Canvas Instructor Guide

Canvas is UBC’s primary learning platform for delivering online course content.​ In Canvas, you can share materials (text or multimedia), enable student collaboration and discussion, manage assignments and quizzes, and assign grades. Canvas can also be used with many other UBC learning technologies.

Access Immediate
Cost Yes Free.
Bandwidth Yes Low demand on internet connections.
Canvas Integration Not applicable N/A
Privacy Yes Verified by UBC’s Privacy Impact Assessment process.
Similar UBC-Supported Tools N Canvas is the only centrally supported tool for running all aspects of your course online. However, depending on your goals, other centrally supported tools can help you run individual aspects of your course in different ways.

What can I use it for?

You can use Canvas to run any aspect of your course online:

  • Sharing course content
  • Hosting lectures
  • Giving assignments and quizzes
  • Administering exams
  • Facilitating discussions and group work
  • Managing grades

This tool guide was last reviewed in December 2023.

How are other faculty using Canvas?

Patricia Hingston profile Patricia Hingston uses Canvas to create an engaging and social course for students in Land and Food Systems

I use Canvas for all of my courses, varying in class sizes and mode of delivery. In Canvas, students can engage with the courses’ office hours, lectures, discussions, assignments, assessments, and grades. Read more »


Robert Russo profile Robert Russo uses Canvas to create a highly interactive course for students in Law

As with most law courses, the subject matter lends itself to a great deal of exposition, i.e., creating an online environment that is very text-intensive. I wrote the course so that the modules build on each other with practice quizzes and activities following most modules. There are also weekly assignments that make good use of the discussion forum platform. I have received very good feedback from students. Read more »


Nadja Kunz profile Nadja Kunz uses Canvas in a simple way for key course activities in Engineering

I’ve kept things simple and used Canvas for three main purposes: (1) online quizzes, (2) posting lecture material, and (3) contacting students. I plan to take advantage of additional functionalities in later iterations of the course. The system makes it very easy. Read more »

What do I need to use Canvas?

A supported web browser

Canvas runs in your web browser and supports using Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari. For which versions work, check the Canvas supported browser page. Canvas will not work with Internet Explorer.


A UBC course you are teaching / have taught

All UBC courses have matching courses in Canvas automatically created, with the enrolled students added, even if you have never used Canvas. Canvas courses are available approximately two weeks after the UBC course calendar has been published, which is typically several months before the start of term. This schedule gives you time to set up your materials and activities.

Lab and tutorial sections are not automatically created in Canvas, but you can request them by contacting your faculty’s Instructional Support Unit or contacting us.

Tips

  • You and your students will log in to Canvas at canvas.ubc.ca using your UBC CWL (Campus-Wide Login). If you don’t have one, please sign up for a UBC CWL first.
  • You and your students can also access Canvas on a mobile device using the Canvas Student app. The app allows everyone to view content and interact in their courses; however, students should not use it for quizzes or exams.
  • You can enrol in Canvas 101, to help you get started. This self-paced course offers a basic overview of Canvas features and functionality, which will help you build your course with confidence.

How do I use Canvas?

To use your Canvas course, you will first need to make it visible for students to find when the term starts, then you can customize and use the course for a variety of learning activities.

Click any bar below for instructions and tips for using Canvas.

Expand All

Set up your Canvas course

  1. Log in to Canvas from canvas.ubc.ca using your UBC CWL. This action will open your Canvas Dashboard.
  2. On your Dashboard, you will find all the courses you are teaching. Click any course card to open it.
  3. Once inside a course, you can start adding content, creating assignments and assessments, and setting up discussions and communications. Or you can add these elements after you publish the course.
  4. When you are ready click Publish, in the right-hand sidebar under "Course Status" on the course home page. Your course will be made available to students on the UBC term start date or be available immediately, if the term has already begun.
  5. If you want your course to be available to students earlier than the term start date, follow these instructions:
    • Click Settings in the Course Navigation.
    • In the "Participation" section, click the drop-down and select Course. This option will let you override the default term start and end dates.
    • Enter the Start date and time that you wish to make your course available.
    • Enter an End date and time that is eight weeks after the last day of class, to align with UBC copyright requirements.
    • Scroll down and click Update Course Details.

Tips

Set your Canvas name and pronoun

Your Canvas name is set by the preferred name you have on record with UBC's Human Resources. You can add or change your preferred or legal name by logging in to the Workday system and using the "Personal Information" application.

  1. Log in to Canvas, click Account in the left-most Global Navigation, and select Settings.
  2. Click Edit Settings, which may appear on the right-hand side or at the bottom, depending on the size of your screen.
  3. Choose your pronouns from the drop-down.
  4. Click Update Settings.

Understand your options for building courses in Canvas

To efficiently set up an effective course structure in Canvas, some faculties have implemented Canvas Templates. These Templates are developed by learning designers and can be imported into your Canvas course from the right-hand side of the course homepage. Once imported, you can further customize them to your needs. To request support with Templates, please contact your faculty’s Instructional Support Unit.

OptionDescriptionLearn More
ModulesModules in Canvas allow you to organize course content and direct the flow of your course. Modules can be set up to require students to complete materials in a sequential fashion (e.g., Week 1, Week 2, Week 3), and each module can contain pages, files, assignments, and other learning materials.

Using the right headings in your modules is important for accessibility. When adding content to your modules, please avoid copying text directly from a Word document, because the headings are not pasted consistently with the right format in Canvas. Instead, use the Canvas text editor to apply proper heading styles.
PagesPages in Canvas can display text and media, include file attachments, and link to other parts of the course. For example, a page can be used to provide a checklist of learning activities for the week or display a video with reflection questions for students to complete.

Pages display more smoothly compared to files, as they are built into Canvas and can load more quickly. This difference makes pages easier to access and read for students than files.
AnnouncementsAnnouncements in Canvas allow you to broadcast information like course activities and logistics to students. Students can receive these announcements by email, if they keep this default on in their Canvas notifications. You can include links, files, and images in announcements, as well as allow students to reply to them.

Use announcements to keep students on track, share news and resources, and celebrate student success.
GroupsGroups in Canvas come with private collaborative areas for group members to work in, which contain announcements, pages, discussions, and files that are shared only within the group. You can create groups for students automatically or manually, as well as allow students to make their own groups.

You can also use groups to create group assignments for students to collaborate on and be graded on collectively.
AssignmentsAssignments in Canvas refer to a wide range of learning activities, including traditional assignments that invite students to submit a completed work (text, multimedia, file, link) and assignments that are completed using the Canvas discussion board feature, the Canvas quiz feature, or a learning tool external to Canvas.

Assignments may be completed for grades or not and can be submitted by a group or an individual.
DiscussionsDiscussions in Canvas are discussion boards that invite interactions between two or more people. You can assign discussions to the entire class or to smaller groups of students and optionally add grades for participation.

You can use discussions to pose and answer questions for the class and facilitate class-wide conversations.
QuizzesQuizzes in Canvas are used to create and administer online quizzes and exams that assess students' comprehension of course material and understanding of course concepts. Quizzes can be graded or ungraded and can be set up to work with a restricted browser (i.e., LockDown Browser).

Canvas currently supports two types of quizzes: Classic Quizzes and New Quizzes. Classic Quizzes are more stable; New Quizzes offer more features.
SettingsSettings in Canvas allow you to change or view details of your course, including the course status. You can also hide, show, or reorder your Course Navigation. Additionally, the right-hand sidebar on the “Settings” page gives you options to import/export course content.
Accessibility CheckerThe Accessibility Checker in Canvas can help guide accessibility improvements of your course content. Located in the text editor toolbar when you are creating or editing content, the tool checks for common accessibility errors when you click its icon.

Review other tools that work with Canvas

Other centrally supported learning tools integrate with Canvas, meaning that they can work in or in coordination with your Canvas course. Using additional tools can give you more flexibility in the learning activities that you give your students.

Current status of integrations with Canvas

Canvas IntegrationIntegration InvestigationResultsGrade SyncDetails
AbacusCompleted
Works in Canvas
N/AThis research library database application has been integrated into Canvas.
AllyCompleted
Not available in Canvas
N/AThis content-checking tool helps to improve the accessibility of course content. Use of Ally was put on pause in November 2023. However, you can use Canvas's built-in Accessibility Checker tool to fix some common accessibility issues.
BadgrCompleted
Works in Canvas
N/AThis tool for recognizing and tracking course achievements has been integrated into Canvas.
Cambridge CogBooks (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
No grade syncing availableCogBook publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company.
Cengage MindTap (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
Automated grade syncing available MindTap publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company.
CLASSCompleted
Works in Canvas
N/AThis scheduling system for chemistry labs has been integrated into Canvas.
ComPAIRCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
Automated grade syncing availableThis peer review tool, which adds comparing to the process of students reviewing one another’s work, has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration with ComPAIR and pass participation grades from ComPAIR to Canvas assignments.
GradescopeCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
Manual grade syncing availableThis application for grading online, designed to ease the challenges of grading collaboratively with a teaching team, has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration with Gradescope and manually pass grades from Gradescope to Canvas. Note that there is a fee to use this tool.
H5PCompleted
Works in Canvas
No grade syncing availableH5P is an open-source tool that allows you to create interactive content for students to learn from. H5P is an abbreviation for HTML5 Package and there are 45 interactive content types available, including multiple choice questions, video with an interactive quiz, memory games, image hotspots, and more. H5P content can be embedded in a Canvas page.
iClicker CloudCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
Manual grade syncing availableThis online student response system, which allows you to collect and grade responses to in-class questions, has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration with iClicker Cloud and pass grades from iClicker Cloud to Canvas.
iPeerCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
Manual grade syncing availableThis peer review application for having students assess their team members’ contributions to group assignments has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration and Canvas groups with iPeer and manually pass grades from iPeer to Canvas.
JupyterHubCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
N/AThis interactive, customizable computing tool that lets you harness the functions of high-performance computers, has been integrated with Canvas, if you use the Jupyter Course version. UBC supports two versions of JupyterHub: Jupyter Open and Jupyter Course. Jupyter Open is a free, standard instance of JupyterHub; no Canvas integration is available. Jupyter Course is a paid, more customizable version of JupyterHub; content is tied to a specific Canvas course and your students will access it through Canvas.
KalturaCompleted
Works in Canvas
Automated grade syncing available for video quizzesThis media platform, where you can create, store, and share multimedia content, has been integrated into Canvas. You can use Kaltura to record, upload, publish, search, and embed media directly in one or multiple Canvas courses. Kaltura also lets you edit media, create shorter clips from existing media, and add interactive quizzes to videos that can pass grades to Canvas.
LockDown BrowserCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
N/AThis web browser that “locks down” what students can do during a quiz has been integrated with Canvas. You can enable LockDown Browser for Canvas course quizzes (note that quizzes in Canvas can be used for any type of assessment, including exams).
Library Online Course Reserves (LOCR)Completed
Works in coordination with Canvas
N/AThis application for managing your course reserves at UBC has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration with LOCR.
Macmillan Achieve (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
Automated grade syncing availableAchieve publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company.
McGraw-Hill Connect (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
No grade syncing availableConnect publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company.
OnTaskCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
N/AThis learning analytics tool for sending targeted feedback to students has been integrated with Canvas. You can manually pass Canvas learning analytics data to OnTask and use OnTask to send Canvas messages to students.
Pearson MasteringPhysics (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
Automated grade syncing available MasteringPhysics publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company. Please submit your request 6-8 weeks prior to your deadline to have content available in Canvas on time.
peerScholarCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
Manual grade syncing available This peer review application for facilitating highly customizable student peer assessments of other student work has been integrated with Canvas. You can manually pass grades from peerScholar to Canvas.
PiazzaCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
N/AThis online Q&A discussion application has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration with Piazza.
Respondus QuizCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
N/AThis assessment-building software for creating exams or quizzes offline on Windows computers has been integrated with Canvas. Respondus Quiz assessments can be imported into a Canvas course as Canvas quizzes (note that quizzes in Canvas can be used for any type of assessment, including exams).
Roll Call AttendanceCompleted
Not available in Canvas
LT Hub Leadership has considered the request to enable this attendance-taking tool and decided not to enable the integration in Canvas, based on the current functionality. We recommend attendance continue to be taken via traditional means.
Rover (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
Manual grade syncing available (with help from LT Hub)Rover publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company. Additional steps are required for grade sync, so please contact us in the LT Hub if you are interested in grade syncing.
SCORMCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
Automated grade syncing availableThis integration allows you to import SCORM-compatible content from other learning tools and platforms, and use them as assignments or content pages in Canvas. SCORM is a set of technical standards that guide how learning tools should communicate and share data with each other. These standards allow content from other compatible tools to be exported as SCORM packages and then imported, launched, and tracked correctly in Canvas.
Student Time ZonesCompleted
Works in Canvas
N/AThis tool for visualizing your students' availability based on their time zone has been integrated into Canvas.
ThreadzCompleted
Works in Canvas
N/AThis learning analytics tool that allows you to visualize and better quantify student discussions has been integrated into Canvas. You can use Threadz to analyze outcomes of your Canvas discussion boards.
Turnitin
Active Investigation
The integration with Canvas of this plagiarism-prevention tool is being investigated.
UBC BlogsCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
N/AThis interactive website-building platform has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration with UBC Blogs, allowing students to join websites as collaborators or subscribers.
WebworkCompleted
Works in coordination with Canvas
Automated grade syncing availableThis online assignment and quiz tool​ for numeric problems and equations has been integrated with Canvas. You can use your Canvas course registration with Webwork and pass grades from Webwork to Canvas assignments.
Wiki EmbedCompleted
Not available in Canvas
There is no integration between UBC Wiki and Canvas. However, you can use HTML iframe code to display a Wiki page on a Canvas page.
Wiley Plus (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
Automated grade syncing availableWiley Plus publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company.
Willo Reader Completed
Works in Canvas
No grade syncing availableWillo Reader, an interactive eBook reader, is available by request in Canvas through the bookstore.
WW Norton InQuisitive (publisher content)Completed
Works in Canvas
Manual grade syncing available (with help from LT Hub)InQuisitive publisher content in Canvas is available by request through Willo. Willo lets UBC put publisher content in Canvas without having to share student data back with the publisher company. Additional steps are required for grade sync, so please contact us in the LT Hub if you are interested in grade syncing.
ZoomCompleted
Works in Canvas
N/AThis video/audio web-conferencing and collaboration tool has been integrated with Canvas. You can schedule Zoom sessions and share session links and recordings in Canvas.

Add content to your Canvas course

Modules in Canvas are used to organize course content. Each module can contain pages, files, assignments, assessments, discussions, and other learning materials. The following steps will walk you through adding content to a module, using pages and files as two examples.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Modules in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click +Module.
  3. Add a descriptive title with an identifier for the module (e.g., “Lecture Slides – Week 1”).
  4. Click Add Module. You will then see the new module.
  5. To add a page to the module:
    • Click the plus icon to the right of the module name. In the pop-up window, select Page from the drop-down at the top.
    • Select an existing page or click Create Page.
    • If you are making a new page, enter the page name.
    • Click Add Item.
  6. To add a file to the module:
    • Click the plus icon to the right of the module name. In the pop-up window, select File from the drop-down at the top.
    • Select an existing file, or click Create File(s) then Choose File or Browse (depending on your browser).
    • If you are uploading a new file, select the desired file from the computer and click Open.
    • Click Add Item.

Tips

  • You can lock modules until a given date or until another module has been completed. When a module is locked, students will not be able to access its content until after the date or after they complete any prerequisites or requirements in previous modules.
  • Try to be strategic and clear in naming and organizing material. How you structure files and modules in your course makes a big difference in how easy it is for students to find and study content.
  • Files that you upload should be reduced to the smallest practical size. Smaller sizes make it easier for all students to view and download files, regardless of their internet connection speed.
  • Keep in mind that not all students have access to special software like PowerPoint. Before you upload, transform your file into a more universal format like PDF. You can learn about creating PDFs from PowerPoint on Microsoft's website.

Communicate with your Canvas course

One of the fastest ways to reach all students in a course is using announcements in Canvas. Alternatively, you can message students through the Canvas Inbox, which is like a personal email tool within Canvas.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Announcements in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click +Announcements.
  3. Add a title and content for the announcement. You can also add links, files, and images.
  4. If you like, you can select Delay posting when making your announcement to schedule it for a future date.
  5. Click Publish. Unless you are delaying, your announcement will immediately be posted in the course.
  6. Students can change their preferences to delay or turn off receiving email notifications of announcements. As a final step, you may want to encourage them to keep these notifications on for your course.
  1. Log in to Canvas and choose Inbox from the left-most Global Navigation.
  2. Click the pencil icon. A “Compose Message” window will pop up.
  3. In the "Course" drop-down, select your course.
  4. In the “To” field, send to all or specify individual recipients from the course to receive the message by searching for student(s).
  5. Complete the subject and text for the message. Note that all content is sent in plain text. You can also include an attachment or media file.
  6. When you are finished, click Send.

Tips

  • Share weekly communications to maintain a regular teaching presence in the course and remind students of the focus for the week. Learn more about establishing teaching presence in the UBC Online Teaching Program (Module 6.2).
  • You can send bulk messages to students based on outcomes from assignments and assessments using OnTask. The tool will take a custom message you write and send it to a group of students meeting your outcome criteria, while personalizing specific variables (like a student’s name or grade).

Use groups in your Canvas course

One way to organize student group work, projects, and assignments online is to use groups in Canvas. Each group will have its own private group area to work in, which contains announcements, pages, discussions, and files that are shared only within the group.

Canvas has two types of groups: group sets that are managed by you and student groups that are organized by students. You can use both simultaneously in a course. But group sets are the only group type that you can use for grading purposes.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click People in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click +Group Set.
  3. Give your group set a name. It's important to include the course name in this name to make it easier for students to find in Canvas.
  4. You can either allow students to sign themselves up for a group, or create the groups yourself and assign students to them:
    • If you want to allow students to sign themselves up, check the Allow self sign-up box.
    • If you want to make groups yourself, select an option from the "Group Structure" drop-down.
  5. Save your group set.
  6. To add groups within the group set, click +Group in the upper right side of the group set.
  7. Once you have the groups added that you want, you can sort students into their respective groups within this set.
  8. Once groups are populated, students will be able to access the private group area.
  1. Log in to your Canvas course, and click Settings in the Course Navigation.
  2. In the "Course Details" tab, click more options at the bottom.
  3. Check the Let students organize their own groups box.
  4. Click Update Course Details.
  5. Students will be able to set up groups by clicking "People" in the Course Navigation. When new student groups are created, you will be able to see them on the "Student Groups" tab in the "People" page.

Tips

  • Use group sets any time you want to assign grades to groups of students. Student-created groups cannot be used for grading purposes.
  • Group sets can house different group arrangements within a course. For example, if students will work on Assignment 1 and Assignment 2 in different groups, create two group sets: "PSYC 101 - Assign 1" and "PSYC 101 - Assign 2".
  • Allowing student-created groups in your course is a powerful way to help students collaborate. Within each group, they can work on projects, discuss topics, and schedule meetings with each other. Refer your students to learn more about using Canvas student-created groups in UBC's Canvas student guide.

Align times for synchronous activities in your Canvas course

The Student Time Zones tool in Canvas visualizes your students' availability based on their time zone. Students can choose to set a preferred time zone in their Canvas profile settings. Alternatively, Canvas will set an inferred time zone for students based on the IP (Internet Protocol) address of their most recent Canvas login.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Student Time Zones in the Course Navigation.
  2. You will see a dashboard for the tool showing the data for the course you are in. At the top of the interface, you can set filters for the course section(s), workday start time, and workday end time that you want to display. Changing the sections and times will adjust the visualizations that show when students are available.
  3. Below the filters, you will see three tabs that you can access:
    • Canvas Setting: Displays the preferred time zone information for students who manually set a time zone in their Canvas profile settings. Preferred time zone is the time zone that best reflects the hours when students prefer to do work and may not reflect where they are living.
    • Inferred from IP: Displays time zone information inferred from the IP address of students' most recent Canvas login. If a student has not logged in previously, the default time zone (Pacific Time) is displayed. The inferred time zone is an approximate location based on an IP address and may not be reliable, but it is a best guess. Given the potential inaccuracies, please do not use this information for anything other than general guidance in scheduling synchronous activities.
    • Detailed View: Displays each student’s preferred time zone (if set) and inferred time zone, as well as when they last logged in and if they were using the UBC VPN (Virtual Private Network).
  4. Click the Canvas Setting tab or Inferred from IP tab to see a visualization of those students' availability, based on the workday start and end time filters that you set.
  5. The “Overview” visualization bar shows overall student availability. Darker green indicates more students are available, while lighter green indicates fewer students are available. Hovering the mouse over this bar displays more information. Your availability is shown below, beside your name.
  6. Scroll down to see visualizations of individual student's availability and determine a best time for everyone to meet.
  1. In Canvas, click Account in the left-most Global Navigation, then click Settings.
  2. Click Edit Settings on the right.
  3. Select your preferred Time Zone from the drop-down.
  4. Click Update Settings at the bottom. Your time zone will be updated.

Create an assignment in your Canvas course

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Assignments in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click +Assignment.
  3. Enter the assignment name and provide instructions using the text editor.
  4. Indicate the number of points, the assignment group (i.e., the group of assignments this should belong to for grading purposes, if applicable), the allowed submission type(s), and the number of submission attempts.
    • By default, Canvas will assign the assignment to everyone in your course. See the group assignment tab for assigning to groups.
  5. You can add a due date for the assignment, which allows for late submissions. Alternatively, you can add availability dates and students will only be able to submit during this time frame, with no late submissions allowed.
  6. Click Save & Publish. You will be able to edit the assignment up until students start submitting.
  1. Before creating a group assignment, set up group sets for your Canvas course, if you have not already.
  2. Log in to your Canvas course and click Assignments in the Course Navigation.
  3. Click +Assignment.
  4. Enter the assignment name and provide any instructions using the text editor.
  5. Indicate the number of points, the assignment group (i.e., the group of assignments this should belong to for grading purposes, if applicable), and submission type(s) allowed.
  6. Check the This is a Group Assignment box. You can assign an assignment to a group set (which contains multiple groups) or to a specific group in a group set:
    • To assign to a specific group, in the "Assign" area, click the x icon next to the "Everyone" label.
    • Start to type the name of the group in the "Assign to" field. Click the group name when it appears.
  7. You can add a due date for the assignment, which allows for late submissions. Alternatively, you can add availability dates and students will only be able to submit during this time frame, with no late submissions allowed.
  8. Click Save & Publish.
  9. A warning message will pop up indicating that not everyone will be assigned this item. Click Continue to confirm.

Tips

  • You can let students submit links in addition to file uploads for their assignments. These options let you receive multimedia like images and videos.
  • You can give students an extension before, during, or after the due date of the assignment. When editing an assignment, go to the “Assign to” section and click “+Add”. Enter the student’s name and the desired extension, then save your changes.
  • Other specialty tools are centrally supported for facilitating assignments. Options include tools that enable student peer assessments aka peer review assignments.
  • All members of the group will receive the same grade for the submission by default. However, you can override this by choosing the “Assign Grades to Each Student Individually” option in the group assignment settings.

Set up a discussion board in your Canvas course

In Canvas, "focused" discussions are best used for quick topics, as they only allow replies to the original post. For in-depth discussions, "threaded" discussions are best, as they allow for infinite levels of replying.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Discussions in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click+Discussion.
  3. Add a topic title. You can also add a description, links, files, and images in the text editor.
  4. Set your discussion options:
    • By default, discussions are created as "focused" discussions. To create a "threaded" discussion that allows nested replies, check the Allow threaded replies box.
    • To create a graded discussion, check the Graded box. Once selected, additional options will be added to the page for assigning the discussion.
    • To make your discussion available only during a specific date, enter dates in the availability fields.
  5. Once you are ready, click Save & Publish.

Tips

  • Get additional insights into how Canvas discussions are used by enabling Threadz. Threadz is a learning analytics tool that allows you to visualize and better quantify student conversations that happen in threaded Canvas discussions.
  • To reduce your email load, set up a topic where students can ask questions. Then you can respond to everyone at once.

Create an assessment in your Canvas course

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Quizzes in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click +Quiz.
  3. Choose the Classic Quizzes option and click Submit.
  4. In the "Details" tab, enter the name of your quiz. In the text editor, you can introduce your quiz.
  5. Set the quiz options, which include the following:
    • Quiz Type - Graded or Practice (ungraded)
    • Assignment Group - The group of assignments this quiz should belong to for grading purposes (if applicable)
    • Shuffle Answers
    • Time Limit
    • Allow Multiple Attempts
    • Let Students See Their Quiz Responses
  6. You can add a due date for the quiz, which allows for late submissions. Alternatively, you can add availability dates, and students will only be able to submit during this time frame, with no late submissions allowed.
  7. Click Save. You are now ready to add questions to your quiz.
  8. Click Edit in the upper right, then click the Questions tab.
  9. Click +New Question.
  10. Select the question type from the drop-down.
  11. Follow the prompts for the question type to enter the rest of the information, including any instructor feedback for the answers and/or question.
  12. Click Update Question to save.
  13. Repeat the steps to add more questions. When you have finished, click Save & Publish at the bottom of the page.

Tips

  • Canvas will always call your assessments a “quiz”. But you may give students a quiz or exam to complete.
  • With a Canvas Classic Quiz, you can choose from many question types: multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, fill-in-multiple-blanks, multiple answers, multiple drop-down, matching, numerical answer, formula, essay, file upload, and text (no question).
  • Use question groups to randomly distribute a certain number of questions from the group to each student. Keep in mind that all questions within a group will be worth the same number of points.
  • Quizzes in Canvas can be used for graded or ungraded assessments. Creating a graded quiz automatically adds a column to your Canvas Gradebook. Creating an ungraded quiz with multiple attempts can help students study and practice.
  • By default, grades in Canvas will be visible to students as soon as they complete an auto-graded quiz. If you want to control grade release instead, follow the steps in the grading section below to enable manual grade posting.
  • For synchronous assessments—especially exams—in large courses, stagger student start times to avoid overloading Canvas. For example, group students into blocks of 200 or less, with five minutes between the start time for each block. You can read more online assessment tips for other suggested UBC practices.

Accommodate UBC exams in Canvas

If the Centre for Accessibility (UBC Vancouver) or the Disability Resource Centre (UBC Okanagan) has contacted you regarding a student who requires exam accommodations, you can add time extensions and allow multiple attempts on Canvas exams for that individual. Instructions are dependent on the type of Canvas quiz you set up: Classic or New. (We recommend always using Classic.)

Tips

  • You can export a Canvas quiz to use in Respondus Quiz, a tool which lets you download the quiz as a Word document. This feature is particularly helpful if you need to accommodate students who are unable to take an online assessment. However, it is only available for Windows computers.

Add time extensions

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Quizzes in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the quiz name, then click the Edit button.
    • If the quiz is not published, please publish it first
  3. Scroll down to "Assign to" and click +Add.
  4. Type the name(s) of the student(s) who will need extended time, and adjust the "Due" and "Until" dates for the student(s) to an appropriate later date/time.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Click Moderate This Quiz in the menu on the right-hand side.
  7. In the table that opens, click the pencil icon to the right of the student you want to give more time to.
  8. In the "Student Extensions" pop-up, use the "Extra time on every attempt” field to enter the number of additional minutes to provide for this student. Note that this option will only appear for a timed quiz.
  9. Click Save and repeat this for any other students who require accommodation.

Allow multiple attempts

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Quizzes in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the quiz name.
    • If the quiz is not published, please publish it first.
  3. Click Moderate This Quiz in the menu on the right-hand side.
  4. In the table that opens, click the pencil icon to the right of the student you want to give more attempts to.
  5. In the "Student Extensions" pop-up, use the "Extra Attempts" to enter the number of additional attempts.
  6. Click Save, and repeat this for any other students who require accommodation.

Add time extensions

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Quizzes in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the 3 vertical dots to the right of the quiz, and select Edit from the drop-down.
  3. Under "Assign to", click +Add.
  4. Type the name(s) of the student(s) who will need extended time.
  5. Adjust the "Due" and "Until" dates for the student(s) to a later date/time to match the time extension provided.
  6. Click Build.
  7. Click the Moderate tab at the top.
  8. Find the student you want to give more time to, and click Moderate to the right of their name.
  9. Under “Time adjustments,” select Give additional time and enter the additional hours/minutes to provide for this student. Repeat this for any other students who require accommodation.

Allow multiple attempts

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Quizzes in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the 3 vertical dots to the right of the quiz, and select Build from the drop-down menu
  3. Click the Moderate tab at the top.
  4. Find the student you want to give more attempts to, and click Moderate to the right of their name.
  5. Enter the number of additional attempts. The change will be saved automatically.

Grade in your Canvas course

Decide how you will post grades in Canvas

By default, grades will be visible to students as soon as they complete an auto-graded assessment or you enter a grade for the item in the Canvas Gradebook. But you can change this default, if you prefer to post grades manually at a time of your choosing.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Grades in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click the settings gear icon on the right-hand side.
  3. Click the Grade Posting Policy tab and choose Manually Post Grades.
  4. Click Apply Settings. The word “Manual” will appear next to all the column titles in your Gradebook.
  5. Enter grades using any relevant approach above.
  6. Once all the grades have been entered for a column, hover over the column heading, click the 3 vertical dots and choose Post Grades.
  7. Students will see their grades for this item.

Choose from the available grading features

You have three main options for grading with Canvas: grade in a spreadsheet (Canvas Gradebook), grade while viewing student work (Canvas SpeedGrader), or grade offline (export to a spreadsheet).

  • The Canvas Gradebook is a spreadsheet in Canvas that helps you input and distribute grades for students based on their work in the course. Each column represents a published assignment, graded discussion, or graded assessment. Grades can be calculated as points, percentages, complete or incomplete, pass or fail, GPA scale, and letter grades, with optional weighting applied to groups of learning activities. You can access the Canvas Gradebook by clicking Grades in the Course Navigation.
  • The Canvas SpeedGrader enables looking sequentially at each student’s work and entering grades as you go. You can also provide comments directly on student PDFs, Word documents, and PowerPoints. You can access the Canvas SpeedGrader from any assignment, quiz, or graded discussion, or directly from the Canvas Gradebook.
  • To grade offline, you can export grades from the Canvas Gradebook in an editable spreadsheet. When grading is complete, you can upload the spreadsheet back to Canvas to post the grades for students. You can access the Canvas Gradebook for importing and exporting by clicking Grades in the Course Navigation.

Tips

Upload grades to the Faculty Service Centre

Instructors often use Canvas to gather student grades, but the final grades need to be uploaded to the Faculty Service Centre (FSC). You will need to download your grades from Canvas and reformat them before uploading them to the Faculty Service Centre.

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Grades in the Course Navigation.
  2. Click Export and select Export Entire Gradebook from the drop-down.
  3. Once the export is complete, a file will be downloaded to your computer. Before you upload your grades to FSC, you will need to reformat the CSV file that you have downloaded from the Canvas Gradebook.  To do so, open this file in a spreadsheet software like Excel.
  4. Reformat the file (i.e., add, remove, and rename columns)  so that the first row of the file has these exact column headers: “Session”, “Campus”, “Student Number,” “Subject”, “Course”, “Section”, “Percent Grade”, “Standing”, and “Standing Reason”. Note the following:
    • The columns can be arranged in any order, but each column heading is necessary, even if you will not use the column. Use plain numbers or text only in the cells. Please do not include formulas or images.
    • If your “Session” starts with zero (e.g., “001”), Excel will remove the starting zero. In this case, change the column format from a number to a text column. To do this, right-click the “Session” column, and select Format Cells. Under “Category”, select Text, and click Ok. Now enter the correct number with zeroes.
    • Enter student grade information in the “Percent Grade”, “Standing”, or “Standing Reason” columns, as appropriate. Leave cells blank if the value is not known.
    • Check the list to ensure it matches the student list in the FSC. Make sure that each student appears as a separate row in your file.
  5. Save your file and make sure the file extension is one of the following formats: .xls (Excel with only one worksheet), .csv (Comma Delimited), or .txt (Tab Delimited).
  6. Log in to the Faculty Service Centre.
  7. From the top menu, click Upload Grades.
  8. In the new window, click either Choose file or Browse (depending on your browser).
  9. Find your file and click Open. Then select Upload File.
  10. After you have read the messages, click Continue with upload.
  11. Click Submit.

Tips

  • We recommend entering all your grades in the file you downloaded from Canvas before uploading to FSC. If you do not enter all the grades, you will be able to enter them in FSC between uploading the file and submitting it, but the process is more complex. See the FSC User Guide for instructions on how to do this.
  • Double-check that the grades are correct before you submit them to FSC. Correcting any errors after they have been submitted requires approval from the relevant instructor, department head, and the dean, director, or designate(s). You will also need to submit a change of grades form to Enrolment Services.
  • If you are comfortable with programming, you can use a UBC-specific script for streamlining the process of uploading grades to FSC. The script will download grades from Canvas, convert them into the final format for FSC, and create related visualizations.

Canvas FAQ

Find UBC-specific answers to frequently asked questions by clicking any bar below.

New courses

All new course sections in the UBC course calendar are automatically created in Canvas approximately two weeks after the UBC course calendar is published, which is typically several months before the start of term. If your course has been added to the UBC calendar, but it does not appear for you in Canvas after this time has passed, please contact us for assistance.

Exceptions to automatically created courses

Labs, tutorials, and courses offered through UBC's Affiliated Colleges (e.g., Carey Theological College, Regent College, Vancouver School of Theology) need to be created manually in Canvas. Please contact your Instructional Support Unit or contact us to get these exceptions manually added to Canvas.

Old courses

At the end of each term, Canvas automatically sets courses to close and converts them to a read-only archival state. At UBC, Canvas courses using the default end date are set to close eight weeks after the last day of class.

If you did not "favorite" your Canvas course before it closed, it will no longer appear on your Canvas Dashboard when you log in. However, you can still find all your Canvas courses by clicking "Courses" in the left-most Global Navigation in Canvas, then clicking "All Courses".

Canvas course default start and end dates

This table shows when students can access your course in Canvas each term, if you use the default start and end dates. Note that your course must be published for students to see it during these dates.

Term Default Start Date:
When students can access published courses
Default End Date:
When students can no longer access these courses
2024S2 Jul 2, 2024 Oct 4, 2024
2024S1 May 13, 2024 Aug 15, 2024
2024S1-2 May 13, 2024 Jan 25, 2025
2023W2 Jan 8, 2024 Jun 7, 2024
2023W1 Sep 6, 2023 Feb 1, 2024
2023W1-2 Sep 6, 2023 Jun 7, 2024
2023S2 Jul 4, 2023 Oct 6, 2023
2023S1 May 15, 2023 Aug 17, 2023
2023S1-2 May 15, 2023 Oct 6, 2023
NC-2024S May 1, 2024 Aug 31, 2024
NC-2024W Jan 1, 2024 Apr 30, 2024
NC-2023F Sep 1, 2023 Dec 31, 2023
NC-2023S May 1, 2023 Aug 31, 2023
NC-2023W Jan 1, 2023 Apr 30, 2023
SD-2024S May 13, 2024 Jan 25, 2025
SD-2023W Sep 6, 2023 Sep 23, 2024
SD-2023S May 15, 2023 Jan 25, 2024
SD-2022W Sep 6, 2022 Sep 23, 2023

Canvas offers various roles for people in your Canvas course, such as  Student, Instructor, and Designer. Each role comes with its own set of permissions dictating what actions and content they can access.

Course access on Canvas and what role people are assigned is handled automatically based on course registration, teaching appointments, and which staff need to support you. But you can request additional access for people, if you have a clear reason to include another person in your course.

Who is registered automatically

Students are automatically added to your Canvas course, once they are enrolled in the UBC course. Students can access your Canvas course on the first day of the term, if your course has been published.

Instructors and teaching assistants (TAs) are automatically added to a Canvas course once they have an active appointment to teach in the course. Note that instructors and TAs need official appointments with UBC, before they can be added.

For courses to be accessed by you and your TAs, your teaching appointments also need to be recorded by your faculty’s timetable representative. You can find your representative in the timetable representative directory from Student Services (look under "Documents").

How to add other people

You may request to add other people in support roles (e.g., as an Observer, Designer, or Test Student) to your Canvas course by contacting us. Please make sure to describe what you need the additional people to do, so that the appropriate role can be assigned in a timely manner.

If you wish to add another person in a traditional role (e.g., as an Instructor, TA, or Student) or if anyone on your teaching team doesn't have access to a course when they should, please contact your faculty or department directly. If you aren't sure who to contact, find your representative in the timetable representative directory from Student Services (look under “Documents”).

  1. Log in to your Canvas course and click Settings in the Course Navigation.
  2. In the "Participation" section, click the drop-down and select Course. This option will let you override the default term start and end dates.
  3. Enter the Start date and time that you wish to make your course available.
  4. Enter the End date and time that is eight weeks after the last day of class, to align with UBC copyright requirements.
  5. Scroll down and click Update Course Details.

At UBC, Canvas courses are set to close eight weeks after the last day of class, but students with ‘Standing Deferred’ status can be granted extended access to your Canvas course. To request an extension, please contact us and provide information about the nature of the extension, your course number and section, as well as the student IDs of the students needing an extension. This information will help us determine how to best support you in Canvas.

Once registered, the auditing students will be automatically enrolled in the Canvas course in the "Student" role, providing them with the same access to the course as other enrolled students.

If you have questions or issues with managing auditing students in Canvas, please contact us at the LT Hub for more information.

If you will be teaching the same course in a future semester, you can copy existing course content into a new course.

To ensure that the links in your course are up to date, you can use the link validation tool and modify links as necessary.

If you need to make grade changes to an archived course, please contact your Instructional Support Unit or contact us to see if this option is available.

No. It is important for all students to use Canvas to ensure that UBC can deliver its courses and programs effectively. Most similar services provided by public bodies do not allow for opting out.

If your course has multiple sections, the Canvas course should automatically have multiple sections available, with students enrolled in their respective sections.

If you do not see multiple sections for your course and would like to add sections, or if you have already set up different sections and would like to link them, email us at LT.hub@ubc.ca for assistance.

Limits to what you can upload and store in Canvas apply on three levels: each course has a 4GB storage limit, each group has a 100MB storage limit, and each person’s account has a 250MB storage limit. To maximize your available storage, consider where and how you upload content in the course.

Not counted as Canvas storage Counted as Canvas storage
  • Kaltura video uploads, shares, and embeds in your course do not count against the limits. Kaltura videos are uploaded and accessed through the “My Media” and “Media Gallery” areas of your course.
  • Zoom cloud recordings that are saved in the “Zoom” area of your course do not count against the limits.
  • Uploads using the "Upload/Record Media" tool in Canvas do not count against the limits. The tool is accessible from areas of the course that have a text editor such as pages, assignment instructions, and the Canvas SpeedGrader.
  • Files your students submit to graded items in the course (assignments, quizzes, discussions) do not count against the limits.
  • Files uploaded as part of the “Files”, “Announcements”, or “Pages” area of your course will count against the course limit.
  • Files uploaded as part of assignment instructions, discussion instructions, or discussion replies will count against the course limit.
  • Files your students upload to a student group’s “Files”, “Announcements”, or “Pages” area of the group, and files they upload as part of a group discussion’s instructions or replies will count against the group's limit.
  • Files attached using the “Attach” button for ungraded discussion replies will count against the person’s account limit.
  • Files uploaded to your personal account’s “Files” area as well as attachments added using the Canvas Inbox will count against your account limit.

  • For course storage: Access your Canvas course and click Files in the Course Navigation. At the bottom of the page, you can find the amount of the 4GB storage that has been used.
  • For group storage: Access your Canvas course and click People in the Course Navigation. Click the group set tab you want to view. Click the 3 vertical dots beside the group name and select Visit Group Homepage. From the group homepage, click Files in the navigation. At the bottom of the page, you can find the amount of the 100MB storage that has been used.
  • For personal account storage: In Canvas, click Account in the left-most Global Navigation and select Files. At the bottom of the page, you can find the amount of the 250MB storage that has been used.

If you are running out of storage, you can consider using tools in the course that do not count against the quotas. For example, videos in the “Files” area of your course can be moved to Kaltura.

Yes. UBC is legally required to perform a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) on all systems that collect or use personal information. The UBC PIA determined that Canvas is a secure system and complies with UBC privacy requirements. It is also used by many other educational institutions across Canada.

The information in Canvas is stored and backed up in secure data centres run by Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is a secure storage service that is used by many public bodies in BC and across Canada and is at least as secure as UBC's own data centres. Information in Canvas is not stored outside Canada at any time.

The following types of personal information may be automatically collected and stored in Canvas's logs:

  • Internet Protocol aka IP address (the number assigned to each device connected, which may identify the general location of the device)
  • Device event information such as crashes, system activity, hardware settings, browser type, browser language, the date and time of access, and any referral URL (links that send you to Canvas)
  • On-page clicks including but not limited to logging in, viewing content pages, launching tools, uploading files, posting to forums and discussions, authoring calendar items, and submitting quizzes
  • User-assigned or calculated records including but not limited to grading rubric scores, grades, and badge and outcome achievement awards

Personal information is also transferred from UBC’s Student Information System (SIS) into Canvas, including student names, numbers, email addresses, and course enrollment information.

UBC is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), a privacy law that governs all government bodies in British Columbia. FIPPA protects personal information (recorded information about an identifiable individual) and allows UBC to collect and use this information a) only for purposes connected with its programs or activities and b) only if UBC keeps this information secure and confidential.

Unlike private sector privacy laws, FIPPA does not require UBC to ask for consent before collecting or using personal information; it allows UBC to collect personal information that relates to and is necessary for academic programs or activities.

UBC does have to notify students about the data collection. The data collection notice for Canvas can be found in the "Acceptable Use Policy", which is linked from the footer of the Dashboard in Canvas.

Under FIPPA, personal information can be used for the purpose it was collected or for a consistent purpose. That means students’ personal information in Canvas is used for the purpose of delivering courses. Personal information may also be used in providing course support, in detecting academic misconduct, and for tools that support the quality of teaching and learning (such as dashboards for monitoring progress or tools that provide student feedback). Additionally, personal information may be combined for statistical analysis purposes, but only after anonymizing it by stripping out identifiers so no personal information is tied to a specific individual.

On the request of or approval by a Dean’s office, information about individual students’ activities in Canvas such as logins, on-page clicks, assignment submissions, and IP addresses may be shared with the Dean’s office as part of a misconduct investigation. This information may also be combined with data received from related third-party sites where the misconduct may have taken place.

Under FIPPA, UBC can only make personally identifiable information available to faculty or staff on a need-to-know basis. UBC enforces this legal principle by restricting UBC employees' access to information within Canvas with role-based access controls (wherein different roles have access only to what each needs to know). Students cannot view information about other students, with the exception of the names of students enrolled in their courses.

Generally, FIPPA does not allow sharing any personal information with third parties outside UBC without the consent of the individuals the information is about. There is an exception to this rule, however, that allows public bodies to share personal information with service providers, i.e., companies or consultants they hire to perform services for them.

Employees working for service providers sometimes require access to the systems that they support for installation, troubleshooting, and data-recovery purposes. In these instances, service providers are permitted temporary access to information for these limited purposes, but they are forbidden from retaining any personal information or using it for any other purposes.

In the case of Canvas, the above means that information is accessible—when necessary—by service providers who support Canvas and other tools that integrate with Canvas. Under FIPPA, service providers are treated the same as employees. That is, they are subject to the same restrictions on use and disclosure of personal information as UBC employees. They are also subject to investigation by the provincial Information and Privacy Commissioner and can be charged with an offence if they violate the rules—and violations can result in large fines.

In addition to these legal restrictions, UBC ensures that all service providers sign strict confidentiality agreements that require them to notify UBC if there are any security breaches.

Where can I get more support with Canvas?

Technical support

If you have trouble with Canvas:

  • Contact your faculty’s Instructional Support Unit as your first point of contact.
  • Contact us for further assistance:
    604 827 4775 or LT.hub@ubc.ca or visit the LT Hub online.
  • You can also use self-service troubleshooting by clicking the “Help” link in Canvas’s left-most Global Navigation.

Pedagogical support


Student support

Learn more


Tell us about this guide