Skip to Content

Canvas Overview


This post is to assist instructors with getting started with Canvas–the new learning management system succeeding Blackboard. The links below are connected to articles from the extensive Canvas knowledge base which can be found in their entirety by clicking here.

If you would like any further assistance, please feel free to contact CASIT Training with any questions or call 346-5017.

Click on one of the links below to proceed:

Getting Started

Go to the UO Canvas home page ( and sign in using your DuckID and password (Shibboleth authentication)

All courses that have a course reference number (CRN) that are assigned to instructors are accessible now within all Canvas accounts for instructors. For other sites that do not have CRNs attached (primarily for departments to communicate with majors and minors) will be populated into Canvas throughout the remainder of August and should be available by mid-September.

Canvas Dashboard

The new Canvas user interface has a robust dashboard page that users see upon login. Courses are listed into tiles which can have customized colors and nicknames to assist users in identifying the right course. Other features are listed in the image below:

Canvas Dashboard

Setting your course home page

Upon sign-in to Canvas, hover your cursor over the Courses menu along the top then click the course you would like to open.

Along the right-hand side of the screen, click on the Choose Home Page button to proceed.

How to set Canvas Home Page


A dialog box will open with the various options available for the home page. (I recommend selecting the Syllabus option.) Then click Save to proceed.


From your home page, the instructor can view (along the right-hand column, see first image in this section):

  • Course Stream (which shows any upcoming date-dependent course information)
  • Course Setup Checklist for setting up your course
  • Create a New Announcement (also available from Announcements)
  • Course Analytics which shows grade trends and other course information pertaining to your students.
  • The To Do list based on date-designated components like Assignments, Announcements, etc.
  • A miniature view of the Course Calendar
  • …and the assignment category weightings (if assignment group weighting has been assigned).

Looking at your course from the Student View

Select the course you would like to open, then click on the Settings menu along the left-hand column.

From there, click on the Student View button in the right-hand column to proceed.

How to access the Student View in your course.

The screen will look similar to instructor view except you will have a bright pink frame around the page. The University’s branding will also appear in this view.

Canvas Student View

The system will create a test student view which will allow instructors to see what has or has not been published within the course. You may turn in assignments, post to discussions, download readings, etc. in the Student View. Click the Reset Student button to clear any changes you may have made in the Student View.

To return to the instructor view, click the Leave Student View button on the bottom-right of the window.

Leaving/Resetting Student View

Setting up your Profile and Profile Settings

Along the top of the screen, click on your Account icon…then click on Profile.


To edit your profile, click on the Edit Profile button in the right-hand column…


You can now edit your job title, enter a bio, or add link to another URL on your profile. Once finished, click Save Profile to proceed.


To add contact information (e-mail addresses or phone numbers), click on Settings from either the top of the screen or in the Profile menu in the left-hand column.

Click on the Add Email Address link for email addresses or the Add Contact Method link for phone number or SMS notifications.


Once your e-mail address and/or additional contact method has been registered and verified, notifications can be set to your preferences.

Setting Profile Notifications

Within your Profile settings, click on the Notifications menu option…

Descriptions for each notification reason can be seen by hovering over the option with your cursor…

Canvas Notifications

…as well as notification frequency


Notifications can be set for immediate, daily digest, weekly summary, or none at all.

Navigating the primary Canvas features

Once your home page is setup, you can start at any on any of the options below. Click on any of the links for how to get started. The links will redirect you to the corresponding article(s) in the Canvas knowledge base. The full knowledge base is searchable and can be found at

Below are links on how to use the different features of Canvas.


  • Messages that can be broadcast to your entire course or all the courses you teach.
  • Additional content (audio, video, etc.) may be embedded within. Each may also be published at a given future date.


  • Can be built in the program or imported from other files.
  • Due dates for each assignment will be linked to the Calendar feature (accessible to faculty and students).
  • Rubrics can also be created with the assignment based upon your pedagogical preference.

Attendance (using Roll Call)

  • Attendance can be tracked for grading purposes
  • Seating charts can be built using the student roster if desired.
    Note: The initial setup of this tool requires permission to access your Canvas course despite being an approved Canvas LTI plugin.


  • Populated based upon dates assigned to various class components throughout Canvas (Assignments, Discussions, Modules, etc.)
  • Events can be edited from the Calendar via drag-and-drop which then will automatically update in their appropriate area.


  • This feature allows for instructors (and students if enabled) to create a virtual office hours space or work space for collaboration using BigBlueButton, an integrated audio/video communication software.
  • Each session can be recorded and stored for up to 14 days (Click here for setup)
  • Also features an instant messenger with one-on-one and whole group chat available.


  • This feature allows for students and instructors to reply to one another in a discussion thread. Instructors may use this to assign a discussion to a particular reading done for a class.
  • Parameters are customizable for assigning posts and replies.


  • Your media library for all files: Images, small audio/video files, PDFs, Word, Powerpoint, etc.
  • Can be linked to assignments, discussions, modules, etc.
  • Drag-and-drop capable while building assignments as well.
    Note: Each course only has 2 GB of space. Therefore, it is not recommended to store large video files. Videos can be embedded into Assignments and Discussions using YouTube or Vimeo.
  • Note 2: This is where most migrated files from Blackboard will be located.


  • Fully integrated with the Calendar and Assignments features (once dates are assigned).
  • Features SpeedGrader which allows for in-browser readability of assignments (using Box View and Crocodoc) with in-line comment features (similar to commenting via Microsoft Word) and rubric integration.
    Note: If grades are based on attendance, the RollCall plugin can be utilized (soon).
    Note 2: Columns cannot be added from the Gradebook like in Blackboard. Separate columns may be added by creating assignments or any other section with a due date.


  • Allows instructors to build course materials around a certain topic or date.
  • Links materials from assignments, discussion threads, quizzes, tests, and external links.


  • Allows instructors to create and manage rubrics for assignments.
  • Rubrics can be used in conjunction with SpeedGrader.


  • Similar to a wiki-style page or WordPress page.
  • General content about a topic, file, or assignment can be written here (can also be linked to Modules)


  • Allows instructors to view the class roster and any student groups created for a course.
  • From this area, instructors can add teacher assistants (e.g., TAs, GTFs); all other students that are enrolled will auto-populate from Banner.


  • Allows for management of test questions and question banks.
  • Quizzes created using the Respondus plug-in with Blackboard will import into Canvas perfectly.
    Note: For those who imported tests and quizzes to Canvas, the question links should carry over without incident regardless of using Respondus. However, if there was a linkage issue, click the Quizzes link.


  • Fully interactive with all assigned materials. Changes in real-time to any due date modifications made.
  • Can be set as your course home page (recommended).

Links to Additional Content

  • CASIT Training features documentation on various subject areas. A full list of what is available can be found here.
  • For a side-by-side comparison of features between Blackboard and Canvas (by way of the Howard CC (Maryland) and University of Texas-Austin), click here.
  • The UO Libraries have compiled student training materials through Canvas. Click here to view that guide.
  • Additionally, the Libraries have created a faculty training site to guide instructors through the setup process. Click here to view that guide.