Canvas FAQ



Getting Started

How do I access Canvas?

Click on the link in My Sunderland to go straight into Canvas, or use the direct link:

How do I reset my password?

University staff can reset their password via

If you aren’t University staff i.e. a mentor or external examiner then please speak to your contact within the University who will be able to put you in contact with the relevant people.

Are there online guides for Canvas?

Everyone is automatically enrolled onto a 'Getting Started with Canvas' module, and there are many other resources available online.

There is the Canvas instructor guide and this self-paced Canvas video tour from Instructure.

There are also Canvas training webinars offered every day that faculty have access to.

Some other institutions have publicly shared their Canvas instructor training courses, such as: IndianaRichlandCSU-CI, and other universities.

Why is 'Course' used sometimes instead of 'Module'?

Canvas has been built in the US and, at least initially, for the US market, However, Instructure have since released a language pack for the UK higher education sector which we have installed here at Sunderland. This language pack updates some of the terminology used in Canvas itself, but the help guides and materials still use US terminology. The two key changes are: 'Course' becomes 'Module' in the UK language pack, and 'Module' becomes 'Unit'.

Help and Support

How do I get help with Canvas?

Click on the 'Help' icon in the bottom left of the blue navigation menu in Canvas to search the guides, live chat with Canvas support or contact Canvas directly using the telephone number provided.

Where can I sign up for training in Canvas?

The Learning Technology Team offer a range of staff development sessions to enable people to use Canvas. Future sessions are listed at

If you have not used Canvas before then we recommend that you sign up to our Canvas Basics session which runs fortnightly throughout the year.How can I join the Canvas Community?

You can join and follow several groups on the Canvas Community site, such as groups dedicated to Accessibility, Canvas Migration, etc. To follow and contribute to the site, you need to be logged in with your Canvas account. See How do I log into the Community with my Canvas Account? The Canvas community is easy to engage with and there is a series of guides for those who want to know more.

How will my students know how to use Canvas?

Students need to be able to access the teaching materials that you have made available to them through Canvas. If you have uploaded content and made it available to students then you know how to access it. You are therefore the best person to deliver the induction for your module, which includes the use of Canvas in your teaching. We have provided the PowerPoint slides as an aid to student induction and you can use them as they are, or edit them to cover anything specific to your teaching.


All students will have access to a module within Canvas called ‘US-Getting Started with Canvas’ which will help to orientate them. This includes video guides for students that give an overview of Canvas. You can also find this from Help > Search the Canvas Guides > Video Guides > Canvas Overview. There are also extensive help options from the Canvas Menu which should have been covered in your training session/s.

What new features are in Canvas? How can I stay up to date?

Canvas updates their production version every 3 weeks. Here are the notes for each Canvas release on the Canvas Community site. Click the Follow button on the top right to subscribe to release notes.


Why can’t students see the content I’ve uploaded?

There are two common issues that can lead to a student not being able to access the content:

  • The module and/or the content may not be published. Ensure that the module itself is published as well as the relevant units and content items within each unit.
  • Student’s may not have access to the module. Check in the People section of the module to see if the students are enrolled on the module space. If they are missing then check with Programme Support to ensure that the SITS record is up-to-date.

If after both of these have been checked, the student still can’t access the content then please email so the issue can be investigated further.

What do I do if I’ve noticed my name is wrong or not spelled correctly?

Names in Canvas are pulled through from other university systems. SITs provides the student names and the HR system provides staff names. If you spot an error with a student's name, please contact your Programme Support team who can check the SITS data is correct. If there is an error with a staff name, please check with your HR advisor that this is held correctly.

Unfortunately, at this time the change will not automatically feed into Canvas. If you email then we will update Canvas, as long as the name has been updated in the other systems first.

Why doesn’t my module have the standard template applied?

The module template should be applied by default, however this does get missed from some modules from time to time. If you don’t have the template applied then please email and they will reapply the template to your module.

Module Access

How do I gain access to a module?

Staff enrolment on Canvas spaces is only automated for the module leader. If you are a module leader then you will be added to your modules as soon as the space is created.

I’m module leader, why is my module not appearing in Canvas?

If, as module leader, you’ve not been automatically added to the module in Canvas you will need to contact programme support. Programme Support will check that the module record has been created in SITS and that you are named as the module leader on the record.

How do I add other staff to my module?

Teaching team access

Module leaders can add other teachers to their module spaces. Use the People section within the module to do this.

Partner access

Module Leaders can add TNE partner staff with Sunderland IT accounts to their module spaces. Use the People section within the module to do this.

External examiner access

Module leaders can add external examiners with Sunderland IT accounts to their module spaces. Use the People section within the module to do this.

How are students added to my module?

Students are added automatically via an import which runs regularly throughout the working day. The students must be attached to their programme and modules in SITS before they can be added to the relevant module in Canvas.

How can the Mentors on my course gain access to Canvas?

The process is:

  • Faculties select mentors and pass the mentor information to HR
  • HR record information in HR system
  • Technical Services create IT accounts
  • Technical Services provide IT access to required system - Canvas

How do partner college staff gain access to Canvas?

If partner college staff that are teaching Sunderland programmes need access to Canvas then they require a university IT account.

To request a University IT account, please contact your faculty representative in the programme support team. Programme support will provide you with an application form that you should complete and return to them. Your faculty will authorise and process your request.

Managing Canvas

Can students see my module before the start date?

Only if the module is Published (button on top right of course) AND you have unchecked the module setting: “Restrict students from viewing module before start date.” See How do I restrict student access to a course before or after the course dates? for more information.

How do I merge multiple modules spaces into one combined space?

Spaces can be merged by the IT department. Please raise any requests for spaces to be merged via programme support who will contact the IT department on your behalf.

What do I need to do to get my module ready at the start of the semester?

See this Canvas Start of the Semester Instructor Checklist for some items to check before your module starts, such as making sure everything is published in your module that needs to be published.

What are the Master modules for?

If you are a module leader, you should have access to master module spaces (named MASTER in the title) that you can use to build out your content.

There are no students attached to the master module spaces. Students are automatically added to the correct Canvas module spaces for their cohort.

After you have built the content in the master module you can copy the content to the live instances for each cohort of students.  

As students can only see content that you have published, please remember to publish the instances when they are needed.

What is the standard content of a Module Space in Canvas?

Modules in Canvas are created from a template that includes the following:

  • Welcome message (A place for the academics to orient their students to the module).
  • My module resources (Link to reading information in Rebus List)
  • Study skills (Link to the Study Skills information on the library website. This was previously called skills for learning).
  • Module feedback (A standard questionnaire to survey students).
  • Module guide (Place for academics to upload the standard module guide).

What is the standard content of a Programme Space in Canvas?

The programme spaces are pre-populated with the following Units to meet requirements of the Academic Registry and the Student Success Strategy.

  • Welcome (introduction welcoming students to the programme).
  • Programme Specification
  • Programme Handbook
  • Student Handbook
  • Academic Open Hours (details of Academic Open Hours and / or details on how students can contact the Programme Leader).
  • Academic Calendar (details of teaching and assessment weeks).
  • Study Skills Support
  • Personal Wellbeing
  • SSLC Minutes (link to the approved minutes of the SSLC when they are available.

What are some sample Canvas modules and templates?

See Example Courses by Subject for some sample courses. You can also enroll in public Canvas courses (MOOCs) on (the University had written one of these on the subject of Participatory Arts!) or import and test out courses from the Canvas Commons repository. 

You can also find publicly shared Canvas modules through Google search, by restricting the search to the or domains. Example query: "public speaking" syllabus ( OR

In the Canvas Commons you can search and find several Canvas course templates and resources, including:

This Visual Design in Canvas course has some tips on creating your own visual page and module designs.

How do I add My Module Resources to my module?

My Module Resources should be added to your module automatically. You should find the link positioned with in the Welcome Unit in each module. If this is not the case then please contact CELT with details of the missing MMR.

Why is My Module Resources not working?

There is currently a bug with My Module Resources when viewing the list as a member of staff within Canvas. To check that the list is working correctly please view the item using the Student View function.

Using Canvas

Where is the student view?

Go to your Module, then Settings (on the bottom left), and you’ll see the Student View button on the top right.

See How do I view a course using a test student? for more details.

What is the difference between Pages and Units?

Pages are static web pages. They are meant to hold content, like text, embedded videos, links to outside resources, etc. Units let you sequence and organize your content and activities. A unit might contain one or more pages, plus an assignment, a pdf file, a quiz, and so forth. With a unit, you can set the sequence and whether or not students are required to view or complete an item in a unit. Units help students understand what they need to do in your module.

Here are different examples of ways to organize a module.

How do I get my Modules to show up on the short list in the Dashboard?

Click “All modules” under Modules then “star” the courses you want to show on the short list.

Will Canvas work with my browser?

Canvas is compatible with pretty much all major browsers and devices, provided you have updated them. See Which browsers does Canvas support? for a specific list of browser versions that are compatible with Canvas.

Does Canvas work on my phone?

You can access Canvas using your mobile phone's web browser, but there are also Canvas apps for Android and iPad/iPhone. These apps are aimed at students, but a Canvas Teacher app is due to be released shortly. The Canvas Guide to Android and Guide to iOS has more documentation.

Until the Teacher app is available, there is a separate SpeedGrader app for Android and iPad/iPhone for quickly grading assignments from a tablet. Here are the Canvas Guide pages for SpeedGrader

How do I add or change a link in the left-hand navigation menu?

In Canvas, you cannot add new links to the navigation menu, only remove, hide, or change the order of links.* If an item is greyed out, it means you can see it, but students can’t. See How do I reorder and hide Course Navigation links? for more information, and use the Student View (see above) to double check how your module and navigation looks to your students.  

There is a 3rd party app that allows you to add links to the Canvas navigation menu. See these instructions on using the Redirect tool.

How do I manage and access my test banks?

If you click on Quizzes in the navigation for your Canvas module, you can then click on the gear icon on the top right and select "Manage Question Banks" to see the test banks. See also How do I create a question bank in a course? and Creating and Using Question Banks.

And if you bookmark a question bank, it will be accessible in other modules.

What third party apps work with Canvas?

There are hundreds of apps compatible with Canvas listed on EduAppCenter. You can add them by going to your course -> Settings -> Apps. One example third party app is the Piazza question and answer forum tool. To add some third party apps, you may need a consumer key, shared secret, and launch URL (for example, see these instructions for adding Piazza to Canvas). If you cannot find these through a search or through contacting the third party vendor, please contact your IT support.

How do I transfer or copy teaching material from one Canvas course to another?

There is a detailed help guide from Canvas Support on how to import material from one course space to another here: . This is a quick summary, for your convenience: go to your new module, click on Settings, click on Import module content and then select ‘Copy a Canvas module’ and select the module you would like to import from. Indicate whether you wish to import all content or just a selection and click ‘Import’. When the process is completed, please go to Units to review the copied material, delete the duplicated welcome page and hide or delete any unwanted material, like the assignment question for the previous cohort.

When should I publish my module to students?

As Module Leader, you choose when to publish Canvas module content to students.  Please upload your Module Guide and release it with content needed for the start of each module’s teaching period, (Sem 1, Sem 2, etc). You may choose to publish other content as teaching progresses, manually or by using timed release. It is also important to remember to publish the module itself via the module home screen.

Turnitin and Assessment

How can I access old student assignments in Turnitin?

Student assignments that were uploaded thought SunSpace to Turnitin are still available, directly through Turnitin’s interface.

How do I use Turnitin in Canvas?

Dallas E Hulsey's blog on the Canvas Community site provides all the information you need. 

Why are my students seeing an incorrect final module grade in the Grades section of Canvas?

The Grades section of Canvas gives an overview of all forms of assessment on a module. Marks for each assessment are displayed in the relevant column for each student. There is then a Total column at the end of the table, this gives a total grade based on all of the assessments in the module. This total is calculated based on each assessment being weighted equally. If your assessments have different weightings then this results in an incorrect total grade being displayed. The Total column cannot be hidden from students, therefore we recommend that you apply the weightings to your assignments in Canvas. The weightings can only be added to ‘Assignment Groups’ therefore you will need to have each assessment in its own assignment group, the following guides will explain how this can be done; 

How do I add an assignment group in a course?

How do I weight the final course grade based on assignment groups?

Alternatively, you can hide the Grades feature from the student view so that they do not see the incorrect total. The downside to this is that the student cannot see an overview of their individual assignment marks within the module. Instead they will have to click in to each assignment within the Assignments section to see the relevant marks and no final grade.


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