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Canvas FAQs for SWOSU Students

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

View the Canvas Student FAQ/Guide 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 Single Sign On username and password, provided by SWOSU. To log into Canvas, sign into Single Sign On using your username and password, which you give when configuring your Single Sign On information.

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.

Will Canvas work on my mobile device?
Canvas functions fully on several smart phones. Compatible devices include the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, Android, Palm and Blackberry. 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 your mobile device or iPad. You can also consult the Canvas Student Guide online here for information about using mobile apps for Canvas.

How do I reset my Single Sign On password if I've lost or forgotten it?
Contact ITS (Information Technology Services) by calling their help desk at 580.774.7070, helpdesk@swsou.edu, or going by STF 246.

How do I edit my Canvas profile (e.g., add a nickname or a biography, add in Facebook or another service)?
Here are the basic steps: log in to Canvas, click on your own name in the top right corner of the screen, then click on the "Edit profile" button. Be sure to save any changes you make.

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? Next to your discussion posts and in course rosters, for example.

Which time zone does Canvas operate in?
The time zone that SWOSU's Canvas system uses is Mountain Time (seven hours behind GMT) and we observe Daylight Savings. You can set your personal profile to reflect the time zone you are in if it differs from Mountain Time. Please check with your instructor regarding deadlines if your time zone is significantly ahead or behind Mountain Time.

Canvas FAQ

How do I get help with using Canvas?
Students can click on the Help link at the top right corner of the screen while logged into Canvas to request help. Students can also call the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning at 580.774.3149. We recommend as well that students check out the tutorials in Canvas' YouTube channel and the information at Canvas Guides. The Canvas student manual is posted online in the Canvas Guides.

Is a student orientation for Canvas available?
Yes, we have an Explore Canvas for Students module available that teachers can copy into their Canvas courses. If your teacher hasn't done so, please ask your teacher to contact the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning to obtain this module.

How do I customize the Notifications I receive from Canvas?
By clicking on the Settings link in the upper-right corner of the Canvas screen after logging in, users can:

  • 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, social media information, notification preferences, and other profile information in Canvas.
  • 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! 

Will my teacher e-mail me from Canvas?
Canvas doesn't have an e-mail tool that broadcasts out e-mails to students. Instead, 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 e-mailing 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 whenever you write a comment when you submit an assignment, it's copied to the Conversations inbox for you and your teacher. Likewise, any feedback a teacher provides on an assignment you've submitted will be copied into your Conversation inbox for your convenience. Click here for a tutorial on Conversations.

When can I access my courses?
You typically will not have access to your courses in Canvas until the first day of class. You do not need to request access as you are automatically enrolled after registration in your Canvas course(s). If you register on the first day of class or after that date, it may take one business day before access is available as we update the information periodically, not instantaneously.

I can't see a course I registered for in Canvas. Why?
In order to view your course in Canvas, two things must happen:
You must be officially enrolled in the course; and your instructor must have "published" the course to make it available to students. If an instructor asks you to access a Canvas course but it is not listed in your My Courses list, ask your instructor if the course has been published yet. If the instructor has published the course, ask your instructor to check if you are on the roster. If you have recently registered for the course, please allow one day for your enrollment to be added to Canvas.

What happens in Canvas when I drop a course?
If you drop a course, then that course is deleted from your course list. You can no longer access that course once the system has had time to process your change in registration (typically this takes one day).

My course list doesn't show all of my 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.

How can 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.

How do I upload files for my Assignments?
Here's an online video tutorial to show you how to turn in an assignment.

Can I cancel a submission for an Assignment?
No, it is not possible to cancel your submission to an Assignment in your Canvas course. You can however return to that Assignment and re-submit your work, as long as the Assignment is still open for submissions. You can also write a comment as you submit work to explain the situation to your instructor. Canvas will keep track of the time and date each file is submitted for your instructor. However, be aware that you will only see your most recent submission for an assignment if you return to the page where you submitted or check the Grades section.

Can I submit files multiple times for an assignment?
Yes, you can return to an assignment and submit your work again, as long as the instructor has not restricted the assignment. You can also write a comment as you submit work. Canvas will keep track of the time and date each file is submitted for your instructor. However, be aware that you will only see your most recent submission for an assignment if you return to the page where you submitted or check the Grades section.

How do I know if I can retake a quiz?
Return to the quiz. If you see the button marked "Take the Quiz Again," then you are allowed to take the quiz again. If you are having an issue with a quiz, please contact your instructor for help.

Can the instructor give me extra time on a quiz or extra quiz attempts?
While this is technically possible for Canvas, you will need to check with your instructor to determine if he or she will give you extra time or extra attempts on a quiz. If you return to a quiz and see a button marked "Take the Quiz Again," then that quiz is set up to permit to you to take the quiz again.

How does the Turnitin anti-plagiarism tool work?
Turnitin is integrated into Canvas. In your Canvas course your instructor will set up an online assignment that will use Turnitin to analyze students' submissions. Turnitin's proprietary software then compares the paper's text to a vast database of 20+ billion pages of digital content (including archived Internet content that is no longer available on the live web) as well as over 220 million papers in the student paper archive, and 110,000+ professional, academic and commercial journals and publications. Turnitin often adds new content to keep its service up-to-date.

What about the Turnitin anti-plagiarism tool and my assignments?
Your instructor has the option of enabling the Turnitin anti-plagiarism tool to check assignments that are submitted online in your Canvas course. Please contact your instructor and/or your local campus if you have any questions about Turnitin or SWOSU's academic policies. The Turnitin student manual can be found online here. Student tutorials and FAQ about Turnitin can be found online here.

Please note: only the course instructor, and possibly a TA assigned to the course, can see a student's paper that is submitted to Turnitin. If a match is found between the student's paper and another student's paper, the instructor can request the matching paper from the other student's instructor. The instructors decide whether to share the matching paper depending on the circumstances. Turnitin agrees that students should own the copyright to their original work. A common misconception is that students relinquish their ownership rights when they submit papers to Turnitin. This simply isn't true: Students who submit papers to Turnitin retain the copyright to the work they created. For more information on privacy and Turnitin, please click here.

I need tech support for Turnitin, the anti-plagiarism tool.
One option is to let your teacher know that you need tech support with Turnitin. 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'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.

How do I attach files to my discussion posts?
Your teacher must turn on a particular course setting to enable you to attach files to your posts in discussions. If this setting is on, then you should see an "attach" option at the lower right when you are composing a discussion post. If you are not seeing this "attach" option, then ask your teacher to turn on this option.

How do I embed images in my discussion posts?
Students cannot embed images into discussion posts the same way an instructor can. To summarize: students can upload images to their personal file library in Canvas, or they can embed images already online outside of Canvas in their discussion posts. For instructions on how to upload an image file to your personal file library in Canvas, and then embed that image into a discussion post, please click here. The second option students have is to 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.

Finally, students can attach files to their posts, if the instructor has already enabled this setting in the course. The files will be not be embedded in the post however.

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.

How do I check my grades in Canvas?
This online video tutorial will demonstrate how to check your grades in your Canvas course. Final grades for your classes can be viewed by logging into WebAdvisor, clicking on the Students Menu, then clicking on Grades. Next, select the semester you're interested in, and click the Submit button. Your final grades for that semester will be displayed.

My teacher says there are comments written on my uploaded Assignment, but I can't find them. Help!
There are two ways that instructors can leave comments on Assignments you've uploaded. If your instructor has typed in comments, they can appear to the right of your Assignment when you click on Grades then that particular Assignment. This method of writing comments should also send you copies of the comments via the Canvas Conversations Inbox, which you can find by clicking on the "Inbox" link at the top right corner of the screen when you're logged in to Canvas. Your instructor can also place comments directly on the file you uploaded for an Assignment using a tool called Crocodoc. These Crocodoc comments can be a little trickier to find. Please consult this tutorial on viewing comments.

My teacher is holding a web-conference in Collaborate. How does that work?
You'll be given a link that you can use to join the web-conference, and this link can be copied and pasted into any browser. It's recommended that everyone first check their browser before attempting to launch a Collaborate session by clicking here. Instructors who lead a Web conference in Collaborate are called "moderators" and students are called "participants." Click here for a seven-minute video that will orient you to using Collaborate. For more information on Collaborate, please consult our FAQ page on Collaborate. You can also visit this page about Collaborate. Be sure to scroll down and click “For Participants" to find the information that is for students.

How do I use Respondus LockDown Browser when taking a test in Canvas?
Some instructors will require that online tests be taken with a special browser, Respondus LockDown Browser. This browser makes tests more secure. Typically you'll need to take a test that is set up for Respondus LockDown Browser at a SWOSU computer lab. Students will need to install Respondus LockDown Browser on their personal computers if they do not come to campus to take online tests. For the Respondus LockDown Browser Quick Start Guide for Students, please click here.

How long after the semester ends can I access my courses?
You should be able to view old courses past the end of each semester, but you will not necessarily be able to do any work in them. All Canvas courses will be set to a read-only mode about a week after the semester ends. If a situation arises where you need to do more work in an older Canvas course, but the course is in read-only mode, please consult your instructor first.

I have an incomplete grade and need to access a Canvas course, but I'm having difficulty.
You should be able to view old courses past the end of each semester, but you will not necessarily be able to do any work in them. All Canvas courses will be set to a read-only mode about a month after the semester ends. If a situation arises such as an incomplete grade you're working on, where you need to do more work in an older Canvas course, but the course is in read-only mode, please consult your instructor first. Your instructor should consult our Canvas Faculty FAQ page for instructions on how to make the Canvas course available beyond the end of a particular semester.

How can I take advantage of Canvas' hypothetical grades feature?
Canvas allows students to view not only their actual grades via the Grades section, but also to plug in hypothetical grades to assess their academic performance in a course and plan ahead. To learn more, please click here.

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