Canvas - How to Use Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Students)

Canvas - How to Use Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Students) 

The Canvas Student Guide has full instructions on using Canvas. These instructions are specific to Virginia Tech students.


Click + to expand contents. Click heading to jump to section. 

Logging in to Canvas
Your Canvas Account
Canvas Courses
Using Mobile Devices
Sending Email
Viewing Grades
Getting Help


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

Learning to use Canvas

Getting help with Canvas

Top of Page

Logging in to Canvas

New students: It can take up to 72 hours for your Canvas account to be created. Please be patient. 

  1. Use an updated version of Google Chrome to access Canvas.
  2. Disable script blockers (or whitelist Canvas URLs), because script blockers interfere with some Canvas functions. See Other problems under Troubleshooting
  3. Enable Flash in Chrome. See Google Chrome - Allowing Flash in Canvas
  4. Go to and log in with your PID and PID password.

If you can't log in, see I can't log in to Canvas under Troubleshooting

Top of Page

Your Canvas Account

Can change your profile picture, set your notification preferences, and store personal files. To change your account settings:  

  1. Log into Canvas.
  2. Click Account on the leftmost Global Navigation Menu.
  3. On the popup menu, choose an account area to manage. 

    Account is top left tab. Account options are circled

Editing your profile

See How do I edit my profile in my user account as a student?

Setting Notification preferences

You are responsible for receiving instructor notifications. Changing notification preferences can interfere with that responsibility. 

Using Personal Files

Virginia Tech Canvas users have personal Files areas with 262 MB of storage. See How do I view my user files as a student?

Top of Page

Canvas Courses

Canvas courses are automatically created for courses you've officially enrolled in. Know that: 

Finding courses

  1. Log in to Canvas. You'll go to the Dashboard
  2. Scroll down, past announcements, to see your courses.
  3. Click any course.

    Dashboard tab below account


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

      Courses tab below dashboard. All courses link listed last

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

Missing course(s)

Under Troubleshooting, see: 

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.

Top of Page

Using Mobile Devices

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


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.

Top of Page

Sending Email

To start a Conversation:

  1. Click Inbox on Canvas' left-hand Global Navigation Menu. 
  2. Click the pencil icon near the top-right corner to compose a new message.
  3. Choose a Course from the drop-down list.
  4. Choose who you want to send the message to.
    • Click the address book icon to the right to choose AllStudents, or Teachers
  5. Type a Subject and compose your message.
  6. Click Send

By default, you will receive an email whenever you get a new Conversation message. This default setting is in Notification Preferences in Canvas.


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: 

Speech-to-text and text-to-speech

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

Read Canvas Pages aloud: How do I use the Microsoft Immersive Reader when viewing a page as a student?

Accessible documents on and offline

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

Microsoft 365 documents: Accessibility Checker – How to Create Accessible Documents with Microsoft 365 Products

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

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

Digital Math

Cannot detect or configure the webcam

Submitting assignments

Verifying submission

Top of Page


See the Canvas Student Guide - Quizzes for detailed instructions.

The guide describes two quizzing tools - Quizzes and New Quizzes. Virginia Tech uses Quizzes

Taking quizzes in Canvas

See How do I take a quiz? 

Taking quizzes with Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor

Download and install Respondus

The Respondus LockDown Browser is a way to prevent test takers from navigating to other websites, chatting, or taking screenshots during an online quiz. 

Install and test Respondus before you need to take the quiz! Full instructions are here! 

  1. Log into Canvas.
  2. Go to the Respondus Test Site.
  3. Click Join this Course and then click Enroll in Course

    Join this course in the top right of the page

  4. Go to Quizzes ->  Quiz for Respondus LockDown Browser.
  5. Click Take the Quiz

    Pages states the Lockdown Browser is required. Take the Quiz button is below the instructions

  6. You will go to a new page. Click Download Respondus LockDown Browser.
  7. A new tab will open. Click Install Now

    Install now is at the bottom of the third column

  8. Follow the instructions for downloading the Respondus installation file and click FinishThe procedure will vary depending on your operating system and browser. 

  9. Run the Respondus installation file. The procedure will vary depending on your operating system and browser.
  10. Go through the installation wizard.
    1. Choose your language and click Next.
    2. Accept the license terms and click Next
  11. Wait for Respondus to install and click Finish.

    Finish button at the bottom between cancel and back

  12. Run the Respondus LockDown Browser (Windows icon shown below). The procedure will vary depending on your operating system

  13. Open and log into Canvas.
  14. Navigate to the Canvas quiz that requires the Respondus LockDown Browser. 

Testing Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor

You can test your LockDown browser before attempting a graded quiz. To do this:

  1. Open the LockDown browser and go the Respondus Test Site in Canvas.
    • If you're testing the browser, go to the Quiz for Respondus LockDown Browser
    • If you're testing the browser and Monitor, go to Quiz with LockDown Browser and Monitor - Requires Respondus LockDown Browser + Webcam
  2. Take the quiz.
  3. Check your score in the quiz results and in Grades

Taking a quiz with Respondus

1. Go to the Quiz in Canvas and click Take the Quiz

A. If it's a Classic quiz, you'll see Respondus LockDown Browser Required

      1. Open Respondus LockDown browser.
      2. In Respondus LockDown Browser, go back to the quiz in Canvas.
      3. Click Take the Quiz.

B. If it's a New quiz, a pop-up will appear asking for permission to open LockDown Browser.

      1. Click Open LockDown Browser.
      2. Lockdown Browser will start.
      3. Take the quiz.

2. Check your score in the quiz results and in Grades. 

Troubleshooting Respondus

Respondus freezes

A. Shut down computer

B. Restore settings on computer

  1. Start the system from a power down (not suspension/sleep).
  2. Start LockDown Browser.
  3. Immediately quit LockDown Browser.
  4. Log out of the Windows user account (do not use Windows Restart).
  5. Log back into the Windows user account.
  1. Start the system from a power down (not suspension).
  2. Start LockDown Browser.
  3. Immediately quit LockDown Browser.

After you have restored to default settings, please start the LockDown Browser and log back in to Canvas to continue your test.

*Restoring the default settings is important after a forced shut down, because LockDown Browser temporarily alters your computer to prevent cheating. Unless you restore default settings, they might remain altered after you restart the computer.

Chat with Respondus Monitor support

Respondus Monitor has built in 24/7 live chat. You can use chat while getting ready to take an exam. To access chat: 

  1. When something goes wrong in a step, click It's not working.
  2. Click Need More Help? in the pop-up.
  3. Go through the troubleshooter; then the live chat will open.

Webcam problems

Consult Respondus documentation: 

If you have a new webcam: 

If you don't have enough bandwidth to run a webcam:
If you don't have a webcam:

Laptop overheating (webcams contribute): 

Respondus screen too small

If your screen is small after entering a Respondus quiz, then your resolution settings are too high. While your quiz will still run without any changes, we recommend lowering your resolution.

To change the resolution on a MAC, please see Change your Mac display’s resolution.

To change the resolution on a Windows computer, please see Change desktop icon size or screen resolution.

Can't take a Respondus quiz

You can't take a New quiz by going to it in Respondus. Instead, follow the instructions for Taking a quiz with Respondus

Verifying quiz submissions

If you submitted a quiz, you'll be able to view its Quiz Results. See How do I view quiz results as a student?

If you don't see your Quiz Results, click Help in Canvas and ask Canvas Support to check if you've taken the quiz. 

Top of Page


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:

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

Collaborating with Microsoft 365

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

    Log In button below log in instructions

  2. Click Log In to Microsoft 365.

  3. Enter your email and click Next.

    Next in the bottom right

  4. Enter your Hokies password (different from your PID password) and choose Sign In

    Sign in button below email and password entry

  5. In the Permissions Requested window, click Accept
  6. You can now begin a Collaboration. Give it a name and description, then add class members. 

Top of Page

Viewing Grades

See the Canvas Student Guide - Grades for detailed instructions. 

Top of Page


I can't log in to Canvas

Is your PID password working? 

Are you a new student? 

I'm missing a Canvas course site

Canvas gets its information from the registrar. Instructors control course display. If you don't see a course site: 

I'm missing all my 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. 

Top of Page

Canvas is the wrong color

If Canvas is not Virginia Tech's maroon and orange, the High Contrast UI might be enabled. The High Contrast UI can also prevent some Canvas tools from appearing.

Disabling the High Contrast UI

  1. Log into Canvas at
  2. Click Account -> Settings.
  3. Scroll down to Feature Options.
  4. Below Feature Options and next to High Contrast UI, click the slide bar to disable High Contrast UI
  5. Refresh. 

    High contrast is the first option under feature options

I can't access Modules or play Module videos

You must enable Flash in Google Chrome to play Shockwave Flash (SWF) videos in Canvas. See Google Chrome - Allowing Flash in Canvas.

Top of Page

External (LTI) tools won't load

The Google Chrome update to version 80 (Feb. 2020) affects external tools in Canvas. Most external tool vendors have already updated the tools to accommodate the change, but some tools and redirect links might to fail to load. If so, please use another browser like Firefox until the tools are updated. 

For more information see:


Top of Page

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: 

Fixing browser and script blocker problems

1. Check your browser

2. Check the Canvas URL

3. Bypass/clear your browser's cache

4. Whitelist Canvas URLs in your script blocker

  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:

Top of Page

Adding an Idea Conversation to Canvas

Idea conversations allow you to initiate conversations about desired enhancements to Canvas functionality. Idea conversations are found in the Ideas hub.

Top of Page

Getting Help

If you need help with Canvas, click Help on any Canvas screen for a list of help options. Canvas offers 24/7 chat and phone support. 

Top of Page