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

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

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


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

Canvas Basics

Log in to Canvas

Your Canvas Account

Canvas Site Types

Canvas Site States

Add and Remove People

Send Email

Upload and Download Files

Creating Teaching Materials
Setting up your Official Site in Canvas

Set Up Sites

Add Outcomes

Quizzing with Canvas

Manage Quizzes

Teaching with Canvas

Manage Students

Hold a Class Online

Send Announcements

Export Grades and Upload to HokieSPA

Conclude Course Sites

Getting Help
Additional Information



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

Learning to use Canvas

Getting help with Canvas

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Canvas Basics

Log in to Canvas

  1. Use the most up-to-date version of Google Chrome to access Canvas.
  2. Disable script blockers (or whitelist Canvas URLs), because script blockers interfere with some Canvas functions. See Script blocker 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

Your Canvas Account

You can change your profile picture, set your notification preferences, and store personal files. To access them:  

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

Editing your profile

See: How do I edit my profile in my user account as an instructor?

Setting Notification preferences

Canvas default email address

Canvas, by default, will send you an email at your Virginia Tech preferred email address, which is either your or an email alias.

Notification triggers

You can change which events trigger Canvas notifications and how often Canvas notifies you. See How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as an instructor?

Using personal Files

In Canvas, users have an area for personal files, in which they can store up to 262 MB. See How do I view my user files as an instructor?

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Canvas Site Types

Official course sites

Canvas creates an official course site for instructors of record and populates them with student enrollments. 

Official course sites appear in instructors' accounts around:

Students cannot see these sites until instructors publish them. 

Official course sites have term dates based on the academic calendar.

To create teaching materials before an official course site is available, instructors can make a draft course site and then move materials to an official course site. 

Finding official course sites

If your site doesn't appear:

  1. Check the All Courses page (click Courses -> All Courses). 
  2. Make sure your course gets a Canvas site. Per department request, the following courses don't get Canvas sites:

    • All 5904 and 6904 (graduate project and report) courses.
    • All 5964, 6864, 7864, 7944, X974 (independent study), and X994 (undergraduate research) courses.
    • All VTC, VCOM, and REG courses.

      For these courses, you can make a draft course site and add your students

  3. Check HokieSPA and make sure you're the instructor of record.
  4. Contact your department administrator and ask about teaching assignments.
  5. Be patient. Once you're assigned as the instructor of record, Canvas takes up to a day to update with the course. 

If you still don't see your site, go to, log in, and click Get Help

Draft course sites

Instructors can create draft course sites in which they add teaching materials. They can then transfer the teaching materials to official course sites. 

Draft course sites:

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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?

 Copy 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 (e.g.
  3. Copy the URL by right-clicking on the URL and choosing Copy.

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Add and Remove People 

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network

Adding VT affiliates


To add VT affiliates:

  1. Go to the course site in Canvas.
  2. Click People on the course navigation menu.
  3. Click +People.
  4. Under Add user(s) by, click Login ID
  5. Enter the person's PID in the Add People box.
    • Find the user's PID from Banner or departmental records.
    • Do not enter their email address, because email aliases interfere with Canvas recognizing the user.
    • Their PID is not necessarily the same as what's before the "" in their email address. 
  6. Choose the person's Role and Section from the respective drop-down lists.
    • You can add people to the course as StudentsTeachersTAsGradersDesignersTeaching ConsultantsObservers.
    • You can check Can interact with users in their section only to limit access to a single section in a cross-listed site. 

      Login ID under Add Users by. Role and Section selector underneath text box. Check box for interacting with other students is underneath the Role and Section. Next is at the bottom of the pop-up.

  7. Click Next. Validate that you are adding the correct user(s).
  8. Click Add Users.

Bulk-adding VT affiliates

  1. Collect the PIDs (not email addresses!) of the people you are adding. PIDs are not necessarily the first part of VT email addresses. 
  2. Create a file in excel. If you have multiple class sections, make a tab for each section.
  3. Enter the PIDs in a single column. You can enter names and email addresses in other columns. 
  4. Select and copy the column the PIDs. Do not include the column header. 
  5. Go to the Canvas site. 
  6. Click People then +People
  7. Click Login ID in the Add People popup. 
  8. Paste the column of PIDs in the window. Set the role and section. You can only assign one role and section per batch. 
  9. Click Next.
  10. Click Add Users.

Adding (non-VT) guests


To add guest users: 

  1. Go to the course site in Canvas. 
  2. Click People in the course navigation menu.
  3. Click +Guests in the top right of the screen. You’ll go to VT Add Guests tool.
  4. The first time you use the Add Guests tool, you need to click Authorize

    Pop-up asking for authorization. Authorize button in maroon below cancel

  5. Click Request Guest to add a single guest (or multiple guests one-by-one) or Upload Guests to add a batch of guests. 
    • You can upload only 99 guests at a time. If you have more than 99 guests, add them in batches. 

      Guests section of the Canvas site. Request and Upload Guests buttons in the bottom left

  6. A. To add a single guest: 
    1. Click Request Guest. If the course site is unpublished, a warning will pop up. Click OK. You’ll go to the Add Guest screen.
    2. Enter the guest user’s full name and email address.
    3. If your course site has more than one section, choose which section to add them to.
    4. Set the guest's role in the site. 
    5. State your reason to add the guest user.
    6. Click Create Guest.
    7. Send instructions to the guest on how to make their account. See How guests make their accounts below. 
    8. Wait for the guest to make their account and for Canvas to update. 
  1. B. To upload a list of guests:
    1. Click Upload Guests. If the course site is unpublished, a warning will pop up. Click OK. You’ll go to the Upload Guests screen.
    2. Open Excel and create a new workbook. Add one column with guest names (First Last) and another column with guest email addresses. 
    3. Add up to 99 guests. Split your guests into separate files if you have more than 99. 

    4. Save the spreadsheet as a CSV (Comma delimited) file. You'll see ".csv" as one of the Save as Type options.
    5. On the Upload Guests screen in Canvas:
      • Choose which section to add the guests to, if your course site has more than one section. Upload different batches for different sections.
      • Set the guests' role in the site. Upload different batches for different roles.
      • State your reason to add the guest user.
    6. Click Upload File. Navigate to the CSV file you created in steps 1-3 of 6B and click Open. The file will be listed at the bottom of the Upload Guests window.
    7. Click Start Upload. The VT Add Guests tool will request guest accounts and go to the Guest Uploads tab. 
    8. Send instructions to the guest on how to make their account. See How guests make their accounts below. 
    9. Wait for the guest to make their account and for Canvas to update.

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Tracking guest registration

If a guest can’t remember if they created an account or not, have them go to the following URL to check:

How guests make their accounts

Send the below instructions to those you've added as guests: 

If you've been added to Canvas as a guest, you need to make a guest account with Virginia Tech before you can log into Canvas. 

To make your guest account: 

  1. You should have received an email with subject line Virginia Tech Guest Account Invitation. If you did not receive the email: 
    • Check all email accounts your VT sponsor might have for you, and check spam folders.
    • Contact your sponsor and make sure they added you. 
    • If seven days passed since you got the email, the invitation expired. Contact your sponsor and have them renew your invitation.  
  2. Follow the instructions in the email to create your Virginia Tech Guest Account and set your password.
    • You must do so within seven days of receiving the invitation, or it will expire. 
  3. Wait approximately six hours to be added to Canvas.
  4. Log in to Canvas at
    • Your username is the entire email address in which you received the invitation.
    • Your password is the one you set when creating your account.
  5. If you forgot your password, reset it. See Guest Account Management Service and enter your guest ID (username, guest email address). 

Removing People

Teachers cannot remove enrolled students or other instructors-of-record from an official course site.

To remove someone you added manually: 

  1. Go to the course site and click People
  2. Find the user you want to remove. In their row, on the far right, click the three "more" dots->Remove From Course
  3. Click OK to verify.  

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Send Email

Use Canvas Conversations to send messages to students. Conversations is called Inbox in the Global Navigation Menu. It's not accessible on Course Navigation Menus.  

To start a Conversation:

  1. Click Inbox in the 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.
    • The address book will vary by the assigned roles in the course
    • Click the address book icon to the right to choose All or a type of role. 
  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. To change notification preferences, see How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as an instructor?

Upload and Download Files

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network


Uploading files

Do not upload large media files to Canvas Files. Instead, use the My Media and Media Gallery tools. See: Video Content Management - How to Use My Media and Media Gallery (for Instructors)

To upload files to Canvas, see: 

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network


Downloading files

To download a single file, see: How do I download a single file as an instructor?

To download files in bulk from Canvas, all the files must be in a sub-folder. You cannot download the top-level folder.

  1. In the Global Navigation Menu, click Account →  Files.

    Account navigation menu

  2. Open the folder containing the sub-folder you want to download.
  3. Click [...] next to the sub-folder you are downloading.
  4. Click Download.

    My files in Canvas

  5. Canvas will prepare the download. Progress is shown at the top of the screen.

    Download notification

  6. When preparations are complete, the files are downloaded as a zip file.

    Export zip file

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Creating Teaching Materials

See also: Canvas - Best Practices for Canvas Course Design

Creating draft course sites

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

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. Enter the course name and click Create Course
  4. Add collaborators to the site. See Add and Remove People.
  5. To add teaching materials, see the Canvas Instructor Guide. Commonly-used tools are:
    • Announcements
    • Assignments
    • Discussions
    • Files
    • Gradebook
    • Modules
    • Pages
    • Quizzes
  6. Publish the site by clicking Publish on the Home page (only you and collaborators can see it). 
  7. 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?

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.

Importing teaching materials into an official course site

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. Click Respondus 4.0 for Windows. Accept the license agreement.  
  3. Click Download.
  4. 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. 
  5. On the Network Software Server click Product Key(s)
  6. 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. 

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: 

For videos on how to make content accessible, see

Canvas Rich Content Editor guidelines

Canvas Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checklist

Captioning and transcripts

Media Gallery Videos: Captioning Videos in Video Content Management - How Instructors Use My Media and Media Gallery

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

Virginia Tech Captioning Services Request Form

Speech-to-text and text-to-speech

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

Accessible documents on and offline

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

Microsoft Office 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

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

Copying and sharing materials

Draft course sites

Direct Share

Canvas' Direct Share tool lets you:

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

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. Canvas Help must unconclude the site for you. 
    • Click Delete This Course to delete the site. 

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Setting up your Official Site

Set Up Sites

Cross-listing sections

If you're teaching more than one section of the same course, you can cross-list the Canvas sites. 


To cross-list official course sites: 

  1. Choose a section to be the parent site and note its CRN (example below uses "12337")
  2. Go to the site to be cross-listed under the parent and click Settings → Sections. One section will be listed.

  3. Click the section's SIS ID and then click Cross-List this Section.

  4. Paste the parent site's CRN in the Cross-List Section popup. Then click the parent site's name. 

  5. Under Selected Course, double check the course SIS ID. Then click Cross-List This Section.

  6. Repeat the procedure for other child sites. 
  7. Verify all sections appear in the parent site. Go to the parent site and click Settings → Sections. You should see all of the cross-listed sections. 

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Transferring teaching materials

Move your teaching materials from the draft course site to your official course site. See: How do I import content from another Canvas course? 

Configuring course settings

Term Dates

Courses automatically appear to students based on the semester schedule (they can only see teaching materials if the course is published). To manually control course display, you can change the course Start and End dates. 

  1. Go to your official course and click Settings Course Details.
  2. Next to Participation, change Term to Course. Doing so de-couples the course term dates from the default semester dates. 
  3. Under Term, next to Starts and Ends, enter start and end dates. You need to enter both dates! 
  4. Choose whether to restrict students from viewing the course before the start date and after the end date. 
  5. Scroll down and click Update Course Details. Changes are not automatically saved. 

Other settings

Content License

You can change the copyright settings for your teaching materials by selecting from the options next to License. The default setting is private, copyrighted materials. 

Content Visibility

You can make your teaching materials visible to those not enrolled in the course. Student work is always protected. The default visibility setting is Course, where only you and your students can see the materials. To change visibility:

  1. Next to Visibility, click Course to share with people who are already in the course, click Institution to share with course with those in Virginia Tech, or click Public.
  2. To make only your syllabus visible outside of your course, check Customize and choose a syllabus visibility setting. 
  3. Click Update Course Details

Making joinable sites

You can make draft course sites "joinable," so others can self-enroll. Training sites often use this feature. To do so:

  1. Under the text box next to Description, click more options. 
  2. Check Let students self-enroll by sharing with them a secret URL. 
  3. Check Add a "Join this Course" link to the course home page.
  4. Tell students how to self-enroll. 
    1. Copy the course's Home page URL. 
    2. Email students the URL and tell them: "Log into Canvas, then go to the course URL included here, click Join this Course, and then click Enroll in Course.

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Adding links to the Course Navigation Menu

You must use the Canvas Redirect tool to add a link to an external website or a Canvas Page to a Course Navigation Menu. To add a link: 

  1. Collect the URL of the website or Canvas Page you want to add. 
  2. Go to the course site where you want to add a Course Navigation Menu link. 
  3. Click Settings and go to the Apps tab. 
  4. Click the arrow icon for the Redirect app. 

    Apps is the second to last tab in toolbar on the top. The redirect arrow is at the bottom

  5. The +Add App button will appear. Click it. 

    +Add App appears below the redirect arrow

  6. The Add App window will appear. 
  7. Next to Name, name your link. This text will appear on the Course Navigation Menu. 
  8. Next to URL Redirect, paste the URL of the website or Canvas Page.
  9. Check Show in Course Navigation.
  10. Click Add App.

    Image highlights Name, URL, and checkboxes. Add App button at the bottom of the popup

Importing Links to New Canvas Sites

If you copy a course's content into a new site, the linked URL in the Redirect tool will be copied.

Adding external (LTI) tools

Canvas can be extended by integrating external tools. Software companies, textbook publishers, and training websites all make Canvas external tools. 

See: Canvas - How to Request and Use External Tools (LTI Tools) for details. 

Add Outcomes

How Do I Add Outcomes to My Canvas Course Site?

One of Canvas' most helpful features is its Learning Mastery component, which lets you decide exactly what you want your students to master in your course (called "Outcomes" in Canvas), and add these to the Outcomes tool.

Once you add your outcomes, or course objectives, they can be linked to grading rubrics, assignments, quiz questions, or any of the graded items in your course. The Learning Mastery Gradebook displays student progress with respect to the outcomes.

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Quizzing with Canvas

Manage Quizzes

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network

Giving students extra time & extra attempts

  1. Create and publish a single quiz for the entire class. You don't need to make two versions!
  2. Go to the quiz and click Moderate This Quiz. The Moderate Quiz page shows what students submitted, their score, and how long they took on the quiz.
    • Attempt - the number of times the student submitted (not started!) the quiz.
    • Time - how long the student spent on the quiz.
    • Score - the portion of the score that Canvas automatically calculates.
    • Arrows/pencils - give the student another attempt.

  3. Find the student you want to give extra time or submission to and click the pencil next to their name. 
  4. On the Student Extensions window:
    • Give the student a number of extra attempts. Check Manually unlock the quiz for the next attempt if the quiz end date has passed. 
    • Give the student extra time for every attempt. 
  5. Save. 

Also see: 

Checking student Quiz attempts

If a student claims to have begun a quiz, but you don't see a submission on the Moderate Quiz page, see Checking student Access Reports. You can review student activity in your site, including whether they viewed or started taking a quiz. 

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network


Design for online assessment

Discourage or hinder cheating in online assessments by: 

Or, give non-traditional assessments:

For more assessment ideas, contact the Center for Excellence for Teaching and Learning

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network


Using Respondus LockDown Browser

The Respondus LockDown Browser:

If you set a quiz to require the Respondus LockDown Browser, students must download and install the browser to use it during the quiz. 

Set up a Canvas Quiz using the LockDown Browser: 

  1. Create and save a Canvas Quiz. See the Canvas Quiz Guides.  
  2. Click LockDown Browser on the course navigation menu.
    • If you don't see the link, click Settings on the course navigation menu, then click the Navigation tab. Drag the bar for LockDown Browser into the top section on the page and click Save.
  3. The first time you go to the LockDown Browser, the Respondus Monitor Server popup will appear. Click Authorize. Click Continue to LockDownBrowser. 

  4. In the LockDown Browser tool, choose the quizzes that you'd like to require the LockDown Browser. Click the icon to the left of the quiz name and click Settings. You'll go to LockDown Browser Settings.

    Respondus Quiz Menu

  5. Click the button for Require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam, and more options will appear.
  6. You can add a password under Password Settings.
  7. Click +Advanced Settings to show advanced options.

  8. Click explain next to any of the advanced settings for a description.
    • Click the check box to enable any advanced setting.
    • Click -Advanced Settings to hide advanced options. 
  9. Click Save and Close
  10. Give students instructions on how to use the LockDown Browser: Canvas - How to Use Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Students).

Using Respondus Monitor 

For extra security during an online exam, you can use Respondus Monitor alongside Respondus LockDown Browser. Respondus Monitor uses a student’s webcam to record video of them taking the test. Videos where students leave the camera's field of view are flagged. After the test, instructors can review flagged and other videos.

Respondus Monitor requires students have a working webcam and broadband internet connection. However:

Therefore, to avoid discrimination:

Set up a Quiz using Respondus Monitor

  1. Create your quiz. 
  2. In your course navigation menu, click LockDown Browser.
  3. Click on the drop-down menu next to your quiz, then Settings.

    Respondus Quiz Menu

  4. Make sure that Require Respondus LockDown Browser is selected.
  5. Under Monitor Webcam Settings, click Either Respondus Monitor or a proctored lab can be used to take this exam.
    • Enabling proctored lab will let students without webcams who enter a password take the exam. They would contact you and you would reply with the password. 
    • Respondus Lockdown Browser is still required.
  6. Type a password after Access code for this exam (required)
  7. An information pop-up about Respondus monitor may appear. Click Continue to Respondus Monitor.

    About Respondus Monitor

  8. Change the default Startup Sequence:
    • Leave alone the two defaults - Webcam Check and Facial Detection Check.
    • Choose whether to include Additional Instructions and Guidelines + Tips.
    • To address potential privacy concerns from students, consider unchecking Student Photo, Show ID, and Environment Check.  

  9. Click Save + Close.
  10. After the exam ends, students who left view of their webcams during the exam will be flagged. You can watch those or other videos to investigate whether cheating might have occurred. 

View Respondus Monitor results

  1. On the course navigation menu, click LockDown Browser.
  2. Find the quiz to review and click Class Results
  3. Scroll to view students. Click the [+] to view their videos. 

    canvas respondus monitor results

  4. If you need to download the file for OUAI:
    1. Click Request video download.
    2. Fill in your name and email address.
    3. For the reason, state that you are sending the file to OUAI.
    4. Click Submit.

      request download form

Respondus resources

Both Canvas and Respondus support Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor.

Information and policy for online assessment is available from the provost:

Respondus has created quick guides for its tools: 

Respondus offers daily webinar training with live Q&A: 

Student troubleshooting guide: 

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Teaching with Canvas

Manage Students

Making student groups

  1. Go to People and click + Group Set button.
  2. Type in the Group Set Name.
  3. Check off Allow self sign-up if decide if you want students to be able to sign themselves up to a specific group.
    • If you choose this option, decide if you want the Require group members to be in the same section box checked
  4. Decide the Group Structure.
    1. If Allow self sign-up is unchecked:
      1. Choose Split students into __ groups if you want to have Canvas create the Group Structure.
        • If you choose this option, fill in the number you want in the text box.
      2. Choose I'll create groups manually if you to create the Group Structure yourself.

        Check box next to Allow self sign-up is empty.

    2. If Allow self sign-up is checked:
      1. Choose how many groups to create now.
      2. Choose how many members to limit each group to.
      3. Choose whether or not to Automatically assign a student group leader.
        • Can set first student as leader.
        • Can set a random leader.

          Check box next to Allow self sign up is filled

  5. Click Save.

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Changing student enrollments 

Canvas is updated with student enrollment information three times a day. Once a student adds or drops a class, Canvas should be updated within 12 hours.

Checking student Access Reports

You can see what students do in your Canvas site, including if they have viewed course materials, or if they attempted assignments and quizzes. 

  1. Go to People and click the student's name. 
  2. A student overview window will pop up. Click the student's name. 
  3. On the student's user page, click Access Report, which shows: 
    • Content - what the student viewed
    • Times Viewed - how many times the student viewed it
    • Times Participated - whether the student started the activity or quiz
    • Last Viewed - when they last viewed the content

  4. If the student began an assignment or quiz, you will see a number under Times Participated. If they only viewed it, Times Participated will be blank. 

Removing a student profile picture

To remove an inappropriate student profile picture:

  1. Go to the Canvas course site in which the student is enrolled and click People on the Course Navigation Menu.
  2. Next to the inappropriate image, click Remove avatar picture. 
  3. Tell the student why you removed their picture. 

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Hold a Class Online

For instructions specific to moving courses online due to COVID-19, go to:

If class has been cancelled, or if you can't attend class, you can set up Canvas to hold class remotely whether or not you use Canvas to teach. 

Add teaching materials:

Create an online discussion forum:

  1. Go to your course site and click Discussions.
  2. Click +Discussion, enter the title and details, and choose the discussion options and available dates.
  3. Click Save & Publish.

For full instructions, see How do I create a discussion as an instructor? 

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network

Set up office hours with appointment slots students sign up for:   

See How do I add a Scheduler appointment group in a course calendar? in Canvas Community.

Hold a video conference: 

See Use the Zoom Canvas Tool in Video Conferencing - How to Hold Zoom Conferences on a PC or Mobile Device

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network


Create and post a video using your webcam: 

  1. On the course navigation menu, click Media Gallery
  2. Click Add Media.
  3. On the Add Media page, click Add New -> Webcam Recording

You can use Media Gallery and My Media to do much more than post webcam recordings. See Video Content Management - How Instructors Use Kaltura.  

Send Announcements

  1. In Announcements, click +Announcement
  2. Choose a topic title
  3. Type a message
  4. Under Post to... choose which sections to send the announcement to.
  5. Click Save.

For full instructions, see How do I make an announcement in a course?

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network


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Export Grades and Upload to HokieSPA

You can export HokieSPA-compatible grades from Canvas. Before exporting, you must correctly configure the Grades tool. 

Configuring the Gradebook

A. Enable a grading scheme in Canvas course settings.

The grade export tool calculates final grades based on the course grading scheme. You must choose a grading scheme before exporting grades. 

You can choose from the below grading schemes. See How do I enable a grading scheme for a course?

You can also design and set your own grading scheme. See How do I add a grading scheme in a course?

Other grade adjustments

B. Assign missing grades a 0.

Missing submissions are omitted from final grade calculations by default. For example, the student in the top row did not complete their Final Project, but still has a Total grade of 90.91%.

To count missing submissions a “0” either:

  1. Make sure all Assignments and Quizzes have a Due date (Late Policies only work if there’s a Due date). See also: How do I add or edit details in an assignment?
    1. Go to Assignments. Click an assignment to edit it.
    2. Scroll down to the Assign box and make sure there's a Due date in the past.
    3. Save.

  2. Set Late Policies. See also: How do I apply a Late Submission policy in the New Gradebook?
    1. Go to Grades and click the settings gear.
    2. Click the Late Policies tab.
    3. Check Automatically apply grade for missing submissions.
    4. Enter a 0 under Grade percentage for missing submissions.
    5. Click Update.
    6. Grades will be 0 for students who didn't submit work.

Below is a correct grade calculation: 

C. Tell Students to uncheck "Calculate based only on graded assignments."

D. Post hidden grades.

Post grades for all hidden assignments. See also: How do I post grades for an assignment in the New Gradebook?

  1. Click the three dots to the right of the assignment name ➔ Post Grades.

  2. In the Post/Hide Grades widget, click Post.
  3. The eye icons will disappear. Grades will export correctly. 

Exporting Midterm Grades

Canvas no longer supports direct export of midterm grades. Instead export grades then format the file for upload to HokieSPA.

  1. In your Canvas site, click Grades.
  2. Click Actions➔ Export (do not click VT Export).
  3. Then in the exported CSV file, delete all columns except two: SIS User ID and Current Grade.

    Grades in excel with extra information deleted

  4. Delete the the first two rows. These do not contain grade information.

    Grades in excel without headers

  5. Save the file as a CSV.
  6. Upload it to HokieSPA.

Exporting Final Grades

    1. Enable a grading scheme. See How do I enable a grading scheme for a course?
    2. Assign all missing grades a 0 (see B. Assign missing grades a 0). Either:
    3. Post all graded items. If grades in the Totals column have an eye icon, exported grades will be incorrect. Go to any Grades column with an eye icon, click the three dots ➔  Post Grades ➔ Post. See D. Post hidden grades and How do I post grades for an assignment in the New Gradebook?.
  2. At the top right of the screen, click VT Export.
  3. Download the exported grades. There's only one file, even if the course has multiple sections.
    • If you're using Firefox or Chrome, a window will pop up giving you the option to open or save a file, which will be named "[Canvas course name].csv". Open the file and save it as a CSV file.
    • If you're using Safari, a window will pop up containing the grade data. Select all of the data, copy it into a TextEdit document, and save the document as a CSV file.

Uploading Grades to HokieSPA

Follow the registrar's directions to upload grades to HokieSPA. If you have more than one section, upload the same file to each, and HokieSPA will add grades for the correct students. 

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Conclude Course Sites

About concluded course sites

Concluding a Canvas course site is like archiving it. The site is accessible, and you can import material to a new site, but you can't change the concluded site's teaching materials. 

Concluding course sites

To conclude a course before the end of the term:

Importing materials from a concluded course site

To import content from a concluded course to a new one:

  1. Go to course Settings and click Import Course Content in the bar on the right side.
  2. Under Import Content, choose Content Type - Copy a Canvas Course.
  3. Under Search for a course, check Include completed courses to make your concluded course sites searchable.
  4. Choose if you want to import All content or Select specific content.
  5. You can Adjust events and due dates.
  6. Click Import

    Copy Canvas Course selected at the top. Include complete course is below Select a course. Adjust events and due dates is the only thing next to Options. Import button is at the bottom.

Unconcluding course sites

Adding people to concluded course sites

The +People and +Guests buttons in People will be grayed out if a course site is concluded. You must unconclude a course site to add people by changing the term dates so the Ends date is in the future. See Term dates under Configuring course settings

Deleting Course Sites

You need department head permission to delete a course site, because Virginia Tech Intellectual Property Policy 13000 grants the university perpetual rights to use materials for teaching and research. You cannot unpublish official course sites after students have submitted graded assignments.

Instead, you can:

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I can't log in to Canvas

Is your PID password working? 

Are you new full-time or adjunct faculty?

Are you a visiting scholar? 

I don't see my Canvas site

Official course sites are created using enrollment information from the registrar. Enrollments are updated three times a day. If you expect a Canvas site, but don't see it: 

  1. Check the All Courses menu. Click Courses -> All Courses to see if your course is there. 
  2. Make sure your course gets a Canvas site. 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

      If your course doesn't get an official Canvas site, you can create a draft/manual course site and add your students. 

  3. Check HokieSPA or the Virginia Tech Timetable of Classes and make sure you're listed as the instructor of record (IOR). 
    • If you're not the IOR, contact your department administrator and ask them to check teaching assignments. If they add you as IOR of the course, wait a half day for it to appear in Canvas. 
    • If you're the IOR, wait a half day for Canvas to update with registrar information.
  4. If you still don't see the site, go to, log in, and click Get Help.

Canvas is in the wrong color

If Canvas is not in 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 the page. 

    Account is the top tab on the left. High Contrast UI is the first option under feature options. Slider is on the right

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I can't access Modules or play Module videos

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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:

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Problems with Respondus LockDown Browser and/or Monitor

Technical Support

Both Canvas and Respondus support Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor.

Policy Questions

See the provost's information on Testing, Proctoring, and Alternative Assessments.

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I can't add people to an old site

The +People and +Guests buttons in People will be grayed out if a course site is concluded. You must unconclude a course site to add people.

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I accidentally deleted course content

If you accidentally deleted or overwrote content from a course recently, then you may be able to restore the material.

  1. Go to your course's Home page. Then at the end of the course URL, add /undelete.

    canvas url with undelete

  2. Hit Enter or Return. 
  3. A list of restorable content will appear. If your content is in the list, click Restore.
    • If the content is not listed, then it cannot be recovered.

      Restore in Canvas

  4. The deleted content will be added back to your site. 

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Course Files ran out of storage space

Store text-based resources and images in Canvas Files. Store multi-media resources in My Media and Media Gallery. See Video Content Management - How Instructors Use Kaltura

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

To view how much space your files are using, click Files on the Global Navigation Menu.

Requesting more space

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Midterm grades export not opening correctly on MacOS

On MacOS and Numbers, opening a CSV file converts it to a Numbers file. You can only upload CSVs to HokieSPA. We recommend (A) exporting from Numbers as CSV, (B) opening it in Excel, or (C) changing the default program for CSV files to Excel. 

A. Edit the file in Numbers and export it as CSV. See: Export to other file formats in Numbers on Mac

B. Open it in Excel:

  1. Start Excel.
  2. Click File then Open
  3. Navigate to the downloaded CSV and open it. 

C. Change the default program for CSV files to Excel:

  1. Right click your CSV file in your Downloads folder.
  2. Click Get Info.
  3. Click the drop-down for Open with and change the program to Excel.
  4. Click Change all and confirm.
  5. This will now open all CSV files with Excel. This will not change how other (not CVS) files are opened.

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Reached file limit for course site

Canvas course sites have a max of 5GB of storage. If you are hosting videos in files, we recommend transferring your videos to My Media and Media Gallery to free storage space. If you need more storage, submit a ticket at and 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: 

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

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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Additional Information

Roles and permissions

What you can do in Canvas depends on your role. Canvas comes with these default roles (see Canvas Course Role Permissions):

Virginia Tech added more roles to meet our community's needs (see Permissions for Canvas at Virginia Tech): 

To change someone's role in your course, see How do I edit user roles in a course? 

Usage rights for files in Canvas

Instructors at Virginia Tech can turn on usage rights in Canvas sites. Doing so will require the user to set usage rights for any files uploaded to the Files area.

Enabling usage rights

Course sites by default have usage rights turned off. To turn them on:

  1. In the course site, go to Settings in the course navigation menu.
  2. Click the Feature Options tab.
  3. Next to Require Usage Rights for Uploaded Files, click On.

    Feature options is the last tab in the toolbar. Require Usage Rights for Uploaded files is enabled

If usage rights are enabled in your site, when you upload a file, you must set its usage rights before publishing it. There are three ways to access usage rights:

A. Attempt to publish the file by clicking the no symbol (if the file was published before you enabled usage rights, the cloud will appear green);

B. Click the Usage Rights icon, an exclamation point inside a circle; or

C. Click the Settings [...] next to the file name and click Manage Usage Rights from the menu.

More options is the three vertical dots. Manage Usage Rights is third from the bottom.

Regardless of how you access usage rights, the Editing Usage Permissions window will appear.

More on Usage Rights from Canvas Guides

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Acceptable use use & privacy policy

When you first log into Canvas, the below window will appear. It will also appear if Instructure changes their Acceptable Use Policy. 

To log into Canvas, you must check the I agree to the acceptable use and privacy policy box, and click Submit.

If you want to read the Acceptable Use Policy and Privacy Policy again:

  1. Log into Canvas with your VT PID and PID password. (If you forgot your password, follow the instructions at Forgot PID Password.)
  2. Click the Acceptable Use Policy or Privacy Agreement links at the bottom of the Canvas window.

    Privacy policy the left most option at the bottom. Acceptable use policy to the right of privacy policy


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Feature Idea Conversations 

Idea conversations allow you to initiate or contribute to conversations about desired enhancements to Canvas functionality. See About Idea Conversations


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Canvas updates

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New Quizzes

New Quizzes is available in Canvas. Unfortunately, instructors must migrate quizzes and question banks individually from Classic Quizzes to New Quizzes. Canvas is developing better migration options, so for now we suggest only using New Quizzes to create new assessments. 

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Canvas release notes


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