How Canvas Organizes Content
Penn State uses an online course management system called Canvas to deliver most of its online courses to registered students. (For more information about Canvas, visit the Canvas Getting Started page). Canvas organizes content using different sections in its site. Here is how we use it for the Penn State courses that use this course text. (Registered students might want to open Canvas in a second tab or browser window while studying this page.)
Main Menu in the left pane:
- Courses - This section provides links to all courses in which you are enrolled.
- Calendar- This is the official record of assignment due dates. Refer to this page to see when you are instructed to begin working on readings or assignments and when you are instructed to complete quizzes and projects.
- Inbox - Here is where you can send messages to your instructor, grading assistant, and other students in class. Please try to utilize this section for most course communications.
- Account - This is where you can customize your personal profile, Canvas settings, and how you want to be notified about activity in the course (e.g., email forwarding).
Menu of links once inside a course:
- Modules - This section contains the bulk of the course materials. Here, you'll find separate modules corresponding to each lesson. Contents of these modules include:
- links to course text pages,
- links to external reading material,
- discussion forums, and
- drop boxes where you will submit your assignments.
- Syllabus - This section contains a link to the complete syllabus document in our course text website, which details all of the expectations, deliverables and policies of the course. Also provided is a summary of the course schedule where you can track your progress.
- Grades - This page allows you to view your assignment grades.
- People - This section list all of the members of the course and provides a link to each individual's profile page so you can learn more about them.
For a more complete introduction to Canvas, please see the Canvas Getting Started page.
Configure Your Canvas Account
To get the most out of Canvas, registered students should configure their Canvas profiles as follows:
- Update your "Profile" for Canvas to make sure that the rest of us have current information about you.
- Click "Account" in the main menu, and follow the "Profile" link.
- Click the "Edit Profile" button to enter biographical information about yourself, your interests, etc., that you want to share with others in the class.
- Provide links to other sites that are relevant to you and share any social media outlets you'd like people to know about.
- Set up your course email preferences. It is very important that you specify a personal email address in your Canvas account.
- Click on the "Settings" link. By default, your Penn State email address is included; be sure that any other preferred email address(es) are listed on this page. If you would like to have information sent to a different or additional account, click the "Add Email Address" link and provide the address.
- Click on the "Notifications" link. On this page, you can specify what kinds of communications you want sent to any of your email address(es). To forward all Canvas email messages to your regular email account, change the settings for each of the items under "Conversations" to "ASAP". This will forward all messages in the Inbox section of Canvas to your external email account.
- Feel free to configure the other items on this page as you see fit. We recommend that you enable email notifications for other items, such as discussions and announcements so you don't miss important information.
- NOTE to registered students: All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State email accounts (your @psu.edu email account), not the Canvas Inbox. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State email to your preferred email account, so you do not miss any important information. You can control the forwarding (recommended, easy) of your @psu.edu email account by going to your Penn State Account.
- There is more information concerning this in the "Communication" section of the Orientation.
Need Help with Canvas?
When in Canvas, at the bottom-left corner of the screen, you will see a round icon with a question mark. Click this question mark icon for a list of options, including "Search the Canvas Guides," which provides lots of information about how to operate in the Canvas site.