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 General Tutorial Videos for Canvas


Getting a list of student email addresses

Canvas lets instructors use the New Analytics tool to get a .CSV file which contains student emails as well as a list of students sortable by Last Name.



Importing from a Canvas Course

Content can be imported into a Canvas directly from other Canvas courses, which is very useful when re-using content from one semester to another. The same process can be used when copying content from a Sandbox or Test environment into an actual course.


Communicating with students via Inbox


The Inbox feature in Canvas allows instructors to send messages to a student or groups of students, as well as an entire class, without needing to know individual email addresses. The Notifications screen can also be configured to make sure both students and instructors receive alerts about the messages that are being sent and received.


Advanced features of the Inbox tool

The Inbox feature in Canvas has options similar to Outlook and other email programs, such as marking messages as Starred, showing Read/Unread, sorting by course, and deleting/archiving.


Understanding the Publish feature

The Publish/Unpublish feature shows up all throughout Canvas. Understanding how this works and how to use it can have a dramatic impact on how you release various items in your course such as Modules, Files, Discussions, Quizzes, etc. to your students.


Setting a custom dashboard header image

Canvas lets instructors customize the dashboard images of courses by using header images. These can be a useful way of distinguishing courses from each other and providing visual cues as to the type of content contained within a course.


Customizing the Dashboard

Instructors can customize the Canvas dashboard to suit their individual needs and preferences. Customization options include expanding and collapsing the sidebar, assigning course nicknames, changing course header color, and showing/hiding the color overlay on top of course header images.


Using the calendar tool

The Calendar tool in Canvas can be used to display relevant dates from all courses, and individual course calendars can be enabled and disabled on the fly. Adjusting due dates by drag-and-dropping items on the calendar will also change the due dates for the individual items within the course. The Calendar also shows course items based on the course color codes specified in the Dashboard.


Working with news announcements

Instructors can use Announcements to update students with up-to-the-minute information and other relevant news. Announcements can be scheduled in advance, and instructors can allow students to respond to individual announcements similar to discussion board topics. Instructors can force announcements to be shown on the course Home Page as well, to make sure students always see relevant updates when they access a course.


Customizing a course navigation menu

Every course in Canvas contains a navigation menu that contains items such as grades, discussions, assignments, etc. This menu can be customized on a per-course basis and instructors can choose to hide specific navigation buttons from students.


Setting a course home page

Canvas allows instructors to specify a home page that will be loaded when students access a course. Options for home pages include a custom HTML page, a list of Modules, and a list of assignments, or the syllabus. Most instructors use Modules as the home page for their courses. Regardless of whatever is set for the Home Page, instructors can elect to show recent announcements at the top as well.


Using student view

The Student View option in Canvas allows instructors to see their course from the perspective of a student. This can help ensure that settings such as date and prerequisite restrictions are configured properly.


Using student view to diagnose problems

Student view can be used as a way for instructors to peek at their courses through the eyes of a student, which can help pin down problems that students are reporting. This video uses the example of two discussion board threads that are missing for students, with the instructor using student view to get to the bottom of the issue.


Customizing the user experience

Canvas allows users to customize their experience by changing their display name, using a nickname, setting time zone, and other options. Instructors can also elect to enable advanced features such as high-contrast UI and enable the use of some tools still in development.


Using a custom profile photo

Instructors and students can use custom images (i.e. selfies, headshots, etc.) as profile photos. While not necessary for any courses, the use of profile images does help increase engagement by giving students a visual to connect names with faces.


Customizing notifications

Canvas allows instructors and students to get notified when various events happen. (i.e. a change in due date, grades posted, discussion board replies, etc.) Users can be notified in several ways and can add additional methods such as SMS text.


Using emoji in module titles

Emoji can be inserted into the titles of modules and other areas in Canvas to add a bit of graphical levity and fun to what otherwise might be a somewhat bland way of presenting information.


Understanding the Commons

The Commons is a repository for documents, assignments, quizzes, and other course content that has been shared by other Canvas users. The items contained in the Commons can be searched, viewed, imported into your own Canvas course, and assigned a rating and review.


Importing items from the Commons (Part 1)

The Commons contains a vast array of course items that can be searched, sorted, and filtered according to various parameters you specify. Importing items from the Commons into your own Canvas course is a simple one-click process.


Importing items from the Commons (Part 2)

When importing assignments, quizzes, documents, and other items from the Commons it's important to check them and examine them thoroughly before releasing them to your students. Most items can be customized (point values, quiz questions, etc.) which is recommended to make sure they are suited to your needs.


Sharing items to the Commons (Part 1)

At many points throughout the Canvas interface there are options to share items to the Commons using the "Share to Commons" button. Items that can be shared include assignments, quizzes, modules, discussion boards, and more.


Sharing items to the Commons (Part 2)

When uploading items to the Commons there are several options to configure such as copyright license, title, grade level, and other metadata. Careful use of this information can help make sure your Commons items are properly organized and searchable.


Pages and Modules

Instructors can use both Modules and Pages to present information and course content to students. Understanding the difference between both of these, as well as some of their similarities, can help instructors choose which one to use in their classes. Modules work well for organizing and controlling the release of content (i.e. Requirements and Prerequisites) whereas Pages allow for richer and more detailed methods of presenting material.


Creating a Page

Pages in Canvas can include various types of content (videos, documents, external links, text with formatting, etc. ) and the tools to create pages are straightforward and easy to use. Embedded content such as YouTube videos includes auto-generated thumbnail previews, and instructors can add explanations and other helpful text. Pages can be inserted into modules as a way of delivering content to students.


Student Groups

Canvas allows for the creation of student groups, which is a useful way to help students stay organized and connected through the Canvas system.


Student Groups Advanced Options

When instructors create student groups in Canvas there are several advanced options available such as self- or auto-enrollment, number of groups, and group leadership roles. Students can be put in different groups using a drag-and-drop method as well.


Student Groups Private Homepages

Each group of students in Canvas has access to a private group Homepage which allows members to post announcements, have discussions, share files, and collaborate on documents. It functions almost like the private group option on many social networks, but it exists within the Canvas system and is thus free of all advertisements and data mining.


Student Groups Private Homepages from a Student's Perspective

To more clearly understand how student group homepages function, this video gives a walkthrough of this tool from the perspective of a student. Using the group homepages, students can post discussions, share files, and collaborate on documents privately.


Text Chat

Text-based chatting is not as high-tech and multimedia-centric as other communication options such as videoconferencing, but it can be a simple and highly effective method for engaging with students. The Chat feature offers student photos, timestamps, and emoji integration.


Using External Apps (Part 1)

Much like smartphones and tablets, Canvas allows instructors to install apps to extend the features and functionality of their classes. Apps can be accessed via the Settings menu and enabled as well as disabled as the instructor sees fit.


Using External Apps (Part 2)

Most apps, once installed, can be inserted into Modules and Assignments via the External Tool feature. This video shows how to do this via an example involving a graphing calculator app.


Taking Attendance Part 1

The Attendance tool in Canvas must be added to a course navigation menu, and then an instructor can use it to mark students as Present, Absent, or Late on any given day. This process also creates an Assignment called Roll Call Attendance, and this video discusses how Canvas calculates attendance points behind the scenes.


Taking Attendance Part 2

Seating charts can be created within the Attendance tool that then allows instructors to mark students as Present, Absent, or Late by clicking on where they sit in relation to others in class.


Taking Attendance Part 3

Instructors can also specify the percentage of an attendance grade that is given to students who are marked as Late. Additionally, the Attendance tool can generate an Excel file that shows student attendance data for an entire semester, a range of dates, or a specific student.


Syllabus Tool

The Syllabus tool in Canvas allows instructors to create a syllabus with a course calendar that is generated dynamically from dates that are entered when assignments, quizzes, and discussions are created. The Syllabus can also contain static information such as course policies, contact information, and objectives that do not generally change over time.


Adding a TA to a Class

Instructors can use the People option in a course navigation bar to add a TA to a class.


Exporting Grades from Brightspace

As OSU makes the transition from Brightspace to Canvas, it's imperative that instructors retain a backup file of their grades from previous classes. The steps are fairly simple but must be repeated for every class for which instructors wish to keep grade backups.


Exporting course content from Brightspace

Brightspace can export course content in the form of a ZIP file that can be imported into Canvas.


Importing course content from Brightspace

Canvas can import ZIP file exports from Brightspace as a way of transferring content from one class to another.


Setting your Preferred Pronouns

You can use the Account Settings option in Canvas to specify your preferred pronouns (She/Her, He/Him, They/Them) which will display in places like Inbox, Discussions, and more. 


Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker tool in Canvas can help ensure that your content meets accessibility guidelines, and easily fix errors and discrepancies when they occur.



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