Canvas - Creating Teaching Materials (for Instructors)


Canvas is Virginia Tech's learning management system (LMS). Instructors use Canvas to manage teaching materials like assignments, quizzes, feedback, and student grades. 

  • Official courses are automatically created in instructors' Canvas accounts.
  • Enrolled students are automatically added.
  • Instructors can reuse teaching materials by importing them to a new course site.
  • Canvas provides 24-7 support by phone (833-639-7621) and chat (click Help on any Canvas screen).

The Canvas Instructor Guide has full instructions on using Canvas. These instructions are specific to Virginia Tech. To see other Canvas topics, please see How to Use Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Instructors).


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For best practices for designing your content on Canvas, see Canvas - Best Practices for Canvas Course Design.

Creating draft course sites

Create and edit your teaching materials in a draft course site.

  • Students can't see draft sites, so they won't see your work in progress.
  • You can import some or all of your materials from draft sites into official course sites.
  • During the semester, you can still edit in the draft site and export new items to official course sites. 

To make a new draft course site: 

  1. Log into Canvas
  2. On the right side of the Dashboard, click Start a New Course
  3. If you see a drop-down for Which account will this course be associated with?, choose either Manually Created Courses or Draft Courses.
    • If you don't have this drop-down, go to step 4.
  4. Enter the course name and click Create Course
  5. Add collaborators to the site. See Adding/Removing People from Canvas Sites.
  6. To add teaching materials, see the Canvas Instructor Guide. Commonly-used tools are:
    • Announcements
    • Assignments
    • Discussions
    • Files
    • Gradebook
    • Modules
    • Pages
    • Quizzes
  7. Publish the site by clicking Publish on the Home page (only you and collaborators can see it). 
  8. View the course as if you were a student using Student View. See How do I view a course as a test student using Student View?

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Importing teaching materials into an official course site

See How do I copy content from another Canvas course using the Course Import tool?

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Importing printed and publisher quizzes using Respondus 4.0

Respondus 4.0 allows instructors to create and edit quizzes on their computers, then export them as QTI files which can be uploaded to Canvas. 

Install Respondus 4.0

Do not download Respondus 4.0 from the Respondus website. Install a licensed Virginia Tech version instead.

  1. Log into Virginia Tech's Network Software Server.
  2. Expand Respondus Software and click Respondus 4.0 for Windows.
  3. Accept the license agreement.  
  4. Click Download.
  5. Open the downloaded EXE file and go through the InstallShield Wizard to install. 
    • You need not install the Respondus Equation Editor. We suggest using EquatIO for digital math. 
  6. On the Network Software Server click Product Key(s)
  7. During installation Respondus will ask you to enter the information in the Product Key(s) popup. 

Upload quizzes to Canvas

To upload quizzes, connect Respondus 4.0 installed on your computer with your Canvas sites. 

  1. Create or go to a Respondus quiz. See: Respondus Resources, including the Respondus 4.0 Quick Start Guide (PDF)
  2. When you're done editing the quiz, click Preview + Publish
  3. Preview the completed quiz and make any corrections. 
  4. Click Publish, then Publish Wizard

  5. In the Publish Wizard:
    1. Choose to publish to one or many courses. 
    2. Next to Canvas server click - add new server -

  6. In the Add New Server Settings popup, check No, I want to enter the server settings manually. Then click Next

  7. On the Canvas Server Settings page:
    1. Copy any URL from Virginia Tech Canvas
    2. Paste the URL in number 2. 
    3. Click Extract. Respondus will produce the correct Server connection URL
    4. Enter a description.
    5. Enter any text in the User name and Password fields. They aren't used for login but can't be left blank. 
    6. Click OK.

  8. Back in the Publish Wizard window click Next
  9. A popup will appear that says Log into Canvas using the browser window, then close the window and click OK to continue. Click OK.
    • Respondus might need to download a package that allows 2-factor. Allow the installation. 
  10. A VT Login Service window will appear. Log in with your PID, PID passphrase, and second factor. 
  11. Click Authorize to allow Respondus 4.0 to access Canvas.
  12. Click OK again. 
  13. You'll to back to the Publish Wizard where you can upload the quiz to Canvas. 
  14. Next time you upload to Canvas, select the same server. 

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Making videos

You can create your own videos and post them in Canvas sites using the My Media and Media Gallery tools in Canvas. See Video Content Management - How Instructors Use Kaltura.

See Copying and Sharing Materials - Kaltura Videos if you and another instructor are looking into sharing videos.

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Copying and Sharing Materials

Draft Course Sites

Direct Share

Canvas' Direct Share tool lets you:

  • Share individual Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, and Pages with another instructor. 
  • Copy individual items in Canvas to other Canvas courses.

For details and instructions, see Canvas Release: Direct Share.

Kaltura Videos

You can collaborate with other instructors on video content by adding them as a collaborator as a:

  • Co-Editor: allows editing privileges
  • Co-Publisher: allows publishing permission to their Canvas Course Gallery 
  • Co-Viewer: allows viewing permission

Please keep in mind before publishing another instructor's videos or sharing your videos that you're following the FERPA Guidelines for Lecture Recording:

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits the release of personally identifiable information of a student. Lecture recordings can be tricky because faculty members must ensure that a student(s) personally identifiable information isn't released outside of what FERPA allows. To heIp ensure adherence to FERPA requirements when using lecture recording:

  • Faculty should not upload recordings of a class session where the students are the focus in anyway in the recording, either by name or by image, to a public site.
  • Faculty who wish to record lectures for use in later semesters may do so by recording the course in such a way that the students' identity in the course is never revealed.
  • Faculty may use recorded lectures that identify a student(s), such as names viewable in a zoom session or student's presenting for a portion of the course, only if they are shared through Canvas ONLY with that course section.  

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Concluding/deleting draft course sites

  1. On the Course Navigation Menu (second menu on left), click Settings.
    • Click Conclude This Course to archive the course content. You can still import that content into other Canvas sites. A Canvas admin must unconclude the site for you. 
    • Click Delete This Course to delete the site. 

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Making materials accessible

Creating accessible content supports learner variability and provides access to individuals with disabilities. Virginia Tech recommends our community members check the accessibility of teaching materials to make sure they comply with VT Policy 7215 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Virginia Tech provides the following resources below.

To learn more about how to make content created or shared in Canvas accessible, see our video series based on the Canvas Rich Content Editor Checklist.

Canvas Rich Content Editor guidelines

See the Canvas Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checklist.

Captioning and transcripts

Media Gallery Videos: Captioning Videos in Video Content Management - How to Use My Media and Media Gallery (for Instructors).

  • Add machine-generated captions to videos. 
  • Request professional captions.

Zoom Meeting Recordings: Making Zoom Accessible in Video Conferencing - How to Hold Zoom Conferences on a PC or Mobile Device

  • Enable closed captioning during meetings.
  • Add machine-generated transcripts to recordings. 

Virginia Tech Captioning Services Request Form

  • Request professional-grade captions for teaching materials.

Speech-to-text and text-to-speech

Read on-screen content aloud: Literacy Software - How to Use Read&Write

  • Read aloud text on your desktop and online.
  • Convert speech to text.
  • Look up words and check grammar. 

Accessible documents on and offline

Google Workspace for Education documents: Accessibility Checker for Google Suite Documents - How to Use Grackle

  • Check documents for accessibility.
  • Export documents as accessible PDFs.

Microsoft Office documents: Accessibility Checker – How to Create Accessible Documents with Microsoft Office Products

  • Check documents for accessibility.
  • Convert documents to accessible PDFs.

Canvas course sites: Accessibility Checker for Canvas - How to Use Blackboard Ally

  • Check Canvas files for accessibility & give feedback on how to improve accessibility.
  • Create accessible, alternative formats for student download. 

Color contrast: Accessible Technologies – How to Ensure Sufficient Color Contrast in Web Content

  • Check for adequate contrast in MS Office documents and Canvas and other online content. 

Digital Math

Digital Math - How to Create and Edit Digital Math with EquatIO

  • Convert between LaTeX, hand-written equations, printed documents, spoken and typed math and digital math.
  • Read math in screenshots aloud.

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Course/Personal Files ran out of storage space

Store text-based resources and images in Canvas Files. Do not use Canvas Files to store videos and audio files, instead store these multi-media resources in My Media and Media Gallery. See Video Content Management - How to Use My Media and Media Gallery (for Instructors)

There are two areas in Canvas where Teachers can store data:

  • Personal Files, accessed by clicking Account in global navigation menu, and then clicking Files.
    • 262.1 MB max storage
  • Course site's Files, accessed by going to the course site and clicking Files in the course navigation menu.
    • 5.2 GB max storage

To request more storage space for non-video/audio content, contact 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal. Include your site url, course CRN, and a reason for the storage increase.

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Script Blocker Problems

Canvas uses JavaScript. However, browser security settings or security suite software increasingly block JavaScript by default. If JavaScript is blocked, Canvas will not appear and function correctly, for example: 

  • The Canvas Dashboard shows flashing courses.
  • Clicking Help and Courses do not show the menus.
  • Clicking AssignmentsAnnouncementsDiscussionsGrades go to a blank page.
  • The +Guests button doesn't appear in People.
  • Videos in Files don't automatically play.
  • SPOT doesn't appear on menus.
  • Kaltura videos won't play.
  • Instructors can't add files to Canvas. 
  • Students can't upload files to Assignments.

To fix browser and script blocker problems:

  1. Check/update your browser. We recommend using an updated version of Google Chrome. 
    1. Click [...] in the upper right corner of your browser.
    2. Click Help->About Google Chrome.
    3. An automatic update may start. When it finishes, click Relaunch.
    4. To update, see Update Google Chrome.
  2. Check the Canvas URL.
    1. Click your Canvas bookmark in Chrome. Make sure it links to, not the Instructure URL. If it links to the Instructure URL, update it to link to
    2. If tools are malfunctioning in Canvas, check and make sure the URL is If not, go to
  3. Bypass/clear your browser's cache.
    1. To bypass the cache, go to the Canvas page where you should see the link to the LTI tool. Hold the Shift key while clicking the browser's refresh button.
    2. To clear the cache, see Clearing Browser Cache.
  4. Whitelist Canvas URLs in your script blocker; set your script blocker to allow JavaScript from Canvas and related URLs. 
    1. Go to your script blocker's settings for trusting/allowing/unblocking/whitelisting websites. Instructions for common script blockers: 
    2. Set your script blocker to trust/allow/unblock/whitelist the following Canvas-related URLs:

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Getting Help

Instructure, the creators of Canvas, provide 24-7 Canvas support, including live chat and a support hotline. 

To get Canvas help, click Support on any Canvas screen and choose from help options: 

At the start of the Spring 2023 semester, you will also be able to click on Help Docs, located near the Support button on the Canvas Global Navigation Menu. This new tool will allow you to access documentation located in the Impact Support Center, a new internal knowledge base within Canvas. 

Click on the floating question mark in the Canvas global navigation menu to access Help Docs.

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