Canvas FAQs for SWOSU University Faculty

Get started right away with Canvas with these top Faculty Canvas Frequently Asked Questions!

How do I log into Canvas for the first time—what will my username and password be?

What are my SWOSU DawgTag / Password for logging into Canvas?

How do I reset my password if I've lost or forgotten it?

Download the Canvas Instructor FAQ/Guide or view it online here.

Accessing Canvas

Canvas FAQ


Accessing Canvas

What do I need to access Canvas and my classes?

In order to access Canvas, you need a computer with Internet access and an active Canvas user name and password, provided by SWOSU. Your user name is your SWOSU DawgTag, which is 8 digits long. Canvas can be visited via most major web browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari, and is supported under Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX operating systems. Here is the list of browsers that will work with Canvas. Internet Explorer 8 is no longer being actively supported for use with Canvas, so please upgrade your Internet Explorer browser. Though it will work with Canvas, Internet Explorer is not recommended as a first choice. Here's how to navigate Canvas.

How do I log into Canvas for the first time—what will my username and password be?

To log into Canvas, use your full 8 digit SWOSU DawgTag as your username. Your LMS password will be reset to your default password, which you can change once you log into Canvas.

Your Canvas account is automatically activated and available when you teach for SWOSU; instructors automatically receive a Canvas course for each course they are teaching. Students are automatically added to Canvas courses when they register. Other SWOSU employees who need to use Canvas need to contact ITS (580-774-7070).

What are my SWOSU Dawg Tag / password for logging into Canvas?

Your Canvas username is your full 8 digit SWOSU DawgTag. (SWOSU refers to FL123456 as your “DawgTag”).  Your “DawgTag” will be comprised of the first initial of your first name + first initial of your last name + your SWOSU ID#.  You can contact the ITS Help Desk (580-774-7070) if you are still unable to locate your SWOSU DawgTag. 

To log into Canvas, use your full 8-digit SWOSU DawgTag [S1] as your username. You can contact the ITS Help Desk (580-774-7070) if you are unable to locate your SWOSU DawgTag.  

Initially, the password will be set to the SWOSU default for faculty. The username is not case sensitive but the password is. It’s highly recommended that the password be changed the first time you log in to Canvas. You may change your password by clicking on Settings, Edit Settings, and select Change Password.

Your Canvas account is automatically activated and available when you teach for SWOSU; instructors automatically receive a Canvas course for each course they are teaching. Students are automatically added to Canvas courses when they register. For non-traditional (auxiliary) courses employees need to contact ITS (580-774-7070).

How do I reset my password if I've lost or forgotten it?

If you have previously logged in to Canvas successfully and changed your password so that it's no longer the default password. If in this case, you lose or forget your password, then click on the "Don’t know your password?" link on SWOSU's log-in page for Canvas. Enter your email address and a link will be emailed to you with instructions for resetting your password. Please see this video tutorial for more details on how to change your password to a password of your choice.

How do I change my password for Canvas?

Please see these illustrated steps for instructions on how to log in and change your Canvas password to another password of your choice. You are free to change your password at any time.

How do I update my profile in Canvas (e.g., add a nickname or a biography, add in Facebook or another service)?

To edit your profile, click on your name in the top right corner of the screen once you've logged in to Canvas. Then click the "Edit profile" button at right. To edit other aspects of your Canvas profile, click on the Settings link at the top right corner of the screen, next to your Inbox.

By clicking on the Settings link in the upper-right corner of the Canvas interface, users can also:

  • add a profile photo
  • adjust Notification preferences--what kinds of activities in Canvas will prompt it to send you messages, and how you prefer to receive those messages
  • upload files
  • create ePortfolios
  • input or change phone numbers, email addresses, social media information, notification preferences, and other profile information in Canvas. Please note: your principal email address will remain your SWOSU email address.
  • You can add a secondary email address to your profile.
  • You can link your accounts from Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google, LinkedIn, Diigo, and Delicious to Canvas, and you can choose to receive alerts on your cell phone from Canvas too!  

How do I customize the alerts I receive from Canvas?

To customize the Notifications or alerts you receive from Canvas click on the Settings link in the upper-right corner of the Canvas interface. You can control how often and through which channels--email, cell phone text message, Facebook, Twitter, etc.-- you receive Notifications.

Will Canvas work on my mobile device or iPad?

Canvas functions fully on several smart phones due to its minimal use of Flash. Compatible devices include the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, Android, Palm and Blackberry. The first native mobile applications Instructure has released are SpeedGrader and Canvas for iOS. On Android devices, browsers that work well are Opera, Firefox and Dolphin Browser HD. Others are functional but these three are currently recommended. Additional mobile applications are planned or are under development. Please consult Instructure's website at help.instructure.com for the latest updates regarding using Canvas on mobile devices and iPads. You can also consult the Canvas Instructor Guide's section on mobile apps here.

There is an iPad app for using Canvas in general and there is an iPad app which focuses on the SpeedGrader that is only available to Canvas instructors.

I'd like to have a "sandbox" course or a course for collaboration.

If you would like to have a Canvas course to store your course materials, to use for practicing, or for collaboration with colleagues, contact ITS for more information.

Which time zone does Canvas operate in?

The time zone that SWOSU's Canvas system uses is Central Time and we observe Daylight Savings. You can set your personal profile to reflect the time zone you are in if it differs from Central Time.

Canvas FAQ

How do I learn to use Canvas?

Please see our workshop page for faculty and staff. We recommend as well that you explore the tutorials in Canvas' YouTube channel and the information at Canvas Guides. The Canvas instructor's manual is posted online in the Canvas Guide for Instructors--scroll down and look for the link to download it.

Is there an instructor manual for Canvas?

You can find the Canvas Guide for instructors online here. At help.instructure.com, you can also find the Canvas Guide for students, the Canvas Community, the page for placing and voting on feature requests, and more.

What are the basic features of Canvas?

There are too many features of Canvas to list in this space but several of the basic features of Canvas include Pages, Assignments, Files, Quizzes, Discussions, and putting all those features together in Modules. Another key feature of Canvas is the Notifications that you can customize in your profile to enable Canvas to alert you in various ways (email, text message, via Twitter or Facebook, among others) to significant activities occurring in your Canvas courses.

I've got a question about the Canvas Gradebook.

Click here to visit our Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ for Faculty page. (LINK TO:  Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ for Faculty)

Who do I call or send my students to for Canvas support?

Students can click on the Help link at the top right corner of the screen while logged into Canvas to request help. We recommend that students check out the tutorials in Canvas' YouTube channel and the [S2] information at Canvas Guides.

Students can also call the Center for Distance and eLearning at 580-774-3149 for assistance 8:00 a.m.-10:00p.m.  Monday-Thursday and 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Friday.

Is a student orientation for Canvas available?

Yes, we have an Explore Canvas Module that faculty can copy into their Canvas courses can use to orient students to Canvas. Please go to the Canvas Resources for students on the Center for Distance and eLearning website to obtain this module.

How do I enable students to access my course?

To enable students to access your course, you'll need to "publish" it. Click here for a tutorial on how to publish your course. Once a Canvas course is published, it cannot be reverted to "unpublished" so be sure you publish when you're ready.  If you would like to prevent students from accessing your published course temporarily, there is a workaround you do with by adjusting the course's start/end dates which is described online here. Canvas courses can be "unpublished", "published", and "concluded."

Concluded courses exist in a "read-only" mode; students can only view them passively. We do not suggest that you conclude your course. About a week after the semester ends, Canvas will automatically conclude your course for you.

Note: If your students are not sure what their SWOSU DawgTags are, which they'll need for logging in to Canvas, you can either direct them to this Canvas FAQ page for students (LINK TO:  Canvas FAQs for SWOSU Students) .

I have a student with an Incomplete grade who needs access to my course.

If you anticipate that a student will need to access your course after a semester ends, you must adjust the course's start/end dates before the semester is over. About a week after the semester ends, Canvas will automatically "conclude" your course for you, changing it to what is called "concluded" or "read-only" status unless you've changed the course's dates yourself beforehand. To adjust the course's dates, click on the Settings button, then the Course Details tab. Edit Course Details. Be sure that the start date is today or a previous date, and make sure that the course's end date is far enough in the future to give your student enough time to complete the course. Check the box next to "Users can only participate in the course between these dates."  Click the blue button marked "Update Course Details."

If the semester has already ended and the course is "concluded", please contact the ITS for assistance.

Oops, I published my course--how I can hide it again from students?

To give students access to your course, you must "publish" it. Once a Canvas course is published, it cannot be reverted to "unpublished" so be sure you publish when you're ready—this is not like Desire2Learn's course availability setting which could be switched off and on repeatedly. If you would like to prevent students from accessing your published course temporarily, there is a workaround which is described online here. (Click here for a tutorial on how to publish your course.)

What is the Course Setup Checklist?

The first few times you create a new course in Canvas, it can be a challenge to remember all of the steps required. The Course Setup Checklist exists to help you remember to cover all your bases before the course goes live. And here's a video tutorial on using the Course Setup Checklist.

Why is Canvas sending me so much email?

Canvas will contact you as part of its Notifications feature. You can customize the notifications or alerts you receive from Canvas so that you receive the right amount of communication from Canvas. By clicking on the Profile link in the upper-right corner of the Canvas interface, users can adjust notification preferences--what kinds of activities in Canvas will prompt it to send you messages, and how you prefer to receive those messages.  Canvas gives users the ability to receive a variety of different notifications via email, text message, or other registered services like Twitter and Facebook. You can also set different levels of frequency for each type of notification Canvas offers.

How can I add or change a profile picture?

Please click here for a tutorial on adding or changing your profile picture in Canvas. Where does this profile picture display? Which is next to your discussion posts and in course rosters, for example.

How do I customize my course list? 

You can customize the list of courses you see from the dropdown menu of Courses. Please click here for a tutorial on customizing that course list.

I need help with the Files area of my Canvas course.

To explain the basic features of the files area of your Canvas course open the File area, the left hand window can be used as a table of contents.  At the beginning if you are adding courses directly into Canvas, first, create folders to get you organized, then click on add files to add files from your pc to the folders.  You can verify what is in your folders by clicking on the arrow or clicking on the name of the folder itself.  You can also use the left hand window to preview files by clicking on the file name.  Once you add all your files they are in canvas so the files do not need to download. 

On the right hand side, you get an editing tool bar so you can lock the file, or you can hold your left mouse button down on a pc or the mouse button on a mac and drag the file to another location.  You can also change the item’s name or simply delete the item all together. On the left of the file there is an icon that shows what kind of file the item is, pdf or word, etc.  You may not see a four headed arrow but a hand depending on your browser.  You can hold down your mouse button and drag and put that individual item into a folder.  You need to make sure that you place the item over the folder icon for it to go into the folder, otherwise it won’t go in.  You can click on the folder to see what is inside of it. 

If you want to move the item to another folder or location, click on the item, hold down on the mouse button and move it to the left side in to one of the folders or to the top or general space which is the name of the course. 

I need help with the Pages in my Canvas course.

Canvas’ Pages feature is a content presentation tool.  It is essentially a wiki--an easily editable webpage with WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) editing so that you know immediately what you're creating. It includes a rich content editor, so you can use it as a place to put course material. Here’s a Pages video tutorial.

I want to change or reorganize the menu buttons at left in my Canvas course.

Teachers can hide and reorder the menu buttons of the navigation menu along the left side of their Canvas courses. For a tutorial on how to reorganize this menu, please click here. Please note that the Home button will always remain at the top and the Settings button (which is inaccessible and invisible to students) will always remain at the bottom. A hidden area's items can still be placed in Modules so for example a teacher could hide the Quizzes button but still place quizzes inside individual modules.

The navigation menu's buttons cannot be renamed--their names must remain the same. Each button leads to a feature-rich area of your Canvas course: none are just empty spaces or "holding tanks" for content, in other words, there are always tools and features in each area. By default, all of these buttons are active for all courses. However, it's important to be aware that buttons that link to sections that don't have any content (besides the tools and features native to that area) will be "grayed out", until content is added. For example, if there are no quizzes in the course, the "Quizzes" link will be gray. Also, if a teacher hides a navigation button, the students will not be able to see that button at all and the teacher will always see that button, but its text will be gray.

How can I set up announcements to display when students first enter my course?

The Announcements section in your Canvas course cannot be set to be the "welcome screen",. The front page of the courses is a recent activity stream.  To change the home page of the course, go to the left hand side of the screen and click on Home.  The default is the communication stream of the course, in the dropdown menu, drop down to a page that you will design yourself, click update.  Click edit this page, if you want to turn this into an announcement page, enter the date return, type your announcement, and save.  Then the students will see this page when they enter the course.  Next week you can go in and edit this page with a new date and announcement at the top of the page, and you can continue doing that. 

Or you can actually use the announcement page, so on the home page enter “Click here to see the announcements”.  Highlight it go to the right hand side of the page under links and click on Announcement and then click on the Announcements List.  This will link your words to the Announcement’s list.  This is just another way to get the announcements to the students other than having the students click on the Announcements button on the left hand side. 

If you want to have the students just go to the home page for the announcements you can hide the Announcement button so that the students cannot see it. To drag a button on the left off so that the students can’t see it, click on the settings then navigation and drag the Announcements button to the bottom of the page and hit save. You can do this for all the buttons on the left except the Home button.  You can see all the buttons but not the students. 

I want to send an email out to my students.

Canvas doesn't have an email tool that broadcasts out emails to students (the way that Desire2Learn did).

Canvas assumes that with the ability to set up custom Notifications, students are getting the message in the channels they prefer--but that important conversations should be in one central location: Canvas itself.

Instead of emailing out to users, Canvas uses its Conversations tool, an internal messaging system entirely based within Canvas. You can use Conversations to send messages to any other SWOSU Canvas user--you don't need to be in a course together.  So students can contact instructors whose courses they may take and have questions about--and you, the teacher, can reply with a file attached, like the syllabus.

Additionally, any responses by students to your comments, announcements, any comments that they leave while turning in assignments, etc., is automatically copied into this inbox. You can also message colleagues and know that with Canvas' powerful Notifications, your colleague will probably be alerted quickly in that a message is waiting in the Conversations inbox. Click here for a tutorial on Conversations.

How do I build an Assignment to collect work from my students online?

Assignments in Canvas are basically anything you wish to assign students-- tasks with or without grades, and with or without a digital file to turn in. In Canvas, you can only generate more columns in the Gradebook by creating new graded items, such as tests, Assignments, and graded discussions. You can however create Assignments that are set to not require any submission by students and then manually input grades into the column that is generated in the Gradebook.

By default the Assignments page will show your students all of the Assignments that will be expected of them and how many points each is worth. The Syllabus area will also automatically gather together all of your course's Assignments in a table, above which you'll find a box that is a Page that you can edit just as you would any other Page.  One other thing to know about Assignments: you can build either a fully-fledged Assignment in one sitting or you can build what Instructure calls an Assignment Shell, which is basically just a placeholder that you'll edit and develop more fully later. Assignment Shells can be built in multiple places (your Calendar, the calendar in the Syllabus area, Modules, the Assignments area). Students can't submit anything to an Assignment Shell so it's possible to sketch out your course's Assignments first with Assignments Shells then fill in all the details as you edit your Assignments later.  Here is a tutorial on how to create an Assignment Shell from the Assignments area.

Please visit this tutorial to learn how to edit your Assignments-- there are many choices that make this a very powerful feature of Canvas! Just a few things to know: you can require students to submit their work digitally in certain ways (upload a file, input a URL, share a Google Doc, or type in text are some of the choices) and you can specify whether there is something to submit or whether there's nothing to submit. The "no submission" choice can be used to grade attendance or oral presentations, for instance.

How do I find the work my students submitted for an Assignment?

To quickly and easily see which students have turned in work, just go to the Gradebook in Canvas. In the column for an Assignment, if a student has submitted work then an icon will replace the dash there's there by default in empty cells; the icon will vary depending on the type of submission (e.g., file upload, Google Doc, text entry, etc.) Launching the Speed Grader tool will allow you to view and download these submissions. For more assistance with the Gradebook and Speed Grader, please visit our Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ for Faculty page. (LINK TO:  Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ for Faculty)

Can one Assignment accept multiple submissions?

Yes, all Assignments will accept multiple submissions as long as they are open. If you set time/date restrictions, then those restrictions will control when the Assignment will accept submissions. Each submission is marked with the date and time it was submitted so you can easily distinguish among them. Canvas will also mark if a submission was turned in past the deadline. However, please be advised that students will only see their most recent submission--not all of their submissions-- for an assignment when they return to the page where they submitted their work or check their Grades section. To select a particular submission by a student who's submitted more than once, go to the grade book, look at the cell for the assignment, click on the cells and decide which of these submissions you would like to view. Another way is to launch the SpeedGrader for that particular assignment, which you can do from the assignment itself or the column in the Grade center, you can choose which assignment you would like to view.

How can I use the Turnitin anti-plagiarism tool with my Assignments?

The Turnitin anti-plagiarism tool is integrated into Canvas for Assignments that are set to accept Online Submissions. Turnitin originality checks are only available for online submissions of student work collected through an Assignment with Turnitin enabled. Be sure as you create your Assignment to also check the box for "Enable Turnitin Submission Evaluations." You will then be able to access Turnitin reports on students’ work that was submitted via such an assignment in the gradebook and SpeedGrader. Once an assignment submission has been evaluated a Turnitin icon will appear as part of the submission details. The color of the icon is an indicator of the general level of the Originality Report. Possible colors are green, yellow, orange, red, blue (no score) or gray (score pending). However, it is critical with Turnitin as with all such anti-plagiarism tools, that the instructor carefully reads the Originality Report for each student’s submission. Long quotations, even if properly cited, can sometimes be marked as plagiarism, for example.

I need tech support with Turnitin.

SWOSU instructors can call Turnitin at 1-866-816-5046 ext. 241, Monday-Friday, from 7:00am-midnight, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 3:00pm to midnight. SWOSU students and instructors can submit a ticket by visiting turnitin.com and then hovering over "Support" and clicking on "Help Center." Then, once you're on the Help Center screen, look for the red button at lower left labeled "Create a ticket." Click on that button to create your request for tech support.

I would like to use an e-textbook from CourseSmart in my Canvas course.

Please note: your students must purchase the e-book from CourseSmart in order to read it online or offline. To include the e-book(s) in your Canvas course, you must first create a module in the Modules section, then choose to "Add External Tool" to that module. There are two External Tool options for CourseSmart: the CourseSmart Bookshelf, which simply displays all the e-books each individual Canvas user has purchased (it recognizes you since your identity is confirmed by logging in to Canvas), and the "Assign Your CourseSmart Textbook," which enables an instructor to link to a particular e-book and even designate a specific page within that e-book as the first page displayed when students click on the link. With both of these External Tools, be sure to check the box for having the tool open in a new browser tab. Once you set up either tool, you can rename it, just use the editing pencil icon to the right for that tool, just like renaming other items in your module.

For technical support, Southwestern Oklahoma State University students and faculty should contact CourseSmart Solutions’ Customer Support via the following methods:

  • Call toll-free: 877-216-7231.
  • CourseSmart Solutions Support site at http://support-solutions.coursesmart.com/: Includes self-service options, help topic articles and other modes to contact customer support (chat and email).  The Solutions Customer Support team is available 24/7.
  • Please note: Your students might find CourseSmart’s regular customer support site for students that purchase directly from CourseSmart's website. Please be sure to distribute to your students the correct information listed above for the CourseSmart Solutions Customer Support team.

How can I collect Google Docs items from my students in a Canvas Assignment?

There are some preliminary steps before you can successfully collect Google Docs items such as spreadsheets, presentations, and documents via Canvas Assignments from your students.

  1. all students must have a Google Account that they're familiar with using as they will need to opt for a sharing or privacy setting that will allow you to view their creations, as the default setting is to keep their Google Docs items private--and if a student posts the link to a private Google Docs item into Canvas, you will not be able to view it.
  2. your Assignments should have the choice for Online Submission enabled; checking this box will provide you with some further options. Select the choices for Allow File Uploads, Allow Text Entry, and Allow Website URL. This will give your students some flexibility-- they will be able to share the links for their Google Docs items in various ways with you, by pasting their links into the text box (Text Entry), by pasting their links into the box for a URL (Allow Website URL), or, if they've added their Google Account to their Canvas user profile, through the Google Docs tab (File Uploads).

How do rubrics work with Assignments and the SpeedGrader?

To create a rubric for use with your Assignments, click on the Outcomes button, then Manage Rubrics. Then at the right, you'll see the option for adding a new rubric. For a tutorial on creating and editing a rubric, please click here.

What are Assignment Groups?

Assignment Groups are basically a way to organize and manage your course's graded items. As you create Assignments, Quizzes, graded Discussions and so on, you can organize them using Assignment Groups. You'll name your Assignment Groups as you create them. Assignment Groups can contain various kinds such as graded Discussions, Quizzes, and Assignments. Besides organizing items, Assignment Groups are a must if you intend to use a weighted total to calculate final class grades as explained in our Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ. (LINK TO:  Canvas Grading and Testing FAQ for Faculty)

Plus, with Assignment Groups, you can set up grading rules that will govern how grades for items in that Assignment Group are handled by Canvas. For example, in an Assignment Group, you can drop the lowest grade or drop the highest grade out of that group. You can also specify which Assignments should never be dropped from the Assignment Group calculation, and more. By default, all Canvas courses start off with one Assignment Group named Assignments. You can find it listed in the Assignments section of your course. For a tutorial on creating Assignment Groups, please click here.

I'm having trouble previewing files in my Canvas course or in the SpeedGrader.

On Sept. 29, 2012, Canvas switched from the Scribd tool for previewing files to Crocodoc. Crocodoc currently can convert PDF files, Microsoft Word files (.doc, .docx), Microsoft PowerPoint files (.ppt, .pptx), and Microsoft Excel files (.xls, .xlsx) Crocodoc currently does not display images (.png, .jpg, etc.) Files generated by Microsoft Works, the free office suite on some PCs, are NOT accepted by Crocodoc. For more information regarding Crocodoc and Crocodoc tech support, please click here. For a chart illustrating how various file types are previewed, please click here.

How can I view my Canvas course as my students do?

Canvas has a “student view” feature that you can use to view your course as a student, including even taking tests! Click here for a tutorial on how to launch the student view.

When are student enrollments added to my class?

Each semester, student enrollments are added to all Canvas courses automatically as students register. Please check the Academic Calendar for registration periods. Before students register and are added to your course roster, they cannot access your Canvas course, even if you publish it. 

In the future, can I copy a Canvas course from a previous term rather than creating it again?

Yes, you can! The Course Import Tool will enable you to copy an entire course or parts of a course. Click here for illustrated instructions on using the Course Import Tool. In Canvas, course copying should be initiated in the course which lacks the materials you intend to copy-- the Course Import Tool will import or "pull" materials into the course where you launch it.

You can find this tool from the Course Setup Checklist and clicking on the "Import Content" option; or by clicking on the Settings button, and then on the screen that appears, clicking on the button at right marked "Import Content Into This Course." Then select "Copy content from another Canvas course," and follow the prompts Canvas will give you to transfer materials from your other Canvas courses into the course where you're working. You can copy the entire course, or just select specific items to copy. Do not select the option for "Import Quizzes" unless you have QTI files of your quizzes.

Another option for copying materials between Canvas courses is to create a Canvas export file package (it will end with the extension .imscc), which can contain either the entire course or just the quizzes and assessment materials. This is a good solution for sharing course materials with other instructors who are not enrolled in your course and therefore cannot use the Course Import Tool to copy materials directly from your course.

Does Canvas have a spellchecking tool?

No, Canvas does not have a built-in spellchecker. Your browser may have a spellchecker and if so, it will typically underline in red the words that it thinks aren't spelled correctly; then you can right-click or otherwise choose the correct spelling. Mozilla Firefox has such a feature that will function inside the text boxes that are part of Canvas Pages, Assignments, etc.

Can I switch my Canvas courses to a language other than English?

Yes, although the default language option is English, you can switch your course to Spanish. Click on the Settings button at lower left, then the Course Details tab. Click on the Edit Course Details button and choose Español. Although the course's navigation buttons and some other details will now be in Spanish, the same text editing toolbar will appear. There will not be accented letters such as "ñ" or Spanish punctuation marks available.

My course list doesn't show all of my Canvas courses! How do I access them?

Canvas displays up to 12 courses in the Courses drop-down menu. Once users have more than 12 courses, they may customize the drop-down menu to choose which courses will display. Click here for a tutorial on how to do so. After a semester ends, your courses from that semester will be retired from your course list. Also, if you're involved in many courses at once during a semester, you may not see all of your courses on your course list. In any case, you can always access all of your courses, past and present. Click on your course list and when that dropdown list pops open, look for the text at lower right that says “View all courses.” Click on that text and you'll be taken to a new screen which will list all of your courses, past and present alike. Click on a course's name to enter it.

I need help with Discussions.

Canvas provides an integrated system for topical and threaded discussions. Canvas has its own term for discussions-- what you might call "discussion forums" or "discussion boards," Canvas simply calls "Discussions."

Here are some of the basics regarding Discussions. By default, both instructors and students can start and contribute to as many Discussions as desired. Instructors can turn off students' ability to create new discussions. By default, students can create Discussions. Instructors can turn students' ability to attach files to their posts on and off. Again, unless an instructor specifically turns that setting on, students cannot attach files to their discussion posts.

Check on the settings for all of your course's Discussions by clicking the gear wheel icon at the far right in the Discussions section, next to the blue button for creating a new Discussion. There are 3 categories your Discussions can exist in one of three categories: "Pinned," "Open," and "Closed for Comments."

  • "Pinned" is for discussions that an instructor wants to leave at the top of the Discussions section regardless of the activity---just drag an existing Discussion up to that category's space to "pin" it.
  • "Open" Discussions are the Discussions that permit students to post and they'll be sorted by the last post date. In the "Open" category, the most active Discussions should float up to the top of that space while discussions that have no recent activity move down the list.
  • "Closed for Comment" Discussions do not permit students to contribute.

I'm having trouble writing a discussion post.

Please see this tutorial on how to reply to a Discussion post. You can easily reply to any Discussion, whether it's threaded or not.  Look for the word "Reply" and the arrow at lower left, below the post you wish to respond to. Click there to create a new post.

What does subscribing to a discussion mean?

You can "subscribe" to discussion threads within your courses and be notified when there are new comments. Don’t worry—you can unsubscribe from them too! This means that Canvas will notify you when new comments are posted to the Discussions in your courses. (Please note that users cannot subscribe to individual threads within a threaded discussion.) If you create a Discussion yourself, you will automatically be subscribed to that Discussion. You will also automatically be subscribed to any thread you respond to, but you can manually unsubscribe at any time. For a tutorial on subscribing and unsubscribing to Discussions, please click here.

Students aren't able to attach files to their Discussion posts in my course--help!

By default, Canvas discussions don't allow students to attach files. They can link to items that are housed online, such as images in Flickr, websites, or other online items. This is a course-specific setting that you as the course's instructor can adjust for each of your Canvas Courses.

Here are the basic instructions: Click on the Settings button at lower left, then click on the Course Details tab; next click on the "Edit Course Details" button and look for "More options" at the bottom, and click on that. You should see then see the option for enabling students to attach files to their Discussion posts.

Students can't embed images in their Discussion posts-help!

Students cannot embed images into discussion posts the same way an instructor can. To summarize: students are only able to embed images already online outside of Canvas in their discussion posts. They cannot upload an image file and embed that image into their posts.

Students have 2 options for including images with their discussion posts.

  1. they can attach files to their posts, if you’ve enabled that permission. The files are attached to the post, not embedded. You can confirm your discussion settings by visiting the Discussions area of your Canvas course, then clicking on the gear wheel icon at right.
  2. students can embed an image that is posted online elsewhere, not in Canvas, e.g. a photo posted at Flickr.com, or another website. Please click here for instructions.

How can I use the Canvas Calendar and Scheduler that I see when I first log in?

Please click here for a tutorial on using the recently updated Calendar feature. Please click here for a tutorial on using the Scheduler, which is great for setting up appointment time slots.

How can I find the URL (web address) of an image that is already online, so that I can embed it in Canvas?

An image that is already online can be embedded in a Canvas wiki page, assignment description, etc.

If a student has been asked to embed a photo in discussions, this is how they do that. Click on the discussion forum, click on the reply box, if you click in the box again you get options on the right, but the quickest way is to click on the little tree icon, if you know the URL already you can click on the bottom like to link to someone else’s video they don’t mind sharing. 

In Firefox, you can go to the image on the internet right click on the image and click on view image info.  It will bring up the URL, just right click and copy.  To double check that you got the image just paste it in the URL at the top and it should end with .jpeg or .png.  It ends with an image extension so it is the direct path to the picture.  Go back to canvas at the tree icon and paste the URL over the HTTP:// that is in the URL cell.  You do not want two HTTP://s.  Then click embed image.  Enter in Alternative Text describe the image.  Alt text is for visually impaired people who have screen readers on their computers.  Even if they cannot see the photograph the screen reader will read the alt text that you enter into the box.  Alt Text also appears when hovering over a picture on the internet.  Click on embed image.  Then click Post It to save it.

In Internet Explorer, you right click on the picture and it is under properties.  In Safari it is copy the image address.

Course Cartridges in Canvas

Textbook publishers commonly provide "course cartridges", "e-packs" or other supplementary materials. Since Canvas is still a fairly new LMS, you may have to ask your publisher if they are producing supplementary materials in a Canvas-readable format. This page from the Canvas wiki documents known compatibilities and possible workarounds for different publisher materials. First and foremost, faculty should ask the publisher if they can or will provide a Canvas-compatible course cartridge. Even if you know they don't have one, this kind of feedback may encourage the publisher to embrace Canvas.

If a Canvas cartridge is not available, try to import a Blackboard or Angel format cartridge into your Canvas course with the Course Import Tool, as Canvas supports both of this course package types already. Please see this tutorial on the Course Import Tool. You can also ask the publisher if a "Common Cartridge" format package is available. Common Cartridge is a global format for learning materials packages and Canvas accepts Common Cartridge.

Finally, please note that if your course cartridge or digital textbook originally required a code or key to install it or make it accessible, there is a good chance that it will not copy into a new course. Please contact your publisher for new materials and/or technical assistance if you have tried to copy it from D2L to Canvas and the copying fails, or creates empty items (quizzes with no questions, for instance).

Why did a student vanish from my People section and Gradebook?

If a student drops your course, he or she will no longer appear in the People section and the Gradebook once the system has had time to process this change in registration (typically one day).

What if I want to copy materials from my old Desire2Learn courses?

Please see the Exporting a D2L Course (Link to:  Exporting a D2L Course document) page for detailed answers and tutorials on this topic. SWOSU's Desire2Learn system will be taken offline on June 2014. D2L Courses will not be available after this date.

Is SWOSU's Desire2Learn system still available?  

SWOSU's Desire2Learn LMS system will no longer available online after June 30, 2014. For help with migrating course materials from Desire2Learn to Canvas, please see the Exporting a D2L Course (Link to:  Exporting a D2L Course document) for detailed answers and tutorials.

When will my course be deleted from the Canvas learning management system?

At this point, we are not scheduling any deletions of older courses in the Canvas learning management system. Please do not attempt to delete or "conclude" your Canvas course yourself.

I'm curious about Big Blue Button, the webconferencing tool accessed via the Conferences button in my Canvas course.

Please click here for a tutorial on how to set up a webconference using Big Blue Button. For a tutorial on the interface that you'll see while in a Big Blue Button webconference, please click here.

Please note: Big Blue Button does offer the option of recording your webconference. It also limits participation to 25 users at a time.

To learn more about Big Blue Button, please visit their website.

I'd like to use Respondus 4.0.5 to create tests or migrate tests from Desire2Learn to Canvas.

SWOSU instructors and staff can obtain a license from SWOSU to install Respondus 4.0.5 permanently on their computers.

Respondus 4.0.5 is a powerful tool for creating and managing exams that can be printed to paper or published directly to Canvas and other learning management systems (such as Desire2Learn, Moodle, and others). Exams can be created off-line by creating a specially formatted Word document that is then processed by Respondus; and Respondus can extract assessment materials such as tests, surveys, and question pools from certain learning management systems and then place them in another. So it is possible to use Respondus to extract ("retrieve") assessment materials from one school's learning management system and then upload them into a Canvas course. Respondus preserves media associated with your materials quite well. Please note, you can only connect via Respondus to courses (in any LMS) where you’re already enrolled as a teacher. However, Respondus does not currently have the capability to extract tests, etc., from Canvas though it can upload assessments directly to Canvas.

I'm interested in teaching an open online course via Canvas.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University does not offer open online courses or massive open online courses (MOOC) at this time. However, Instructure conducts open online courses via Canvas Network. Please visit Canvas Network for more information and to apply to teach.

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