May 21, 2024
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Canvas Tutorial for Teachers

Canvas Tutorial for Teachers

Canvas is a reliable, open-source, web-based LMS (learning management system). Learning institutions and teachers use the software to manage digital course materials. It comes with lots of course creation management tools (many of which are customizable), user statistics and analytics, and communication tools for feedback about learning achievement and skill development.

The complete Canvas tutorial for teachers includes over 600 lessons. Obviously, that’s beyond the scope of this article. However, the following lessons will give you a firm understanding of the basics.

Setting Up Your Account

The first thing you need to do if you are entirely new to teaching Canvas is to create an account. This makes it easier to create new courses and add content to them.

To create an account, sign up as a teacher and fill in your details to complete the registration. Now you can log in and start using Canvas as an instructor.

Adding Content in Canvas

To add content to your Canvas course, you need to log in to your dashboard and select the course you want to add content to.

A Rich Content Editor interface opens for you to add content. It has similar features to a basic word processor. The editor allows you to directly type in your course content, embed links in the course, add different types of media, and add formatting using various editing and formatting tools.

You can save the course if you want to come back and work on it later, or you can publish it for students to see if you have finished working on it.

Publishing a Course

You can publish your course from your dashboard, course setup checklist, or in the Course Home Page sidebar. Students can only see published courses, so make sure to publish your course after creating or adding content to it.

To this:

  1. Log in to your dashboard
  2. Locate the course you want to publish in the Unpublished Courses section
  3. Click the Publish button


  1. Click the Courses link in Global Navigation. All your courses are grouped into published and unpublished courses
  2. Click the name of the unpublished course to open it
  3. In the Sidebar, click Publish. A message pops up confirming that your course has been published.

Students will receive your course invitation, which enables them to access the course. Note that you can unpublish any course by simply clicking the Unpublish button. Doing this will revoke the access, and students can no longer view the course. However, courses containing graded submissions cannot be unpublished.

Adding Users to a Course

You can invite users to join your course at any time if they are not already added by your institution’s admin.

To add users to a course:

  1. Click the People link in Course Navigation
  2. Click the Add People button
  3. Search for users using their SIS ID, login ID, or email address
  4. Click the Next button
  5. Click the Add Users button

Note that using the Add People button to add users requires course permission. Your institution can restrict the use of this feature, which can prevent you from adding users to your course.

Creating a Discussion as an Instructor

The next lesson in this Canvas tutorial for teachers will enable you to create a discussion for your course. There are several ways to do this, but here’s one of the easiest:

  1. Click the Discussion link in Course Navigation
  2. Click the Add Discussion button. A Rich Content Editor (a word processor interface) opens for you to create a discussion
  3. In the Topic Title field, add a title for your discussion
  4. You can create one or multiple section-specific discussions for graded and ungraded discussions. Use the Post to drop-down option to do this.
  5. Click the Save button to create a draft discussion for future publishing.
  6. Click the Save & Publish button if you are ready to publish the discussion

Note that if a student adds an attachment to a graded discussion, it does not increase his or her storage quota. On the other hand, if a file is attached to an ungraded discussion, it will count toward the student’s quota.

Creating an Assignment

Assignments can be created from the Assignments page. To do this:

  1. Click the Assignments link in Course Navigation
  2. To create an assignment shell or placeholder for a specific type of assignments (such as quizzes, surveys, and discussions), locate the assignment shell and click the large Plus button
  3. To create an assignment group with the same details for all the assignment types in the group, click the Add Assignment button

Assigning an Assignment to Everyone in a Course

teacher working on laptop giving online course training
Image source: Pixabay

Assigning an assignment to everyone in your course is one of the easiest tasks to perform in this Canvas tutorial for teachers. In most cases, you don’t need to do anything to make this happen because all assignments created are assigned to every student in the course by default.

However, in case the setting has been changed, or you want to be sure everyone gets the assignment, you can use the following steps:

  1. Click the Assignment link in Course Navigation
  2. Click the Add Assignment button
  3. Add the details of the assignment in the Rich Content Editor
  4. Click Assign to and select Everyone (if it is not selected already). You can add availability and due dates
  5. Click the Save button to save the draft assignment for future publishing, or click the Save & Publish button to publish your assignment immediately

Using the Gradebook

Let’s bring this quick Canvas tutorial for teachers to a close with a lesson on using the Gradebook. The tool helps instructors to easily view and enter students’ grades in different formats, such as complete or incomplete, percentage, and points.

To enter grade grades for students:

  1. Click the Grades link in Course Navigation
  2. Type the grade directly in the Gradebook, taking note of the grade format supported by the assignment

Alternatively, click the Grade Detail Tray icon to enter or edit students’ grades. You can also change the status of submission or drop comments for students.

Written by
Jamie Keet
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