Controversies in the Earth Sciences

About Canvas


Penn State uses an online course management system called Canvas to deliver most of its online courses to registered students. Even though the course content for Earth 501 is open and available without having to go through a secure system, registered students need a secure way to submit assignments, receive grades, read copyrighted papers from the library, and generally make Penn State's lawyers happy. That's why I have to use a separate interface for the parts of the course to which only registered students have access.

How our course space in Canvas is organized

I made the default home page in Canvas the "Modules" page on which you will find a list of this course's lessons in order. If you expand the list you will get a link that goes to the website where the content lives, and you will also see links to the discussions and assignments that you need to turn in for each lesson. It is probably easiest to keep two tabs open when you are working on this course: one tab for the course content material, and one tab for Canvas.

If you have any problems with Canvas, you should tell me right away and also contact the IT Service Desk.

Following is information about Canvas, Penn State's Learning Management System (LMS). In Canvas, registered students may consult course calendars; communicate with instructors, teaching assistants, and fellow students; submit assignments; receive feedback from the instructor and teaching assistant; take online quizzes and surveys; and check assignment scores and course grades. A link to Canvas appears on every page.

Quick Guide for Students

If you are new to Canvas, it is strongly recommended that you complete the PSU: Canvas Student Orientation.

You may also want to review the Canvas Student Guide to acclimate yourself further, and watch the following video:

Video: Canvas Overview (3:30)

Credit: Canvas Overview for Students from Canvas LMS.

Click for Transcript of Canvas Overview

In this video, you will learn how to navigate your Dashboard, courses, and Global Navigation Menu in Canvas.

When you log in to Canvas, the first thing you see is the Dashboard, which provides a high-level overview of your current courses. The Dashboard can be displayed in three different viewing options.

Card View displays a course card for each of your favorite courses. Each card can include clickable icons for Assignments, Announcements, Discussions, and Files. List View displays an agenda view of graded items from your courses, as well as any non-graded items your instructors designate for a course To Do list. You can also add your own items to the agenda.

Recent Activity View displays a stream of recent notifications from all your courses, including announcements, conversations, assignments, discussions, and peer reviews.

You can also access the course grades page from the Course Card and Recent Activity Views by clicking the View Grades button. The Grades page displays grades for all of your courses. To view grade details for a specific course, click the name of the course.

To view a course, click the Courses link in Global Navigation and click the name of the course you want to view. The course opens to the home page set by your instructor.

You can use the Course Navigation links, breadcrumb navigation, or the sidebar to navigate to different areas of the course.

The sidebar includes a To Do list that displays links to announcements and other items that require action in your courses, such as assignments, quizzes, discussions, and pages.

If your course includes student groups, you can view a list of your groups in Course Groups. Click the group name to view the group homepage. View recent assignment feedback in Recent Feedback. Click the assignment name to view feedback in the Submission Details page.

Canvas displays a Global Navigation Menu that gives you direct access to your courses and other areas of Canvas.

Click the Account link to log out of Canvas, specify your notification preferences, upload and view personal files, modify your user settings, manage ePortfolios, obtain a QR code to log in to the Student app, view global announcements, and enable a high-contrast user interface.

Click the Dashboard link to return to the Canvas Dashboard. Click the Courses link to quickly access your favorite courses and view a list of all your courses. Click the Groups link to access groups in which you are enrolled or view a list of all your groups.

Click the Calendar link to view your personal calendar and course calendars. Click the Inbox link to view and send messages to your instructors and peers within Canvas. Click the History link to view a list of course content and content areas you have viewed within the last three weeks.

Click the Help link to access help resources for your institution.

Thanks for watching this Canvas overview video. To learn more about Canvas, ask questions, or engage with other Canvas users, please visit

Supported Browsers and Computer Configuration

The Canvas Help Center provides extensive, up-to-date documentation on making sure your computer is configured properly for Canvas. Failure to follow these recommendations may result in significant issues while viewing materials, taking assessments, and using drop boxes. Use of unsupported browsers is at your own risk.