Geology of the National Parks

Introduction to Canvas and Setting Up Notifications


Canvas is our course management system. Penn State has a very nice Canvas Student Orientation that you can review if you are new to Canvas or simply need a refresher.

Even if you are very familiar with Canvas, PLEASE read the remainder of this page and verify that your notifications are set up properly. Failure to do so will lead to you missing critical class information.

Profile and User Settings let you control your personal information in Canvas. Take a few minutes to personalize your Canvas profile 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.
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 the Canvas Notification Preference Support page (link is external) and follow the instructions for setting up your notification preferences. The video below this table provides additional information.

To ensure that your Canvas e-mail 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:

The following video (4:28) provides information about Canvas Notification Preferences.

112 - Notification Preferences from Canvas LMS on Vimeo.

Click for Transcript of Notification Preferences in Canvas

In this video, you will learn about Notification Preferences, which help you manage the frequency and mode in which you receive notifications from Canvas. Canvas supports notification through e-mail, SMS text message, and other external services. Canvas users can choose to receive notifications immediately, daily, weekly, or never.

To get started, click the Account link in Global Navigation. Then click Settings. In the User Settings and Profile Picture video, we discussed Ways to Contact in the right sidebar. To see how to add e-mail addresses and phone numbers to your settings, please refer to that video. Ways to Contact will play a role in where Notification Preferences are sent.

Web Services will also play a role in Notification Preferences. If you scroll down to the Other Services section, you will see a list of services that you can link to your Canvas account. When you register with other web services, you allow other users to connect with you via web services. You should already have accounts with any of the web services you wish to use before registering them in Canvas. By default, Canvas does not disclose your information to other users within the system unless you give consent. One of the services you can connect to is Twitter. By connecting to Twitter, you will receive notifications via Tweets according to your notification preferences. To connect to Twitter, click the Twitter button. A window will pop ­up asking for permission to connect your Twitter and Canvas accounts. To allow this, click the Authorize Twitter Access button. If you are not already logged in to your Twitter account, you will need to enter your login information. You will then be redirected back to Canvas. This process will be similar for each web service provided. You will see your Twitter information in Ways to Contact under the Other Contacts heading in the sidebar. You will also notice that the Twitter button appears in the Registered Services column. Remove a Registered Service by clicking the remove icon next to the service. A pop­up will appear to confirm that you want to unregister the service. Click OK to unregister. The web service will then appear in the Other Services column. After unregistering an external service, you can re­register it at any time. You can follow these steps to connect to or disconnect from any of the external services. Or, for detailed instructions on how to connect to specific external services, please refer to the Canvas Guides.

After you have added Web Services, you will want to set your Notification Preferences, which you can do by clicking the Notifications link in the user navigation on the left side. On this page, you can select how and when you want to be notified when various events occur within your course. Notification preferences are divided into activity categories: Course Activities, Discussions, Conversations, Scheduling, Groups, Alerts, and Conferences. Along the top of the page, you will see your different contact methods; your e-mail addresses, phone number, and other registered services, like Twitter, in this case. You will need to go through each category and set how and where you want to be notified. When you hover over a cell to change your preference, four icons will appear.

  1. By selecting the Checkmark icon, you will be immediately notified of any change for the activity.
  2. By selecting the Clock icon, you will be notified daily of any change for the activity.
  3. By selecting the Calendar icon, you will be notified weekly of any change for the activity
  4. By selecting the X icon, you will not be sent notifications for the activity.

The notification preferences you set here will apply to all of your courses. You should also notice, on the bottom of the page, a note indicating the day and time when your weekly notifications will be sent. This time varies between users.

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