Canvas Orientation

What is Canvas?

Canvas is the University of Washington Learning Management System. UW courses use Canvas to build course web sites. Canvas course web sites are used to distribute course materials, communicate with students, and conduct assessment activities like quizzing and grading.

Every regional section of a course or block has a Canvas web site. For example, the Block Mind, Brain and Behavior has 6 sections, one for each campus in the WWAMI region, and there is a Canvas course web site for each of those sections.

Block faculty usually develop content in a shared “master” Canvas site, accessible only to the faculty. That content is then copied into the regional Canvas sites that students access.

Canvas address (UW Net ID required):

Block web site life cycle

  1. Block faculty design and develop a “master” web site.
  2. The “Master” web site is copied into 6 regional web sites.
  3. Regional web sites are published before the block begins and students begin to access the web sites.
  4. Students and faculty access the Canvas course for their WWAMI region to view course materials, schedules and media.
  5. Grading
    1. Exam grades are entered in Canvas gradebooks by assessment administrators.
    2. Final grades are submitted by block directors at the end of the UW quarter.
  6. After a block ends, students retain access to the block web sites for 1 year.

Gaining access

Students and faculty have access to the most current version of a block web site in every region. To access a course, log on to with your UW Net ID. If you do not have a UW Net ID, contact your local WWAMI coordinator. Follow these steps to find and bookmark course links:

  1. Log on to with your UW Net ID & click the Courses button on the left.
  2. In the Courses menu, click All Courses. This will display links to all your courses.
  3. Add a course to your Courses menu by “starring” the course.

Class communications and email notifications

Notifications about course and block activities should be sent in email to the appropriate MS 1 or MS 2 distribution lists. Email to the lists is preferred over Canvas announcements and/or the Canvas Inbox.

Canvas sends email notifications when there is activity in your courses. Changes to your notification settings will apply to all of your courses.

  1. Log on to
  2. Click Account (left hand side).
  3. Click Notifications.
  4. Set frequency for each type of Notification (never, daily, weekly or immediately).

Time zone

  1. Log on to
  2. Click Account (left hand side).
  3. Click Settings and then click Edit Settings.
  4. Choose Time Zone.
  5. Click Update Settings.


Modules are used to organize course content into weeks on the home page of the block web site. Modules can contain links to Canvas pages, files and media. Modules, and the content items within modules, can be re-arranged by clicking and dragging.

  1. In the left navigation, click Modules (or Home).
  2. Click “+ Module” (right).
  3. Enter a name for the module. Click Add Module to finish.
  4. Click the Publish icon (cloud icon) to make a module or the contents of a module visible to students.


Use Pages to post class instructions, announcements & reading lists.

Pages – Add a new Page to a Module

  1. To add a Page to a Module, click the “+” icon on the title bar of the Module.
  2. Select Content Page in the Add menu.
  3. Click New Page. Enter a title and click Add Item.
  4. To add content to the page, click on the title of the page and then click Edit. In the field provided, add text, links or images, using the toolbar above the field.
  5. Click Save when revisions are complete.
  6. Click the Publish icon to make the page accessible to students.

Pages – Edit existing Pages

  1. Click on the title of a page in a Module, or a page listed in the Pages tab.
  2. On the page, click Edit.
  3. In the field provided, add text, links or images, using the toolbar above the field.
  4. In the Links/Files/Images tabs (right), click items to add links to files, pages or quizzes.
  5. Click Save to finish.
  6. Click the Publish icon to make the page accessible to students.

Links (External URLS) – Add a Link to a Module

Use Links to direct students to web sites like Youtube, or other resources outside of your course.

  1. To add a Link to a Module, click the “+” icon on the title bar of the Module.
  2. Select External URL in the Add menu and enter the URL.
  3. Click Add Item to finish.
  4. Click the Publish icon to make the link accessible to students.

Files – Add a file to your course

Word, Excel, PDF and image files can be stored in the Files tab.

  1. Click the Files tab (left hand navigation).
  2. Click Upload.
  3. Browse to find your file and click Open. Alternately, you can drag a file into the file list to upload it.
  4. After a file has been added to the course, it can be linked in a Module or Page.

Files – Add a folder

Within the Files tab, click “+ Folder” to add new folders.

Files – Update / Replace a file

To replace a file, in the Files tab, simply drag the new version into the folder containing the older version. Canvas will prompt you to overwrite or create a new file.

Granting Access

Faculty and staff users – contact your regional coordinator.

Students – Students will receive “Student” access to the web site when it is published, based on their enrollment. Students will also receive “Observer” access to the other regional web sites.

Publishing the web site

Publish the web site to make it accessible to students. On the home page, click the Publish button (right side menu). Do not change course start and end dates.

Other technologies integrated with Canvas

Mediasite – Mediasite is the school’s video platform. All video content, such as lecture recordings and narrated presentations, should be stored in Mediasite, not Canvas. For more information on Mediasite, see

Opal QM – Opal QM is the School of Medicine’s curriculum management system. It supports accreditation, Foundations Phase scheduling, and curriculum archiving. Information about each session in a block, such as session type, learning objectives, instructor, is stored in an Opal QM session page. For more about Opal QM see

Support and Contacts

Canvas How-To’s:

Canvas and Mediasite:

Opal and curriculum:

Password and log on issues: