The Canvas Chat function is an open interface that allows members of a Canvas course to communicate amongst each other in real time.

Collaborations (Google Docs/Etherpad in Canvas)

Canvas leverages technologies like Google Docs and EtherPad to allow multiple users to work together on the same document at the same time. Collaborative documents are saved in real-time, meaning a change made by any of its users will be immediately visible to everyone.

Please note: To use Google Docs through Canvas, all collaborators must have their UW Google Apps account activated.

Please note: EtherPad has tested out to be quite buggy and often disconnected users from the document. Before you rely on EtherPad to collaborate, make sure the system works for you and all members of your collaboration team..

You can use Collaborations to:

  • Copy and paste lecture notes that everyone can access.
  • Share bullet-point lists or agendas for upcoming synchronous class time or meetings.
  • Create a text-based whiteboard that everyone in the classroom can see and refer to later.
  • Assign student groups a collaborative assignment.
  • Allow students to start their own collaboration with other students in the class.

Setting up Collaborations

Conference

The Conferences tool allows you to remotely show a student an application on your desktop, remotely review slides with students, hold a virtual class or virtual office hours, or hold a real-time class for a distance education course. Conferences is more robust than Chat in that users can share digital content and screens while also chatting via text, video and/or audio. Sessions can be recorded and viewed for two weeks in Canvas.

Instructors can this feature in Canvas to:

  • Conduct a virtual lecture via webcam to the class.
  • Demonstrate the use of a tool or software by broadcasting the screen.
  • Meet one-on-one with students in a virutal office hour.
  • Connect with students, colleagues, or other groups to collaborate with each other.

Setting up a Conference

Groups

The Student Groups feature in Canvas divides students into small groups within the course. Upon creation, student groups will have their own discussion boards, collaboration tools and calendar, making them ideal for working on group projects or other assignments.

To get to your groups, click on People in the left sidebar menu and then click on the
View User Groups button found on the top-right portion of the page.

YouTube

YouTube™ videos are automatically embedded in any feature that uses the Rich Content Editor. This lesson applies to the Announcement, Assignments, Discussions, Pages, Quizzes, and Syllabus features.

There are two different ways to link a YouTube™ video, depending on what you want it to look like:

  1. Insert Link into the Rich Content Editor (full link with embedded video)
  2. Insert Link with the Chain Link Icon (shortened link with optional embedded video)

Ponapto

Google Docs

You can create a document, slide presentation, or spreadsheet using Google Drive and then embed that document anywhere you can use the Rich Content Editor in Canvas. Any time you edit the Google document, it will be automatically updated in Canvas. For more information on how you can use this feature, visit this topic in the Community Forums.

Note: You might notice that some formatting, such as margins or line spacing, is lost when you embed a Google document into your course.

IOS

You can access Canvas on your mobile device through any mobile browser. However, mobile browsers are not officially supported. We recommend using Canvas mobile applications for an improved user experience.

Andriod

You can access Canvas on your mobile device through any mobile browser. However, mobile browsers are not officially supported. We recommend using Canvas mobile applications for an improved user experience.