Canvas Resources

Canvas Learning Center and Training Schedule

Penn State's Instructor Resources

Guides created and updated by Canvas

Canvas' Instructor Guides

Penn State's Canvas Tips via weekly emails

Penn State's Canvas List Serv

Self-guided Canvas Training

College of AG Faculty Orientation

College of Agriculture's Instructor Tips


Announcements allow you to communicate with your students (individually or as an entire class) about course activities and post interesting course-related topics. As soon as you have created an Announcement, students will be notified automatically, according to their preferred Notification Preferences.

Instructor video: Announcements Overview


  • Comments are included by default, but can be disabled as needed.
  • Feed posts from your blog or other information sources directly into your Announcements page using RSS
  • Once you click Save, your announcement will immediately be posted in your course (unless you are using the delay posting optio n)
  • Consider requiring students to post to an announcement before they can see replies.
  • Both Course and Group Announcements are available
  • Listed in reverse chronological order, with the newest appearing at the top.


Create Quizzes, graded Discussions, and online submissions (ex: files, images, text, URLs, etc.).

Instructor videos:


  • Use Assignments to turn in work like in a dropbox
  • Assign work to everyone in the course or differentiated by section, user, or student groups
  • Link to SpeedGrader to streamline grading student submissions
  • Correlate Assignments to the Gradebook- The U. S. Department of Education indicates that gradebooks are adequate documentation of a student's last date of attendance.
  • Set up peer reviews
  • Use to record attendance (through participation)
  • Create ungraded activities
  • Assess submissions with moderated grading and multiple reviewers
  • Use Assignments to create Journal entries.


The Calendar helps students and instructors see what assignments and events are coming up in the course.

Instructor video: Calendar Overview


  • Due Dates
    • Canvas will adjust due dates and times according to the time zone of the person, based on their individual settings. For example, if students in EST have an assignment due at 11:59 pm EST, the assignment for students in MST will be due at 9:59 pm EST or 11:59 pm MST. Student's individual settings must be correct for their time zone to avoid deadline confusion.
  • Adding Events to the Calendar
    • Events may be added to the Course Calendar (ex: field trip, study session, etc.). Events placed in a course appear in both the Calendar and Course Syllabus. Not as much detail is included as with an Assignment.
  • Add a "reoccurring" event to the Calendar
    • Course Calendar events may be repeated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. They are not supported in personal calendars. Repeated events may be deleted or edited individually on the Course Calendar.
    • Avoid Tying Assignments/Quizzes to Repeating Events. Create Assignments outside of the calendar instead.
  • "Starts:" Dates
  • If you set the "Starts:" date for a course and check the "Restrict students from viewing course before start date" box, your students WILL be able to access all of the published material in your course.
  • To prevent your students from accessing the course, you must set a start date, check the "Users can only participate in the course between these dates" box, and check the "Restrict students from viewing course before start date" box. Checking both boxes will prevent the student from seeing the course on his/her Canvas dashboard until the start date you set.
  • If you set a "Start" date, check the "Users can only participate...", and don't check the "Restrict students from viewing..." box, your students will see the course in the dashboard and they WILL BE ABLE TO see all of your Canvas content, post to discussion forums, and use the Canvas course email (Conversations). The students WILL NOT BE ABLE TO submit any assignments or take any quizzes. In Canvas, "participate" means submitting assignments.
  • Consider allowing students see a course in the dashboard prior to the start date to confirm successful course registration. To do this, set a start date, participation and viewing options, and then use the "Lock Until" feature on all of the modules within the course.
  • "Ends:" Dates
    • Leave blank if you want to allow your students to enter the course after the end of the term.
    • To shut down a course, you can also "Unpublish" the course prior to the first day of class and then manually "Publish" the course on the first day of class.


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.

Instructor Video: Chat Overview


  • 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.
  • Consider posting chat hours in the course calendar to let students know when you are available. Or you can open Chat in a new browser window while viewing other areas in Canvas.


Visually shows a list of all of your favorite courses.

Instructor Video: Course Creation & Management

  • 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.
  • The 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.


  • At the bottom of this list, click on the "All Courses" link. Highlight or deselect the star to allow courses to be viewable in your Dashboard.


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.


  • 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). Then there are two options: Ignore and Ignore Until New Submission. When Ignore is selected for an assignment, the item will be hidden for six months.
  • Green icons indicate the item has been graded for all students


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 as an assignment for grading purposes (and seamlessly integrated with the Canvas Gradebook), or simply serve as a forum for topical and current events. Discussions can also be created within student groups.

Instructor Videos:


  • Discussions can be used for class discussion assignments and for general discussion/questions.
  • Group Discussions areas can also be set up for Course Groups. This can be useful for communications within a group (ex: General Course Questions, Projects, Study or Brainstorming zones,etc.)
  • The Discussions Index Page is organized into three main areas: Discussions, Pinned Discussions, and Closed for Comments Discussions.
  • Discussions are not the same as Announcements.


Files are where you upload course files, syllabi, readings, or other documents. As an instructor, you can lock the folders so students cannot access your files. Files can be placed in Modules, Assignments, or Pages or can be organized course documents by day, week, or unit. Additionally, files can be copied from one Canvas course to another, and Files and folders are put in alphabetical order and cannot be rearranged.

Instructor Video: Files: Add Course Content

  • 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)-- View a video about personal files
  • Course files, located in each course (students, teachers, and TAs unless files are locked by the teacher)-- View a video about Course Files
  • Group files, located in each group (students and teachers who are enrolled in groups)

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


  • Each user automatically has 50GB of storage space in Canvas.
  • For instructors uploading media files into courses, Canvas converts video and audio files up to 500 MB through the media tool. If a file exceeds the 500 MB limit, you can host the file through an external source such as YouTube and embed it using the Rich Content Editor.


Grades can serve as a communication tool between students and instructors and allow instructors to track the progress of students. The Gradebook stores all information about student progress in the course, measuring both letter grades and course outcomes. As a reminder, the U. S. Department of Education indicates that gradebooks are adequate documentation of a student's last date of attendance.

Instructor Videos:


  • Discussions along with quizzes and "Assignments" are all types of items that can be graded. Once they are created, a column is automatically added for them in the gradebook.
  • Students can submit a URL (e.g. an external project site URL) to an Assignment. The Canvas rubric tool can be used to grade these assignments.
  • Assignments can also be set to "No Submission" or "0 points" in order to create a column in the Canvas Gradebook (ex: journal/lab report outside of Canvas or importing data from other sources, such as a set of test score, tracking attendance with the Canvas Attendance tool)


Create groups so that students can communicate and share documents. Use for graded and ungraded assignments or semester-long projects.

Instructor Video: Groups: Creation and Management


Within Groups, Instructors can:

Large enrolling courses with groups and concluded students: Currently, if a student drops the course, they are marked in the course as "concluded." Any student who ever added the course--from when registration started through to the end of the drop-add period--shows in the roster as "concluded." However, when you automatically create groups -- it puts everyone in the roster--whether they are concluded or not--into a group. Unfortunately, you have to print the drop/add report, manually go through every group in the course, and remove concluded students from each group. Then they are listed in the groups area as "unassigned," so it looks like these students are needing to be added to a group. In addition, this functionality means it's theoretically possible for a student to be assigned to a group of which they are the only member, but the other members look like slackers because they aren't actually enrolled.


Modules organize content in a one-directional linear flow to help users follow the course. Modules can be organized by weeks, units, or a different organizational structure that works for your course. Each module can contain files, discussions, assignments, quizzes, and other learning materials that you would like to use.

Instructor Video: Modules: Creation and Management


  • Press the comma key to see keyboard shortcuts for Modules.
  • Easily organize Modules and elements using the drag and drop feature.
  • Create prerequisite activities that students must complete before moving on in the course
  • Create sequential, scaffolded Assignments by including Requirement Options:
    • View the item: Students must view the item.
    • Mark as done: Students must mark the module item as done before they can progress.
    • Contribute to the page: Students must post a reply to the discussion topic or contribute content to a page (for pages, make sure students are allowed to edit pages in the course).
    • Submit the assignment: Students must submit the assignment, graded discussion, or quiz.
    • Score at least: Students must meet a minimum submission score. With this option, an additional field appears where you can enter the minimum score that students must earn.


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

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)


Pages are where you can put content and educational resources that are part of your course but don't necessarily belong in an assignment, or that you want to refer to in multiple assignments. This is a place where you can include text, video, and links to your files. You can even make links to other pages.

Instructor Video: Pages: Management and Creation


  • Students can create their own pages in groups to collaborate, document, etc.
  • Pages can also be used as a collaboration tool where you can create class wikis and set specific user access for each page.
  • Canvas keeps the entire history of the page so you can see how it changes over time.


Shows all the users enrolled in your course, either added by you or your institution.

Instructor Video: People Overview

For each user, the People page shows:

  • the user's name
  • Login ID
  • SIS ID --this column requires permission to view SIS IDs
  • Section --may be enrolled in more than one section
  • Role
  • Last Activity --allows you to see how often students interact with the course.
  • Total Activity --allows you to see how long students interact within a course and is associated with page views. Total activity requires a two-minute page view minimum for performance.


  • You can add a user into any role available in your course, including custom roles as created by your admin. If you are not sure about what permissions are allowed for a specific role in your institution, please contact your Canvas admin.


The Syllabus in Canvas makes it easy to communicate to your students exactly what will be required of them throughout the course in chronological order. The Syllabus automatically adds assignment due dates to the bottom of the page. You can also set the syllabus as your course home page.

Instructor Video: Syllabus Overview


  • Syllabi can be viewable by the public through Canvas.
  • 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 shown in regular text.
  • A lot of content in a syllabus can cause students to miss important due dates at the bottom of the page. If this is the case, consider splitting your Syllabus or linking to your Syllabus. Ask you Instructional Designer for more details.


Quizzes in Canvas are assignments that can be used to challenge student understanding and assess comprehension of course material. The quiz tool is used to create and administer online quizzes, surveys, exams, and assessments, both graded and ungraded.

Instructor Videos:

Canvas has four different types of quizzes:

  • A graded quiz (most common) quiz automatically creates a column in the Gradebook for any graded quizzes you build.
  • A practice quiz is ungraded (do not appear in the syllabus or Gradebook) and can be used as a learning tool to check learning progress.
  • A graded survey allows points for completing the survey, but is not graded based on right or wrong answers.
  • An ungraded survey allows for opinions or other information from students, without receiving a grade or appearing in the Syllabus or Gradebook.

Quiz Options:

  • Shuffle Answers - Randomize answers or shuffle questions by creating a question group.
  • Time Limit - Choose to set a time to complete the entire quiz or students will have unlimited time to complete the quiz. Timed quizzes begin once a student begins the exam and will not be paused if the student navigates away from the quiz.
  • Multiple Attempts. Multiple attempts can increase mastery learning.
  • Quiz Responses - Default option - Allows students see what they answered, any automatic feedback generated by the quiz for correct or incorrect answers, and which questions they got wrong. Restrict students view of results to Only Once After Each Attempt. Students will only be able to view the results and correct answers immediately after completion.
  • One Question at a Time - Show one question at a time and lock questions after answering.
  • Correct Answers - Default option - Enables a green "Correct" tab on every correct answer for the entire quiz. Control when and for how long students can see the correct answers by setting dates (and specific times, if desired) in the Show and Hide fields. If the Only Once After Each Attempt option is selected, it will override any show or hide dates or times
  • To show answers immediately after quiz is submitted, leave the Show and Hide fields blank.

  • To create a date range to display the answers, set a start date in the Show field and an ending date in the Hide field.

  • To always show answers after a specific date, set a date in the Show field.

  • To hide answers after a specific date, set a date in the Hide field.


Course Availability

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