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R-MC Faculty Teaching Toolkit: Canvas




Please visit the Canvas course-site for more resources; sign in using your R-MC email and password.

About Canvas

Canvas is Randolph-Macon College's learning management system (LMS), accessible at Canvas can be used to communicate with students, to provide assignment details, collect assignments from students, administer quizzes, surveys, and tests, and grade. Users should use the current Chrome or Edge for Mac and PC for accessing Canvas.

This page provides information about:

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.


"Getting Started with Canvas" Workshop


 Five Steps to Building a Learner-Friendly Canvas Course 


Canvas Features for the Inexperienced User:
(View time for each video: 2 minutes)

Global Navigation Video | Text
Course Navigation Video | Text
Adding the Syllabus Video | Text
Selecting a Home Page Video | Text
Modules VideoText
Pages Video | Text
Assignments Video | Text
Quizzes Video | Text
Discussions Video | Text
Student View: viewing a course as a test student Video | Text
Setting up the Gradebook Video | Text
Publishing your Course Video | Text

Communicate with Students in Canvas

Instructors should communicate regularly and clearly with students about each course. Especially if teaching a hybrid or online class, regular communication is one of the best ways to stay connected with your students and to encourage participation and engagement. Especially in hybrid or online teaching, frequent communication can influence whether a student succeeds or not. Instructors should communicate reminders about:

  • upcoming assignments (it's easier to lose track of time when hybrid or online)
  • any changes made to the course, including due dates or teaching mode
  • expectations of student participation.


See Canvas Homepage Design Ideas:


Remind students to set their accounts to receive Notifications properly, so that you know students are receiving your communications. (Learn how: video | text)

Consider Welcoming Your Students to your course. This can be a chance to introduce yourself to your students, to share your passion for the course topic, to share some of your strengths and weaknesses if you're teaching in a way that is at the edges of your comfort zone, or to start to set expectations for the class. Also think about Managing Your Online Presence.

There are two important communication tools in Canvas; click the links below for how to use them:

  • Announcements (video | text): allow the Instructor to send announcements to the whole class. Students 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 R-MC email. 
  • Conversations--Canvas Inbox (video | text): Access Conversations 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.

Add Course Materials to Canvas

Import a 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)


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.

  • Learn how to upload files to Canvas (video | text)

  • More Files details (video | text)

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.


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.

Organize Course Materials in Canvas

Canvas organizes content by type: Files, Assignments, and Quizzes. If you rely on these to organize your course, students will constantly be trying to guess where to look for your course materials, which can cause them to not complete readings or assignments, or to miss deadlines.


To better support student learning, it is best to organize content by Modules or Pages that present all the materials on a theme or topic together, including presentations or pre-recorded lectures, quizzes, assignments, and other materials related to the topic. Organizing by topic also makes it easier for students to find materials for review. It can also be effective to organize the course by week, but students may not accurately remember what week a certain topic was discussed. 

Instructors can hide the link to Files in the course navigation to reduce confusion. Learn how (video | text)


The image below shows a module on the topic of information literacy that includes a pre-test (quiz), short assigned videos (external urls in Canvas), two assignments, and a post-test, all grouped together and easily navigated. 


Canvas module showing quizzes, external links, and assignments


Support and encourage class interaction in Canvas

Manage People in Canvas

The People link in the Canvas course navigation allows the student to see the class roster, which can be useful when a student tries to seek help from his/her peers. You can enroll and remove students from a class, change students' rolls in a course, and see the last time students logged into the Canvas course. (Video | Text)


Groups can be created in the People section of the Canvas course.



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)


Student Collaborations in Canvas

  • 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.



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)

Go to the Faculty Canvas Course for tips on leading good online discussions.


Canvas Chat

Chat lets the instructor or student post messages, which are viewable by all members of the class. Chat does not allow private messages. The student cannot delete any messages posted on Chat. The course instructor can delete chat messages. (video | text)


Synchronous lecturing and online meetings

Instructors are encouraged to use Zoom for synchronous lectures and online meetings. The instructor and students need a microphone, and optionally, a webcam.

Learn more about using Zoom for teaching.


Manage Classroom Attendance in Canvas

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.

canvas course navigation with attendance highlighted



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

Virtual Office Hours in Canvas using Zoom

Zoom allows you to meet with students individually if you are not able to meet in person. You can do this on an as-needed basis, or can schedule regular office hours and allow students to register for appointments. 

This process requires scheduling a recurring meeting in Zoom and then using Canvas's scheduling tool to allow students to register for meetings. If the recurring meeting is scheduled from within Canvas, all available office hours will appear on all students' calendars. Using this process ensures that students only see the office hours they have registered for.


To schedule regular office hours:

  1. Schedule a recurring meeting
  2. Set up office hour registration in Canvas.
  3. Hold your Zoom office hours.

If you will be using these office hours for your class, be sure to include instructions for students on how to sign up for office hours in Canvas. View in this website or view in pdf.


Alternative Tools

This page includes a comparison of Zoom office hours in Canvas and offering office hours using Google Calendar, which is a simpler process.

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)

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)

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)


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:

Canvas Workshop Instructions


Canvas Workshops

Getting Started with Canvas

Workshop Recordings:

  1. Global Navigation (view time: 3 minutes) 
    Your R-MC Canvas dashboard, notifications settings and profile 

  2. Course Navigation (view time: 6 mins.)
    Streamline the course navigation links to facilitate student access to course content and activities.

  3. Syllabus (view time: 5 mins.)
    The "Syllabus" page allows the instructor to add graphics and styles to the course home page.

  4. Modules  (view time: 12 mins.)
    Use modules to organize course content to facilitate learning.

    *Sorry about a typo in a couple places where “Unit” was misspelled as “Unite".

  5. Grades and the Gradebook  (view time: 23 mins.)
    Set up the gradebook and assign grades.

  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.

Back to R-MC Canvas Tutorials and Other Information