CAEN Knowledge Base
CAEN Knowledge Base

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Ten things Instructors should know when starting to use Canvas.

  1. Organizing the courses listed on the dashboard:
    All courses are listed when you click the Courses >> All Courses link from your Canvas dashboard. If you want them to be accessible directly from your dashboard, make sure to check the Star icon next to the name in your course list (it should turn yellow). Refer to this link for how to add/remove courses from your dashboard. Refer to:

  2. Organizing your course site navigation:
    By default, Canvas automatically includes several tools and features in your site's navigation menu. In order to simplify things for you and your students, we recommend removing anything from your navigation menu that you will not use in your course. Refer to:

  3. Publishing your course site:
    By default, all Canvas course sites are created in an Unpublished state, meaning only associated Instructors can log in and view the site. Students will not be able to view the site until it is Published. Refer to:

  4. Using the "Student View":
    As an Instructor, you see all options available in your Canvas course, including any pages or files you have hidden. It can sometimes be helpful to view what a student in your course sees to ensure you have the site configured exactly how you want. Refer to:

  5. Announcements vs. Inbox Conversations:
    As a general rule, Announcements share time-sensitive, urgent information that does not necessarily require a response (e.g. a class cancellation, or a new Assignment posting), but should be received by every student/member of the Canvas course site. Conversation (or Inbox) messages, however, can be used for lengthier, sustained exchanges between instructors and students (e.g. questions about a class discussion, or something that should only be shared individually). Messages sent from either of these options are delivered to the recipient’s U-M email account. Refer to:
  • If your course is not published, students will not receive a notification of an announcement or any other messages from Canvas.
  • Students who have not accepted their course invitations will not receive any notifications from Canvas.
  • Even if the course is published and students have accepted their course invitations, they will only receive notifications according to how they have set their notification preferences in their personal settings.

  1. Uploading files to your Canvas course site and setting permissions:
    Individual files, or groups of files & folders can also be uploaded in a compressed .zip file (when uploading a .zip file, Canvas will ask if you just want to add the compressed file itself, or if you want to unpack and save the files/folders individually as they were compressed). Refer to:

    Instructors can edit permissions for files, including setting the state of the file (published or unpublished), make files available to students who have the link (link restriction), or schedule availability dates (student availability date restriction) for the files. Refer to:

  2. Linking your course's lecture recordings to your Canvas Site:
    In order to link to your lecture recordings in Canvas, you will need to be an instructor for the course, and have a corresponding recording site in CAEN’s lecture capture system. Refer to:

  3. Hiding student grade distribution graphs & summaries:
    Did you know that the total course grades and grade distribution graphs are ON by default in Canvas? If you do not want your students to see this data, these options must be manually turned OFF. Refer to:

  4. Submit feedback on features you like or do not like as part of Canvas:

  1. For further information and assistance: