This page provides information about Canvas, Penn State's new online learning management system.
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 (6:47) video:
In this video, you will get a brief overview of the Canvas user interface. The Canvas user interface has three main components: the Dashboard, Global Navigation, and Sidebar. The Dashboard is the first thing you see when you log into Canvas. It provides a high-level overview of all your courses. The Dashboard has two different viewing options, the course view or the recent activity stream. The Dashboard course view includes a course card for each of your favorite courses. Each card can include up to four tabs, which represent the four main Canvas features for student course activity: Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, and Files. These tabs mimic visibility and order in Course Navigation, so, for instance, if an instructor hides the Announcements link, the Announcements tab will not be displayed. The total number of activities are indicated on the appropriate tab with a number icon. You can directly access these recent activities by clicking the tab.
You can change a couple settings for your course cards by clicking the card Settings icon. First, you can create nicknames for your courses to help you organize your dashboard. In the Nickname text field, enter the nickname for your course. Click the Apply button. The new nickname will appear. Course nicknames appear in the Dashboard, Course Navigation Menu, course breadcrumbs, and notification e-mails and only changes the name of the course for the individual user who created the nickname. If users need to know the original name of the course, they can hover over the nickname and the original name will appear. To remove a nickname, open the card settings and remove the nickname. The Nickname field will display the original name of the course. Click the Apply button to save changes. You can also change the color of your course cards. In the card settings, select the color you would like to assign to the card. You can also enter a HEX code for any color. Then click Apply.
To view the recent activity stream, click the toggle to the right. The recent activity stream view contains a stream of recent notifications from all your courses, including announcements, discussions, assignments, and conversations. New or unread activities are shown by the blue indicator dot. You can view the details of each activity by hovering in the notification area and clicking the Show More link. To collapse recent activity, click the Show Less link. You can directly access your recent activities by clicking the link. To remove a notification, click the remove icon.
Another interface component is the Global Navigation, which is a static menu on the left side of the page that gives you direct access to your courses and other information in Canvas. This menu is accessible from any page within Canvas. To modify your user settings or profile, click the Account link. You can also specify your notification preferences, upload personal files, or manage ePortfolios here. Click the Logout link to Logout of Canvas. To hide the slideout menu, just click the menu link again or click the close icon. Click the Dashboard link to return to the Canvas Dashboard at any time.
By clicking Courses, you can access your individual courses or view a list of all courses in which you are enrolled. Here, you can customize the courses that display on your Dashboard and in your Courses list by clicking the stars next to the course names. Click Groups to access any groups in which you are enrolled or to view a list of all your groups. Click the Calendar link to view the global calendar, which shows an aggregated view of all assignments and events from each of your courses. The Inbox link will take you to your Conversations. You can compose and send new messages to other students and teachers here, or view any existing conversations. And click the Help link to access help resources, including the Canvas Guides, the Canvas Community, or Canvas Support. If you ever have a problem with Canvas, be sure to click the “Report a Problem” link to get help from a support agent. This link may not be available to all Canvas users.
The last interface component is the Sidebar. On your dashboard, the sidebar includes a To Do list, Coming Up feed, Recent Feedback, and a View Grades button. The To Do list helps you keep track of assignments that you need to complete. Click any assignment link and Canvas will direct you to the appropriate page. You can also click the close icon next to any item to ignore the assignment. The Coming Up feed lists upcoming assignments and events within your courses. Under Recent Feedback, you will see the latest comments from instructors or peers on previously submitted assignments. Click the View Grades button to quickly access the grades for any of your courses. Note that when viewing Canvas with a small screen resolution, any sidebar content aligns with the bottom of the page.
Now, let’s visit a course and take a look at the course interface. The course interface consists of 4 main components: the Course Navigation, the Content Area, the Breadcrumb Navigation, and the Sidebar. The course navigation menu provides links to the different areas of your course. Your instructors have the ability to customize this menu, so it may vary slightly from course to course. This menu can be collapsed by clicking the menu icon. The content of the course will be displayed in this Content Area. The Breadcrumb Navigation shows your current location within a course and allows you to easily move to a previous screen. The Course Sidebar is similar to the Canvas Sidebar. It includes a View Course Stream link to see recent course activity, as well as your To Do list, Coming Up feed, and Recent Feedback comments.
You've now completed this Canvas Overview for Students. For additional information on this or any other topic about Canvas, just visit guides.canvaslms.com. You can also ask questions and engage with other Canvas users by visiting community.canvaslms.com.
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.
Your Canvas Profile and Notification Preferences
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.
|Personalize your Canvas Profile||
|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||
|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.
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 guides.canvaslms.com. You can also ask questions and engage with other Canvas users by visiting community.canvaslms.com.