Canvas FAQ

What's New in Canvas?

Canvas is updated every three weeks (see release schedule and release notes)

Latest Changes: 

  • Muting Grades (hiding grades from some students until you wish to release them to all) is now called Grade Posting Policy.  By default, grades are instantly visible.  You can set them to manual release by assignment or by course.  See this guide.
  • Copying Assignments - called Direct Sharing, teachers can now copy assignment from one course to another or from one teacher to another. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  How do I log in to Canvas? 
A:  Go to  You will be redirected to the Microsoft login page.  Enter your Academy email address and password.  

A:  What is Canvas? 
A:  Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) containing academic and training courses that contain synchronous and asynchronous tools for learning and communication. Teachers are encouraged to post course assignments via Canvas so students may find all their assignments in the same location for every course and so that assignments appear on students’ Canvas calendars and to-do lists.

Q:  Who has a Canvas log in?
A:  Teaching faculty and students who are enrolled in the current term, plus all Exeter employees.

Q:  How does my name appear in Canvas?

A:  Canvas has first name and last name fields.  First name is your official (as recorded in the school's database) Nickname, Chosen Name, or Legal First Name, in that order. In other words, if your official Legal First Name is John, your Nickname is JJ, and your Chosen Name is Jay, your Canvas First Name will be JJ (Nickname).  If you don't have a Nickname recorded, your Canvas First Name will be your Chosen Name, Jay, and absent that, your Legal First Name, John.  In your Canvas user profile, users can change their names in some places in Canvas, but in other places in Canvas, the name sent to Canvas by the school's database will be retained (generally for grading/records purposes).  If you wish to change your legal, nick or chosen name in the Academy database, please contact Dean of Students (for students), Dean of Faculty (for faculty), or Human Resources (for Employees).

A:  What is a course? 
A:  A Course is a website that is available to a defined set of members (the assigned teacher and enrolled students).  Every term, a Canvas course is automatically created for each of your course sections (ex: BIO*320*DY).  Hint:  if you’re teaching more than one section of the same course, ask for it to be “crosslisted” (combined) before you start loading your content (email vrichter or

Q:  How (and why) do teachers Publish a Canvas course?
A:  From the home page of the course, click the Publish button (on the right, if your window is maximized, or at the bottom).  If you do not Publish your course, your students will not be able to see it and you will not be able to email them.  Hint:  in addition to publishing courses, you also need to publish each item within a course so students can see them.

Q:  When do courses show up? 
A:  A committee, headed by the Director of Student Information, determines when courses show up for teachers and students in various campus systems.  Generally, students see them the day before classes begin and teachers shortly before that.  Watch for email announcements from the Director of Student Information with specific dates. Hint:  Teachers must Publish courses so that students may see them.

Q:  When do courses disappear? 
A:  Courses are not deleted; they move to “prior courses” under Courses-->All courses.  Students have limited access to courses after the course ends, as determined by school administration.

Q:  What may teachers do in a course?
A:  Teachers may 

  • Send email
  • Create announcements and assignments (with or without electronic submissions and grading)
  • Run assignments through Turnitin
  • Organize assignments by groups (like all quizzes or all readings)
  • Customize the syllabus
  • Post calendar events and assignment due dates
  • Create pages (webpages that can be used for providing many different kinds of content)
  • Organize content within modules (topically or chronologically, or by mastery)
  • Offer quizzes and surveys 
  • Create and apply rubrics (graded or ungraded)
  • Share files
  • Create a discussion board
  • Collaborate on a common document
  • Host a webinar-style virtual class (called a Conference) with your students or a visitor. 
  • Create groups (subsets of students in a course)

Q:  How should I email a class?
A:  You may send a message to the class (or specific students) once your class has been Published by the teacher.  From the left menu bar, click on Inbox.  Click the Compose icon (pencil and paper icon), then select the appropriate class section.  Next, click the Address Book icon to select to whom in the class the message is to go (All, Students or Teachers).  Find the Address Book icon on the "To" line, to the right.  Compose a subject and the body of the message and press Send.  The message will be sent from PEA Canvas.  It will appear in recipient's Canvas Inbox AND be sent via the notifications method they have chosen (email, text, etc.).  Hint:  If YOU want to receive a copy of the message you send, you will need to change your Notifications preferences (found under Account) to Send me a copy of Conversations Created by Me, under the Conversations section.

Q:  Will I be able to hold a virtual class in Canvas?
A:  Yes.  The feature is called Conferences.  It is an institutional goal that teachers familiarize themselves with this feature so they can continue to hold classes in the event that they are not able to meet their students in person during an emergency situation.  A great way to get comfortable with Conferences is to use them for extra help sessions (for example, while you're on duty).  Learn more about Conferences here

Q:  I published assignments but I can’t see them on the calendar! Can you help?
A:  Click on Calendar (from the menu on the left).  On the right side, ensure that your current term’s courses are selected, by clicking the color tile box next to them.  Once you click a box, it should turn to a color.  Then Assignments for that course should appear on your calendar in that color.

Q:  What is the Dashboard? 
A:  The Dashboard is where you see your current courses--as tiles or images--each representing a course.  Hint:  If you don't see your courses on Dashboard, from the left menu, select Courses, All Courses and STAR the courses you wish to have on your Dashboard.  To remove prior courses from the Dashboard, unstar them.

Q:  What are my course home page options?  The home page is the entry point for a course.  Click a course tile or image from the Dashboard to get to a course home page.

  • Many teachers use assignments list or the activity stream option. 
  • Modules may used to organize content into digestible bits. 
  • Syllabus shows all assignments and any text you enter, such as course guidelines, academic honesty statements, etc. 
  • Pages are individual webpages on which you can add images and text.  

Hint:  Canvas research shows that students don't enter Canvas from the Dashboard-->Course-->Home page, but rather through to-do list or calendar.  Since Canvas assignments show on the calendar and to-do list for students, creating homework as an assignment is the preferred method, but there are many other options. 

Q:  What is SpeedGrader/DocViewer? 
A:  A tool to grade an assignment electronically, add comments and mark up.  Quickly move among and grade assignments.  Students see your grades, comments and markup in Canvas instantly.  Hint: Want to wait to reveal grades to students until you’re done grading all students?  Mute the assignment, grade it, then unmute it.  That way everyone sees their grades at the same time.

Q:  What data is in Canvas? 
A:  Canvas is integrated with our administrative information system to create a course for every section offered in a term, containing student names, nicknames, photos and email addresses, as they appear in official student information records. Canvas data is several hours and up to a day later than actual course registrations.  Canvas refreshes several times per day.  If courses are present in LionLinks but not in Canvas, check later.

Q:  How is course enrollment managed in Canvas?
A:  Enrollment is a reflection of course enrollments managed by the Director of Student Information.  Canvas data is not live, but it is updated several times daily.  Please do NOT add or remove any students from Canvas.  If you do not see a student in Canvas, check LionLinks.  If the student is in LionLinks, check Canvas later or the next day to verify the student enrollment. If the student is not in LionLinks, contact the Director of Student Information.

Q:  What data is not in Canvas, and where do I find it?
A:  Other student and employment information (advisee info, demographic info, grade and comment history, schedules, attendance, and campus directories) is found in ExeterConnect and/or LionLinksHint:  Teachers may locate class Photo Rosters in ExeterConnect, under Faculty Connect--> My Students.  LionLinks is always the most current information; other systems update periodically.  

Q:  Which browsers should I use? 
A:  We suggest you use Google Chrome.  See this list of compatibility and potential issues.

Q:  Is there an app for Canvas?  Can I use my iPad or other mobile device to access Canvas? 
A:  Yes.  Use Canvas by Instructure Teacher app and Canvas by Instructure Student app. To configure the apps, search for Phillips Exeter Academy or enter

Q:  What operating systems can I use? What are the hardware requirements for Canvas?
A:  See the Canvas Guides for current information.

Q:  How do I reset my Canvas password? 
A:  You do not have a separate password for Canvas.  Your Exeter network password, used for Canvas, can be managed at the Microsoft self service password reset site. Contact IT for assistance at 603-777-3693 or

Q:  How do I combine all my sections of a single course so I can share assignments and other content among the sections? 
A:  This feature is available during regular session and is called "cross-listing" in Canvas.  The scheduler will notify faculty at the beginning of teach term when courses are available and provide a link to a form to request cross-listing.

Q:  How do I add the same content files to multiple courses?
A:  Cross-list your courses or go to Account -> Files -> My Files and add your content there (you can drag and drop it there or choose Upload).  You can organize it into folders there.  Once you have the content in My Files (and from the same My Files location), you can drag files to your course folders.  The items will be copied into your course folders and the originals will remain in My Files.  You can also now copy assignment from one course to another or from one teacher to another.  Alternatively, you can click on the Commons menu and upload existing content there, then download it into your course sections.  Check the Canvas Guides or .  Other options:  export the content and import it into the new course or cross list courses so you only have to add it once!

Q:  How do I prevent one student from seeing a graded assignment before I finish grading other students' assignments?
A:  Change the Grade Posting Policy for the assignment from within the gradebook or SpeedGrader or for the whole course from Settings.

Q:  Where do I enter attendance? 
A:  Official attendance reporting for regular session is located in LionLinks.  There is an Attendance feature in Canvas that teachers may use for their own recordkeeping only, but official absences must be entered in LionLinks.

Q:  Where do I find student grade and comment history? 
A:  Teachers may look in ExeterConnect under Faculty Connect --> My Students.

Q:  How do I avoid getting so many email notifications from Canvas? 
A:  On any Canvas email you receive, click the “Update my notifications preferences” link, or go to Account-->Notifications in Canvas.

Q:  How do I prevent students from seeing grade distribution for an assignment or a running course grade?
A:  Go to the course.  Click Settings (lower left).  From the Course Details tab, scroll to the bottom and click More Options.  Check the boxes labeled "Hide totals in student grades summary" and/or "Hide grade distribution graphs from students."

Q:  How do I export/import a course?
A: Go to Settings-->Import or Settings-->Export.  Find details in the Canvas Guides.

Q:  How do I include math symbols and equations?
A:  The Math Editor includes many symbols to create rich content.  Learn more here.

Q:  Can I create a Canvas course?
A:   Teachers have the ability to create courses in Canvas, to facilitate student clubs, dorms, or other activities and organizations.  As a learning management system, Canvas is designed for academic work, and as such may not be the best tool for a “course” that would be used primarily as a communications tool for a club or organization; ExeterConnect might be the better tool for organizing that information and communication.  However, teachers or advisers who would like to create a course in Canvas may do so from their Courses page.  Please do NOT assign the Teacher permissions to any student; instead, use the Student Leader role to give students additional privileges.

Q:  Can I add other people to a class?
A:  If the person you wish to add is a registered (or to-be-registered) student, please allow the office of the Director of Student Information to make this change, which should be reflected in Canvas at the next refresh.  If the person is an auditing student, they must seek the permission of the department chair and copy the Director of Student Information.  Once permission is granted, teachers may add them under the People menu, choosing Audit as the role.  Substitute or mentoring teachers should be added as TA roles.  If the person you wish to add does not have a Canvas account, please send your request to Please do not grant the role of Teacher to any student.

Q:  Can I make my course public? 
A:  Teachers do not currently have the ability to make courses public in Canvas.  If you have a specific need or goal to make some or all of your course information public, please consult with your department chair and with the dean of faculty.

Q:  How will I know when content changes in Canvas?
A:  Users may configure their notifications (Account-->Notifications) to alert them when content changes (for example, when a teacher posts an assignment or a student submits an assignment).   Also check the To-Do List and the Calendar.

Q:  How will I know when features change in Canvas?
A:  Feature changes are continual in Canvas.  A new product is released every three weeks.  Check the Canvas Release Notes for details. 

Q:  How do I learn about copyright and fair use?
A:  Academy librarians help the community to understand and apply copyright and fair use law, which applies within Canvas.

Q:  How do I get online help within Canvas?
A:  Click the question mark Help icon at the lower left and select either Search the Canvas Guides or Report a Problem to IT.

Q:  How do I get personal help with Canvas? 
A:  Contact IT Customer Support Services (