Canvas FAQ for Colorado Mountain College Faculty

Your first resource when you need help with using Canvas in general, or when you would like to learn how to use a Canvas feature is the Canvas Instructor Guide which contains extensive tutorials and explanations for teachers. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, please begin by consulting the Canvas Mobile Phone Instructor Guide. This FAQ page only contains answers to questions that are specific to Colorado Mountain College. For more general questions and “how-tos”, please consult the Canvas Instructor Guide or the Canvas Mobile Phone Instructor Guide.
 How do I log into Canvas for the first time—what will my username and password be?
How can I find my CMC ID Number for logging into Canvas? 
 Is Canvas running normally? Click here to check! This webpage by Instructure offers breaking news on Canvas, including outages and technical issues bulletins. You can also follow @canvassupport on Twitter for news.
 Did you know Canvas is frequently updated? Click here to check on the latest changes to Canvas!

Getting Started with Canvas: The Basics

Faculty FAQs for Colorado Mountain College’s Canvas

What do I need to access Canvas and my classes?

In order to access Canvas, you need a computer with Internet access and an active Canvas user name and password, provided by CMC. Your user name is your CMC ID number, which is 7 digits long, so you’ll need to be sure and  include any leading zeroes—your ID number must always total 7 digits. Canvas can be visited via most major web browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari, and is supported under Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX operating systems. Here is the list of browsers that will work with Canvas. Colorado Mountain College’s Canvas system operates in the Mountain Time zone.

How do I log into Canvas for the first time—what will my username and password be?

To log into Canvas, use your full 7 digit CMC ID number as your username. All zeroes must be included, even leading zeroes. Your default password will be cmc followed by the last 6 digits of your Social Security number, for example: cmc123456. Or, if you don’t have a Social Security number, your default password will be cmc, followed by the 2 digits of your birth month, followed by the 2 digits of your birthday, followed by the letters xx. So, for example, if your birthday is January 5, and you don’t have a Social Security number, your default password would be cmc0105xx. If you have no Social Security number and no birthdate in the system, your password will be a randomly generated number. You would need to contact the IT Department’s Service Desk for assistance in that case. Your Canvas account is automatically activated and available when you enroll in a course or teach for CMC; instructors automatically receive a Canvas course for each course they are teaching. Students are automatically added to Canvas courses when they register. Other CMC employees who need to use Canvas and aren’t sure that they have an active Canvas account or need special assistance, please contact the Office of Innovations in Teaching and Learning or the IT Department’s Service Desk.

How can I find my CMC ID number for logging into Canvas?

If you’re enrolled in any courses as a student, your CMCID number is located on the top right corner of your printed Student Schedule. Your CMC ID number may be printed on your ID card; it will always be found on your paystubs from CMC. Finally, you can also contact your local campus or the IT Department’s Service Desk if you are still unable to locate your CMC ID number.

To log into Canvas, use your full 7 digit CMC ID number as your username. All zeroes must be included, even leading zeroes. Your default password will be cmc followed by the last 6 digits of your Social Security number, for example: cmc123456. Or, if you don’t have a Social Security number, your default password will be cmc, followed by the 2 digits of your birth month, followed by the 2 digits of your birthday, followed by the letters xx. So, for example, if your birthday is January 5, and you don’t have a Social Security number, your default password would be cmc0105xx. If you have no Social Security number and no birthdate in the system, your password will be a randomly generated number. You would need to contact the IT Department’s Service Desk for assistance in that case.

How do I get help with my password?

Here’s what to do if you’ve previously logged in to Canvas successfully and changed your password so that it’s no longer the default password. If in this case, you lose or forget your password, then click on the “Reset password” link on CMC’s log-in page for Canvas. Instructions for resetting your password will be emailed to the principal email address in your Canvas account. If you know your password and you wish to change it, please see these illustrated steps for instructions on how to log in and change your Canvas password to another password of your choice. You are free to change your password at any time.

How do I customize the alerts I receive from Canvas?

Please click here for a video tutorial on how to customize the Notifications or alerts you receive from Canvas. You can control how often and through which channels–email, cell phone text message, Facebook, Twitter, etc.– you receive Notifications from Canvas.

Will Canvas work on my mobile device or iPad?

Canvas is built on open web standards and uses minimal instances of Flash, so most features are supported on mobile devices. With the growing use of mobile devices, instructors should build their courses with best practices for mobile in mind. You can access Canvas through mobile browsers on the following supported platforms: iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, WebOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone. Instructure currently has one native mobile phone application free for download: Canvas by Instructure for iOS6+ and Android devices. Please consult the Canvas Mobile Phone Instructor Guide for the latest updates regarding using Canvas on mobile devices and iPads.

What happens in Canvas if CMC cancels my course?

If CMC cancels your course and its status in Datatel Colleague is set to “cancelled,” then typically your Canvas course will be automatically deleted within a day by our regularly scheduled daily updates.You can create a course export file of your course if you anticipate that it will be canceled so that you can save your work, files, course design, etc.  If you would like to have a demo Canvas course to store your course materials, to use for practicing, or for collaboration with colleagues, please click here and fill out this online form. This form will be sent to the Office of Innovations in Teaching and Learning.

Faculty FAQ for Colorado Mountain College’s Canvas

I’d like to add someone to my Canvas course.

If you would like to add someone to your course who is not affiliated with CMC, please contact the Office of Innovations to discuss. You can find the necessary paperwork that you’ll need to file with CMC to obtain Canvas access for a non-CMC guest in the My CMC portal here (log-in required). If you would like to add a CMC colleague or CMC student to your course, please contact the Office of Innovations in Teaching and Learning and fill out this online form.

I’d like to have a “sandbox” course or a course for collaboration.

All faculty are automatically provided with one sandbox, demo Canvas course, so be sure to check your complete course list for yours. If you would like to have additional Canvas courses to store your course materials, to use for practicing, or for collaboration with colleagues, please click here and fill out this online form. This form will be sent to the Office of Innovations in Teaching and Learning.

How do I learn to use Canvas?

Please see our training calendar for faculty and staff. We recommend as well that you explore the Canvas Guides.

Is there an instructor manual for Canvas?

You can find the Canvas Instructor Guide here. At help.instructure.com, you can also find the Canvas Guide for students, the Canvas Community where you can ask questions and discuss Canvas with peers at other institutions, the webpage for placing and voting on feature requests, and more.

I’ve got a question about the Canvas Gradebook, SpeedGrader, or Quizzes.

Click here to visit our Canvas Grading FAQ page or visit the Canvas Instructor Guide here.

Who do I call or send my students to for Canvas support?

Students can click on the Help link at the top right corner of the screen while logged into Canvas to request tech support directly from Instructure. Students can also contact the IT Department’s Service Desk. We recommend as well that students check out the tutorials in the Canvas Student Guide.

Is a student orientation for Canvas available?

Yes, please direct your students to visit this link for a student orientation course set up by Instructure. It is not specific to Colorado Mountain College. Your students can also check out the MyCMC Success website here.

How do I enable students to access my course?

To enable students to access your course, you’ll need to “publish” it. Click here for Instructure’s tutorial on how to publish your course, or click here to view an Office of Innovations tutorial on publishing a Canvas course in CMC’s Canvas system. Once a Canvas course is published, it cannot be reverted to “unpublished” so be sure you publish when you’re ready. About a month after the semester ends, Canvas will automatically set your course to a read-only state and hide all student data.

I have a student with an Incomplete grade who needs access to my course after the semester ends.

If you anticipate that a student will need to access your course after a semester ends, you must contact the Office of Innovations for assistance.

Why is Canvas sending me so much email?

Canvas will contact you as part of its Notifications feature. Please see this tutorial on how to customize the notifications or alerts you receive from Canvas so that you receive the right amount of communication from Canvas. By clicking on the Profile link in the upper-right corner of the Canvas interface, users can adjust notification preferences–what kinds of activities in Canvas will prompt it to send you messages, and how you prefer to receive those messages  Canvas gives users the ability to receive a variety of different notifications via email, text message, or other registered services like Twitter and Facebook. You can also set different levels of frequency for each type of notification Canvas offers.

How do I customize my course list?  

You can customize the list of courses you see from the dropdown menu of Courses. Please click here for a tutorial on customizing that course list.

I want to change or reorganize the menu buttons at left in my Canvas course.

The navigation menu’s buttons cannot be renamed but they can be hidden or reordered. For a tutorial on how to reorganize this menu, please click here. Please note that the Home button will always remain at the top and the Settings button (which is inaccessible and invisible to students) will always remain at the bottom. A hidden area’s items can still be placed in Modules so for example a teacher could hide the Quizzes button but still place quizzes inside individual modules.

How can I set up announcements to display when students first enter my course?

The Announcements section in your Canvas course cannot be set to be the “welcome screen”, unlike in Blackboard 8. Please watch this video tutorial to see two options for setting up your course so that important news is immediately presented to your students.

I want to send an email out to my students.

Canvas doesn’t have an email tool that broadcasts out emails to students. Please use WebAdvisor send an email to the students in your class–WebAdvisor enables you to send a simple text-only email to all students or to individual students. Canvas assumes that with the ability to set up custom Notifications, students are getting the message in the channels they prefer–but that important conversations should be in one central location: Canvas itself. Instead of emailing out to users, Canvas uses its Conversations tool, an internal messaging system entirely based within Canvas. You can use Conversations to send messages to any other CMC Canvas user– you don’t need to be in a course together.  So students can contact instructors whose courses they may take and have questions about– and you, the teacher, can reply with a file attached, like the syllabus. Additionally, any responses by students to your comments, announcements, any comments that they leave while turning in assignments, etc., is automatically copied into this inbox. You can also message colleagues and know that with Canvas’ powerful Notifications, your colleague will probably be alerted quickly in that a message is waiting in the Conversations inbox. Click here for a tutorial on Conversations.

I have a question about the Turnitin anti-plagiarism tool.

For more information and help with Turnitin, please see our Turnitin FAQ page here.

I would like to use an e-textbook or course cartridge in my Canvas course.

Textbook publishers commonly provide “course cartridges”, “e-textbooks,” question banks, tests, or other course materials. Please see this tutorial on the Course Import Tool, which is generally how these materials are added to a Canvas course. It’s the same tool you would use to copy a Canvas course. Sometimes another software tool is needed to add publisher-provided materials to Canvas. One commonly used tool is Respondus 4.0, which CMC distributes for free to faculty/staff. To learn how to obtain your copy of this software and for more information, please click here. 

There’s typically no need to “unzip” or try to unpackage the files a publisher provides – just upload them as-is, selecting the type of material you’re “importing”—in the image below, the Blackboard option is selected, for instance.

Menu of choices for importing files into Canvas via the Course Import Tool

Since Canvas is still a fairly new LMS, you may have to ask your publisher if they are producing course materials in a Canvas-specific format.  “Canvas-compatible” does not necessarily mean that the materials are optimized for Canvas; since that is too vague of a term, so be sure to ask if the materials were designed specifically for Canvas.

This page from the Canvas wiki documents known compatibilities and possible workarounds for different publisher materials. First and foremost, faculty should ask the publisher if they can or will provide a Canvas-specific course cartridge. Even if you know they don’t have one, this kind of feedback may encourage the publisher to embrace Canvas.

If a Canvas-specific cartridge is not available, then your next best bet is ask the publisher if a “Common Cartridge” format package is available. Common Cartridge is a global format for learning materials packages and Canvas accepts Common Cartridge.

If the publisher can’t provide either a Canvas-specific option or a Common Cartridge option, then we suggest that you try to import a cartridge formatted for Blackboard version 8 or version 9 (i.e., the newest versions), or formatted for Angel into your Canvas course with the Course Import Tool, as Canvas supports these course package types already.  There may be some glitches however; we suggest that you proofread your materials if they were not designed specifically for Canvas.

Finally, please note that if your course cartridge or digital textbook originally required a code or key to install it or make it accessible, there is a good chance that it will not copy into a new course. Publishers, for obvious reasons, tend to block your ability to endlessly copy their materials. Please contact your publisher for new materials and/or technical assistance if you have tried unsuccessfully to copy your courseor add their materials to it.

How can I view my Canvas course as my students do?

Canvas has a “student view” feature that you can use to view your course as a student, including even taking tests! Click here for a tutorial on how to launch the student view.

In the future, can I copy a Canvas course from a previous term rather than creating it again?

Yes, you can! We have compiled a detailed list of instructions, tips, and guidance here.
Instructors have two ways to copy a Canvas course. First, the Course Import Tool will enable you to copy an entire course or parts of a course. Please click here for a video tutorial on copying materials between your Canvas courses. Or click here for illustrated instructions on using the Course Import Tool. In Canvas, course copying should be initiated in the course which lacks the materials you intend to copy– the Course Import Tool will import or “pull” materials into the course where you launch it. The second way to copy materials between Canvas courses is to create a Canvas export file package (it will end with the extension .imscc), which can contain either the entire course or just the quizzes and assessment materials. This is a good solution for sharing course materials with other instructors who are not enrolled in your course and therefore cannot use the Course Import Tool to copy materials directly from your course. For a video tutorial on creating a Canvas export file package and then importing it into a Canvas course, please click here.

Does Canvas have a spellchecking tool?

No, Canvas does not have a built-in spellchecker. Your browser may have a spellchecker and if so, it will typically underline in red the words that it thinks aren’t spelled correctly; then you can right-click or otherwise choose the correct spelling. Mozilla Firefox has such a feature that will function inside the text boxes that are part of Canvas Pages, Assignments, etc.

Can I switch my Canvas courses to a language other than English?

Yes, although the default language option is English, you can switch your course to other languages. Click on the Settings button at lower left, then the Course Details tab. Click on the Edit Course Details button and choose a langugage. Although the course’s navigation buttons and some other details will now be in the new language, the same text editing toolbar will appear. There will not be  accented letters such as “ñ” or foreign punctuation marks available.

My course list doesn’t show all of my Canvas courses! How do I access them?

Canvas displays up to 12 courses in the Courses drop-down menu. Once users have more than 12 courses, they may customize the drop-down menu to choose which courses will display. Click here for a tutorial on how to do so. After a semester ends, your courses from that semester will be retired from your course list. Also, if you’re involved in many courses at once during a semester, you may not see all of your courses on your course list. In any case, you can always access all of your courses, past and present. Click on your course list and when that dropdown list pops open, look for the text at lower right that says “View all courses.” Click on that text and you’ll be taken to a new screen which will list all of your courses, past and present alike. Click on a course’s name to enter it.

Students aren’t able to attach files to their Discussion posts in my course–help!

By default, Canvas discussions don’t allow students to attach files. This is a course-specific setting that you as the course’s instructor can adjust for each of your Canvas courses. For a tutorial from the Canvas Instructor Guide on enabling this setting, please click here.

For more details about handling images and Discussions for students and instructors, please click here.

Students can’t embed images in their Discussion posts-help!

Here is a video introduction to how students can work with images in Discussion posts.

For more details about handling images and Discussions for students and instructors, please click here.

In short, students can’t easily embed images into their discussion posts the way teachers can. Unlike the instructor, the students cannot upload files directly into their Canvas courses’ Files area—which is in fact what you, the instructor, are doing when you embed an image by selecting an image file that’s stored in the course’s Files section or when you upload a new image file in order to embed it into a discussion post.

The best option for students is to attach a file to their posts in Discussions. Here are the instructions for students on how to do this. Of course, this won’t embed the image. Also, this attachment option is only available to students if the instructor has chosen to permit it.  Students can, however, embed an image already posted online outside of Canvas. This option would work for students who are happy to use Facebook, Flickr, Google photo albums, etc. Students can embed an image that is posted online elsewhere, not in Canvas, e.g. a photo posted at Flickr.com, Facebook, or any other website. Here are those instructions. Basically, students would need to grab the exact URL (web address) of their image, then use the icon on the text editing toolbar to embed that image. Please click here for a video tutorial explaining how to locate the URL (web address) of an image that is already online so that you can embed it in a Canvas wiki page, Discussion post, assignment submission, etc.  This same procedure is also available to you as an instructor: you too can embed an online image that was posted online outside of Canvas if you wish.

Why did a student(s) vanish from my People section and Gradebook?

If a student drops your class, he or she will no longer appear in the People section and the Gradebook of your Canvas course once the system has had time to process this change in registration. Typically one day it takes one day to process registration changes. Approximately a month after a semester ends, your Canvas course will be set to a read-only state as part of our archiving process. You will no longer see any students listed in the People section or in the Gradebook once this occurs. For more information about Canvas archiving, please visit our FAQ here.

I have a question concerning Colorado Mountain College’s former Blackboard 8 system.

CMC’s Blackboard 8 system was taken offline on Jan. 31, 2013. The Office of Innovations maintains offline archives of all past Blackboard courses. Please contact the Office of Innovations at innovations@coloradomtn.edu or (970) 947-8408 for assistance with archived Blackboard courses

When will my course be archived or deleted from the Canvas learning management system?

At this point, we are not scheduling any deletions of older courses in the Canvas learning management system. Please do not attempt to delete or “conclude” your Canvas course yourself.

Approximately a month after a semester ends– to be exact, 45 days after your course’s official end date–your Canvas course will be set to a read-only state as part of our archiving process. Instructors will no longer see any students listed in the People section or any data in the Gradebook once this occurs. Students will continue to see all of their own grades as before. For everyone, the course is read-only. Please note that this read-only mode is not always self-evident: although it may appear as if you can still build new items, submit assignments, take tests, etc., eventually Canvas will block your action or give you an error message, and you will be unable to complete the task.
For more information about Canvas archiving, please visit our FAQ here.

How I can use videos from Films On Demand in my Canvas course?

Please click here for a video tutorial explaining how to integrate videos from the Films On Demand service into your Canvas course. CMC has a license for all of our faculty to use this service. To get started with Films On Demand, a leading source of high-quality video and multimedia for academic, vocational and life-skills content, please visit this link.

I’d like to use the Respondus StudyMate Author software or the Respondus 4.0 software.

CMC instructors and staff can obtain a license from CMC to install Respondus StudyMate Author or Respondus 4.0 for one year on their computers by registering for and completing the Respondus  licensing course offered by the Office of Innovations. Please consult the training calendar at www.coloradomtn.edu/training for that course’s details and WebAdvisor registration information.A free 30-day trial version of Respondus StudyMate Author is available here.  You can find our help page for Respondus 4.0 by clicking here.

I’d like to use SoftChalk Cloud in my Canvas course.

CMC’s Canvas system is configured for SoftChalk Cloud, a cloud-based product. For more information and tutorials on using SoftChalk Cloud, including how to publish a lesson to SoftChalk Cloud, please click here to visit SoftChalk’s training website. Information on how to get started using CMC’s SoftChalk Cloud license can be found online here.