GEOG 571
Intelligence Analysis, Cultural Geography, and Homeland Security

Course Management System


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 (4:21)

200 - Canvas Overview for Students from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Click for Transcript of Canvas Overview

In this video, you will learn about your Canvas Dashboard and Global Navigation links. You’ll also learn about navigating a course and accessing assignments.

When you log in to Canvas, the first thing you see is the Dashboard. It provides a high-level overview of your current courses. You may be able to select from 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 all course To Do items in an agenda view to help you easily manage tasks across all of your courses. List View opens to the current date. You can scroll up and down on the page to view past or future items.

The last dashboard view is Recent Activity, which displays a stream of recent notifications from all your courses, including announcements, conversations, assignments, discussions, and peer reviews.

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

From the Account link, you can modify your user settings, specify your notification preferences, upload personal files, manage ePortfolios, and log out of Canvas. 

Click the Dashboard link to return to the Canvas Dashboard at any time.

Click the Courses link to quickly access your favorite courses and to view a list of all your courses. 

Click the Groups link to access any current groups in which you are enrolled or to 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 conversations to your instructors and peers within Canvas.

And finally, click the Help link to access help resources for your institution.

Now let’s take a look at the Course interface. Click the Courses link and then click the name of the course you want to visit. Canvas automatically opens courses to the course home page set by your instructor. The course interface consists of four main components. Course content displays in the Content Area. You can use the Course Navigation links, breadcrumb navigation, or the Sidebar to navigate to different areas of the course.

The course home page sidebar includes a To Do list displaying items that you need to do in your course. You can click any assignment name to view the assignment, and to submit the assignment click the Submit Assignment button. Return to the course home page by clicking the Home link in Course Navigation or the course name in breadcrumb navigation. 

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.

You can view recent assignment feedback in Recent Feedback. Click the assignment name and view feedback in the Submission Details page.

You may be able to view your course grades by clicking the Grades link in Course Navigation. You can also access the course grades page from the Course Card and Recent Activity dashboard. Click the View Grades button and click the course name. The Grades page displays your current course grade and a clickable list of all the course’s graded assignments and assignment details.

You've now completed this Canvas Overview Video for Students. For additional information on this or any other topic about Canvas, please visit You can also ask questions and engage with other Canvas users by visiting

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.

Configure Your Canvas Account

Your Canvas Profile and User Settings let you control your personal information in Canvas. Take a few minutes to personalize your Canvas profile and set your Notification Preferences, by following the instructions below.

Setting Up Communications

Task Instructions
Personalize your Canvas Profile
  • Go to Canvas.
  • Click on the 'Account' link.
  • Click on the 'Profile' link.
  • Follow the instructions on the Canvas Profile and User Settings page to customize important aspects of your profile including, but not limited to your preferred e-mail address(es) and text (SMS) contact method for course notifications, your time zone, and your profile picture.
If you use PSU OneID

Students who are enrolled with OneID will not receive emails automatically from Canvas due to not having PSU email access. We advise that students set up a personal email address for notifications.

  • Log into Canvas
  • Click on the "Account" link
  • Click on the "Settings" link.
  • In account settings, add a personal email address on the right-hand side.
  • Go to Account>Notifications to set specific notification settings, as described in the next section.
Set your notification preferences

You have the option to select how, when, and for what information you would like to receive notifications. This can be very helpful when keeping track of items such as discussion posts, assignment due dates, and exams. Visit Canvas Notification Preference Support and follow the instructions for setting up your notification preferences. The video below this table provides additional information.

To ensure that your Canvas Inbox messages forward to your regular e-mail account immediately, check the "Notify me right away" option (the checkmark) for each item under "Conversations" in Notification Preferences.

Set your timezone
  • Go to Canvas.
  • Click on Settings in the Course navigation menu.
  • The Course Details page will open.
  • In the Time Zone drop-down menu, select a time zone for your course.
  • Scroll down and click Update Course Details.

Download the Canvas App For information on using the app by device, please see the following:

Video Tutorial: Canvas Notification Preferences (4:28)

Click for Transcript of Notification Preferences in Canvas

In this video you will learn about Notification Preferences.

To get started, click the Account link in the Global Navigation menu. Then click the Settings link. 

To add additional contact information, use the options in the Ways to Contact section.

To add an email, click the Add Email Address link. Enter your email address in the provided field and click the Register Email button. After your email has been registered, you will receive a confirmation email. To complete registration, click the link provided in the email.

To add a mobile number, click the Add Contact Method link. Enter your phone number, carrier and, if applicable, your SMS email. Then click the Register SMS button. You will then be sent a text with a short code. To confirm your phone number, enter the code in Canvas and click the Confirm button.

The Web Services section allows you to link your Canvas account with your existing Twitter, Google Drive, Skype, and LinkedIn accounts. By default, Canvas does not disclose your information to other users within the system unless you give consent. 

To change how often you receive notifications, click the Notifications link in the settings navigation menu. Notification preferences are divided into sections including: Course Activities, Discussions, Conversations, Scheduling, Groups, Alerts and Conferences. Contact methods linked to your account will be listed in individual columns. You can set notification preferences for each category and contact method separately.

To change how often you receive notifications, select one of the notification icons. To receive notifications immediately, select the checkmark icon. To receive notifications daily, select the clock icon. To receive notifications weekly, select the calendar icon. To opt out of notifications for a feature, select the X icon. Notification preferences set on this page will apply to all of your courses.

You've now completed this tutorial video on Notification Preferences. For additional information on this or any other topic about Canvas, please visit You can also ask questions and engage with other Canvas users by visiting

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.