Getting Started with Canvas

Please click here for a recording of a Canvas Basics Workshop for an overview of features and settings.

To request a Canvas site for your course, please refer to this guide.

Logging On To Canvas

Canvas access for all schools (except Penn Law)

Canvas access for Penn Law


Publishing Your Canvas Site

Once you have added items to Canvas, students cannot see them if you do not publish them. This is a step that’s easy to forget, so it’s important to double check that you’ve published everything you expect students to access.

Publishing the Course

The publish button for the whole course is located on the right side of your screen

When the course is published it looks like this:

Publishing Modules and Items

The publish icon for modules and items is to the right side of each component. Items will be unpublished by default. Click or select the icon to publish items. 

Making Your Canvas Site

1. Log into Canvas and click on the course title/button that corresponds to the site you want to work with.

2. To begin adding content, click on the blue button that says “+Module” or the icon that says “Create new module.” These modules will become your homepage: what students will see when they come to your course.

3. Give the module a name and click “Add Module” in the bottom right hand corner. You can start adding material to the module by clicking on the plus icon (+) to the right of  the module.


4. Clicking on the plus icon (+) will open a drop-down menu: 

5. If you click the drop-down menu, you can access the list of different items that you can add to a module.

6. Click the item that you want to add. The links that follow provide more detail for each type.

  • If you want to have students submit documents or attachments (such as papers, homework, pictures of handwritten homework or problem sets, and any other types of attachment), use assignment.
  • If you want to share material with students you can use file (for documents that you have loaded into the files section) or page (for material you want to generate or cut and paste into a page).
  • If you want students to take a test or quiz, use quiz.
  • If you want students to participate in an online discussion (asynchronously) use discussion.
  • If you want to link out to Panopto recordings, recorded class meetings, or other web links, use external URL.
  • If you have a number of different sorts of things that you want to organize for students, inserting the text header can help organize the module for them.

7. Remember to publish the module and make sure the course is published when you are ready for students to access the material.  Otherwise your students will not see anything when they come to the site. 

So here’s a sample of what you might create to start:

Making Your Canvas Site User Friendly

As you work on your site, you may want to think about ways to make it most useful to students.

To learn more about how to design Canvas sites to meet students' needs, review What Students Want From Canvas Sites

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