Canvas is a web-based course management learning system that UIS instructors can use to organize course content. Canvas allows faculty members 24/7 access to their course for instructional updates and design. A Canvas course site is created for each course section taught at UIS, regardless of modality -- online, blended, hyflex, or on campus.

Canvas contains a multitude of tools, such as collaborations, assignments, and pages for an online class. There are many tools such as discussions,  chat, Zoom, Kaltura video management, and peer reviews, which allow for increased communication and collaboration.

Canvas New Feature Ideas allow all Canvas users to suggest ideas and rate ideas for new and existing features and fixing bugs in Canvas. Canvas uses New Feature Ideas to prioritize work. They have some great pages about starting idea conversations and the Canvas development process.

UIS also subscribes to the Design Plus tool to enable faculty to create visually appealing and well-organized courses to guide users through their coursework.

Canvas has an easy-to-navigate interface on the web and via a mobile app. There is a separate app for instructors and students.

Gold Courses: Developing and Sharing Course Content at UIS

Copying Canvas Content

Canvas Commons: Sharing Canvas Content at UIS & Beyond

UDOIT Accessibility Checker for Canvas Courses

DesignPlus toolbar for Canvas: Designing Beautiful Courses

Adding videos to your Canvas course with Kaltura My Media

Canvas Resources

Canvas Accounts & Course Access

Student Access

Students are enrolled in courses approximately ten days prior to the course start date academic term courses. Students are enrolled and dropped from Canvas course sites automatically based on enrollment data from the Office of Records and registration. Instructors may not add or remove students in academic term courses. Courses will publish automatically at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of classes, which makes them available to students. Instructors may publish their courses early. Courses close to students on the Friday before the next term starts. 

Students may be manually enrolled in orientation, department, and other courses. If students require TA or supplemental instruction (SI) access to an academic term course, contact COLRS. 

Students with Incompletes: If a student received an incomplete in a course, student and faculty access to the course will be automatically extended for one year. If an instructor prefers that a student complete their work in a Canvas course in the current term, contact COLRS for assistance.

Instructor Access

Canvas courses for future academic terms are created approximately two months prior to the course start date. Instructors are enrolled in Canvas course sites when they are listed on the UIS dynamic course schedule. Instructors may be manually enrolled in orientation, department, and gold courses. 

New full and part-time faculty: If you have new part-time (adjunct) instructors who need Canvas access to develop courses, the best practice for providing Canvas access is to issue their employment contract. When the employment contract is executed, your new instructors will have their NetIDs and may be added to Canvas courses. The External Affiliate NetID accounts creation process, detailed under Guest Accounts below, is often slower than the normal hiring process. The External Affiliates program should only be used in rare circumstances for part-time faculty Canvas access.

Access for Employees who are Not Instructors

Create a Canvas Account

If you are new to UIS, or you are an employee who has never accessed Canvas before, you will need to activate your Canvas account before you can begin working in Canvas. A NetID is required to access Canvas.

  1. Visit the Canvas login page at
  2. Log in with your UIS NetID and password.
  3. Once you have logged in to Canvas, your account has been activated.

Access to Courses

Employees may be manually enrolled in orientation, department, and gold course sites. Employees who need access to academic term courses must complete FERPA training and approved to be enrolled in courses. FERPA training must be completed for all employees who have access to academic term Canvas courses, including: academic coaches, student tutors, teaching assistants, assessment coordinators, and Learning Hub staff. Permission must be granted by the instructor of record and/or UIS administrators, depending on the situation. Contact COLRS for more information on gaining access to academic term courses. 

Guest Accounts (NetID Affiliate)

All users must have a NetID to have access to UIS Canvas.

If you or your unit needs to provide access to Canvas or other campus resources for guest lecturers, site internship supervisors, or accreditation work, the External Affiliate NetID process can be used to create a NetID account for these people.

To request an account using the External Affiliate UIN and NetID program, you will need the full name, birthdate, and email address for the guest. This process can take up to two weeks, as the iCard center has to verify whether the user has previously had a NetID on any campus. 

Once affiliate NetID accounts have been created, the department chair should contact COLRS for assistance with Canvas access. Department chairs, school directors, and deans may request that people who are not official instructors to be added to courses.

Alternately, if you were planning on simply using Canvas to share documents and files with your guest, consider using Box instead.

Students with Incompletes

Students who have been assigned an incomplete in Enterprise will automatically be granted extended access to the corresponding Canvas course, for a period of one year. For example, all students who earned an incomplete in Summer 2021 already have access to the corresponding course in Canvas until August 2022, in order to give them time to complete all coursework before their provisional grades become permanentNo action is required on the part of the instructor to grant this extended access to the course, other than timely submission of grades in Enterprise.

  • Instructors should still communicate their expectations regarding the completion of the course with any students who have received an incomplete.
  • Instructors should still submit incompletes and provisional grades in Enterprise by the Registrar’s due date each semester.
  • Instructors should still submit grade changes to the Registrar according to the current procedures when students have successfully completed a course.
  • Students who did not receive an incomplete will still lose access to the course the week before the start of the following semester.

In case a student with an incomplete finishes their work before the year is up, and you wish to remove student access to your course, please contact COLRS for assistance.

Adding Additional Canvas Assignment Due Dates for a Single Student

Though access to the Canvas course site is automatically extended for students and instructors in courses with incomplete grades, specific assignment due dates may need to be modified. If the availability for an assignment has passed, and some other specific Canvas course assignment settings, some instructors may need to add a new assignment due date for the student with an incomplete. Learn how to add a Canvas assignment due date for a specific student

Copying Canvas Content

Copying Canvas Content from One Canvas Site to Another

  1. To copy content from one Canvas site into another (e.g. your fall course into spring) begin by going to the Home page of the empty course and clicking on “Import Existing Content” from the panel in the upper right:
import existing content
  1. From the dropdown menu, choose “Copy a Canvas Course”
copy a canvas course
  1. In the search bar, find the course you would like to copy. You may search by department/course number (e.g. EDL508) or by the course name.
search for a canvas course
  1. Next, you may choose to import all content or specific content. If you choose specific content, Canvas will ask you to identify the content you’d like to import prior to beginning the import process.
select course content
  1. You may also select “adjust events and due dates” which will adjust due dates based on the start and end date of the class or remove due dates altogether.
adjust due dates
  1. Once you’ve selected your content click “Import.” Canvas will let you know when the importing process has been completed.
current jobs complete

Canvas Guides on the course copy process

Copying a Canvas Quiz with Linked Question Banks Between Canvas Courses

These steps explain how you can use the Course Import tool to copy individual quizzes with linked question banks from one course directly into any active course in which you are enrolled.

  1. Navigate to your Course Settings
  2. Select Import Course Content in gray navigation buttons on the right.
  3. Under Content Type select Copy a Canvas Course and select the course that contains the quiz.
  4. Choose to Select specific content and click Import.
  5. Click on Select Content
    • To see the quizzes in your course, select the arrow to open a list.
    • Add a checkmark beside the quiz you would like to copy.
    • Add a checkmark beside the question banks you would like to copy.
    • Once you have chosen the items to copy, choose "Select Content".
  6. Once the import is marked as completed, review the quiz and question banks to be sure the content copied correctly.

Canvas guides on copying quizzes:

How can I copy a quiz without a question bank from one course to another?

How to Combine (Cross-List) Course Sections in Canvas

Courses that are cross-listed in the UIS course schedule are automatically cross-listed in Canvas. Follow the steps below to combine Canvas courses that are not automatically cross-listed.

Video Tutorial: How to Combine Canvas Sections

Cross-listing allows you to move enrollments from individual courses and combine them into one course. This feature is helpful for instructors who teach several sections of the same course, or whose courses are cross-listed in several different departments, and only want to manage course data in one location. Instructors can allow students to view users in other sections or limit them to only view users in the same section.

WARNING: Cross-listing should only be done at the beginning of a semester or before a semester has begun. Student progress, including assignment and quiz submissions, will not move with the section enrollments. If you cross-list your course after students have begun working on their coursework, their progress (including grades) will be lost.

Step 1: Determine your primary course.

Your primary course is the course where you will manage your course materials, assignments, and grades. Student enrollments in all other Canvas sections will be moved to your primary course.

Step 2: Find your SIS ID.

  • Enter your primary course in Canvas.
  • Click on Settings > Course Details.
  • Copy the SIS ID.

course details tab


Step 3: Merge your sections into your primary course.

  • Enter one of the sections you wish to merge into the primary course.
  • Click on Settings Sections.
  • Click on the title of the section under the Course Sections header.

sections tab


  • Click on Cross-List this Section.

cross-list link


  • Paste the SIS ID of your primary course in the Search for Course field, and select the course name when it appears.
  • Confirm that the selected course is correct, and then click Cross-List This Section.

search for your course


Step 4: Repeat step 3 for any additional courses you wish to merge into your primary course.

NOTE: If you accidentally merge the wrong section, and you need to de-cross-list it, contact COLRS at Student progress in your course, including assignment submissions and grades, is not preserved in the cross-listing and de-cross-listing process, so this should only be done before your course has begun.

Are you running out of storage in Canvas?

COLRS staff has noticed that file storage in some courses is quickly filling up – and in a few cases, faculty are running into limits. Canvas restricts each course to approximately one-half of one gigabyte, or 500 megabytes. While this is more than enough for the vast majority of courses at UIS, you may run up against this limit if you are uploading many larger files directly into Canvas, including video files, high-resolution images, and narrated PowerPoints with embedded audio. When a course runs out of space, faculty and students may be unable to add additional files.

(To check how much storage each of your courses is using, simply select that course from the Canvas dashboard and click the “Files” link in the left-hand navigation panel. Your storage used is displayed towards the bottom of the screen.)  

To avoid this issue, COLRS recommends using Kaltura to host all media files and Box to host all or most course documents. There are several advantages to this approach:

  • Files hosted in Kaltura and Box do not count against your Canvas storage allocation, and both services include unlimited storage.
  • Kaltura has extra accessibility features not included with the built-in Canvas media player, including closed captioning. State and federal regulations require us to ensure that all media files provided to students are accessible.
  • Box allows you to quickly make changes to your documents directly through a web browser, without needing to download and re-upload files. Changes made to your files in Box are available immediately when those files are embedded in your courses in Canvas.

To get started using Kaltura, please review our Kaltura Media overview and instructions for adding Kaltura Media videos to Canvas courses. COLRS also provides instructions that instructors can copy and paste into their Canvas courses to use for assignments in which students must submit a video.

ITS provides more information on using Box, and COLRS has also created a video tutorial demonstrating how to embed Kaltura and Box files into your courses:

My Canvas Links Don't Work

Many faculty who have imported course content from Blackboard have founds links that appear to be active don’t work. Here are common issues with imported links, and the steps you can take to fix your links.

Problem #1

When I or my students click on the link, we receive an error message which says the content is insecure. I know it is a good link to a safe website. What can I do?

Explanation: When a link has been created for a site that does not use the https: (secure) protocol, Canvas will return a message about “insecure content,” because Canvas is a secure (https:) site.


  1. When including the link in a module, set the link to open in a new tab.
  2. Create a new link in a Canvas “page”

Problem #2

My link shows as “broken” but I know it works. What can I do?

Explanation: Canvas uses “iframes” to display webpages. There are many websites (including the UIS website) that do not allow pages to be displayed as iframes for security purposes, and this can make the links appear broken in Canvas. These links, when imported from Blackboard, are often listed in a module, but as unpublished. This helpful feature helps us to remember to check how these links will display to students.


  1. When including the link in a module, set the link to open in a new tab.
  2. Create a new link in a Canvas “page”

Problem #3

My imported Kaltura links no longer work, but I know my videos are still there. What can I do?

Explanation: If you Kaltura media links have “BBLEARN” included in the link, they are linking to the My Media area in Blackboard. Students will not be able to view them.

Solution: Follow the steps in this video below to add Kaltura media links to your Canvas course.

Customizing the Canvas Dashboard

Many faculty members have contacted us about how to “unpublish” courses from last semester to manage the courses that appear on their Canvas Dashboard screen.

Courses cannot be unpublished after students have submitted work, but you can customize which active courses you want to show in your Course list and Dashboard. Courses you want to show in the Courses menu are called favorite courses. You can favorite any active course that appears on the course list page.

When no courses are favorited, the courses list automatically displays up to 20 courses alphabetically in the drop-down menu. However, once you have selected at least one course as a favorite, only your favorite courses will appear in the Courses list.

Note: Courses are initially listed alphabetically, but you can reorder your courses manually.

Canvas Basics

If you've never used Canvas before, you've come to the right place! The COLRS team is ready to help you. You're welcome to reach out to us by email (, by phone (217-206-7317), or by booking a one-on-one appointment anytime. To get started, though, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about getting started in Canvas.


Home is like the entry point for your course. In Home, you can add files, pages, links, and assignments to modules, which are like buckets that can organize your course into weeks or item type.


Announcements are a way to send crucial and time-sensitive information to your students. A preview of the most recent three announcements will always show up on the Home page of the course.

Assignments, Grades, and Quizzes

For information about assignments, grades, and quizzes in Canvas, we've compiled some resources on our Assessing Learners page.

Discussions and Groups

We have strategies for creating engaging discussions on our Assessing Learners and Engaging Learners pages. However, if you're looking for information on how to create discussions and groups in Canvas, review the following articles:


Before students can see your course (or any of your materials), you will need to publish it.

Using Student View

To see the student's perspective on Canvas, use Student View to view the course, post and reply to discussions, submit assignments, view grades, view people, view pages, view the syllabus, view quizzes, view the calendar, etc. Enabling Student View creates a Test Student in your course. You can also activate Student View in your Course Settings.

To access Student View through your course home page, click on the Student View icon on the upper right.

A screenshot of the student view button in Canvas

You can now view the course as a student user would see it. For example, students cannot see the Settings navigation link like instructors can.

You will know if you are in Student View because of the persistent box on the bottom of the screen indicating you are logged into Student View.

Click Leave Student View to return to your instructor view.

A screenshot of the bar on Canvas that lets users know they've enabled Student View

Course Navigation

As an instructor, you can control which links appear to your students in your course menu. Canvas includes a set of default Course Navigation links that cannot be renamed.

All menu items with an eye that has been crossed out cannot be seen by students.

A screenshot of the Assignments link on Canvas with an arrow pointing to an eye icon that is crossed out, indicating that a student would not be able to see that link

To enable links for students, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Settings at the bottom of your course menu:
    A screenshot of the course menu in Canvas with a red arrow pointing to the settings link
  2. Find the Navigation tab:
    A screenshot of the tabs in the Setting menu with the Navigation tab highlighted
  3. From the Navigation page, you can re-order menu items using the drag-and-drop interface.
  4. You can also "enable" a menu item, by clicking on the "kebab" (three dots) associated with the menu item and choosing "enable."
    A screenshot showing the "enable" option in Canvas for the course navigation
  5. Be sure to click "Save" at the bottom of the page to save your changes.
  6. Note: Some navigation areas, such as Announcements, can be enabled, but show the "hidden" icon when there is no content. Adding content will enable students to see the menu item.

Creating a Course Home Page

Any page in a course can be set as a home page. You may build your own home page or modify any of the home page templates created by COLRS staff.

No matter what design your home or format you home page takes, you might consider including information suggested by research on the Liquid Syllabus. Research on this open document tells us that it helps to increase instructor presence and increases student success in courses. 

Preferred Name in Canvas


Students may designate a preferred first name that certain University systems, including Banner, Email, and Canvas, will then use.

In Canvas, the preferred name will appear in place of the legal first name. In Banner, both the legal first name and preferred first name will appear. A preferred first name may take several days to roll out to all systems. 

Learn more about the University-wide preferred name policy.

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff who are employed by UIS may set their preferred first name in the My Profile tool from System Human Resources. Log into the app and click edit under Demographic Information & Veteran Status. Enter (or correct) your preferred name. It will take some time for Canvas to update your name, usually within a couple of hours.