Carnegie Mellon University

Get Started with Canvas

You will see a link/button to request a Canvas course from the Canvas website homepage here:

  • You can also navigate directly to the online course request form.
  • Note, we maintain the top-level webpage to provide you with timely announcements about the state of Canvas and/or the online course request form (e.g., downtimes)

When will your course be created after submitting the request?

For courses listed in S3 with you as the instructor of record:

  • Upon submitting the Canvas course request form, you should notice that the Canvas course is created instantaneously and a direct link to the course site is provided.

For courses not listed in S3 and/or you are not listed as the instructor of record:

  • Contact your department to associate you as the instructor of record in S3.
  • Email us and we will create a Canvas course for you so that you can develop your course site as you wait for the S3 process to complete.

To copy content from a previous Canvas course:

This is integrated as part of the online course request process. From within the online course request form, you will select from a dropdown list, the Canvas course you'd like to copy into your new Canvas course. If you do not see the course in the list, contact us for assistance.

NOTE: Once you complete and submit the online course request form, your course will be created instantaneously, HOWEVER, the content you are copying over will take a few minutes to process and will not show up in your course until the process is completed.

To copy content from a previous Blackboard course:

You will find a text field on the online course request form where you will indicate the course semester, number, and title. We will then manually move your Blackboard course content into your new Canvas course site for you.

Feel free to contact us for additional help or questions you might have: or 412-268-9090.

Automated student enrollments:

Once students are officially enrolled in the course, we will pick up those enrollments automatically through regularly scheduled enrollment processes.

How do I manually add non-registered students (e.g., waitlisted) to my course?

Students on the waitlist are not automatically added, however you can add them manually. Do this by:

  1. Creating a new section in your Canvas course (e.g., a "Waitlist" section).
  2. Add the students to the manually created section.
  3. IMPORTANT NOTE: Adding non-registered students to a manually created section in Canvas will ensure that they do not get removed from the course automatically when regularly scheduled automated enrollment feed processes run.
  4. Contact us if you'd like more help with this: or 412-268-9090 (phone hours: 8:30am-5:00pm ET, Mon-Fri).

Step 1. Create a new section in your Canvas course:

  1. From within your Canvas course, navigate to “Settings” in the left course navigation.
  2. Select the “Sections” tab at the top of the Settings page.
  3. Enter a Name for your section and click the “add Section” button.

Step 2: Add students to the manually created section:

  1. From within your Canvas course, navigate to the “People” page and click the “Add People” button.

  2. An “Add People” window will launch where you will enter the person’s Andrew email address and select the section you just created from the dropdown list provided.

  3. Click “Next” to review the user’s details and then click the “Add Users” button to complete the process.

When you enter your course site, you will land on the course homepage. To change which area of your course is the default landing page:


  1. Click the Choose Home Page button on the right side of the page (in the Course Status menu).

  2. A pop-up window of options for the homepage will appear. Click the radio button next to the area you would like to be the homepage and click Save to update your course homepage.

NOTE: if the “Pages Front Page” is greyed out/unavailable to select, you will first need to indicate one of your “Pages” as a “homepage”.

How do I set a Pages Front Page?

If you would like to make a content page your course homepage, you will need to either have a content page already created or create a new content page, then select that page as your homepage.

How to create a new content page:

  1. Select “Pages” from the left course navigation and click the (+ Page) add page button.
  2. Enter the content that will appear on the page; and then click Save and Publish..


How to select a page to use as a homepage/Front Page

  1. Navigate again to “Pages” from the left course navigation.
  2. Find the page in the listing that you’d like to use as your course home page and click to expand the settings menu associated with this page (Click on the gear icon at the right of the page listing). From the dropdown menu, select “Use as Front Page”.
  3. This page will now be available to select from the “Choose Home Page” menu.
    (Note: Click the “Home” left navigation item to find the “Choose Home Page” button/menu.)

By default, your course site is unavailable to students until you “publish” it. Once your course is published, students will be able to view and interact with the content you’ve created in your course.


  1. Navigate to your course “Home” page.
  2. Find the “Course Status” set of menu items (typically found at the right).
    Click the
     Publish button. Your course can now be seen by enrolled students.

Student View allows you to view your course the same way students would.
Activate Student View in your Course Settings.

    1. Click "Settings" in your left course navigation and then click on the "Student View" link (usually found in the menu at the right). When you've entered "Student View", you will notice a border appears around the browser window along with a button at the bottom to "Leave student view". 

  1. Navigate around the course and try things out as you'd expect students to do (e.g., take a quiz). Then when you are done, click to "Leave Student View.

Adding and organizing content in Canvas

Canvas provides a file manager for organizing all of your course documents (e.g., pdf, docx, pptx) into folders (e.g., readings, problem sets, homework). These documents can then be linked from anywhere within the course (e.g., from the Modules page, an assignment, a quiz, a content page).

You can either upload files directly to the "Files" area or you can upload from anywhere else within the course and they will also be added to the files area as a result.

  • NOTE: We recommend that you make the "Files" left navigation item unavailable to students so that you do not accidentally provide students with access to documents that you'd prefer they not see (e.g., solution sets). However, if you wish to make this area available to students, you can.

There are several other ways you can provide students with access to files in an organized and controlled fashion. Using "Modules" is one good way to do this. Here's how:

Using Modules as a way to upload, manage, and provide students with access to course documents/files
    1. Navigate to the "Modules" area of the course. Add a Module and label it (e.g., Week 1: Welcome and Syllabus or Readings). Now that you have a module, you can add items to it, includng files.
    2. Click the "+" button next to the module title to add an item to that module.

    1. Using the dropdown menu that appears, select "File" from the list and then click "New File".


    1. Click "Browse" to find and select a file from your computer.

  1. Once the file has been selected, click "Add Item" to upload the file to the Module.


The Modules area in Canvas can be used for organizing your content and presenting it to students. Modules can function as content folders which are organized by week, lecture or topic, and which group together related files, content pages, and links to assignments, quizzes, or discussion boards.


Access to modules can also be restricted by date, or by prerequisite modules or activities, which allows you to control your students’ flow through the course.




The Files area in Canvas contains all images and documents you upload to the course, or that are imported from Blackboard. While content in the Files area can be organized into folders and sub-folders, it is important to remember that all content uploaded to the course appears in the Files area - even documents you may not want your students to have access to (such as previous semester example assignments, or exam keys).


The Files area does not allow you to place links to Canvas assignments, quizzes, or discussion boards into content folders. The Files area alsodoes not allow you to attach any explanatory text to a file stored in the Files area.


Typically, instructors hide the Files area from student view and, instead, organize student-facing content within Modules.




How do I hide the Files area from students?

  1. Go to the Settings area of your course

  1. Click the Navigation tab at the top of the page

  1. Click the gear next to Files and select Disable

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save to save your changes

Communicating with Students (TAs, Groups)

You can send email to students from the Inbox area of Canvas. Students will receive your email both to their Canvas Inbox and to their preferred email in the CMU Directory.


To send an email through Canvas:

  1. Go to the Inbox area of Canvas (from the far left nav bar).


  1. Click on the “compose a new message” icon (at the top of the screen).
  2. Specify the course the recipient(s) by either typing in the recipient’s name or clicking on the address book icon to select all students, TAs, etc.


  1. Enter a message Subject and Body.
    NOTE: If you would like to BCC the recipients of your email, check the “Send an individual message to each recipient” box.

  2. When you are a ready to send your email, click the “Send” button.

Although the Canvas Inbox contains a Sent folder of emails you sent out through Canvas, some users like to receive an email copy of any message they send through Canvas.


To set your notification preferences so you are automatically cc-ed on emails you send through Canvas:


  1. Go to your Account (from the left Navigation bar) and click on “Notifications” from Account menu listing.


  1. On the Notifications page, scroll down to the “Conversations” section and make sure the green check mark is selected for the option “Conversations Created By Me”.

If a student reports that they are not receiving the emails you send through Canvas, here are some basic troubleshooting steps they can take:


  1. Make sure they are checking their preferred email address
  1. Emails from Canvas are sent to the preferred email address the student has on file in the CMU Directory.
  2. Students can also view their preferred email address by going to Account > Settings within Canvas (their email address will be listed on the upper right side of the page).






  1. Have the student check their Notification Preferences.
  1. Go to Account > Notifications within Canvas.

  1. Scroll to the Conversations area and make sure the green check mark is selected next to “Conversation Message” (Note: this is enabled by default).

  1. Contact Canvas Support at: and we’ll be happy to help resolve the issue!

Announcements post to your course site and generate announcement notifications that are pushed to a student’s Canvas Dashboard and, depending on their notification preferences, email.


  1. Navigate to the Announcements page in your course and click to add an announcement (+ Announcement button).
  2. Enter the announcement title and message and click “Save”.
    NOTE: If you would like to delay the posting of your announcement, click the “
    Delay Posting” box and set the date/time when you would like your announcement to appear.

Using Discussions in Canvas

Canvas’ Discussions area allows for the creation of discussion forums. Discussions provide a space for interactive communication between two or more people; users can participate in a conversation with an entire class or group.


To create a discussion forum in Canvas:

  1. Go to the Discussions area of your course.

  2. Click the + Discussion button at the top of the page.

  3. Give your discussion a title and enter a discussion prompt or instructions in the box below.

  4. Select any additional options for the discussion board.

  1. By default, discussions are created as focused discussions.
    To create a threaded discussion, click the Allow threaded replies checkbox.
  2. To require users to reply to the discussion before they can see any other replies, click the Users must post before seeing replies checkbox.
  3. To enable a discussion podcast feed, click the Enable podcast feed checkbox.
  4. To create a graded discussion, click the Graded checkbox.
    You can assign graded discussions to everyone, individual students, course sections, or course groups.
  5. To allow students to like discussion replies, click the Allow liking checkbox.
  6. To make the discussion a group discussion, click the This is a Group Discussion checkbox.

Click Save & Publish to publish your discussion to students.

Piazza is another discussion tool available to you in Canvas. Piazza provides you with a discussion platform where you can post questions, notes, or polls to your course. Additionally, Piazza allows you to organize your discussion threads into folders that can be named according to a convention that makes sense to your course.


You can preview Piazza “in action” by going to and clicking the View a Real Class button.



Enabling Piazza in your course

To enable Piazza in your Canvas course (so students can access Piazza from within Canvas):


  1. Go to the Settings area of your course and select the Navigation tab

  1. Scroll down to locate Piazza and click the gear icon. Select “Enable”



  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page to Save your changes
  2. A link to Piazza will appear in the left navigation menu of your course. Both instructors and students will be able to access Piazza by clicking on this link.

  1. Note: The first time the instructor clicks on the link to Piazza, they will need to enter information about the course (including the course name, estimated enrollment, and term)

Grading in Canvas

All columns in the Canvas Grades area are controlled from the Assignments area. So, to add a new column to the gradebook, you will need to create a new “assignment”. To do this:


  1. Go to the Assignments area of your course.

  2. Click the + Assignment button.

  3. At minimum, specify the name of the assignment (this will be the grade column name) and the point value for the assignment (the number of points the column is worth).
  4. If you are weighting your assignments by assignment group, you can also use the Assignment Group drop-down menu to set which group this column counts towards.


  1. Set the Submission Type for the assignment:
  1. “No Submission” and “On Paper” create a grade column but do not allow students to upload any materials to the assignment in Canvas.
  2. “Online” creates a grade column and gives students an area to submit their work to you through Canvas.

  1. Finally, click Save & Publish to publish the new column to your gradebook.

Managing grade weights in Canvas is done through the Assignments area of your course. To set up weighting, you will need to:


  1. Set up assignment groups
  2. Organize assignments into the groups
  3. Set assignment group weights


Setting up and organizing assignments into assignment groups

  1. Go to the Assignments area of your course.

  2. Add assignment groups (weighting categories) by clicking the + Group button at the top of the page.

  3. Enter a name for the group and click Save.


  1. Once you have groups set up, you can organize assignments into the groups by drag-and-drop


Setting assignment group weights

  1. Click the gear icon at the top of the Assignments page and select “Assignment Groups Weight”.


  1. Check the “Weight final grade based on assignment groups” box and enter the percentage that each group should count towards the Total grade. 
    Save when you are finished.



Weighting an individual assignment

If you would like to set an individual assignment to contribute towards a certain percentage of the Total grade, you will still need to create an assignment group for this assignment. This will be an assignment group of 1 assignment.


Viewing assignment groups in the Grades area

When assignment groups are set up in your course, you will notice columns corresponding to each assignment group appear in the gradebook. These columns will keep track of student performance in each assignment group.

If you accidentally published a quiz that needs to be corrected, you can use quiz regrade to edit existing quiz questions and tell Canvas to recalculate student grades.


You can regrade:

  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • True/False Questions
  • Multiple Answers Questions


To regrade a quiz question:

  1. Go to the Quizzes area of your course and click on the quiz that contains the question.

  2. Click the Edit button and select the Questions tab.

  3. Scroll to the question you need to edit and click the pencil icon to open the edit screen for this question.


  1. Hover over the answer that you would like to set as the new, correct answer and click the green arrow that appears. This will launch the regrade dialog window.

  2. From the “Regrade Options” window, select the choice that best applies to your needs.

    Considerations regarding the option choices:
  • Award points for both corrected and previously correct answers:
    Using quiz analytics or student feedback, you may find that students found a question too confusing, or you realized that the question could have been listed with multiple answers when only one was selected. In cases like these, you can select this option to avoid penalizing your students.
  • Only award points for the correct answer:
    Occasionally an incorrect answer may get marked as the correct answer for a quiz. This option allows you to correct the answer and give credit to those who selected the answer that should have been correct.
  • Give everyone full credit for this question:
    In some cases it might be appropriate to simply give everyone full credit for a question.
  • Update questions without regrading:
    If you need to improve your question or answers for a future quiz, you can select this option to update a question without regrading the students who have already taken the quiz.



  • If you change the question type, you are effectively creating a new quiz question. This means that, after the question type is changed, Canvas will flag this question as having no student responses.
  • Quiz regrade does not apply to questions linked to a question bank since questions may be used in more than one quiz.

After you have created an assignment in Canvas, you can attach a rubric to the assignment to be used in grading student submissions to the assignment.


To attach a rubric to a Canvas assignment:

  1. From the Assignments area of the course, click on the assignment where you will be adding a rubric.


  1. On the assignment screen, click the + Rubric button.

  2. Enter a title for the rubric.







  1. Click on Description of criterion to edit the rubric criterion. Click Ok when finished.

  2. You can add more ratings for a criterion by clicking the + icon that appears on the line separating the ratings.


  1. The pencil icon will allow you to edit the various rubric ratings.


  1. To add more criterion to the rubric click + Criterion. When you are finished, click Create Rubric to save your changes.

  2. Specify the optional settings for the rubric.

    Notes about the options:
  • I’ll write free-form comments when assessing students:
    If this option is selected, no ratings are used to assess the student and criterion values are assigned manually.
  • Use this rubric for assignment grading:
    This will allow you to use the rubric in SpeedGrader to grade the assignment.
  • Hide score total for assessment results:
    If you don’t want students to see the score total for the rubric, select this checkbox. Students can still see point values for each criterion but the total score will not be shown at the bottom of the rubric.

Canvas provides multiple ways to access different types of analytics. This guide will discuss how to access:


  1. Analytics on quizzes (questions students answered, time spent on questions, etc.)
  2. Analytics on content interaction (the date and how many times students accessed content in a Canvas Course)


Quiz analytics

You can view quiz statistics for quizzes that have been published and have at least one submission. You can also download comma separate value (CSV) files to view Student Analysis or Item Analysis for each quiz question. To access quiz statistics:


  1. Go to the Quizzes area of your course.

  2. Click to enter the quiz and then click the Quiz Statistics link.

On the Quiz Summary screen:

  • By default, the quiz summary shows statistics for all sections including the quiz average score, high score, low score, standard deviation (how far the values are spread across the entire score range), and average time of quiz completion [1].
  • To view quiz statistics for a section, click the Section Filter drop-down menu [2].
  • To access additional survey results, generate a Student/Item Analysis report [3].
  • In the summary graph, the x-axis indicates the quiz scored percentages [4], and the y-axis indicates the number of students who received each percentage [5].





  1. To view a breakdown of the number of students who selected each question response, click the Item Analysis button (at the top of the page).


Content interaction reports

You can view the course access report for an individual user in the People section of your course. The course access report shows a summary of user participation in your course.


  1. Navigate to the “People” area of the course and click the gear to the far right of the name of the student whose access report you would like to view and select User Details.

  2. Click the Access Report link (in the upper right area of the User Details page).

    The access report will show you:
  • The content the user has viewed.
  • The number of times the user viewed the content. A view is counted each time a user navigates to the URL where the content resides or downloads an attachment.
  • The number of times the user participated (if applicable, such as posting to a discussion or submitting an assignment).
  • The last time the user viewed the content.