Canvas FAQs

Canvas Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Courses are automatically populated before the start of the next semester--generally about 4 weeks before class starts.

Simply send an email to or call the Help Desk at 8-HELP.

Unfortunately this feature has not been implemented. However, Canvas provides "free forever" accounts at their public server.

It depends on how many features you want to use in Canvas. Getting started is generally very easy. We suggest starting off using Modules around which to build your course.

Blackboard will be discontinued at the end of May, 2016.

We will offer one-on-one, formal course, drop in sessions and more! More information will be forthcoming. Canvas also has a great online course to orient new instructors.

The Canvas User Manual is online and continuously updated. There is also a Canvas Online Community. In addition, SMU offers one-on-one help, drop in training and formal training classes. Please contact the SMU Help Desk for more information.

Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari are the best choices. Internet Explorer tends to be less effective and has problems.

No. Unlike Blackboard, Canvas is cloud-hosted and should rarely experience regular maintenance windows. It should be available continuously off campus and on.


Getting Started

Modules allow courses to be built in much the same manner as a syllabus and a course outline is constructed. For instance, course Modules containing course content could be built by week and automatically activated/deactivated as the needs of the course dictate. More information on Modules is available online.

You will need to populate or copy your course content into the course shell that is created for you. Your students should already be populated. If you want a "Development Course" (a dummy course to set up the course beforehand) please contact the SMU Help Desk to set one up. Content created in a Development Course can easily be copied to a production course.

Just follow these steps to add your profile picture!

Just follow these instructions. Be sure to make use of the Course Setup Checklist before your publish your course?


Other Questions

First: "your mileage may vary". That being said, you can follow these instructions for exporting content from Blackboard then follow these instructions for importing it into Canvas. Some courses will require more work to import than others. As always, you can contact the SMU Help Desk for assistance.

That is a question that must be answered on an individual basis. If you have been using Blackboard simply as a place to store files, then you can certainly use Canvas as a place to store files just like you did. However, this approach negates the real power of Canvas to help simplify students' access to your course content. Unlike Blackboard, Canvas is a much simpler resource for quickly building a simple course. You may find out that the time you spend building the course pays off immensely once the course starts.