Canvas - Using Course Sites (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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Canvas Site States

A Canvas course can exist in three states: unpublished, published, and concluded. See What are the different states of a Canvas course?

  • An unpublished site is visible only to instructors.
  • published site is visible to students.
  • concluded course is read-only.
    • It is up to the discretion of each instructor to allow access to course materials after the term date has passed.

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Copying a Course Site's URL

  1. Log into Virginia Tech's Canvas and navigate to the course site by clicking Courses and then selecting the course from the menu.
    • If the course is not listed, click All Courses to see a complete course list, and select it from there. 
  2. Select the whole URL listed at the top of your browser.
  3. Copy the URL by right-clicking on the URL and choosing Copy.

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Finding courses

Canvas courses are automatically created for courses students are officially enrolled in. Know that: 

  • Not every instructor uses Canvas. 
  • Instructors must publish courses before students can see them. 
  1. Log in to Canvas. You'll go to the Dashboard
  2. Scroll down, past announcements, to see your courses.
  3. Click any course.


    Click Courses -> All courses
    • This will let you see CurrentPast, and Future Enrollments.

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Changing course display

You can choose which courses show up on the Dashboard and Courses menu.

  1. Log into Canvas.
  2. Click Courses -> All courses.
  3. Click the star next to a course to show it on the Dashboard and Courses menu. 
    • You cannot star Past or Future Enrollments.

      Star next to the course name white instead of yellow

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Missing course(s)

Under Troubleshooting, see: 

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Dropping courses

Drop courses in OneCampus or HokieSPA, not Canvas. Canvas will update with the drop within a day. 

  1. During the Add/Drop period, log into HokieSPA and click Registration (Add/Drop) and Schedule.
  2. A new window will open, click [Drop/Add] Register for Classes.
  3. Select your current term from the Terms Open for Registration drop-down.
    • You will receive a notification if the term is not open for registration.
  4. You can find the class under Summary. Next to the class you want to drop, select Web Drop from the drop-down.

Drop/Add and Course Request Dates lists the available dates for all semesters in the current school year.

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Using Canvas on Mobile Devices

Check announcements, assignment due dates, and grades on the go using the Canvas mobile app. 


  • Don't install the app on shared devices! Once you download, install, and set up the mobile app, it will stay logged into your Canvas account.  
  • Don't submit assignments or quizzes from a mobile device! Canvas doesn't track mobile submissions, so if something goes wrong, we can't prove you tried to submit. 
  • Not all Canvas features work on the app! Avoid frustration by only using the app to check up on your courses. 

To view Canvas on your mobile device:

  1. Go to the App store.
  2. Search Canvas Student. The developer is Instructure.
  3. Tap Install and open the app.
  4. Tap Find my school and search for Virginia Tech.
  5. Log in with your PID and password.

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I'm missing a Canvas course site

  1. Check the All Courses menu by clicking Courses -> All Courses to see if your course is there. 
  2. Make sure your course gets a Canvas site. If your course doesn't get an official Canvas site, your instructor may create a draft/manual course site. Check with your instructors if you have questions about this. Per department request, the following courses don't get Canvas sites: 
    • 5904 and 6904 (graduate project and report) courses
    • 5964, 6864, 7864, 7944, X974 (independent study) courses
    • X994 (undergraduate research) courses
    • VTC, VCOM, and REG courses
  3. Check your Registration and Schedule on HokieSPA to make sure you're enrolled in the course. 
    • If you recently added a course, wait a half day for it to appear in Canvas. 
    • If you're missing all of your courses, see I'm missing all my course sites.
  4. If you still don't see the site, contact 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal.

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I'm missing all my Canvas course sites

Blocks and holds cause you to lost all your Canvas sites for the current semester. 

Bursar block

To check for a bursar block, see: Registration Holds. Courses should reappear within a half day of clearing the block. 

COVID-19 and other holds 

To check for a hold: 

  1. Log in to Hokie SPA.
  2. Click the HokieSPA tab
  3. Click Registration (Add/Drop) and Schedule
  4. Click Prepare for Registration
  5. Choose the current term. 
  6. Under Registration Status is a checklist of requirements for registration. Holds will appear at the bottom of the checklist. 
  • If you have a COVID-19 hold, go to the COVID-19 Canvas site and follow the instructions. The site will be on your Courses menu. 
  • If you another type of hold, contact your academic advisor. 

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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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