Helpful Resources from Penn State

PSU Student Resources

Guides created and updated by Canvas

Canvas' Student Guides

College of Agriculture's Student Tips


Announcements allow your instructor to communicate with you about course activities and post interesting course-related topics. As soon as your instructor has created an Announcement, you will automatically notified according to your preferred Notification Preferences.


  • The Announcements Index Page allows you to view and filter announcements in your course.
  • Listed in reverse chronological order, with the newest appearing at the top.
  • Make announcements within your group


Assignments include Quizzes, graded Discussions, and online submissions (i.e. files, images, text, URLs, etc.). The Assignments page shows all of your course Assignments and how many points each is worth.

Student Video: Assignments Overview


  • To access an assignment and details, click the name of the assignment.
  • Any Assignment created by your instructor in the Assignments page will automatically show up in the Grades, Calendar, and Syllabus features.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts to navigate the Assignments page. Press the comma key and a pop-up window with keyboard shortcuts will appear for keyboard navigation.


The Calendar helps students and instructors see what assignments and events are coming up in the course. The Calendar in Canvas is a global feature, meaning you can see all of your assignments from all of your courses in one place.

Student Video: Calendar


  • Create personal events such as study groups or reminders.
  • Filter views between both Course and Group Calendars.
  • Copy the iCal feed to your personal Calendar (like Google or Outlook)
  • Set your Time Zone to avoid due date and time confusion. All due dates and times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Check and adjust your Time Zone settings in Account.


A tool that creates a space for students and instructors to contact one another in real time. Chat can be used in a variety of ways, including virtual office hours, group discussion, and study sessions.

Student Video: Chat


  • You cannot delete comments entered into Chat, so be mindful of what you type.
  • Chat is available to all students in the course and cannot be limited to specific students.
  • All users in the course can access the chat history.
  • Any user in the course can initiate a chat conversation, but the recommended limit is 50 participants.


The User Dashboard helps you see what is happening in all your courses and allows you to figure out what to do next. The Dashboard includes the Activity Stream and the Sidebar that show recent activity and upcoming events.

  • Course Cards can include up to four tabs representing the four main Canvas features for student course activity: Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, and Files. Numbers indicate the number of new activity items in the course.
  • To Do section shows assignments or events (for the past 2 weeks) that require attention or that need to be turned in.
  • The Coming Up section shows assignments and events coming due in the next seven days.
  • The Recent Feedback section shows assignments with feedback from your instructor.


  • If a section contains more items than are listed, click the more link.
  • Recent Feedback can be seen by students
  • If there are 25+ items in the To Do list, new items will not appear until existing items are cleared (by clicking the remove icon).
  • Click on gear in upper right corner to organize courses by color or nickname.
  • green icons indicate the item has been graded


Canvas provides an integrated system for class discussions, allowing both instructors and students to start and contribute to as many discussion topics as desired. Discussions can also be created within student groups.

Student Video: Discussions


  • You can easily reply to any discussion, threaded or focused.
  • In a focused discussion, you can reply to a comment already posted by another student by clicking in the reply field below the post.
  • In a threaded discussion, you can reply to a comment already posted by another student. Locate the post you want to reply to and click the reply icon.


Canvas users will find access to files (documents, images, media, etc.) in three different places:

  • Personal files, located in each user's profile (students, teachers, and TAs)
  • Course files, located in each course (students, teachers, and TAs unless files are locked by the teacher)
  • Group files, located in each group (students and teachers who are enrolled in groups)

Student Video: Files


  • Each user automatically has 50GB of storage space in Canvas.
  • Canvas will accept the following image files:
    • jpeg - Joint Photographic Experts Group
    • gif - Graphics Interchange Format
    • bmp - Windows Bitmap
    • tiff - Adobe Systems
    • png - Portable Network Graphics
  • Canvas will accept the following video files for playback:
  • flv - Flash Video
  • asf - Windows Media
  • qt - Apple QuickTime
  • mov - Apple QuickTime
  • mpg - Digital Video Format
  • mpeg - Digital Video Format
  • avi - Digital Video Format
  • m4v - Digital Video Format
  • wmv - Windows Media
  • mp4 - Digital Video Format
  • 3gp - Multimedia Mobile Format
  • Canvas will accept the following audio files for playback:
  • mp3 - Digital Audio Format
  • wma - Windows media audio
  • wmv - Windows Media


The Grades page in a course displays all grades for all assignments, including scoring details, comments, and rubrics.

Student Video: Grades


  • Grades are sorted chronologically by assignment due date, followed by assignments with no due dates.
  • Some details in the Grades page, such as scoring details and the total grade, may be restricted by your instructor.
  • Icons in the score column indicate the type of assignment you submitted and these have not been graded by your instructor. Once the assignment is graded, the icon will be replaced by your score.
  • The sidebar shows the information about how your grades are calculated.
  • If you have more than one course, you can use the course drop-down menu to view grades in other courses.


Groups are like a smaller version of your course and are used as a collaborative tool where you can work with your classmates on group projects and assignments. You can create your own groups, and your instructor may create and add you to course groups.

Student Video: Groups: Creation & Interaction


  • Create your own study groups to collaborate on projects and assignments and use Pages in Groups to document your work.
  • Store and share your files within groups.
  • Have group discussions or send messages to group members


Communicate with an instructor, a group, an individual student, or a group of students (aka Conversations).



You can be notified when various events occur within a course. Canvas supports notification through email, SMS text message, and Twitter. There are variety of notifications that you can receive about your course and preferences and contact methods are located in your user profile. These settings apply to all of your courses and cannot be changed for individual courses.

Users can set:

  • the type of content for which you would like to receive notifications (e.g., grades, announcements, discussion posts, etc.)
  • how often you would like to receive notifications
  • where the notifications are sent (e.g., add a text contact or an additional email address)


  • Set Preferences to select how often you want to be notified of course events.
  • Unless these settings are changed, by default users will be notified whenever there is a change in a due date, an updated assignment, or a message sent from within Canvas. View the default Canvas notifications.
  • Hover over the name of the notification to see details of the and adjust preferences.
  • Notifications may filter into the Junk or Spam folder in your email system. Add Canvas to a list of "Safe senders", to automatically send notifications into your Inbox


Pages in student groups is a good place to collaborate on projects or to figure out schedules for study sessions and the like. Groups can use Pages to collaborate on documents, share content, or other educational resources.


  • To create, click on the Pages link in the Course Area, the click the View All Pages blue button. Click the Add Page button and enter content.


In People, students can:

  • View all the users participating in the course, including the ones whose course enrollment is pending.
  • Use the search bar to find a specific person.
  • Use the drop-down menu to filter users by role.
  • View user groups in the course.
  • View registered services for course users.
  • View Groups tab.


  • As a student, you can create your own Student Groups for study groups, discuss an assignment, etc. You can be part of more than one student group.
  • If you cannot see the People tab in your course, or if you cannot see the Add Group button, your instructor has restricted this feature.


The Syllabus in Canvas makes it easy for your instructor to communicate to communicate exactly what will be required of throughout the course in chronological order. The Syllabus automatically adds assignment due dates (current and updated) to the bottom of the page.


  • Click the title to view the details of the assignment or event.
  • Any assignments or events that are past the due date are highlighted in gray.
  • Undated items will be listed in alphabetical order.
  • Graded assignments are shown in bold text and events are in regular text.

Technology Requirements

Screen Size

  • Canvas is best viewed at a minimum of 1024x600, which is the average size of a notebook computer. If you want to view Canvas on a device with a smaller screen, we recommend using the Canvas mobile app.

Operating Systems

  • Windows XP SP3 and newer
  • Mac OSX 10.6 and newer
  • Linux - chromeOS

Mobile Operating System Native App Support

  • iOS 7 and newer
  • Android 2.3 and newer

Computer Speed and Processor

  • Use a computer 5 years old or newer when possible
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 2GHz processor

Internet Speed

  • Along with compatibility and web standards, Canvas has been carefully crafted to accommodate low bandwidth environments.
  • Minimum of 512kbps

Screen Readers

  • Macintosh: VoiceOver (latest version for Safari)
  • PC: JAWS (latest version for Internet Explorer 10 & 11)
  • PC: NVDA (latest version for Firefox)
  • There is no screen reader support for Canvas in Chrome


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. Please note that mobile applications are only supported in English at this time.

  • Canvas by Instructure (iOS 8.0+, Android 4.0.3+). This app provides access to Canvas for both instructors and students while on the go. Depending on your device, not all Canvas features may be available on the app at this time. View Canvas mobile features by version and device.

Recommended Browser

Canvas supports the last two versions of every browser release. Canvas highly recommends updating to the newest version of your browser, as well as the most up-to-date Flash plug-in.

As of December 21, 2015, Canvas supports the following versions of Flash and web browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 11 and Edge
  • Chrome 46 and 47
  • Safari 8 and 9
  • Firefox 42 and 43 (Extended Releases are not supported)
  • Flash 17 and 18 (used for recording or viewing audio/video and uploading files)
  • Respondus Lockdown Browser (supporting the latest system requirements)


Quizzes in Canvas are assignments that can be used to challenge your understanding and assess comprehension of course material.

Student Video: Quizzes


  • You can only see certain types of quiz results, depending on your instructor's preference.
  • Some instructors will allow you to retake a quiz. If you can retake the quiz, you will see Take the Quiz Again button.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search to start planning ahead.