Canvas Training Resources

Instructure provides many excellent resources for learning about Canvas. Please explore the following sites for training and information:

Canvas Student Orientation

Students can get a quick introduction to Canvas through the Canvas Student Orientation course by clicking on the pink Help button in the top-right corner of Canvas.

Online Training for Faculty

To complete Canvas training at your own pace, log in to Canvas and look for the course called SAIC Canvas Online Training. If you do not have access to the course, please contact us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

Once you complete the course, you will be given full access to Canvas within 48 hours, after which you can begin building courses. If you have any questions about enrolling in or accessing the training course, please contact us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

Instructor-led Workshop for Faculty

To sign up for a three-hour instructor-led workshop, go here. Workshops are available several times per week and include time for the instructor to assist with creating your first course.

*Please note: instructor-led Canvas training workshops will not be available from September 10 through the first week in October.

Once you complete the workshop, you will be given full access to Canvas within 48 hours, after which you can begin building courses. If you have any questions about workshop sign-up or content, please contact us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

We look forward to helping you make the best use of the new functionality provided by Canvas. If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

 

General Questions

Q: What is Canvas?

A: Canvas is a cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS), similar to Blackboard, Moodle, etc. It provides tools to help faculty manage curricular resources and communication with students. Canvas will be your central resource for distributing all of your course materials such as syllabi, assignments, readings, quizzes, surveys, videos, and other media.

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Q: How do I log in to Canvas?

A: Browse to Canvas and log in using your SAIC user name and password. Canvas supports all major browsers and smart phones.

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Q: Where can I get help or training for Canvas?

Online Training

To complete Canvas training at your own pace, log in to Canvas. If you are faculty, you have been pre-enrolled in an orientation course called SAIC Canvas Online Training. If you are staff, you can become enrolled by contacting us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

Once you complete the course, you will be given full access to Canvas within 48 hours, after which you can begin building courses. If you have any questions about enrolling in or accessing the training course, please contact us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

Instructor-led Workshop

To sign up for a three-hour instructor-led workshop, go here. Workshops will be available several times per week, and will include time allotted for the instructor to help you begin creating a course. Please note that workshops have a maximum of six participants and may fill quickly.

Once you complete the workshop, you will be given full access to Canvas within 48 hours, after which you can begin building courses. If you have any questions about workshop sign-up or content, please contact us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

Additional Resources

Instructure provides many excellent resources for learning about Canvas. Please explore the following sites for training and information:

We look forward to helping you make the best use of the new functionality provided by Canvas. If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact us at canvas_help@saic.edu.

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Q: Why did SAIC choose Canvas as the School's Learning Management System?

A: There are several factors influencing SAIC’s choice to offer Canvas:

  1. Of the 12 LMS services we researched, Canvas appeared to be the best fit for SAIC. We considered factors such as user interface, stability, future development roadmap, ease of implementation, ease of use for faculty and students, integration with existing SAIC technologies such as Gmail, universal browser compatibility, accessibility, and so on. Instructure provides their own comparison chart showing how Canvas compares to other popular LMS's.
  2. SAIC currently relies on the Luminus Portal platform for course management. This system provides a very rudimentary (compared to Canvas) set of tools, and is no longer being supported or developed by its manufacturer (Ellucian). It is currently only compatible with Firefox.
  3. If SAIC were to offer different models of education in the future such as distance learning, blended learning, or low-residency programs, we would need a more advanced platform than the Portal for delivering curricular content.

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Q: How was Canvas selected?

A: A LMS Working Group was formed in January 2012. It consisted of members from CRIT, IS, Web & eCommunications, the Provost's Office, and Administrative Services. We meet on a weekly basis to discuss this project, and work closely with members of an Extended Group, which includes staff from Continuing Studies, the Dean’s Office, Flaxman Library, Disability & Learning Resource Center, Academic departments, Student Life, Student Affairs, and other departments. The Technology Steering Committee approved the implementation of a pilot semester in July 2012. A follow-up pilot semester happened during spring 2012.

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Q: When will Canvas will be available?

A: Canvas is now available to all SAIC faculty. However, in order to teach a course in Canvas, faculty are required to attend a training workshop or take an online tutorial to learn about Canvas’s features and best practices.

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Q: Are faculty required to use Canvas?

A: No. However, Canvas is the only learning management system provided by SAIC, and the only course management tool that is supported by CRIT.

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A: Under the Intellectual Property Policy, faculty and students generally own the copyright in their academic and artistic works, including course content, unless they have some other agreement with the School or a third party. Here is a pertinent passage from our MSSA agreement with Instructure, which supersedes the standard Canvas Terms of Use and states very clearly that Canvas makes no claim of ownership of your content, either. The referenced sections 3(a) and 4(b) further refine this, and add protection under FERPA:

(1) USE OF SERVICE.

a). Customer Owned Content. All information, data, results, plans, sketches, texts, files, links, images, photos, videos, audio files, notes, or other materials uploaded under Customer's account in the Service remains the sole property of Customer, as between lnstructure and Customer (Customer Content). Subject to the terms of this Agreement, including without limitation sections 3(a) and 4(b), Customer grants Instructure the right to use the Customer Content solely for purposes of performing under this agreement.

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Q: When will the Portal be phased out?

A: The Portal will be decommissioned in two phases.

  1. Portal course management tools will be turned off beginning in January 2014. Existing course resources will still be available to faculty who need to migrate resources to Canvas, but no new courses will be created. Before this time, be sure to attend Canvas training! Portal course tools for fall 2013 will be available only by special request.
  2. Information and other resources in the Portal are being migrated to the Dashboards on the SAIC website. There are separate dashboards for students, faculty, and staff. Here you’ll find links to PeopleSoft, Google Apps, handbooks, and other information.

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Q: Is Canvas the new Portal?

A: No. Canvas only replaces the course management tools in the Portal. Information and resources are now linked from the Dashboards (see above). Student groups have moved to Engage.

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Q: What about Docutek?

A: The Docutek e-reserves system will sunset on the same timeline as the SAIC Portal in spring 2014. Faculty can and should migrate their Docutek course readings to Canvas, starting now.

If you have a Docutek course page that is currently "live" you are ready to download your course readings and any other information that you want to save or migrate to Canvas. If you have older Docutek course pages that you need to work with, the library staff can make your archived pages "live" so that you can download your content. Email Alexis Petroff at reserves@saic.edu to request this.

Your Docutek materials will be available during the transition to Canvas, but once Docutek is gone you must maintain your own bibliographies and archives. This is a change—there will no longer be a central archive. Faculty are now responsible for keeping personal copies of materials that you may want to reuse.

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Q: Can I use Canvas for non-academic groups?

A: Not at this time. We are not rolling it out for non-curricular uses. There are many departments asking to use Canvas for a number of extremely important functions outside the classroom, but we are concerned that too many non-curricular uses will drown out the crucial curricular content that it is designed to deliver. Until we better understand the scope of all the requests and how they can co-exist with course content without competing with it, we ask that you consider another channel for communicating with your students. We have recently rolled out Google Groups at SAIC, and they might be just right for your needs, since they offer many similar features to the old Portal groups. To request a Google Group for your non-academic group, fill out this form.

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Q: Is Canvas down right now? It seems slow and/or does not seem to be responding.

A: Canvas has a very good uptime record, but can occasionally experience periods of slow response or even rare outages. You can confirm the current status at the Canvas status page. Instructure also posts status updates and other information on Twitter at @canvassupport.

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Learning About Canvas

Q: Is Canvas training available?

A: Yes!

Faculty & Staff

To ensure a smooth transition, we are providing Canvas orientation training to all SAIC faculty and interested staff. To begin using Canvas, you will need to complete a required orientation which will be available in two versions: a self-paced online course provided within Canvas and a three-hour instructor-led workshop. Both versions will follow the same curriculum. Go here to sign up for a training workshop.

Students

There is a Canvas Student Orientation course, which you can access by clicking the pink Help button in the top-right corner of Canvas. Students can also get basic assistance at the CRIT Help Desk, or send an email to canvas_help@saic.edu.

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Q: What is the difference between the workshop and the online course?

A: The content is similar for both. The workshop will provide more hands-on assistance and feedback for user-specific questions. Time will be provided in the workshop to help faculty build and configure their upcoming courses and explore Canvas’s features. The online course is intended for faculty who like to explore documentation and prefer to work through course-building on their own time. Regardless of which training method you choose, the online course will always be available as a resource that you can refer back to in the future.

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Using Canvas

Q: How do I create a course in Canvas?

A: PeopleSoft automatically creates courses for you. Once faculty complete the required Canvas training by attending an in-class workshop or completing an online course, PeopleSoft will grant the ability (within 48 hours) to edit and publish it, making it visible to students.

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Q: How do I communicate with my students in Canvas?

A: You can communicate with your entire class or individual students in Canvas by using Announcements and Inbox Conversations. The Canvas Inbox is distinct from your SAIC email, and you do not send email using Canvas. When you send a message through the Inbox, or post an announcement in your course, a notification is sent to students. Teachers and students have the ability to decide how, and how often, they want to receive notifications. Canvas can send notifications to your SAIC email, a personal email address, text message, Twitter, Facebook, or other services.

Please note that your course must be published before you can use Canvas to communicate with your students.

Announcements

If you want to send a message to everyone in your course, announcements are a good way to do this. Students can always find them on the Announcements page in your course, and you are the only one who can delete them. Students can reply to announcements, which works similarly to a content thread on an article. Replies are visible to everyone in the course. You can choose to disable comments on announcements.

Inbox

You can use the Inbox to send a message to everyone in your course, or to individuals. Student replies to your Inbox messages are visible only to you and that individual student, unless you make it a group conversation with multiple students.

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Q: When will my courses appear in Canvas? Some are missing!

A: This depends on if you are faculty or a student.

Faculty

Courses are added to Canvas when the course schedule for a semester is finalized, usually several months before a semester begins. However, courses are invisible to students until you publish them.

Student

If you are a student and some of your courses appear to be missing in Canvas, it may be because your instructors have chosen not to publish them. You can check your complete course schedule in SAIC Self-Service. Faculty are free to publish their courses and make them accessible to students before the beginning of the semester if they wish, but they are not required to.

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Q: Can I add students to my course?

A: No. SAIC Self-Service automatically adds students to courses based on enrollment. Degree program courses are not available on a noncredit or audit basis. If you wish to add a TA or Observers, please follow these instructions or read “Q: How do I add my TA to my course?” below.

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Q: Can students see my course and the changes I am making while setting it up?

A: Students cannot see anything in your course until it is published. We recommend setting up a substantial portion of your course content before publishing. Once a course is published, Canvas will begin sending out notifications (emails) whenever a new assignment or other resource is created. This can be confusing for students if they receive numerous emails while a faculty member is still ironing out their course content.

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Q: How do I add a TA or Observer to my course?

A: To add a TA or an Observer to your course, click the People link in the left-hand navigation of your course page. On the People page, click the Add Users button. You will then select “TAs” from the pulldown menu and type the TA’s email address into the text box. Make sure to use the short SAIC address, which is the first initial and first five letters of last name, including any numbers if necessary. For example, someone named Spencer Student will have a few addresses, including sstudent@saic.edu, and sstude@saic.edu. You would want to use the latter, sstude@saic.edu. Using SAIC Gmail can help you find this address. Type the person’s name in the To: field when composing an email. You should see a list of possible addresses.

If the user already has a Canvas account (created by PeopleSoft), Canvas will show a checkmark next to their name after you click Continue. Adding Observers is similar to adding TAs. Note that Observers cannot see students or grades, and cannot participate in course assignments. There are detailed instructions available here.

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Q: Can I upload PDFs, videos, images, etc., to my Canvas course?

A: Yes! Canvas allows a very wide range of media to be uploaded to courses. In fact, many file formats such as PDFs, Word Docs, movies, and images can be viewed in the browser window so that students do not need to download them first. Embed codes from any website work very well if you post them into the HTML editor of any page.

If uploaded via the Files menu of your course, your file becomes a resource that can easily be shared and copied to other pages within your course, and future courses that you teach. However, these files will count against your course’s storage limit (currently set to 500MB/course). If uploaded directly into a Page, Assignment, Discussion, etc., then it will not count against the course’s storage limit. However, it cannot be linked to from other course pages and other courses. If your course reaches its storage limit, please contact canvas_help@saic.edu for assistance.

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Q: What is the storage limit for my course?

A: Courses currently have a limit of 500MB each. Once this limit is reached, Canvas will not allow you to upload any more files. However, Canvas considers file storage a number of ways. For example, a video uploaded via the Files menu counts against the course’s storage limit, but a video uploaded directly into a page via the rich-text editor does not (it is stored in a different place by Instructure). Media embedded by using embed codes provided by another website do not count towards storage limits.

Student submissions DO NOT count against a course’s file storage limit. It only applies to course resources uploaded by faculty to a course page.

If your course reaches its storage limit, please contact canvas_help@saic.edu for assistance. We can provide additional advice and best practices for file storage efficiency.

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Q: How do I add assignments?

A: You can create an assignment by following these directions. When you create assignments in Canvas, there is an Online Submission option. This allows students to submit their work to you through Canvas. Only you will see what the student has submitted. Other students do not have access to their peers’ submissions. Assignments can also include Quizzes and graded Discussions.

You may also find these guides helpful:

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Q: How do students submit assignments?

A: If you have set up an Assignment to receive Online Submissions, students can upload content by submitting directly to that assignment. That submitted content will only be visible to you and is connected directly to the assignment. Look at this guide to make sure you have set up your assignment to allow for online submissions.

Once the assignment is set up properly, you can direct your students to this guide: How do I submit an online assignment?

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Q: Does Canvas work on smart phones?

A: Yes! Canvas will work fine on any smartphone browser. There are also Canvas apps for iOS and Android that work very well. For faculty, there is an iOS app for iPad (only) called SpeedGrader that makes class administration very easy.

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Q: Is my course content public? Can it be made public?

A: Your course content is restricted to enrolled class members only, by default. Instructors can change this setting in the Settings menu for the class. If you do so, please pay extra attention to copyright clearance and personal information and identities of students that may be exposed to the outside world.

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Q: How can I see what students see?

A: Faculty can see a Student View by going to the Settings tab of their course. This view will allow you to see what a typical student sees. It will not allow you to see any particular student’s private information. If you submit any assignments or participate in Discussions while in Student View, we recommend clicking on Reset Student at the bottom of the window before closing this session (Leave Student View) to delete traces of Test Student’s activity.

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Q: What happens at the end of the semester?

A: Courses “conclude” around the end of the following semester’s add/drop period. For example, spring semester courses end around mid-September. After this time, the course is still accessible to students and faculty enrolled in it, but only in a read-only state. Nothing can be added or deleted from it. If you would like to change this setting, please contact canvas_help@saic.edu for assistance.

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Other Web Services & Canvas

Q: What does single sign-on (SSO) mean?

A: Canvas and Google Apps are both within the SAIC SAML single sign-on environment. This means that if you are signed into one, you are automatically signed into the other.

If you are using a public computer (i.e. not your laptop), make sure to log out of both Canvas and Gmail, and then quit your browser. To log out of Canvas, click “Logout” at the top-right corner. To log out of Gmail, click your email address at the top-right, then click the “Sign Out” button.

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Q: How do Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, etc.) connect with Canvas?

A: Canvas publishes all course events such as due dates to a common calendar that can you can subscribe to from Google Calendar. This makes it easy for Google Calendar users to keep track of Canvas events.

Canvas has the ability to incorporate Google Docs as a collaboration tool. Follow these instructions to set up collaborative documents in Google Docs.

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Q: Can I embed and view videos from YouTube and Vimeo within Canvas?

A: Yes. You can find instructions on the Canvas Guides. Go here for YouTube instructions. Go here for embedding Vimeo videos.

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Q: What about blogs?

A: Canvas can incorporate RSS feeds into course announcements. In this way, you can use an external blog to feed content into your Canvas course. There is additional information in the Canvas Guides.

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Q: What about other websites or services?

A: If there is something specific that you would like to make work with Canvas, please let us know at canvas_help@saic.edu. We will investigate the options and provide some advice or find a solution. If there is not a way to get your website or service to work with Canvas, we will help you submit a feature request to Instructure.

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Canvas Calendar

Q: How does the Calendar work in Canvas?

A: The Calendar displays all date-specific events from a user’s enrolled courses. This includes assignment deadlines, scheduled quizzes, etc. An instructor can also add events directly to a course calendar, making them visible to enrolled students.

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Q: Can the Canvas Calendar work with Google Calendar?

A: Yes. You can subscribe to your Canvas calendar by clicking on the “Calendar Feed” link on the Calendar page. Copy the displayed URL and then subscribe to it within your Google Calendar settings. Note that this will bring over events from all of the courses you are enrolled in (as a teacher or student).

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