Introduction to Canvas for CE participants

Are you new to Canvas? New to online learning?

If you are new to Canvas, the online learning management system used at IU, or to distance learning, get a jump start on learning online by reading this important information.

Access Canvas and login with the IU Guest account and passphrase that you previously set up. This document will give you a brief overview of some of the tools that you are likely to use as an IUSON continuing education participant.

Canvas includes important resources on the right side of the screen (shown in the following image with the title “To Do”) that may hide from view depending on the device and settings you use. If you can’t see that information, scroll to the right or down to locate the additional information and tools.

This handout assumes the use of a mouse and instructs you to click certain settings. If you are using an assistive device, substitute that method of accessing the option or setting.

The Dashboard

Screenshot of Canvas ashboard
The Dashboard contains a red menubar on the left side for overall Canvas resources, course information in the center, and tasks on the right.

Tools in the Menubar

This section introduces you to a few of the common tools in the menubar. Feel free to explore any of the others.

Sample Account icon
The Account icon contains your personal profile. Click “Edit Profile” to include or edit a brief biography. Don’t include personal information such as your phone number or address; access to this information extends beyond your class and should be shared carefully.

Sample Canvas profile picture showing pencil icon for editing
To add a profile picture, mouse over the image then click the pencil icon in the lower right corner of the image. You can upload a photo, take a photo with your webcam, or use one of the generic images. Including a personal photo of you or something that represents you or your interests helps peers learn about you.

Canvas Inbox Icon
is the Canvas messages tool; some locations in Canvas refers to it as “Conversations.” An indicator shows the number of unread messages. The Inbox includes all current courses in which you are a participant in any role.

Sample screen showing that the current message is marked with a checkmark, the message is highlighted in blue in the message list, and the message itself displays on the right. Read messages are not checked. Unread messages are marked with a dark blue disc.
Inside the messages tool icons indicate read and unread messages, how many messages the current conversation contains, and which message you are currently reading. If you have an important message that you want to keep track of, you can click the star icon to “favorite” the message.

Preview Message
Sample screen of a message preview with a label showing that the upper left contains basic message information including author, course name, and subject. A label in the upper right points to the two gear icons where additional tools are located. A label in the center bottom shows where the course message will display.
When a message is selected, it displays in the right pane. From this preview, you can reply with the arrow icon in the upper right corner or choose from the gear to Reply to All, Forward, or Delete the message.

Compose Message
Sample screen showing a example new message. A label in the upper right corner shows the book icon where you can choose groups or individuals to send the message to. A drop-down option in the upper left allows you to select the course. A checkbox below the subject line indicates that if marked you will be sending a blind copy to each of the individuals in the To field. An alert indicates that you can not apply formatting to a Canvas message. In the lower left are icons that allow you add an attachment or an audio comment.
To compose a new message, click the pencil icon then choose the course.

To choose one or more recipients to which to send your message, click the address book icon and make selections until you have the groups or names selected that you desire.

All messages are plain text. Click in the content box and type your message. You may choose to add an attachment to your message or create media (either audio only or video/audio) using your webcam and microphone to include with the text.

Help icon
Help is the last tool on the menubar. It contains several options, but the most important one if you want to dig deeper into Canvas is “Search the Canvas Guides.” There you can read step-by-step instructions or access video guides.

If you need immediate help with technology as you’re working through the course, call the Support Center at 317-274-HELP.

What to Expect in a Canvas Course

Canvas has many tools and allows great versatility for faculty to organize their courses. This means that when you take multiple courses from IU, each course may be organized a little differently. To get started in any course, read the home page when you enter the course; it will provide guidance for you about the course. Next is to explore the tools in the course menubar.

This section will introduce you to the more common tools you might discover as you learn.