Things You Really Need to Know about Canvas

Canvas is a great way to post course materials online, to collect assignments, and to communicate with your students.

Canvas has replaced Blackboard as the primary courseware system at Penn. The transition began with the Fall 2013 term and continues through the 2013-2014 academic year.

Support staff are available to move your materials from Blackboard and help you setup your Canvas sites to take advantage of its most useful features. 

As of 5:00pm on May 30, 2014, you will no longer be able to log in to Blackboard.   However, it is not necessary to migrate all your course materials from Blackboard to Canvas before 5/30/14.  The contents of all Blackboard sites are being archived and can be imported from the archives into Canvas at any time in the future.

Click here for additonal information about moving materials from Blackboard to Canvas.

It's easy to get started with Canvas, and here are a few key things you should know.

What you need to know

Why it matters

Additional information & resources

You need to request a course site on Canvas

Canvas sites are not generated automatically for every course; they are created upon request by the instructor.

You need a PennKey to log in to CanvasAll users — faculty, students and outside guests — need a PennKey username and password to log in.  Faculty who don't yet have a PennKey should visit the PennKey site or consult with the support staff in their department.  Library support staff can help create PennKeys for outside guests.

You need to "publish" your Canvas site in order for students to have access

Course sites are created in an "unpublished" state.  As the instructor, you can access your unpublished site to post materials and get everything ready to go.

When you publish your site, all students who are registered for the course will gain access to the Canvas site.

Posting your course materials is easy

The most basic use of Canvas is to distribute your syllabus, Powerpoint slides, readings, or other materials to your students.  It's also easy to add links to other web sites.

The Library will scan reserve materials and make them available in the Files area of a Canvas course.

You can move content from a Blackboard site into Canvas

When you request your Canvas site you will be given the option of downloading an export of materials from your previous Blackboard site.  You'll be able to import this material into Canvas.

Support staff are available to help you materials from Blackboard to Canvas.

Some instructors find that it's easier to start from scratch and manually build up materials in Canvas. Others may find it easier to do the bulk import.

Help is available.

There are lots of ways to get help with Canvas. The Penn Library has a very helpful Canvas starter page with links to tutorials and other resources.

Penn offers lots of workshops for beginners and advanced users.

Communicate with your students through Canvas

You can communicate with your students — collectively or individually — through Canvas.  By default, the email address for all Canvas users is set to the address as listed in the Penn directory.

Collect and grade assignments online.

When you use the Assignments tool in Canvas, your students can submit their papers or other work online; you can then easily review, comment on, and grade their work through the SpeedGrader.