Canvas - Navigating Course Materials (for Students)


Canvas is Virginia Tech's learning management system (LMS). Students use Canvas to access learning materials, like assignments, quizzes, feedback, and grades.

  • Official courses are automatically created in students' Canvas accounts.
  • Canvas provides 24-7 support by phone (833-639-7621) and chat (click Help on any Canvas screen).

The Canvas Student 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 Students).


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Completing Canvas Assignments

Making Accessible Assignments

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: 

  1. Speech-to-text and text-to-speech
    1. 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.
    2. Read Canvas Pages aloud: How do I use the Microsoft Immersive Reader when viewing a page as a student?
  2. Accessible documents on and offline
    1. Google Workspace for Education documents: Accessibility Checker for Google Suite Documents - How to Use Grackle
      • Check documents for accessibility.
      • Export documents as accessible PDFs.
    2. Microsoft 365 documents: Accessibility Checker – How to Create Accessible Documents with Microsoft Office Products
      • Check documents for accessibility.
      • Convert documents to accessible PDFs.
    3. 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.
    4. Color contrast: Accessible Technologies – How to Ensure Sufficient Color Contrast in Web Content
      • Check for adequate contrast in MS 365 documents and Canvas and other online content. 
  3. Digital Math
    1. Convert between LaTeX, hand-written equations, printed documents, spoken and typed math and digital math.
    2. Read math in screenshots aloud.

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Submitting Assignments

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Verifying Submission

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Using Collaboration Tools on Canvas

Use the Collaborations page on the Course Navigation Menu of Canvas to easily collaborate with the students and instructors in the course.

If you've never used Collaborations:

  • Make sure it is listed in the Course Navigation Menu. If you don't see it, go to Settings > Navigation and make sure it is listed in the top list.
  • Make sure you've clicked Authorize near the bottom of the Collaborations page and completed the additional steps to set it up.
  • See below for more instructions on setting up Collaborations. 

Collaborating with Google Apps

  1. Click Collaborations in the Course Navigation Menu and then click Authorize

    Collaborations tab in course navigation. Authorize at the bottom of the collaborations page

  2. Click your account. 

  3. Click Allow

    Allow button in the bottom right

  4. You can now begin a Collaboration. Give it a name and description, then add class members. 

    All boxes that need to be filled are circled

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Collaborating with Microsoft 365

  1. Click Collaborations in the Course Navigation Menu and choose Microsoft 365 from the drop down bar. Click Sign In

    Log In button below log in instructions

  2. Type your full Virginia Tech email address and click Next.

  3. Enter your Hokies password and click Sign in. Your Hokies password may be different from your PID password. See Changing or Resetting My Password if you need to reset it.

    Next in the bottom right

  4. Go through the steps for two factor authentication if necessary.
  5. You can now begin a Collaboration. Give it a name and description, then add class members by choosing them from the left panel. 

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Viewing Grades on Canvas

See the Canvas Student Guide - Grades for detailed instructions. 

  • In the middle of the semester, check Calculate based only on graded assignments below your total grade, so Canvas doesn't count the assignments you haven't done yet as 0s. 
  • At the end of the semester, uncheck Calculate based only on graded assignments, so Canvas displays your correct grade. 

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Course Files ran out of storage

Do not use Canvas Files to store videos and audio files. Instead, use My Media and Media Gallery, which have unlimited storage. See Video Content Management - How to Use My Media and Media Gallery (for Students)

To request more storage space for non-video/audio content, contact 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal.

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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 Help on any Canvas screen and choose from help options: 

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