Skip to Main Content

R-MC Faculty Teaching Toolkit: Canvas


About Canvas

Randolph-Macon College uses Canvas learning management system (LMS). Canvas LMS provides tools for organizing the course content, communicating to students, and administering and grading assignments and tests. Additionally, 3rd-party systems, such as textbook publishers' online resources, are integrated and accessible in our Canvas LMS.

We recommend using a current version of Chrome. Browse to RMC Canvas, and sign in with your RMC email and password. 


Please click HERE for details on Submitting Assignments & Taking Quizzes in Canvas,  Using Canvas Studio, and Reporting problems.


Please visit the self-paced course Building Your Canvas Course.  Also refer to Faculty Canvas resources. Both require RMC sign-in.


 Select a link below to learn more about the topic:


Navigate to Teaching Toolkit Homepage


Get Started with Canvas


Use a current version of Chrome or Edge on Mac and PC. Other web browsers may cause problems for displaying uploaded course files, posting to the discussion board, submitting online assignments and taking quizzes and exams in Canvas.

Navigate to and login with your R-MC username and password. 

Start with Global Navigation to manage the following if you are new to RMC Canvas.

Refer to the faculty workshop recording (3-min) and Canvas guides for additional information.





Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Communicate with Students in Canvas


Instructors should communicate regularly and clearly with students about each course. In hybrid or online teaching, frequent communication is especially important for student learning. For in-person teaching, Canvas Announcements can be an effective communication tool. Announcement messages can be received by students in the Canvas App and their RMC email. 

  • At the beginning of each semester, remind students to set Notifications properly, so that you know students are receiving your communications. (Learn how to set Notifications: video | text)
  • For online teaching, consider sending a welcome message in Canvas "Announcements" to your course. This can be a chance to introduce yourself to your students, to share your passion for the course topic, and to start to set expectations for the class. 


Canvas Announcements (video | text) allows the Instructor to send announcements to the whole class. Students by default cannot post new announcements. Students can view announcements when logging into the course site. The default Notifications setting allows the student to receive the announcement in their RMC email. 

Conversations/Canvas Inbox (video | text) can be accessed by clicking on "Inbox" in the global navigation. Canvas Conversations is essentially email within Canvas. It allows the faculty member and the student to send private messages to another individual in the course, or to send to a group of users within the course as well as across Canvas course sites. Note that Conversations do not get archived as the semester ends. Removal of old conversations is done manually by the author.



Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Class Roster and People


The Roster (People)

Two weeks before a new semester begins, students enrolled in the class are imported from MyMaconWeb into your Canvas course shell.

The class roster is accessible from the "People" link on the Course Navigation.  During the semester, when students are added to or drop from the class, the Canvas course roster is usually updated in one business day. If the roster does not get updated in one business day, the instructor or the student should report the problem using Help (the question-mark icon) on the Global Navigation.


The Groups tab in the People allows the instructor and students to form groups.


Groups can be used in a variety of ways to support student learning. Instructors can:

  • Manually assign students to groups (text)
  • Allow students to self-select their group within a group set that you create (text)
  • Link assignments to groups such that all members of a group get a single grade, or group members can get individual assigned grades on a shared assignment (text)

Learn more about working with groups (video | text)




canvas course navigation with attendance highlighted

Canvas offers a tool called Roll Call that allows instructors to keep track of course attendance. When instructors take attendance using Roll Call, Canvas automatically adds Attendance as a student assignment that appears in the Gradebook. Roll Call appears as Attendance in the Canvas course navigation.


Learn how to use the Attendance tool (video from University of KY | text)






Canvas Groups and Collaboration

  • Canvas "Groups": Managing course groups and providing an area ("Pages")  that affords the students in a group to work individually or collaboratively, and to view each other's work.
  • Canvas "Collaborations": leveraging Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint for the students in a group to collaborate on documents.
  • OneNote Integration in Canvas: collaborative note-taking among group members.
  • individual and collaborative annotation, allowing the instructor and students in the class to share and respond to each other's comments.

Please visit the teaching toolkit on Collaboration.




Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Organize Course Content and Structure


Import a (previous) Course and bulk-update dates.

You can import a course from a previous semester and then bulk update assignment Available and Due Dates.

  • Learn how to import course content to an existing course shell (text)
  • Learn how to bulk update assignment Available Dates and Due Dates (text)


Create a New Course

A well-organized Canvas course makes it easy for students to find materials for review and to keep track of due dates for tasks. Refer to the self-paced course for building a learner friendly, organized Canvas course.

Your Canvas course can be organized by topics or timeframe using Modules. In a module, items can be added to link to Files, Pages, Assignments, Discussions and Quizzes. 

Learn how to create modules (video | text)


The image below shows course modules for the first two weeks of the semester. At the very top, the instructor includes a module containing important information. The rest are weekly modules.  

Each weekly module - clearly labeled - includes an overview and/or learning objectives, followed by required student participation: reading, watching assigned video, posting to the discussion board and submitting to an assignment. Student learning activities are clearly communicated and easily navigated. 

Note: Modules can be expanded or collapsed for easy browsing. In the screenshot below, clicking the triangle for the Week 2 module will expand it to display the module items.

sample course modules; one module details items of content




Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Add Course Materials to a Module


Add Individual Files

The Files link in the course navigation houses course documents, which can be PDF or Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, images, and many other formats.

Large files such as videos should be stored in OneDrive or Google Drive and linked in Canvas because they take up a significant amount of Canvas storage. Learn how to add module items linking to files in OneDrive or GoogleDrive.


Add Links to (Canvas) Pages

Learn how to create pages (video | text)

Learn how to add module items for content


Add a Link to a Web Site

Learn more about adding module items for content

From the Add drop-down list, select to add "External URL" and paste the website's web address.



Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics


Share Accessible Links

When sharing content through email or Canvas, it is preferable to link to readings found through the library catalog, library databases, or content that is open access. Use of these links guarantees access to material and helps the Library see that materials are being used. If there is no access through the library or via open access, use Interlibrary Loan. Be cautious about sharing material found on the open web, as sharing it with your class may violate copyright law. If you are concerned about whether content may be in violation of current interpretations of copyright law, please content Laurie Preston at


Find links to content through the library:

Persistent Links

When linking content from a library database, make sure you use a persistent link rather than the url in the address bar.

Persistent Links show up in various places, depending on the database, for instance, in ProQuest the persistent link shows up on the abstract/details of the record:

Persistent link proquest 2


The persistent link is also known as a document URL, persistent URL, PURL, durable link/URL, or stable link/URL. Locate persistent links in other databases.

Enabling Off-Campus Access

To ensure that links are available for use off-campus, add the following prefix to the link: for example:

The prefix will route any off-campus user to login with their Randolph-Macon College username and password.




Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Canvas Discussions



Use Discussions to encourage students to participate in class-wide discussions outside of synchronous class sessions. 

Instructors can:

  • Assign graded discussions to all students in a course (text), to individual students (text), or to groups of students (text)‚Äč. Default Notification settings allow students to receive discussion board posts in their R-MC email. 
  • Reply to discussions as an instructor (text)
  • Add peer review to a discussion so that students can provide feedback to other students (text)
  • Add a rubric to a graded discussion (text)

Learn more about working with discussions in Canvas (text)



Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics


Assignments and Rubrics



In Canvas, Assignment describes anything that can be submitted online through text entry, file uploads, media recordings, Google Docs, URLs, or Canvas pages. Thus in Canvas an essay, speech, or a lab report is considered an assignment, but so is a quiz or test, and everything that a student is expected to complete appears under Assignments in the Canvas navigation.

The Assignments tool in Canvas can accommodate a wide variety of assignment types. If you haven't used Assignments extensively, start with this overview video (4:29)

Instructors can:

  • Create an Assignment Group to organize and manage Assignments (text). Examples of assignment groups could include essays, discussions, lab reports, quizzes, practice quizzes, and more. 
  • Set Rules for assignment groups if you want to, for example, drop the two lowest quiz grades (text)
  • Create and name an assignment (text)
  • Describe what is expected of students in the details section using a rich text editor that will allow you to include images, text, links, equations, or insert media (text).
  • Determine how the assignment will be graded (points, letter grade, percentage, complete/incomplete, or not graded)
  • Choose how the assignment will be submitted. You can accept uploaded documents, responses submitted via Canvas text entry, website URLs (e.g., Google Suite submissions, blog or website design posts), media recordings, or all of the above if you want to give your students choice. Due to the challenges facing us in Fall 2020, please do not require your students to submit a paper copy of any assignment.
  • Allow peer review of submissions, if desired (text)
  • Set the availability (when students can access the assignment) and due date (when the assignment needs to be submitted) for your assignment.

Instructors can allow students to resubmit assignments (text), and can also give extra credit in a class (text)

There are many more options and details related to Assignments in Canvas. Learn more (text).



Rubrics can be useful in Canvas because they communicate clear expectations to students and can speed up the grading process.

Rubrics can be added to assignments, graded discussions, and quizzes.

Learn how to create a rubric (video | text)



Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Quizzes and Testing in Canvas


Canvas Quizzes offers sophisticated tools for creating online quizzes and tests. Question types include multiple choice, fill in the blank, short answer, true/false, essay questions, questions requiring a numerical answer, formula questions, and more.

Canvas does not include proctoring software, and existing online proctoring tools do not guarantee that a student cannot or will not cheat. So what can instructors do to accurately measure student learning?

  • Clearly communicate to students expectations regarding academic integrity and why it matters
  • Increase the number of low-stakes quizzes and assignments to assess student learning throughout the semester and require fewer high-stakes quizzes and assignments

Instructors can:

  • Create individual quiz questions (text). The quiz description can include images, video clips, audio recordings, files, and many other content types. For details on how to create specific types of quiz questions, view this list of options.
  • Create quiz question groups (text). This allows you to place multiple questions within a group for students to answer. You can choose the number of questions that should be answered from the group and how many points to assign each question. Creating a question group randomizes questions within a quiz. This increases the likelihood that students in a class will see different questions in a different order than their peers.
  • Learn about quiz options (text).

Learn more about quizzes (video | text)



Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Grading in Canvas


Annotate Student Submissions

Canvas has a robust annotation tool called DocViewer that is part of SpeedGrader. DocViewer allows the instructor to review student submissions and annotate them using comments, multiple colors of highlighting, strikethrough, and free draw. Comments and annotations can be easily edited and deleted.

canvas annotation tool


Learn how to annotate (text)



While you can use SpeedGrader for grading student submissions and for giving feedback, you don't have to. Speedgrader allows you to grade using rubrics, and will automatically update the Gradebook with grades given to individual students or groups. If you are not very familiar with SpeedGrader, a quick orientation might be useful (video | text

Learn how to:

  • Get to SpeedGrader from an assignment, quiz, or graded discussion (text)
  • Enter and edit grades in SpeedGrader (text)
  • Leave feedback comments for student submissions in SpeedGrader (text)
  • Use a rubric to grade in SpeedGrader (text)
  • View Log in SpeedGrader to investigate problems a student may have had with a quiz. Students can also see this feature. (text

Learn more about SpeedGrader (text)



The Instructor may set up the Gradebook to include all assignments, which can be organized by assignment, due date, points, or module. If you are not very familiar with the Gradebook, a quick orientation might be useful (video | text

Instructors can:

  • Post grades for an assignment (text)
  • Apply a late submission policy in Gradebook (text)
  • Change the color for a grading status in Gradebook (text)
  • Override a student's grade in Gradebook (text)
  • Post letter grades and set up grading schemes (text)

Learn more about grades in Canvas (video | text)




Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Canvas Support


Canvas has created thorough documentation covering basic and advanced features, and their guides are usually available in both video and text formats. If you have questions not addressed in this page, please visit:




Back to Index of Canvas Tutorial Topics

Canvas Workshop Instructions


Canvas Workshops

Getting Started with Canvas

Workshop Recordings:

  1. Global Navigation: Access your R-MC Canvas dashboard, notifications settings and profile 
     R-MC workshop recording (view time: 3 minutes) 
     Instructure/Canvas Tutorials - Text | Video

  2. Course Navigation: Streamline the course navigation links to increase accessibility.
     R-MC workshop recording (view time: 6 mins.)
     Instructure/Canvas Tutorials -  Text | Video

  3. Syllabus: The "Syllabus" page allows the instructor to customize the course home page and list assignments by due dates.
     R-MC workshop recording (view time: 5 mins.)
     Instructure/Canvas Tutorials -  Text | Video

  4. Modules  (view time: 12 mins.)
    Organize your course content in Canvas to facilitate learning.

  5. Grades and the Gradebook  (view time: 23 mins.)
    Set up the gradebook and assign grades.
    Information on Letter Grades & Grading Schemes

  6. Publishing your course (view time: <1 min.)
    Publish your course so that students can access it.


New Analytics, Rubrics & Quizzes

Text instructions and video tutorials are provided by Instructure (the Canvas company).

 New Analytics:


 Classic Quizzes:

Classic Quizzes will be replaced by New Quizzes in Summer 2023.

 New Quizzes:

New Quizzes will be enforced on Canvas Systems by Instructure (the company) in Summer 2023.