Canvas - Adding/Removing People from Course Sites (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 Using Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Instructors).



Roles / Permissions

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

  • Teacher
  • TA
  • Designer
  • Student
  • Observer

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

  • Grader
  • Librarian
  • Tech Support

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

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Adding People

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network

Adding Virginia Tech Affiliates

  • You can add active Virginia Tech affiliates - enrolled students and current university employees - to your Canvas site.
    • You can add Virginia Tech affiliates to any Canvas role - TA, student, teacher, observer, etc.
    • Don't enroll your students in official course sites because they are added and dropped automatically.
  • Canvas is for teaching and learning.
  • Not everyone with a Virginia Tech email address has Canvas.
    • To add alumni and former employees, see Adding (non-VT) guests.
    • To add visiting scholars and emeritus faculty, contact 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal. Enter the person's PID and ask for them to be added to Canvas.
Adding VT Affiliates to Canvas
  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 VT Username (PID) in the Add People box.
    • Find the person's VT Username (PID) from Banner or departmental records.
    • Do not enter their email address because email aliases interfere with Canvas recognizing the person.
    • Their VT Username (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-downs.
    • You can add people to the course as Students, Teachers, TAs, Graders, Designers, Teaching Consultants, Observers.
    • You can check Can interact with users in their section only to limit access to a single section in a cross-listed site.

      Image of the above instructions

  7. Click Next. Validate that you are adding the correct person(s).
  8. Click Add Users.
Bulk-adding Virginia Tech Affiliates to Canvas
  • Use bulk add for symposiums, orientation, academic advising, and other academic activities that aren't through an official course. 
  • Do not add students to official course sites because they are added automatically.
  1. Collect the VT Usernames (PIDs) of the people you are adding. VT Usernames (PIDs) are not necessarily the first part of Virginia Tech email addresses. 
  2. Create a file in Microsoft Excel. If you have multiple class sections, make a tab for each section.
  3. Enter the VT Usernames (PIDs) in a single column. You can enter names and email addresses in other columns. 
  4. Select and copy the column of the VT Usernames (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 VT Usernames (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.

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Adding (Non-Virginia Tech) Guests

  • You can add guests in any Canvas role - TA, student, teacher, observer, etc.
  • Adding a Virginia Tech email address as a guest will not work. 
  • Guests must create their accounts. 
    • The guests won't automatically appear in your site after you add them. They must create their guest account and wait up to a day for it to appear in Canvas. 
  • Only add non-Virginia Tech affiliates as guests. Do not add someone as a guest if they have a VT Username (PID) or will soon get a VT Username (PID). 
  • Canvas is for teaching and learning.
  • Only Virginia Tech affiliated Teachers and TAs can add guests to a site.
    • A Teacher or TA with a guest account cannot add other guests.
Adding Guests to Canvas
  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. Click Authorize.

    Image of the above instructions

  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.

      Image of the above instructions

  6. If uploading a list of guests, go to step 7. Otherwise, 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.
  7. 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.

      Image of the above instructions

    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:
      1. Choose which section to add the guests to, if your course site has more than one section. Upload different batches for different sections.
      2. Set the guests' role in the site. Upload different batches for different roles.
      3. 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.
Tracking Guest Registration
  • Guest users must register their accounts within seven days of being added to Canvas.
  • You can track whether they've registered by looking at the Status column in the Add Guests tool. 
  • If a guest says they can't log into Canvas, first check their registration status. There are three possible statuses:
    • Pending – Waiting for guest to: respond, create account, and set their password.
    • Expired – Guest did not create an account within 7 days, and the invitation is no longer valid. Re-invite them.
    • Enrolled – Guest successfully created an account. It can take up to 6 more hours before the guest is added to Canvas.
  • If a guest already has a Canvas account from another Canvas site in the past and cannot log in, their password has most likely expired and the login credentials are invalid.
  • If a guest can’t remember if they created an account or not, have them go to Virginia Tech Account Manager to check.
How Guests Create 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 have 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 to be added to Canvas.
        4. Log in to Canvas.
          • 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 password reset and enter your guest email address. 
Expired Guest Accounts

A Virginia Tech guest who had a Canvas account in the past but hasn't used it in a while may get an error about an invalid account/password when they try to log in. First, make sure they are on the correct Canvas instance (Canvas vs PDN Canvas). If they still can't log in, proceed with the instructions below.

  • A Virginia Tech guest account goes into an expired state in Virginia Tech's Guest Account Management System (GAMS) and Canvas if they do not update their password annually.
  • VT affiliated teachers in a Canvas course can resend a new invitation to guests to set up a new guest account.
  1. Go to the People tab in the Canvas site where you need to re-add the guest.
  2. Click on +Guest.
  3. Click on Request Guest.
  4. Type in the Guest's information and click Create Guest.
  5. You'll see a popup that says they're already in the system. Click Continue to send them the invitation.
  6. Make sure they respond to the invitation and set their new GAMS password. Canvas will update with their enrollment.
  7. The guest should now be able to log into Canvas using their new password.
Error Message When Adding Guests

When adding guests via the Guest tool, you may get the below error message:

The following error(s) prohibited this guest from being saved: Email address has already been taken.

This means that someone else at VT has already added them as a guest on another site, and they have already created a Canvas account. To add an existing guest account to your site:

  1. Go back to the People tab on your site.
  2. Click on the +People button.
  3. Under  Login ID.
  4. Guests use their email address to log into Canvas, so enter their full email address in the Login IDs (required) field.
  5. Choose the role and section for the guest and click Next.
  6. Review the confirmation page and click Save if everything is correct.

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Adding People to Concluded Course Sites

The +People and +Guests buttons in People will be grayed out if a course site is concluded.

  • You need to unconclude a course site to make changes to the site, such as adding people or editing teaching materials.
  • Instructors can unconclude official course sites by changing the term dates so the end date is in the future. See Term dates.
  • If the term dates are inaccessible and the Participation field is set to Course already instead of Term, a Virginia Tech Canvas admin will have to unconclude the course for you. Request this through 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal

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Removing People

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

  • They are added and removed according to their course enrollment status with the Registrar.
  • If you remove them, they will be added back the next time Canvas updates with registrar data. 

To remove someone you added manually:

  1. Go to the course site and click People
  2. Find the person you want to remove.
  3. In their row, on the far right, click the three dots, then click Remove From Course
  4. Click OK to verify.

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Getting Help

For instructions on resolving common issues with Canvas, see:

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:

In Canvas, use the new Help Docs button located near the Support button that will provide quick access to a knowledge base located inside Canvas.

Image of the above instructions

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