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Canvas FAQs

Unlock the full potential of Canvas with our FAQ guide, providing quick and comprehensive answers to your questions about the learning management system.

Canvas course basics

Where can I find comprehensive guidance on utilising Canvas features effectively?

Canvas functionality guidance is available through various resources. For a detailed understanding of Canvas features, you can explore the following guides:

  1. Get started in Canvas: This guide provides essential guidance for teachers embarking on their Canvas journey. It covers foundational aspects, including initial login procedures and provides a comprehensive introduction to navigating and utilising Canvas features.
  2. Adding course content: The page delves into the process of enriching courses with engaging materials. It provides step-by-step instructions on incorporating diverse content types, such as files, modules, and readings. Instructors can explore this resource to efficiently organise and present course content, fostering an effective learning environment within the Canvas platform.
  3. Communication tools: the page details the array of communication features available. Teachers can discover how to utilise tools like Announcements and the Canvas Inbox, ensuring streamlined, interactive and accessible communication with students.
  4. Collaboration Tools Guide: Explore this guide to provide insights into fostering collaboration and interaction among students. It explores various tools designed to enhance group work, discussions, and collaborative projects within Canvas.

These resources cover a spectrum of Canvas functionality, providing teachers with valuable insights to optimise their use of Canvas features for effective teaching.

Canvas course types and templates

Who has access to manually created Canvas courses?

Three access options exist for manually created courses. These can be found under the visibility option within the course settings.

  1. Course level access – if your has given you ‘course access coordinator’ role, you can manually add/enrol additional staff or students. Enrolling students is done automatically for credit-bearing courses.* If you have externals requiring access, refer to this FAQ.
    • Anyone enrolled in your course will see the course tile on their Canvas dashboard.
    • Participants are able to take part in activities, such as a quiz or a discussion.
  2. Institution level access – all staff and students (current and past) can view the course.
    • No enrolment process is required though the course access coordinator can add/enrol staff or students manually if required.*
    • Anyone enrolled in your course will see the course tile on their Canvas dashboard.
    • Activities like quizzes and discussions are available only to those who are enrolled.
  3. Public access – the course is made publicly accessible.
    • Activities like quizzes and discussions are not available.
    • No enrolment process is required.

* Note: Course access coordinators and course access authorisers can add people with staff or student roles for manually created courses but they can only assign staff roles to credit-bearing courses; students have to enrol through Student Services Online. Find out who your course access coordinator is via the People section of your course.

View a comparison chart of Canvas features for course level, institution level, and public level access.

For further support: you can log a request through IT portal formManually Created Courses in Canvas.

How do you combine two or more courses in Canvas (i.e., cross-listing courses)?

Cross-listed courses in Canvas consolidate multiple courses with identical content or different course codes into one primary course. Students enrolled in cross-listed courses are treated as sections within the primary course, granting them access to all shared content, such as files, modules, and readings. It’s important to clearly label course-specific content. However, cross-listing is not recommended if there’s a possibility of students enrolling in multiple cross-listed courses due to gradebook limitations. Announcements made in a cross-listed course reach all students in the primary course, and communication can be managed through Announcements or Canvas Inbox. The course summary provides analytics for the entire cross-listed course, and grades must be submitted collectively for all cross-listed courses during examinations.

If you would like to request a course to be cross-listed, please do so via the portal: .

Read full guide on Canvas course types and templates page.

How to apply for a manually created course?

Please obtain an approval for your course from your faculty’s course management authoriser, listed below, then  through the web portal. Make sure you attach proof of this approval. Non-faculty users should attach proof of approval from your manager.

Each course will be considered on a case by case basis.

  • Faculty of Arts
    Lindsay Diggelmann | Associate Dean – Teaching and Learning
  • Business School
    Susan Laurenson | Associate Dean – Teaching and Learning
  • Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries
    Richard Durham | Curriculum Development Manager
  • Faculty of Education and Social Work
    Lawrence May | Curriculum Development Manager
  • Faculty of Engineering
    Enrique del Rey Castillo | Associate Dean – Faculty of Engineering Administration
  • Faculty of Law
    Sarah-Jane Crewther | Group Services Administrator
  • Faculty of Medical Health Sciences
    John Egan | Associate Dean – Learning and Teaching
  • Faculty of Science
    Andrew Luxton-Reilly | Associate Dean – Learning and Teaching

For further support: you can log a request through IT portal formManually Created Courses in Canvas.

Access to courses, roles and permissions

When do staff have access to a Canvas course for the next year?

Please see the for this topic.

As a staff member, how do I get access to a Canvas course?

Twice a year faculty authorisers will ‘bulk upload’ instructors (teachers, TAs, teaching support staff etc.) to the course shells within their area. The recommended timeframe for this process is:

  • For the first half of the next academic year (Summer School, Semester One, Quarter One, Quarter Two) the suggested timeframe is November to December.
  • For the second half of the current academic year (Semester Two, Quarter Three, Quarter Four) the suggested timeframe is April to May.

If you haven’t received access as part of this process, you should ask your course access coordinator in the first instance to add you to the course; look for your course access coordinator in the list of people in your course. Alternatively, please raise a request with your .

To understand what role type you should request, please review the various role types.

As a course access coordinator, how do I grant other staff access to my Canvas course?

Please see the Canvas Instructor Guide for this topic.

How do I request access to a past course  ?

After logging into Canvas, in the Global Navigation, click on the “Courses” link, then select “All Courses”. Courses are organised into categories, including “All Courses,” “Past Enrollments,” “Future Enrollments,” and “Groups”.

  • All Courses display those currently active or part of the ongoing term, with published courses listed in blue text.
  • Past Enrollments feature read-only archived courses, while Future Enrollments showcase upcoming courses.
  • In the “Groups” section, you can find any groups you’re enrolled in within your current courses.
  • The “Find Course ID” section provides guidance on locating your Course ID number in the course URL.

For more information about accessing your courses, visit the Instructure Canvas guide.

I have interns or visitors who do not have a University login, how do I enrol them as students in my course?

Only those with a UoA identity can have a Canvas account. ‘LMS affiliation’ is then added to their profile so they can be granted access to a course.

  1. Please ask any visitors to self-register for a UoA identity and then send you their assigned username and ID. Ask them to visit: how to register with the University.
  2. and provide your visitors’ usernames and IDs in the notes field of the request form (this can be done as a bulk request). Ask to have them added to the Canvas Ad Hoc User Group; this adds ‘LMS affiliation’ to their profile. Also explain the reason and duration for their access.
  3. Once they have LMS affiliation—an overnight process—your course access coordinator can add them to your course as students, but only for manually created courses. For credit-bearing courses, course access coordinators (and ) can only add staff roles.* Find out who your course access coordinator is via the People section of your course.

With ‘LMS affiliation’, your visitors can also view any courses published with institution level access. See: manually created courses for more detail.

*Note: For credit-bearing courses, students have to enrol through Student Services Online.

I am ready to set up my Summer School course but I don't have access to it yet.

In this case, please create a dummy course in Canvas; see How to create dummy course. Please name the dummy course appropriately so that you are able to distinguish it from the official course when you are given course access.

Once the official course has been created and you have access, import the content of dummy course into the official course. See How do I import content from another Canvas Course?

How do students get access to the Academic Integrity course?

All new students are ‘bulk enrolled’ into the Academic Integrity course in Canvas (ACADINT A01) by Academic Services. If a student has somehow missed out on being enrolled, Course Access Authorisers can enrol them retrospectively. Please email the student’s username and ID number to:

For information on when students are expected to complete the course and what content is covered, see: a background to the Academic Integrity course.

How does the observer role in Canvas interact with restricted assignments?

The observer role in Canvas plays a crucial role in providing access to course content, including assignments.

  • Observers cannot view assignments that are unpublished, ensuring confidentiality until the teachers makes them accessible.
  • Published assignments, even if locked or restricted with availability dates in the future, are visible to observers, allowing them to preview upcoming assessment tasks.
  • Observers receive email notifications for published assignments and new assessment updates.
  • In specific scenarios, students with pending enrollment may be granted observer access when there are delays in CS9 official enrolment and the course has already started.

It is imperative to remove the observer role from a student once they are officially enrolled to prevent unauthorised access to restricted assessment information. Similarly, remove observers once the course ‘census date’ has lapsed (i.e., the grace period for paying course fees and moving between courses has ended), regardless of whether their student role has been assigned or not. Otherwise you are essentially allowing them free access to a course that they may not be entitled to. Course coordinators can use a provided workaround to remove the observer role from a student in the course.

This comprehensive approach ensures the integrity of data security and promotes a streamlined process for teachers and coordinators.

Adding course content

I can view my course but I cannot add content.

You may have been granted the course access coordinator role on the course (enabling you to have access to the course) but you don’t also have a role that allows you to add/edit content. Roles that enable this are teacher, Course Director (there should only be one Course Director assigned to a course) and teaching assistant. With course access coordinator role, you can grant yourself with addition roles on the course.

Review the various role types, then under the People section add yourself with one of the additional roles; see the Canvas Instructor Guide.

If you are not a course access coordinator but need to author content, ask your course access coordinator in the first instance to edit your role; look for your course access coordinator in the list of people in your course. Alternatively, please raise a request with your .

How does the University of Auckland handle lecture recordings, and what resources are available for understanding the policies?

Lecture theatre recordings resources provides insights into the University’s approach to recording teaching materials. It covers tools and strategies for recording lectures, enhancing the learning experience through technology.

The Lecture Capture Release Policy and Procedures page on the University of Auckland’s policy hub outline the specific policies and procedures governing the release of lecture capture materials. It covers aspects such as student consent, privacy considerations, and the university’s approach to recording and distributing lecture content.

For further inquiries or support related to lecture recordings, including the use of Panopto, you can submit a request through the IT portal form.

How can I address course storage queries and manage storage effectively within Canvas?

Managing course storage is crucial for optimal performance and resource allocation when adding content into your Canvas course. Some tips to address course storage and enhance storage management within Canvas are as follows:

  1. Monitor storage usage within your courses in the Files function. All courses are given 5.2GB storage within Canvas.
  2. Effectively reduce storage consumption by utilising tools like Panopto, Zoom, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive.

Canvas tools and plugins

Which tools are supported by Instructure Support, L&T Enterprise, and Vendors?

Instructure Support provides assistance for various tools within Canvas.

Canvas utilises Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) to seamlessly integrate third-party tools, enhancing the overall educational experience. The University of Auckland offers a range of centrally supported learning technologies for staff.

The course navigation menu provides access to various LTIs and apps, including but not limited to Talis Reading Lists, H5P interactive content, UDOIT accessibility assistant, Collaborations (Microsoft OneDrive), BigBlueButton Conferences, Zoom video conferencing, and more.

Certain LTIs and external apps are accessible through the rich text editor Apps menu, including H5P interactive content, Khan Academy, Microsoft OneDrive, Panopto Video, Vimeo, YouTube, and UoA Canvas icons.

Specific LTIs and external apps are accessible in Assignment settings under the ‘external tool’ option, such as Inspera assessment platform, Turnitin plagiarism detection, and PeerMark peer review.

For an updated list of integrated LTIs, apps and plugins, please refer to the Canvas Tools and Plugins page.


How can I utilise external tools within Canvas to enhance my course?

External tool guidance in Canvas involves exploring various integrations and technologies to augment the teaching and learning environment. Here’s a guide to utilising external tools:

  1. Canvas tools and plugins: This resource provides an overview of functionalities that seamlessly integrate with Canvas.

  2. LTIs in Canvas: Learn about Learning Tools Interoperability (LTIs) and how they can enhance your Canvas experience.

  3. Other tools: Beyond Canvas-specific tools, explore additional technologies that can complement teaching practices.

  4. Turnitin Integration: Turnitin is a tool commonly used for plagiarism detection and feedback. Understand how Turnitin integrates with Canvas to enhance assessment processes.

If you encounter issues or need support with external tools, submit a request through the IT portal for assistance.

Marking and grading

How can I effectively manage grades and navigate the Gradebook in Canvas?

Navigating the Gradebook and managing final grades in Canvas is crucial for teachers to ensure a smooth assessment process. Here’s guidance to help you manage the Gradebook and finalise grades:

  • Marking and grading: The page provides valuable insights into the assessment process. It covers essential aspects of marking and grading, offering guidance on effective evaluation strategies for instructors. Whether it is understanding assessment criteria or implementing fair and consistent grading practices, this resource serves as a comprehensive guide for teachers seeking to enhance their assessment practices.
  • Feedback tools in assessment: The “Feedback Tools in Assessment” page explores various tools and techniques for providing constructive feedback to students. Instructors can find information on diverse feedback methods, including digital tools and traditional approaches. This resource is tailored for educators aiming to improve the feedback loop, fostering a more engaging and supportive learning environment for students.
  • Canvas Gradebook: Teachers can find information on using the Gradebook effectively for tracking student progress, managing grades, and providing timely feedback. This resource is particularly beneficial for teachers looking to optimise the use of digital tools for efficient grading and assessment management within the Canvas.

The SSO Grade Submit (Final Grade Submission Tool) facilitates the addition of special grades and the submission of final grades to Student Services Online (SSO). This tool is conveniently accessible through the Canvas Gradebook as well. Read further guidance for the Final Grade Submission Tool.


Student activity / attendance

How can I create a student attendance/completion/achievement list?

You could do this from the course gradebook.

  1. In your course, click Grades from the side menu.
  2. Click the Export drop-down list (top-right).
  3. Click Export Entire Gradebook or Current Gradebook View (if you have applied filters).

This will download an Excel file to your desktop containing the students’ names, ID numbers, email addresses, etc.

  1. In Excel, delete any columns that you don’t need and add additional columns for activities that you want to track.


Support options are available through the Staff Service Centre or the 24-hour hotline. Please visit the learning technology support page for details.

Page updated: 06/03/2024 (added student attendance FAQ)

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