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Teaching Using Canvas: Frequently Asked Questions

Common Instructional Concerns and Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions are listed below with answers specific to our UW-Superior Canvas learning management system (LMS) part of our digital learning environment (DLE). If you need assistance, remember the Center for Learning, Innovation and Collaboration (CLIC) Instructional Support Team is ready to provide:

  • Individual instructor consultations
  • Rapid course deployment assistance
  • Instructional Design support
  • Assessment strategy support
  • External App integrations with textbook resources and third-party tools

What equipment and sites do I need to continue my course in Canvas?

You will need a few resources to effectively continue your site-based course in Canvas:

  • Laptop or Desktop Computer
    Note: Mobile devices and tablets work with Canvas, but are best used to consume content, versus designing or setting up a course.
  • Internet access
  • Campus Email

Do I meet with my students at the same time, only online?

The UW-Superior Canvas LMS has 2 web conferencing application choices available, Zoom or Collaborate Ultra as integrated services. Please Note: Courses identified as Hybrid/Flex courses for Fall 2020 will be taught online with at least one real-time virtual class meeting per week at the date/time scheduled for the course. You can meet at the same time as your scheduled class using either of these options. Communicate early to students what your expectation are and provide them with a link to the Zoom session or Collaborate Ultra room to be used for that section.

Please remember that both internet connectivity and emergency conditions could limit students’ participation. Offer flexibility and accommodations where possible.

How can I take attendance?

The Canvas Attendance tool was designed for this purpose.

Canvas Guides: How do I use the Roll Call Attendance tool in a course?

Please communicate your expectations to students as soon as possible, including discussion parameters and assignment due dates. You can schedule personal check-ins via Collaborate Ultra, Zoom or phone.

How do I make my documents, articles, and other materials into PDFs?

The simplest way to do this is to use your software’s Export As PDF function or Print As PDF from your browser. LinkedIn Learning shows how to do this in more detail. Remember that this process might vary depending on the software you utilize, your device, and your device’s operating system.

Please check in with the Technology Help Desk for assistance converting documents to PDF.

Where can I put my documents and course materials so students can access them easily?

We recommend creating Modules in your Canvas course to house your course materials. You can then create Canvas pages, upload existing documents, or create new items as necessary.

Canvas Guides: How do I add assignments, pages, and files as module items?

How can I find other teaching materials about my subject area already designed for online teaching and learning?

Adding library resources to your course, such as e-books or articles in scholarly journals, is a great way to share course materials without worrying about uploading PDFs. The Springshare LibGuides External App is a seamless way to navigate and add these resources to a Canvas course.

Reach out to if you would like to enable the Springshare LibGuides app in your course.

Jim Dan Hill Library - Instructor Resources

Springshare Libguides - Vendor Page

How do I conduct an online discussion? What are best practices to foster collaboration and community online?

Online discussions can be as fruitful as face-to-face discussions. Working from specific learning objectives, create precise topical prompts and ask students to respond to each other within a certain time frame. Frequently participate in the discussion to guide students, answer questions, and encourage critical thinking.

You can conduct text-based discussions in Canvas using the Canvas Discussions tool. The guide linked below outlines a variety of options to choose from in order to customize a discussion for your course.

Canvas Guides: How do I create a discussion as an instructor?

If you would like to meet with your students individually or as a whole class at a scheduled time, setup a web conference with Zoom or Collaborate Ultra. Let your students know in advance so they can arrange for access to a microphone and/or webcam. They may be able to access video discussions with their mobile device or tablet, but a computer will make it easier to use Zoom or Collaborate Ultra chat function or share content during the discussion.

Can I record my lecture or share my PowerPoint presentations with students through Canvas?

You can record lectures as a video or audio recording with a wide range of tools, including some that are integrated into Canvas, such as Kaltura Capture, located in MyMedia in your Canvas user account. Most of these tools allow you to share your screen, file, or whiteboard while recording your voice at the same time.

Distance Learning Environment Knowledgebase: Recording Video with Kaltura Capture

Consider breaking your longer presentations into shorter topic-specific units. Shorter segments:

  • Are easier for the instructor to record
  • Create smaller digital files to upload and store in your course
  • Are more efficient for students to review and retain
  • Are easier for students to access on a mobile device

How do I meet with my students for remote office hours, advising, or mentoring?

Zoom or Collaborate Ultra will allow you to meet with students one-on-one or in groups via web conferencing. Participants should utilize a microphone, webcam, headset, or mobile device so they’re able to speak and/or be on camera.

For office hours, communicate your schedule to students and then setup an open Zoom or Collaborate Ultra session inside your course. Log into your Zoom or Collaborate Ultra session during your scheduled office hours.

For individual meetings, setup a unique scheduled Zoom or Collaborate Ultra session and invite the necessary student or students to that session. This workflow ensures only you and the correct student are able to log in.

How can students work in small groups online?

There are multiple Canvas features that facilitate group interaction in a course:

  • The Groups function, for setting up small groups
  • The Collaborations tool, for project-based learning
  • Zoom or Collaborate Ultra, for live web meetings

Please reach out to the CLIC Instructional Support Team to discuss the best fit for your course’s learning objectives.

How can students deliver presentations online?

Students can use their computer, mobile device, tablet, or digital video camera to record themselves and upload their video to Canvas. Students also have access to MyMedia as part of their Canvas User account which includes several web recording tools including Kaltura Capture. Students should be encouraged to use their MyMedia account in Canvas to store and manage video projects and assignments. Setup assignments in your course so students know where to submit their presentation. Also, be sure to assign a deadline to these activities, write a detailed prompt, and communicate to students what file formats are acceptable.

Consider checking in with students about their ability to record video, depending on the quality of their device. Alternatively, you can allow them to present in an open Zoom or Collaborate Ultra session to better approximate presenting to a live audience.

How do I collect student work and grade it confidentially online?

Due to FERPA regulations, it's important to collect student work in a secure and private manner. Utilizing the Canvas Assignments function will make this process simpler for your students and allow you to efficiently grade their submissions.

Setup an assignment for each course activity so students have a dedicated place to submit their work. Assign a deadline to these activities, write detailed assignment instructions, and communicate to students what file formats are acceptable for their submissions. Each student submission will be linked to their individual user account and can be graded accordingly, which will automatically populate your course Grades display.

The Assignments tool is automatically linked to Grades, Speed Grader, Calendar, and the To Do list shown on the Canvas Dashboard.

Canvas Guides: How do I create an assignment?

Canvas Guides: What assignment types can I create in a course?

FERPA Resources

How do I recreate my assignments and quizzes in Canvas?

Canvas allows instructors to import quiz banks from textbook publishers that can then be used to create robust assessments. If you’d like assistance setting up an assignment, creating a quiz, importing a quiz bank, or exploring assessment options in Canvas, please reach out to the CLIC Instructional Support Team at or Canvas Support via the Canvas Help menu.

Canvas Guides: How do I create an assignment?

Canvas Guides: How do I create a quiz with individual questions?

Continue to Part Three: Instructional Guidelines