Use our frequently asked questions to find answers to some of the commmon questions we get asked about Canvas.
- Why can’t I see my modules as a student?
If you cannot seem to access a Canvas module that you were expecting to see, there are a few things to check.
- Look in your list of modules. If you are using the Card View display on your Dashboard and have marked any modules as favourites, these are the only ones that will be displayed. To see all the modules you are enrolled on, select modules from the navigation and click all modules. You may need to scroll down to see all modules. You can now click the ‘star’ icon to add any of these modules to your dashboard. Clicking on the module name will also take you into it, as long as your tutor has published the module. On the Canvas Student app, you’ll need to go to the dashboard tab, then tap “See all” to see all your modules.
- Check past and future enrolments. Some modules will be listed as past enrolments or future enrolments if they are for previous or future terms. Before term starts you can access any modules that have been published by the tutors, although you will have to wait for the start of term before you can carry out activities like quizzes or discussions.
- Check that your module has been published. If the module you are looking for is in your list of modules there will be an indication at the end of the line showing whether the module has been Published by your tutor. You will not be able to access it until it has been published.
- If a module is not appearing in your list of all modules it may be that your records are not up to date. You can see which modules you are enrolled on in Sussex Direct and your School Office will be able to help you if your enrolments are incorrect.
Introduction and accessing Canvas
- What is Canvas?
Canvas is a state-of-the-art, cloud-based online study platform, taking advantage of the latest web technologies to ensure a thoroughly robust, reliable and forward-facing provision for online teaching and learning for staff and students.
- What will happen to Study Direct?
Students and staff will still be able to visit Study Direct to review previous years’ modules, but you will not be able to add any new modules or activities. Study Direct will remain available for a period of two academic years.
- How can I access Canvas?
There is a tab on the staff and student sections of the University website that will take you to the Canvas login screen. Alternatively, you can go direct to https://canvas.sussex.ac.uk
To login, use your full Sussex username including “@sussex.ac.uk (e.g. email@example.com), and your Sussex password.
- Why can’t I see the module I am teaching?
Staff and students are given access to individual Canvas modules based on the information held in Sussex Direct. If you cannot see a module site that you are teaching, check that your role is showing correctly in Sussex Direct. If not, contact your School Office to get the entry corrected; otherwise please contact IT Support to report the issue.
- How do I choose which modules appear on my dashboard?
If you have a lot of modules you may want to choose just some of them to be displayed on your dashboard. To do this go to the main navigation menu, click on modules and all modules. You will then see a list of all the modules on which you are enrolled. Click the star icon next to the modules you want to see on your dashboard.
- What is Canvas Commons?
Commons is a repository where Canvas users share materials that others can then import into their own Canvas modules. Colleagues at Sussex have been using Commons to share template pages and quizzes. When looking for content in Commons you can use the filter to choose whether you see all public resources or just material from Sussex University. Read more about Commons at Canvas community, what is Canvas Commons?
Training and help
- What staff training is available?
We are running regular introductory workshops called ‘Canvas Fundamentals’ for staff throughout the academic year. Our website has a list of dates and times, with links to book your place. Additional workshops introducing more advanced features of Canvas are also available..
- Who can I contact for help with Canvas?
Help is available 24-hours a day, every day of the year, for staff and students via dedicated phone lines and online chat. Canvas support staff will be able to answer many of your questions about using Canvas and will know where to seek help within the University if it’s something they cannot solve themselves.
If you want advice or support on making use of Canvas within your teaching, or your question is more about how Canvas works with Sussex processes (such as lecture capture or e-submission), contact us by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org (Monday-Friday 9am-5.30pm).
You might also want to check the online Canvas Guides to learn how to carry out common tasks - but remember that what we at Sussex call ‘modules’ and ‘units’ are called ‘Courses’ and ‘modules’ by most Canvas users internationally and the guides use this terminology.
- What support will students have for using Canvas?
Students have access to the Canvas Student Guide and 24/7 online chat and phone support from Canvas.
Working with Canvas
- Which browser is best for Canvas?
Canvas works with many web browsers, but users at Sussex have found some issues logging in when using Internet Explorer and ITS recommend that you do not use Edge. Firefox, Chrome and Safari* are all good choices.
*If you are using Safari, you may experience errors when accessing third party services such as Turnitin or the reading lists. ITS have guidance on how to chenge your preferences to fix this.
- What are courses, modules, units and pages?
Usually Canvas refers to its sites as ‘courses’ and the parts of a site as ‘modules’. As this is at odds with the way those terms are used here, at Sussex we have applied the UK Higher Education language pack so that sites are called ‘modules’ and within the modules there are ‘units’.
Occasionally within Canvas you will see the original terminology and it is also used throughout the online Canvas guides.
Units are a way or organising and structuring the content of your Canvas module. The units view is like a table of contents for the module. A unit can contain a mix of items such as pages, files, reading lists, quizzes.
A page is one type of content that you can add to Canvas. A page can be made up of text, images, links, and videos.
- Can I modify the module navigation menu?
You can choose to hide some items in your module menu and/or rearrange them.
Go to settings and the navigation tab. To remove an item from the student view of the menu drag it from the top box to the lower box. You can also drag and drop items to rearrange them.
- How can I add a module image?
To add an image to your module, that will appear in the module card on users’ dashboards go to the module settings and select the module details tab. Click on Choose image and select an image from your computer or search for Creative Commons Public Domain images on Flickr. To replace or remove an image, click the three dots on the image and either choose a new image or remove the image.
- Can I cut and paste from Microsoft Word or Excel in Canvas?
You can copy and paste content from Microsoft Word and Excel into the Rich Content Editor (RCE) in Canvas, but the formatting may not copy across successfully. If there are only minor differences you may be able to correct them in the RCE or using the HTML Editor. Otherwise, there are a couple of options:
Copy and paste the portion you want into a new Word document or Excel spreadsheet then add that as a file in Canvas.
Remove the formatting from your document, copy and paste into Canvas then add formatting using the RCE.
- Can I write maths equations in Canvas?
Canvas allows you to use maths notation based on LaTeX wherever the Rich Content Editor (RCE) appears (in announcements, pages, discussions, and quizzes). There is detailed guidance on how use the LaTeX Maths Editor in Canvas.
- How can I check what students will see?
On the home screen, and in settings, there is a student view button in the menu at the top right. When you want to return to the tutor view, click ‘Leave student view’ at the bottom of the screen.
- What is the Office365 course menu item in Canvas?
The ‘Office 365’ course menu item allows staff and students to access their files stored in OneDrive, and Canvas provides a range of guidance for this based on role and task, search for Office 365 in the Canvas community
The first time you click on Office 365 in the course menu, you will be asked to Log In to your Sussex Office 365 account, which you can do with your usual login details. You can then view and access your files in OneDrive whenever you are working in Canvas.
If you want to add a file from OneDrive to Canvas you can use the Office 365 icon on the Rich Content Editor toolbar to search and attach the file. Please note, this file will not be added to the Course Files.
You can find out more about Office 365 at the University of Sussex on the ITS website.
Getting ready for the start of term
- How can I rollover my Canvas modules?
The Canvas Module Setup shows you how to start creating your new Canvas module in your School. Find your School and follow the guides which will vary according to the state of the Canvas module last academic year.
- What do I need to do before term starts?
Before the start of term there are a few steps that you will need to complete in order to make sure that your module site is ready for your students.
- Rollover your content
- Set your homepage
- Customise the menu
- Check site links
- Publish your module
- When will my students see my Canvas module?
When you have finished preparing your module you need to publish it. To publish a module, click on the publish button in the module status panel at the top right. Once a module is published students will be able to access it from their dashboard.
Before the start of term students will not be able to take part in module activities, such as quizzes or discussions, but they will be able to view the published content, including reading lists.
Apps and messaging
- Are there mobile apps for Canvas?
There are teacher and student apps for Canvas, available for Android and iOS.
- Can I message my students via Canvas?
There are several options for sending messages to students in Canvas. If it is a general message for all the students then announcements within modules are a good choice. To send a message to an individual student, or a small group, use conversations.
- How can I change my notification preferences?
You can change your notification preferences by clicking on account in the global navigation menu and selecting notifications. Here you can choose which notifications to receive, how often and via which communication method. Your Sussex email will already appear in the options, but you can add other emails, mobile phone numbers etc. by going to account and selecting settings then +Contact method. You can read more about notification options in the Canvas Guides:
Last updated: 25th August 2022