Canvas Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

More information is available in the form of questions and answers. Click on the questions to expand them and see the answers.

To get more help with Canvas please contact the Digital Learning Center or stop by during our office hours. Canvas also maintains a robust faculty guide and frequently publishes short videos that provide effective tool overviews.

Questions and Answers for Faculty/Staff (Site Creator)

Click on the questions below to see the answers.

How do I facilitate access to a Canvas site for a collaborator in a credit-bearing course?

Student Course Collaborators: To request that a student collaborator (ex: Teaching Fellow, Writing Colleague, Teaching Assistant, etc.) be added to your Canvas course site, please complete and submit the Registrar's Office form "Request to Add Student Collaborator to Course." This process will initiate adding the student in Peoplesoft in a Teaching Assistant role and then update the Canvas system accordingly.

Non-Student Collaborators: Please contact the Help Desk at ext. 4357 or, noting the individual's full name, e-mail address, and ID number as well as the name of the specific Canvas site.

How do I avert academic dishonesty with Canvas files I share with students?

Do you share answer keys to problem sets, review questions for exams, or worked through problems under Canvas Files? Note that your students will still have access to this material after the course ends, unless you:

If you are unable to delete or unpublish files/folders, your course is in a read-only state. Contact the Digital Learning Team at ext. 4420 or to restore temporary editing access so you can make necessary changes.

I can't delete or unpublish files or folders in a previous course.

Your course is in a read-only state; contact the Digital Learning Team at ext. 4420 or to restore temporary editing access so you can make necessary changes.

How do I send messages to my students and ensure they have read them?

Sending messages to your students can be done using the announcement tool. Using announcements gives students multiple ways to find and read your message. When you send an announcement Canvas will send an e-mail or text message to the students using their preferred method and timeframe. The message from Canvas will appear in the student's e-mail from the course name, for example: "Intro. General Chemistry." The announcement will also be added to your course site on the announcements page and you can add the most recent announcements above your home page. We recommend instructing students to check your Canvas course site regularly to look for new announcements or updates and to have their notification preferences for announcements set to ASAP.

What do I need to know about the course read only state?

When an academic term ends in the Canvas system (Aug/Jan), your course site will become inactive or read-only, restricting your ability to edit or make changes to content. Students will maintain access to course materials (files, assignments, etc. ) but will not be able to actively participate, such as submitting assignments. To prevent students from accessing sensitive materials used during the course, (such as answer keys, review questions etc.) follow these best practices:

If you would like to make changes and your course is in the read-only state, contact the Digital Learning Center at ext. 4420 or to restore temporary editing access so you can make necessary changes.

I'm teaching two sections of the same course. Is there a way to consolidate Canvas sites for the courses?

Canvas offers a new functionality that easily facilitates combining two sections together while maintaining the Peoplesoft daily roster updates. To take advantage of this capability, please contact the Help Desk at ext. 4357 or, noting the course sections that you would like combined and which Canvas site among them that you would like to remain active.

How do I copy material from an existing Canvas course into a new one?

Canvas has the ability to copy course materials from one course to another. You can copy an entire course or only selected materials. Canvas also has the ability to automatically assign due dates during a course copy. Detailed directions on copying Canvas course materials can be found here: step by step instructions.

Please contact the Digital Learning Center at ext. 4420 or for further assistance.

How do I customize my left-hand course menu navigation buttons?

The left-hand navigation buttons can be re-organized or hidden from students to help better facilitate delivery of course content. Please note that links cannot be renamed. Step-by-step directions on changing the navigation menu:

How do I facilitate access to a Canvas Organization Site (ex: committee or department site)?

To facilitate access to a Canvas Organization site, please contact the Help Desk at ext. 4357 or, noting the individual's full name and e-mail address as well as the name of the specific Canvas site.

How can I share my Canvas course site?

There are several options available from which to choose.

  1. Create screen shots of the Canvas site: resource for Mac users; resource for Windows users.
  2. Insert screen shots of the Canvas site into a PowerPoint presentation and use the audio recording feature in PowerPoint to narrate.
  3. Create a video of the Canvas site using screen recording software such as Screencast-O-Matic.
  4. Enable access to your Canvas site for anyone with an HWS log-in. This setting can be reversed at any time and also restricts visibility of student data. Related resource: Steps to Change Course Visibility.

For support in any of these options, please contact the Digital Learning Team at ext. 4420 or

How do students get added to my Canvas site?

Students who are registered for a course in Peoplesoft are added to a Canvas site automatically. Changes in registration (adds and drops) are refreshed every four hours throughout the day at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 6 p.m. Please advise students to rectify their status in Peoplesoft in order to gain access to your Canvas site.

Students report that they can't see my course materials. How do I "publish" my site in order to make it completely visible to students?

Publish Your Course Site All course sites will initially be unpublished and therefore not visible to students. To make your course site available, click the "publish" button on the right side under "course status." Please note the ability to "unpublish" your course site will remain until students submit an assignment. More detailed instructions are available.

Publish Specific Course Material Newly created content in Canvas, such as assignments or pages, may be unpublished. There are multiple ways to publish content. Contact the Digital Learning Team at or 315-781-4420 for help publishing specific Canvas content.

Does Canvas have a blog tool?

While Canvas does not have a distinct tool for blogging, it does offer several options for related functions. The Assignment, Pages and Discussion tools all provide a rich content editor to facilitate easy content formatting and the integration of media. The Assignment tool can be used to prompt private student journal submissions; Pages and Discussion can be created and configured for class-wide viewing and comment on individual student contributions. Depending upon the desired structure, the latter tools can be configured to reflect spaces for individual students or topics. Please contact the Digital Learning Center to consult further on this topic.

What if I want to use the curved grading in Canvas?

We have been notified by Canvas support that there is a potential calculation issue specifically related to the curved grading functionality within the Canvas gradebook. Until we receive further notification from Canvas that this functionality is accurately working, we advise that all faculty refrain from using curved grading in the Canvas gradebook. If you need assistance, have questions, or want to explore alternative methods to grading on a curve, please contact the Digital Learning Center at or ext. 4420. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Questions and Answers for Students (Participants)

Click on the questions below to see the answers.

My faculty posted some comments/feedback to one of my assignments. How do I view these comments?

If your faculty member provided comments/feedback on an assignment you can view those comments by going to the assignment and clicking the "view feedback" button located to the right of the file you submitted. More detailed instructions are available.

How can I learn more about using Canvas?

Canvas maintains a robust student guide that is kept to up-to-date with new features and functionalities.

How do I adjust Canvas messaging preferences? Ex: I want to receive Canvas announcements ASAP on my cell phone.

Messages from Canvas will either come from "HWS Canvas" or from your course name, for example "Intro. General Chemistry". We recommend changing your notification preferences so that you are receiving important course information immediately. Changing notification preferences steps are outlined here.

I can't see all of my courses in Canvas. What do I do?

Check with the faculty member to inquire if s/he is using Canvas for the semester; you may not be missing anything! A faculty member may have chosen not to use the Canvas system for the course you are enrolled in.

If the faculty member confirms that s/he is indeed using Canvas for the course:

  1. Check your registration status with the Registrar's Office. Canvas access is updated via student course registration lists four times daily until the end of the "Add" period.
  2. Also ask the faculty member to see if the course has been "Published". Once the Canvas course site is ready, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to make the course available to enrolled students.

Note: Students are not officially enrolled into a course until they have completed the official registration paperwork with the Office of the Registrar.

My "courses" drop down menu is really long, can I limit the view to just the courses I'm teaching/involved with this semester?

Yes, you can customize the course drop down menu to just display the courses you are teaching or involved with this semester. To customize your drop down menu you can follow the detailed steps in this Canvas guide.

How long can I access my materials in Canvas after graduation?

In step with other HWS online services, students retain access to Canvas for 60 days after graduation. Learn how to access files that they've submitted via Canvas.


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