Canvas - Teaching with Canvas (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).



Managing Students

Creating Student Groups

  • Use student groups to give different discussion topics or assignments to sets of students.
  • Use student groups for group assignments. 
  • You can set up student groups and discussions and assignments for those groups before you add students.

See the following Canvas Guides on how to create groups:

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network

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.

  • If a student has dropped a class, but you still see them in Canvas, see if they officially dropped the course in HokieSPA. 
  • If a student has officially added or dropped a class and Canvas hasn't updated in 12 hours, contact 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal

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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Holding a Class Online

For instructions specific to moving courses online due to COVID-19, go to the Canvas course TLOS Continuity - Moving Online. If class has been canceled, or if you can't attend class, you can set up Canvas to hold class remotely whether or not you use Canvas to teach.

Adding Teaching Materials

  • Click Files on the course-navigation menu (second menu on the left). Then drag and drop files from your computer into Canvas files. 
  • You can then sort into assignments, page, or modules. See the Canvas Instructor Guide for more information on how to use these tools.

Creating 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

Setting Up Office Hours

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

Holding 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

Creating and Posting 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 - Using My Media and Media Gallery (for Instructors).  

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Sending 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?

  • Send a "Welcome" message to students directing them to the essential introductory pages in your course (e.g. your syllabus).
  • Create any additional course announcements, if necessary.
    • You can create multiple announcements and choose the publish/availability dates for each to be posted.
    • It is recommended to utilize announcements for special events, updates, and news items.

Videos by TLOS: Professional Development Network

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Exporting 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?

  • VT Letter Grades
  • VT Letter Grades w/ +/-
  • VT Letter Grades w/ +/- (VetMed)
  • VT Pass/No Pass

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%.

Image of the above instructions

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.
    2. Click an assignment to edit it.
    3. Scroll down to the Assign box and make sure there's a Due date in the past.
    4. 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:

Image of the above instructions

C. Tell Students to Uncheck "Calculate based only on graded assignments."
  • Students can choose whether or not the final grade in the student view counts ungraded/uncompleted assignments - so students might be viewing the wrong grade. 
  • Tell students to go to the course's gradebook and uncheck Calculate based only on graded assignments below their course grade.
  • Have students also see: What are What-If Grades?

    Image of the above instructions

D. Post Hidden Grades
  • Hidden grades cause the wrong Total grades to export.
  • Hidden grades have an eye icon at the top of the assignment's column. The Total grade for the student (which won't export correctly) will also have an eye icon.

    Image of the above instructions

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.

    Image of the above instructions

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

    Image of the above instructions

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.

    Image of the above instructions

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

    Image of the above instructions

  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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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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