Canvas - Using Your Account (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 Using Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Students).



Editing Your Canvas Profile

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, click an account area to manage.

To edit your profile, see How do I edit my profile in my user account as a student?

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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. If you change your preferred email address for Virginia Tech, Canvas will update within one day.

To change your default Canvas email address, see How do I change my default email address in my user account as a student?

Notification Triggers

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

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Using Canvas Files

There are two areas in Canvas to store data:

Store text-based resources and images in Canvas Files. Store multi-media resources in My Media. See Video Content Management - Using My Media and Media Gallery (for Students).

Uploading Files

Do not upload large media files to Canvas Files. Instead, use the My Media tool. See: Video Content Management - Using My Media and Media Gallery (for Students).

To upload files to Canvas, see: 

Downloading Files

To download a single file, see How do I download a single file as a student?

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, then Files.

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

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  5. Canvas will prepare the download. Progress is shown at the top of the screen.
  6. When preparations are complete, the files are downloaded as a zip file.

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Sending Email

Use Canvas Conversations to send messages. Conversations is called Inbox in the Global Navigation Menu. It is 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.
  4. Choose who you want to send the message to.
    1. The address book will vary by the assigned roles in the course
    2. 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 manage my Canvas notification preferences as a student?

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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.

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