Getting Started

All instructors are required to use Canvas at least to record First-Day Attendance, Midterm Grades (if teaching 1000-3000 level courses), and end-of-semester E-Grades. Click here for a video tutorial of locating your Canvas courses.

Simple Uses of Canvas

  • Uploading a syllabus vis the "Syllabus" button (video)
  • Holding the syllabus (or PowerPoints) via the "Files" button (tutorial)
  • Creating a simple layout for students via "Modules" or "Pages" (video)
  • New Canvas gradebook as of Spring 2020 (


Comprehensive training on Canvas functions

The Instructor's Guide hosted by the Canvas company (Instructure) has hundreds of sub-pages that explain how to accomplish almost any task you can imagine in Canvas. The explanations are text-based, but also include screenshots.


Common Functions

  • Adding TAs: To add a TA, click on People and then the Add People button on the top right. Type a student email address (or NetID) and click on the Role pulldown to switch it to TA. Then click the NEXT button. The system will verify it knows the user you indicated, but the person is not actually added until you click the ADD USERS button at the bottom. Watch the *InEd Video Tutorial.
  • Adding Students. The "add student" functionality is not enabled for Banner-created courses. Click here to view workarounds.
  • Roles/Permissions: click this link to view a chart that specifies the Canvas role permissions at USF.
  • Cross-listing courses: Identify one of your courses to act as the "parent course." In each of the other courses you want to combine ("child courses"), click on "Settings" then "Sections". Click on the section that is full of students and has an SIS ID, (the one created automatically). Then look to the right and click "CrossList this section with another class". Search for the class you identified as the master, and then click "crosslist". Don't create new sections; the Master course must be one automatically created by Banner and not one you manually created yourself (otherwise, it won't be compatible with First Day Attendance or eGrades)

Note: Be aware that if you cross-list an undergraduate course into a graduate course (with the grad course serving as the master course), you will not be able to submit mid-term grades, as graduate courses do not require them. The same goes for cross-listing into a course that does not have any students enrolled in it - Banner will not allow you to submit eGrades and you will need to reach out to the Registrar's office.

  • Customize Navigation/Menu: To hide tools, click SETTINGS and then NAVIGATION and you can drag tools to the bottom, which will hide them from students.
  • Student View: Access the student view under SETTINGS (look on the right side menu).
  • Refer a Student: Send a message to an academic "care team" that may help connect students with campus resources when they struggle, academically or personally. More information here
  • Polls for Canvas: A free-for-everyone Apple/Android app that lets you poll students with no need for a dedicated clicker. Does not presently integrate with the Canvas gradebook or provide reports on individual student responses, but can be useful for engagement. Use as your "Canvas URL" when prompted. More information here
  • Gradebook Columns: You add columns to the gradebook by clicking the button for Assignments. On the right side, click Add Assignment and give it a name. Suggestion: do add "points possible" on the first screen. If this is meant to a letter grade (or ungraded) instead, click Options (twice) until you see "Grading Type" that you can switch.
  • Release Date. You can't selectively release items in the Files button. Instead, upload them to Files, hide the Files button from students, and create Modules that contain links to your uploaded items. Each module can have its own release date (click the gear-icon for each module). Note: the COURSE release date can also be customized under Settings.
  • Sending email: Click the "inbox" link in the top-right of the screen. To create a new email, click into the "to" field and start typing the name of your course, then select it when it appears. Put a checkmark in the box next to "Students" and then type your message.
  • Duplicating emails to your Outlook: Because keyword search of the Canvas Inbox doesn't exist, you may want to CC yourself on emails sent through Canvas. This isn't done by adding you as a recipient, but through Settings/Notifications, and scroll to "Conversations Created by Me" and click the check mark so that you are notified instantly at your email address.
  • Change the Home Button. By default, the "Home" button shows updates. Click "change home page layout" at the top to select "a page I'll design myself" if using Pages, or "the course modules/sections" if you are using Modules to organize and display information to students. There is no option for "files" if you are using only the Files button.
  • Grade Essays by Clicking Rubric Fields. If you set up a rubric and click to "use rubric for grading," then each cell into a rubric cell will assign the score indicated and automatically add up the grade in the Speedgrader.
  • Recover Deleted Material From a Course. Whenever anything is deleted from a course shell (document, file, assignment, discussion board, etc), it can be restored later. Simply click into the course and add /undelete to the end of the URL (an example would be and hit ENTER to see a list of things that can be restored.

Links from Instructure

  • Canvas Roadmap. This official page shows the forecast of new and upcoming features and releases within Canvas, as well as links to blogs and conversations that provide additional context.
  • Canvas Status and Downtime Tracker. This official page shows the current status of Canvas and lists previous events, in case this helps you decide on extending due dates.

Advanced Topics

*InEd Video Tutorials developed by Victor Ventor with USF Innovative Education/Online Faculty Development. These videos were created for the Online Instructor Certification course and were designed to identify best practice approaches for a fully online course.

Bugs and Workarounds

  1. Uploading a gradebook with newly-added columns will fail if the columns are added *after* the "totals" columns in the CSV file (this assumes you are using a previously-downloaded CSV from Canvas). Add your new columns *before* the Totals columns to prevent the problem. 
  2. Midterm grades will normally ignore missing grades. If you checkmark "treat missing grades as zero" in EITHER the gradebook or the eGrades gear setting, your gradebook may not match what is imported into eGrades. If a workaround is needed, you could export the gradebook to find the column for "current total" with numeric percentages. Rename the column to something like "midterm grades" and import the .csv file. You can now point eGrades to this temporary column as the source for the midterm grade.
  3. Grade submission at the END of semester can be misleading if you do not first checkmark "treat missing grades as zero" in the gradebook settings. If you fail to take this step, the displayed grade will ignore missing scores and pretend they don't exist, but those missing scores become zeros, with no way to stop the process, when you submit through eGrades. Thus, the onscreen displayed grade may be higher than what is actually submitted to eGrades.
  4. When students have taken a quiz and are unable to see which questions they answered incorrectly, check the quiz settings. If the settings are set to show one question at a time, students cannot see which questions were incorrect. When that option is off, students can see which questions were answered incorrectly.


The following links will help keep you up to date on all upcoming Canvas changes, which occur every three weeks.

Consultations and Individual Help

ATLE is very happy to meet with instructors and graduate assistants for individualized assistance, training, or brainstorming about Canvas usage--it's one of our core functions! Email to request a consultation, and we'll be glad to work with you.

Further Assistance