Using Canvas while teaching promotes a consistent academic experience for students, ensures students have access to course resources and information, and protects the privacy of student education records. A cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) that brings instructors, students, and course content together in online course sites, Canvas streamlines course management and communication in your course.
Benefits and key features of Canvas include:
- Sharing and updating class materials and assignments
- Tracking student performance
- Facilitating course-based communication, collaboration, and information exchange
This page provides links to Canvas tutorial guides and videos as well as some recommended practices to get you started in customizing course content. This page is intended to help instructors save time in searching for appropriate guides on different tools and functions within Canvas.
For Canvas questions, please contact the A&S Canvas Support team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arts & Sciences Policy on Minimum Use of Canvas in Undergraduate Courses was approved by the Faculty of Arts & Sciences in April 2023. This policy is posted on the Inside Artsci forms and policies page.
Accessibility in Canvas
Access and equity for students with disabilities
How do I use the accessibility checker in the rich content editor as an instructor?
How do I use the Microsoft Immersive Reader in a course as an instructor?
Analytics in Canvas
How do I view course analytics?
Once I publish a quiz, what kinds of quiz statistics are available?
Arts & Sciences Minimum Use of Canvas
Arts & Sciences Minimum Use of Canvas policy
At a minimum, all undergraduate courses should:
be published in Canvas with a syllabus, ensure all digital course content is accessible in Canvas (content may be hosted elsewhere, but linked in Canvas), have grades for all course assignments and assessments entered in Canvas (overall and/or final course grades may be hidden from students), ensure course-wide communication is available through Canvas & facilitate ease of course navigation in Canvas.
Courses are published in Canvas with a syllabus
Courses must be published prior to the start of classes to allow students to access course content and the course syllabus. Publishing the course 24-48 hours (or Friday prior) before the first class meeting is recommended to allow time to copy course content and adjust due dates as needed.
Note: Not all course content needs to be published in full, but having a published Home page and Syllabus page with a pdf uploaded course syllabus is recommended. While a paper copy of the syllabus can be handed to students in class, a course syllabus should also be made available to students in the Syllabus section of the course.
The Syllabus page is where you can post your course description, a brief introduction, class guidelines, weekly reminders, and other important information. The Syllabus in Canvas makes it easy to communicate to your students exactly what will be required of them throughout the course. You can copy content from Word documents directly into the Rich Content Editor or create original content inside of the Rich Content Editor. Students may not see the syllabus if only posted in Ares or WebFac or Box, posting to Canvas allows students to have all course elements in one place.
Faculty can publish a course from the Dashboard, the Course Home Page sidebar, the Course Settings sidebar, or the Course Setup Checklist.
- You must publish a course before students can access it and its contents. Students cannot see unpublished courses and content.
- Publishing your course will send invitations to any users who were manually added to your course. Users added via SIS import will not receive an invitation.
- If your course has been published and includes grades, you cannot modify the course's published status.
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 Course Summary is automatically generated based on course assignments and course calendar events. You can choose to disable the Course Summary. Items within the Course Summary can only be changed by editing or deleting the assignments or events. All assignments (unpublished and published) are listed in the syllabus for instructors.
All digital course content is accessible in Canvas
Before publishing your course, use the Link Validator tool and Student View feature to ensure course content is linked correctly. Review any student accommodations to ensure course content is accessible with Screen Readers, Closed Captioning in line with Canvas features for accessibility. Embed any outside links as pages to allow students to view content inside Canvas, such as YouTube videos, research articles, library content, etc.
Why should content be accessible?
- Inclusive teaching builds on the responsibility of the instructor to ensure that all students have the chance to participate fully in the learning process in a course. Making course materials, including classroom content, more accessible enhances student engagement with subject material and encourages full participation.
- While accessible course content helps everyone learn, it is especially important for students with learning-related disabilities, those with chronic health problems, or those who find themselves in unanticipated circumstances, as well as for students acclimating to the university setting. Inclusive teaching strategies do not negate the students’ own responsibility for and agency in their learning.
- Making classroom content accessible supports student learning. When the instructor provides access to content conveyed during class time on a regular basis in combination with the use of strategies to encourage attendance, all students in the course, not only students who miss class, benefit because they have opportunities for review and more in-depth acquisition of the material.
- Providing access to class content helps to address significant concerns about and reduce student self-recording of class sessions.
- Accessible class content not only benefits student learning, but also streamlines the workload of the instructor, especially if they plan and communicate to their students at the beginning of the semester how missed classroom content will be made available in their course.
By law, learning materials, including interfaces, images, sounds, multimedia elements, and all other forms of information, must be made available for use by anyone, regardless of disability.
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
- ADA Compliance Checklist for Online Courses
- Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
As an instructor, you can manage the details in a Canvas course. The Course Settings page may allow you to manage the course identification details, course Dashboard image, Blueprint information (if any), file storage data, course grading scheme, course license, course visibility, course format, and other options available for the course.
You can view a course the same way that your students view your course through Student View. Enabling Student View creates a Test Student in your course. You can also activate Student View in your Course Settings.
To see the student's perspective on Canvas, use Student View to view the course, post and reply to discussions, submit assignments, view grades, view people, view pages, view the syllabus, view quizzes, view the calendar, and view the scheduler (if enabled).
As an instructor, you can verify links to course content throughout your course to ensure they are valid. You can check these links using the course link validator, which searches through course content and returns invalid or unresponsive course content links in both published and unpublished content. However, please note that some links flagged as unresponsive are inaccessible by Canvas servers and will still work for students.
The link validator also includes deleted links. Deleted links are links that are still in the course, but their linked content has been deleted (such as a course file or page).
The Rich Content Editor includes an accessibility tool that detects common accessibility errors within the editor. You can use the Accessibility Checker to design course content while considering accessibility attributes. This tool only verifies content created within the Rich Content Editor. You may use other accessibility tools to verify additional content in Canvas.
All accessibility components retain the parameters set by your institution's Theme Editor template. The Accessibility Checker verifies the following accessibility rules:
- Adjacent links: Adjacent links with the same URL should be a single link. This rule verifies link errors where the link text may include spaces and break the link into multiple links.
- Heading paragraphs: Headings should not contain more than 120 characters.
- Image alt text: Images should include an alt attribute describing the image content.
- Image alt filename: Image filenames should not be used as the alt attribute describing the image content. Currently, files uploaded directly to Canvas create a redirect that does not properly verify image filenames.
- Image alt length: Alt attribute text is recommended to contain fewer than 120 characters.
- Large text contrast: Text larger than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 3:1.
- Lists: Lists should be formatted as lists.
- Sequential headings: Heading levels should not be skipped (e.g. H2 to H4). However, the tool does not check if the first header starts with H2 or whether the headings are sequential with the rest of the content in the page. Tables do not begin with H1, which is designated for the page title.
- Small text contrast: Text smaller than 18pt (or bold 14pt) should display a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
- Table captions: Tables should include a caption describing the contents of the table.
- Table header scope: Table headers should specify scope and the appropriate structure.
- Table header: Tables should include at least one header.
Note: For text contrast, the Accessibility Checker verifies color using the same calculations as the WebAIM tool and verifies against Theme Editor templates without High Contrast Styles. However, High Contrast Styles must be enabled for verification if a link color is overwritten manually in the Rich Content Editor.
Courses have grades for all course assignments and assessments entered in Canvas
The Gradebook helps instructors easily view and enter grades for students. Depending on the Grade display type, grades for each assignment can be viewed as points, percentage, complete or incomplete, GPA scale, or letter grade. Only published graded assignments, graded discussions, graded quizzes, and graded surveys will be displayed. Add an assignment for all assignments, discussions, quizzes, along with due dates, point settings, rubrics, and availability. Assignments should be returned back with grading and feedback within 1 week of the assignment due date.
Note: Even if assignments are given in class, an assignment field can be entered in the Canvas gradebook where grades can be entered manually.
As an instructor, SpeedGrader allows you to view and grade student assignment submissions in one place using a simple point scale or complex rubric. Canvas accepts a variety of document formats and even URLs as assignment submissions. Some document assignments can be marked up for feedback directly within the submission. You can also provide feedback to your students with text or media comments.
You can enable an existing grading scheme for your course by editing your Course Settings. If you need to change your course grading scheme at any time, you can manage the grading schemes and find a new scheme.
Assignments include Quizzes, graded Discussions, and online submissions (i.e. files, images, text, URLs, etc.). Assignments in Canvas can be used to challenge students' understanding and help assess competency by using a variety of media. The Assignments page shows students all of the Assignments that will be expected of them and how many points each is worth. Assignments can be assigned to everyone in the course or differentiated by section or user.
You can add a rubric to an assignment to help students understand expectations for the assignment and how you intend to score their submissions.
In addition to setting a due date for an assignment, instructors can specify a specific date range when students can submit the assignment. These dates are called availability dates. These dates are optional and can be set depending how you want to manage the assignment.
The Total column in the Gradebook displays a running total of all graded assignments in the course, including assignments with hidden grades.
You can customize the Total column in your Gradebook. The Total column can be moved to the front of the Gradebook or sorted to display grades in an ascending or descending order. You can switch your students' total grades from a percentage to a point value in the Gradebook. By default, total grades are shown as a percentage with two decimal places.
Course-wide communication is available through Canvas
Canvas provides multiple ways to connect and communicate with your students, including Announcements and Inbox.
Announcements allow instructors to communicate with students about course activities and post interesting course-related topics. Announcements are designed to allow instructors to broadcast information out to all members of a course or to all members of sections within a course. Students may be able to reply to announcements, but replies are not considered to be a conversation and do not appear in the Inbox.
You can set new announcements to post at a certain date and time. The delayed post information also displays directly in the Announcements page. Delayed announcements are not displayed to students until the intended date and time.
The Inbox is a messaging tool used to communicate with a course, a group, an individual student, or a group of students. You can use the Inbox to communicate with others in your course.
Canvas includes a set of default notification settings you can receive for your courses. However, you can change the default settings by setting your own notification settings. These settings only apply to you; they are not used to control how course updates are sent to other users.
Instructors facilitate ease of course navigation in Canvas
For optimum course experience, navigation should clear and consistent to hide unnecessary course navigation links. Update course navigation links by hiding unused links and adding links as needed.
Note: Links with no content (Modules, Assignments, and Announcements) will be hidden until content is added or published.
As an instructor, you can control which links appear in Course Navigation. Canvas includes a set of default Course Navigation links that are shown by default and cannot be renamed. Depending on your course configuration, other links may be available and may be customizable.
Modules allow instructors to organize content to help control the flow of the course. Modules are used to organize course content by weeks, units, or a different organizational structure. Modules essentially create a one-directional linear flow of what students should do in a course.
Each module can contain files, discussions, assignments, quizzes, and other learning materials. Module items can be added to the course from existing content or new content shells within the modules. Course content can be added to multiple modules or iterated several times throughout an individual module. Modules can be easily organized using the drag and drop feature. Elements within the modules can also be reorganized by dragging and dropping.
Pages store content and educational resources that are part of a course or group but don’t necessarily belong in an assignment. Pages can include text, video, and links to files and other course or group content. Pages can also be linked to other pages. They can also be used as a collaboration tool for course or group wikis where only specific users can have access. Canvas keeps the entire history of the page to account for changes over time.
Browser & Computer Requirements for Canvas
What are the computer specifications for Canvas?
- For best performance, you should access Canvas with a computer that supports the most recent browser versions. It is recommended to use a computer five years old or newer with at least 1GB of RAM.
- Canvas should be used on the current or first previous major releases of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari.
- Canvas runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, or any other device with a modern web browser.
- Your computer operating system should be kept up to date with the latest recommended security updates and upgrades.
Along with compatibility and web standards, Canvas has been carefully crafted to accommodate low bandwidth environments. It is recommended to have a minimum Internet speed of 512kbps.
Canvas supports the current and first previous major releases of the following browsers:
- Chrome 90 and 91
- Firefox 89 and 90 (Extended Releases (Links to an external site.) are not supported*)
- Edge 90 and 91
- Respondus Lockdown Browser (supporting the latest system requirements (Links to an external site.))
- Safari 13 and 14 (Macintosh only)
Zoom System Requirements
- An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE). Minimum bandwidth is 600kbps (up/down) and recommended is 1.5 Mbps (up/down). Check your Internet bandwidth using Speedtest(external site).
- A microphone: built into your computer or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth.
- Built-in headset jack from laptop or desktop. Even if your laptop or desktop has speakers, you must plug in a headset so that the sound from the speakers does not cause an echo in the Zoom meeting. Any headset with a 3.5mm plug will plugin.
Browser Plugins and Extensions
Some browser plugins or extensions may conflict with Canvas and affect functionality. If you experience behavior that does not allow you to view or participate in Canvas courses, please ensure you have disabled any extensions or plugins that interact directly with your web browser.
For troubleshooting, consider logging in to Canvas using an incognito or private browser window, which will provide a browser session without any prior browsing or search history, associated browser cookies, or other factors that may interfere with the browser. If you are able to view and participate in Canvas using an incognito or private browser window, the behavior you are experiencing is likely related to the browser and not Canvas.
Browser Privacy Settings
To ensure browser security, follow all browser security policies established by your institution, especially if you are using Canvas on a computer provided by your institution.
When displaying content, Canvas defaults to the preference set by a specific browser. Some browsers may occasionally make modifications to privacy settings to protect users from possible insecure content. Insecure content is identified with the prefix http:// in the URL and can create mixed content in your Canvas Page. Secured content is identified with the https:// prefix in the URL. For the best user experience, content should be secure to avoid browser conflicts.
- If you are a Canvas admin, insecure content may be caused by hosting an insecure JS/CSS file outside of Canvas. If custom uploads are supported for your account, you can host your file in the Canvas Theme Editor, which will resolve any browser conflicts.
- If you are a Canvas instructor who embeds Canvas lessons inside your course, you can prevent browser issues with mixed content using secured Canvas Guides URLs.
- Macintosh: VoiceOver (Links to an external site.) (latest version for Safari)
- PC: JAWS (Links to an external site.) (latest version for Chrome and Firefox)
- PC: NVDA (Links to an external site.) (latest version for Chrome and Firefox)
Canvas is committed to W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. To learn about supported screen reader and browser combinations, please see the Canvas accessibility standards (Links to an external site.) document.
Canvas on Mobile Devices
The Canvas interface was optimized for desktop displays, so using small form factors such as phones may not be a pleasant experience in using Canvas. For the best user experience, please download the Canvas mobile applications. The Canvas mobile applications require Android 6.0 or later and iOS 13.0 or later.
Canvas offers limited support for native mobile browsers on tablet devices. For additional details, please reference the limited-support mobile browser guidelines.
Canvas Mobile Users
Canvas Resources & Training
What are some common issues and concerns with Canvas?
What is the Canvas Community?
What is WashU Extended Learning (Canvas Catalog)?
Access not-for-credit, continuing education, professional development, and other programs.
To contact support for WashU Extended Learning, click the Help button within the system or contact your program administrator.
Current Releases & Deploys
Integrating the Library into Canvas
Best Practices for Using Canvas
Canvas YouTube Channel
Canvas Enhancements and New Features
Online Learning Consortium (OLC)
The Online Learning Consortium is the place to learn about quality online education since 1999. It provides learning opportunities for faculty and instructional design professionals and promotes research on innovative ways to engage students in an online environment. OLC membership for all students, instructors, and staff at WashU is provided by the Center for Teaching and Learning, University College, School of Medicine, Olin Business School, and McKelvey School of Engineering.
Canvas Service Requests
Adding a person to a course request
Request a person be added in a guest, guest student, or observer role to your Canvas course. Other roles must be added in the Student Information System (SIS) by departmental WashU Course Listings (WUCRSL) admins or school registrars – they cannot be added in Canvas only.
Non-Curricular course request
Request a Non-Curricular Course for courses that are needed for purposes outside the regular curriculum. Courses in the regular curriculum are scheduled through WashU Course Listings (WUCRSL). Courses outside the regular curriculum are referred to as Non-Curricular Courses (in Blackboard, these were called “Organizations"). A Non-Curricular Course is a course that isn’t part of the regular curriculum, but delivers required content to students.
Canvas demo course request
Request a demo course to help you get started. A demo course serves as a “sandbox,” a place where you can give Canvas a try and experiment with features of the LMS.
Support for a Canvas external tool request
Request help for integrated External Tools (such as Kaltura, Turnitin, Poll Everywhere, and others). External Tools (also known as "applications," "apps," and/or "LTIs") are developed by other third-party vendors to integrate with the Canvas LMS. Request help via this form.
Communicating in Canvas
What are announcements?
How do I download the Canvas mobile app?
How do I manage my notification settings as an instructor?
How do I leave feedback comments for student submissions in speedgrader?
Creating Assignments in Canvas
How do I create an online assignment?
How do I create a discussion as an instructor?
How do I create a quiz with individual questions?
What options can I set in a quiz?
Once I publish a quiz, how do I use moderate quiz?
What is the difference between assignment due dates and availability dates?
What are student annotation submissions?
Digital Teaching Tools
Grading in Canvas
How do I use the canvas gradebook?
What is speedgrader?
Using Canvas with EGrades
How do I use Gradescope?
How do I cross-list/merge a section in a course as an instructor?
How do I post grades for an assignment in the gradebook?
Academic Integrity at Washington University
Merging Courses in Canvas
How do I cross-list a section in a course as an instructor?
Cross-listing allows you to move section enrollments from individual courses and combine them into one course. This feature is helpful for instructors who teach several sections of the same course and only want to manage course data in one location. Instructors can allow students to view users in other sections or limit them to only view users in the same section. Section names do not change when they are cross-listed; the section is just moved to another course. Cross-listing should be done while courses are unpublished. Coursework is retained with the course, not with the section enrollments, so if a published course is cross-listed, all cross-listed enrollments will lose any associated assignment submissions and grades.
To cross-list a course, you must know the name of the course or the course ID into which you are cross-listing. However, using a course ID is a better way to confirm you are cross-listing a section into the correct course. You can find the course ID by opening the course and viewing the number at the end of the browser URL (e.g. account.instructure.com/courses/XXXXXX).
Sections can only be in one course at a time. Once a section is cross-listed, you can re-cross-list the section into another course if necessary.
How do I de-cross-list a section in a course as an instructor?
If you cross-listed a section from a course, you may be able to cross-list the same section back into the original course. This process is called de-cross-listing and returns all student enrollments back to the original course section. However, once you de-cross-list enrollments, all grades and student submissions are removed from the course (since the course can no longer associate the information with any course enrollments). If you need to retain student grades and put them in the original course, you should export the Gradebook and import it into the original course before de-cross-listing the section.
How do I view differentiated assignments with different due dates in a course?
Differentiated Assignments is a Canvas feature that lets you create different due dates and availability dates for assignments, quizzes, and discussions. Assignments and graded discussions can be differentiated for individual students, sections, or groups; quizzes can only be differentiated for individual students or sections. You can designate if the assignment will be limited to those students, sections, or groups or if it will also be assigned to everyone else in the course.
When using differentiated assignments with the Gradebook, the assignment appears as a column for all students, but grade cells are grayed out for students who have not been included in the assignment. Grades cannot be assigned for students who have not been included in the assignment. Additionally, assignments that are not assigned to students—whether individually or as part of a section, group, or entire course—are not factored into overall grades. Differentiated assignments are also respected in Multiple Grading Periods.
On the student grades page, students can only view assignments that have been assigned to them. Differentiated assignments do not affect your students since they will only see the assignment that have been assigned to them. However, when an assignment includes more than one section, group, or user, Multiple Due Dates will appear across your entire course including Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, Syllabus, Modules, Course Analytics, Calendar, and SpeedGrader.
Publishing a Course in Canvas
How do I publish a course?
How do I validate links in a course?
How do I view a course as a test student using student view?
Merging and Cross Listing Sections
Setting Up A Course in Canvas
Starting the Semester
Using Canvas while teaching in person or fully online promotes a consistent user experience for students and ensures materials are included with each new course. This page provides links to Canvas tutorial guides and videos as well as some best practices to get you started in customizing course content. This page can help save time in searching for the appropriate guides and can empower faculty to take their course to the next level by exposing them to Canvas guides on different tools and functions.
Where do I login to MyCanvas?
Are you an instructor who is new to the University and having issues signing in to Canvas? You will only have access to Canvas and be able to log on after your department has assigned you a role in a course through WUCRSL.
How do I use the course setup checklist?
How do I change the course home page?
How do I copy a course into a new course shell?
How do I manage course navigation links?
How do I add a module?
How do I add course content as module items?
How do I create an online assignment?
How do I use the syllabus as an instructor?
What are pages?
What are profile and user settings?
How do I use the people page in a course as an instructor?
How do I use the dashboard as an instructor?
How do I view a course as a test student using student view?
How do I create a Microsoft Office 365 collaboration as an instructor?
How do I use Box in Canvas?
How do I use Kaltura in Canvas
How do term dates, course dates, and section dates work in Canvas?
Using Zoom with Canvas FAQ
Need Help with Canvas?
Who do I contact for help with Canvas?
Canvas 24/7 Support
Click “Help?” within Canvas (bottom left global navigation link) to contact Canvas Support specialist by chat or phone.
- Canvas support is your first line of support available to all WashU faculty, staff, and students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Support provides one-on-one assistance by Canvas experts over chat or phone.
- Canvas support can navigate into your course to see what questions/issues you are experiencing and can provide solutions, tutorials, and workarounds.
- They can assist with all Canvas tasks such as copying a course, adding due dates, creating announcements, building assignments and rubrics, creating discussions, quiz settings, using video, formatting courses, and more!
- Check the Current Operational Status of Canvas
Search the Canvas Community Website
- Join the Canvas Community and type your question in the search area to view instructions & resources about the topic.
- Canvas Community provides step-by-step instructions, videos, ideas, troubleshooting for all things Canvas. The Community allows users to post questions and receive answers/suggestions from Canvas experts and other users.
- You can also submit feature requests and see updates about new tools in Canvas.
A&S Canvas Support Team
- Email us at: email@example.com
- Sample requests include: adding users to a course (Guest, Guest Student, Observer), creating demo courses, merging/cross-listing course sections, can also assist with design ideas, best practices, and training
- Help with tools including Lockdown Browser, Turnitin, Poll Everywhere, Zoom, Kaltura, Gradescope, Box, and Zoom
- Request an instructor Demo Course
- Request to add a guest, guest student, or observer to a Canvas course
- 'Observer' is the default role for requests. Requests for 'Guest Student' will require permission from the registrar's office.
- Canvas course roles and permissions
- To learn more about recommendations for effective Canvas use and for additional help, see ArtSci Canvas Support.
- For a more detailed walk through checklist, use the Course Setup Checklist inside of Canvas.
- You can also access more comprehensive resources guides in the Welcome to Canvas 2.0 course. If you cannot access the Welcome to Canvas course, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WUCRSL Department Contact
- Your WUCRSL Department Contact can assist and answer questions about adding teaching/support roles in WUCRSL (AI, TA, Grader, Support, TA, AI), course listings/sections/enrollments, and adding/removing users from a course (incompletes).
- Arts and Sciences Policies & Procedures
School-Level support contacts
For additional help, contact your School Canvas Administrator
Canvas offers students 24/7 technical support. Simply click the Help button from the Global Navigation Menu and select Chat with Canvas Support (Students) or Canvas Support Hotline (Students). You can also Search the Canvas Guides to find answers or Report a Problem.
Canvas training services portal
The Training Services Portal offers real-time sessions presented directly by Instructure, the makers of Canvas, at a variety of dates and times. These webinars are offered free of charge to WashU participants through a subscription sponsored by WashU. Access the Training Services Portal through the “Help” button in the Canvas main menu.
Canvas overview videos
The Canvas Community offers valuable video collections on many topics relating specifically to students, instructors, admin and all users roles.
WUCRSL department contacts
Your WUCRSL Department Contact can assist and answer questions about adding teaching/support roles in WUCRSL (AI, TA, Grader, Support, TA, AI), course listings/sections/enrollments, and adding/removing users from a course (incompletes).