Tips for Canvas for Students


Tips for students who are new to Canvas.



Have you learned how to use Canvas but are looking for some additional insight into working with Canvas? The tips below are issues that students tend to run into when they are new to working online and may not have an obvious solution. Please note that features inside Canvas are managed directly by your instructor, so always contact your instructor first.  It’s possible your instructor has chosen to disable a feature or has not opened up access to a specific feature inside the site.  This is a good practice even when you suspect the issue is with the system—this ensures your instructor knows you’re having problems and cannot access the materials.  Usually instructors provide contact information in their syllabus or directly on the Canvas site; however if you do not have this information, you may look it up online using our Employee Directory.



  • Wait for verification that the assignment has submitted
    When you submit an assignment you should wait until the page has finished loading to ensure that it was submitted properly. Once you see the submission box appear on the top right hand corner you will know that the submission went through. Do not leave the page until you see this submission box! The submission box will include a date/time stamp, along with a link to your document to verify that it was submitted correctly.
  • I don’t see the assignment submission box
    If you have a slow internet connection or a large document, It can take time for your file to load . You may need to give Canvas time to process your request. If you know that you have a slow internet connection or are turning in a large file, you may want to plan on turning your assignment in a little early. That way in case you run into any issues, you have time to re-submit the assignment. If you have tried submitting multiple times without success, you should try restarting your computer. You may also need to look at our troubleshooting suggestions to see if something else is impacting your progress.
  • There are different types of assignments
    Uploading a file is not the only way that you might be graded in Canvas. It is not uncommon for instructors to grade Discussions, just as you would be graded for participating in discussions in an on-campus setting. Some instructors also setup third party sites such as publishers sites. This typically means that they will have directions on how to login to another site outside of Canvas, where you will complete assignments or take exams. It is important that you read the instructor's directions carefully and if you have any questions about how to receive full credit, don't hesitate to contact them for clarification.



  • Discussion boards are accessible to all of your classmates
    The discussion board is visible to your class, this means that everyone in your course (the instructor and the other students signed up for the course) can see the information that you post here. If you need to send a private message to your instructor or classmate, do so using the “Inbox” feature in the top, right-hand corner.
  • Composing discussions in an outside program
    Canvas does not save a copy of your discussion until you hit the "reply" button. When you are composing a reply for the discussion board; if it is going to be more than one or two sentences, we recommend composing it in a word processor such as Microsoft Word and save it to your computer. This will prevent you from losing your work if your computer crashes or your internet times out. By typing your discussion in an outside program and saving it to your computer, you can then copy/paste into the discussion board. This will ensure that you have a copy/backup in case anything happens.
  • Formatting discussions in an outside program
    When you create discussion posts in an outside program such as Microsoft Word, try to keep the formatting to a minimum. When you copy/past to the discussion board, the formatting can get lost and then you spend unnecessary time re-formatting.
  • Expanding the text box
    When you are replying to a discussion post, the text box is not very large and this can make it difficult to edit/review your post. If you look at the lower, right-hand corner of the reply box (just above the blue “Post Reply” button) you will see a triangle in the corner. If you hover your cursor over this your cursor will change to a double-headed arrow, you can then click and drag to expand the text box.



  • Reply versus reply all
    It is important to understand the difference between “Reply” and “Reply all. If the instructor has sent a message to the entire class and you want to reply to the instructor (not the entire class), choose the “Reply” option at the top. If you accidentally choose “Reply all”, this message will go to everyone on the original recipient list. If you are unsure if the message will be going to everyone or just one person, you can “Compose a new message” by clicking on the pencil & paper icon at the top. You will then have to choose the recipients to ensure that it goes to the correct people.
  • The inbox doesn’t look like my regular email system
    The inbox a messaging system rather than an emailing system. A messaging system has more limitations than an emailing system. You can still add titles and attachments, but other features are limited. The Canvas inbox is not the same as your Bellevue email. You cannot send or receive emails from your Bellevue email to the Canvas inbox. The inbox is intended for you to use when you need to communicate with the instructor or other students in the class. If you need to contact someone outside of your class, you will need to use your Bellevue email.
  • Choose the correct way to contact your instructor
    Most instructors will state their preferred method of contact in their syllabus, if they don't you may want to ask them if they have a preference. Instructors generally prefer to use either their Bellevue email or the Inbox in Canvas. If you don’t use their preferred method, they may not receive your message in time to assist you.



  • My quiz timed out
    If you are in the middle of a quiz and loose access to Canvas, immediately try to log back in to finish the exam. More often than not you will be able to resume the quiz with minimal time lost. Any time you experience issues with a quiz, you should let your instructor know.
  • When and where to take quizzes online
    Make sure you have a reliable internet connection, this is vital when taking an exam. We do not recommend taking exams on mobile devices such as phones or tablets. Public wi-fi is convenient but we do not recommend taking an exam while using it as it can be unpredictable. If possible, use a laptop or desktop and use a wired connection rather than wireless.



  • Reset your password
    Your NetID password expires every 120 days. We recommend resetting your password at the beginning of every quarter so that it won’t expire in the middle of the quarter. In Canvas, you do not receive a message stating your password has expired, it will say “Either your username or password were incorrect.”
  • Canvas stopped working
    If you encounter any issues in Canvas, it is always a good idea to let your instructor know. You may not be the only student encountering the issue. When possible, take screenshots to send to the instructor and/or the Service Desk.
  • Backup browser
    It is a good idea to have another browser on your device. This way if you do run into an issue in Canvas, you can  try another browser to see if it might be a browser compatibility issue. So if you use Internet Explorer or Safari, you may want to download Firefox as a backup.
  • Always have a backup plan
    Many instructors require you to have a backup plan when you are taking an online course. N250 is an open lab available to all currently enrolled students. If you live too far away to make a trip to campus, check with your local libraries to see what technology services they have available.



Article ID: 22390
Wed 1/4/17 1:22 PM
Thu 3/15/18 12:03 PM

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