Starting Winter...

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Changes often force us to adapt in ways we’ve never experienced, which can be a major driver of personal (and even professional) growth and development.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you are new to Canvas or just Cal Poly's version, this page should help you find some answers.
If you don't find what you're looking for on this page, you can check the Canvas Guides or this support site. You can also use the HELP > Chat or Phone for immediate support. To contact the Cal Poly Canvas Support Team email

The Course Checklist can be helpful when just starting out with Canvas.

Try First (Troubleshooting)...

  1. Try a HARD Refresh. 
    Safari: Command (⌘) + Option (⌥) + R. 
    Chrome/Firefox: Hold both the ⌘ Cmd and ⇧ Shift keys and press the R key.
  2. Try in a private/incognito browser window
  3. Try a different supported browser (make sure the alternate browser is also fully updated, I recommend Chrome or Firefox)
  4. Make sure your browser is fully up to date
  5. Check your browser version and settings
  6. Clear your cache (here is how to do that on a PC and a Mac)
  7. Try on a different device (if possible)
  8. Try on a different network (if possible)

Current Items to Note


My quiz answer doesn't include a minus sign?
This bug was discovered in December and is intermittent meaning sometimes the minus signs will display and other times they will not. There are several suggestions to resolve this issue when it occurs:

  1. Use another browser. The issues seem to only be related to Chrome so using Firefox or Safari should avoid the problem.
    NOTE: Safari has had issues with quiz images appearing - so try Firefox first. 
  2. If you suspect a minus sign is missing, right-click the equation and open it in a new tab or zoom in on the image
  3. Disable hardware acceleration in Google Chrome. (Apparently this was the solution to avoid the problem all together before 4 was an option and you really wanted to keep using Chrome)
  4. It looks like the bug fix should be included in Chrome 88, so the last option would be to upgrade Chrome

When will waitlisted student be added to Canvas?
Please manually add your students to your course since waitlisted student will not be officially enrolled until the 5th day fo the quarter. 

Where is the Math Editor in the NEW Rich Content Editor (RCE)?
Since Dec. 29, we have moved to the NEW RCE and you will need to add the MathType editor.

In the New RCE:

  1. Click on Tools > Apps > View All
  2. Click on the Insert a math equation - MathType. Use the pop-up tool and close via the X in top right Conner. 
    NOTE: the MathTpe is now available in the Plug tool. 

Where is the YouTube in the NEW Rich Content Editor (RCE)?
Since Dec. 29, we have moved to the NEW RCE and you will need to add YouTube.

In the New RCE:

  1. Click on Tools > Apps > View All
  2. Click on the YouTube. Use the pop-up tool and close via the X in top right Conner. 
    NOTE: the YouTube is now available in the Plug tool. 

I can't find my Courses...
If you have organized your Dashboard with "Stars" to show only Spring, you will have to find your Summer courses via the Courses > All Courses link. 

All courses
On this page click on the Star icon to favor the course you want to see on the Dashboard. Make sure to favor ALL the course you want to see.  

Students will not receive Canvas communications until the course is Published and after the course Start Date (Dec. 25, 2020). It is best to use outside email with your course alias ( to send the students until the course is Published and the a Date has passed.

Does Canvas have a direct email tool?
Canvas does not have a direct email tool, however, the Canvas Inbox serves a similar purpose.  In addition to messages being available from within Canvas Inbox, students are sent email, text, or app-based messages based on their personal Notifications settings. When students take action to modify their Notifications settings (Conversations), they will receive an email with the content of a Canvas Inbox message included. Emails sent from Canvas are from 

NOTE: A course must be published before students will receive any Canvas inbox message or Notification sent to them from that course.

Instructors should edit their Notification settings for their OWN needs as well.
messages notificationsAccess to EDIT Old Canvas Course...

Faculty can always access their past courses, but cannot edit 21 days after the Term ends.  Since those courses are graded with graded activities, it is best not to use the OLD course to edit for a future quarters. It is easy to delete or edit graded activities that CANNOT be recovered. You can copy the OLD course into a future quarter shell or request a Sandbox shell.

How can I share my Canvas course with a fellow faculty?

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can't my students access my course early?
Starting Nov. 9, 2020, all Winter and future courses will NO longer have a Starts or Ends dates. This will make it easier for faculty to Publish courses. By default, students can access their Winter published courses 10 days before the Term starts (Winter term is Jan. 4 - Mar. 29). 

1) From the Course Menu > Settings
2) In the Course Details tab, you can choose a Starts date. 
Starts and ends screen image
NOTE: this is not required, when published, students can access the course 10 days before the Term starts.  

If you Cross-Listed (merged) additional sections....
3) Click on the Sections Tab at the top.
5) Click on the "blue" link of the course ID.
6) Click on the Edit Section button on the right.
7) You can choose to edit the Starts / Ends dates here too and Update Section
section start date screen image
NOTE: You will need to change these for ALL the cross-listed sections too. BE AWARE of the course ID at the top...since once you click on section 2 are OUT of section 1 and would need to click on it again in the Dashboard. 

How can I prevent students from accessing a course after it is done?
After the quarter is over, you can restrict access for students (unable to open to view course). From the Course Settings > Course Details tab...

  • 1) change or add an Ends date
  • 2) check the “Restrict students from viewing this course after end date” option

restrict access screen image
If you want to allow students to view content only after the end of the quarter, you can...set the Ends date and choose "students can only participate in the course between these dates. This prevents students from seeing the graded activities (quiz questions/answers).
course End date screen image

Allow students to access course after
Do you have a student that needs to finish an incomplete? Courses are set by Term dates. If you want all students to continue to use your course after the end date…you will need to: From the Course Settings > Course Details tab...

  • change the end date
  • un-check the “students can only participate in the course between these dates” option
  • allow students to take the graded item after the original due date. For example- a quiz, new quiz, and assignment can have more than one due date.

course End date screen image
...and will not allow students to participate after the END date. 


    Merging sections in Canvas is the Opposite of PolyLearn-Moodle.
    Please review the instructions Links to an external site. carefully before "cross-listing". You can also review our Canvas Support site for more information.  The CTLT - Canvas Support Team is here to help, but if you need immediate support try the  HELP > Chat or Phone for support resources via Canvas - Instructure.

    How do I change my name in Canvas?
    Users can change their “preferred” name on the Portal?

    1. log into the Portal
    2. go to the Personal Info tab
    3. Click on Preferred Name - edit

    The next day (about 5am), Canvas will get the "preferred" name and it will change how the name appears.

    New Quiz 
    Canvas has updated the Quiz tool. Instructions about the New Quiz tool.

    Images not appearing in Safari Browser
    1) Disable cross-site tracking prevention
    2) Hard reload the page: 

    • Macs: Command+R (or Command+Shift+R for a heavy-duty reload) 
    • PC: Control+R (or Control+Shift+R for a heavy-duty reload)

    3) Clear your cache (here is how to do that on a PC and a Mac)

    Images not appearing in Quiz.
    1) Go to the Files course menu and then publish the images in the quiz.
    2) Use Chrome
    3) Simply reloading the page at hand in Canvas can help. 

    • Macs: Command+R (or Command+Shift+R for a heavy-duty reload) 
    • PC: Control+R (or Control+Shift+R for a heavy-duty reload)

    4) Clear your cache (here is how to do that on a PC and a Mac)

    I can't embed Khan Academy in my page.
    Khan Academy no longer supports the Canvas integration. You can still add your Khan links into your course pages.

    How will I access Canvas?
    Through the Cal Poly Portal ( Look for the Canvas link under the My Apps menu on the left. 

    How will my students access PolyLearn or Canvas courses?
    Through the Cal Poly Portal ( For Winter 2020 - PolyLearn-Moodle will be just like it has been. Canvas will be a link in the Left My Apps menu. As the instructor, you would Show a PolyLearn course and the button/link will appear (4hr refresh on the Portal) in the My Classes channel on the Portal. As the instructor, you would Publish a Canvas course and students would see the Course Card in their Dashboard from the Portal's Cal Poly Canvas My Apps link. 

    File is Unauthorized - unable to open:
    Files within the LMS can not have characters within the file name that confuse the LMS. For Example: "432: Class Notes.#2.docx". 
    Characters like:

    / \
    ? %
    * :
    | "
    < >
    . ( )
    # @

    Can't Attach file to Discussion - User Storage Full.
    Each student only has 54MB of user storage. This is space you can store your files in Canvas under Account > Files. But, Cal Poly already has OneDrive and each student has 1TB of space. If you asked your students to attach a file in a Discussion...that uses the user storage in Canvas. Students can instead link the file from OneDrive, Google, Box, or other cloud option.
    NOTE: This is only a Discussion Attachment issue. When a student submits to an Assignment - User Storage is not used. 
    More media options

    I am unable to send Messages to my students.
    The course must be published first for Messages to work. Instructors will not receive a copy of the Inbox > Message in their Cal Poly email. Not all of my courses appear on the Dashboard?
    Only current courses are automatically added to the dashboard unless "favorited" by clicking on the star icon under the all courses page. Courses that have no enrollments will not appear in the Dashboard by default. You can see all your courses from the Global Navigation > Courses button. Then click on All Courses

      What if I start with Canvas, but decide to go back to PolyLearn this Winter?
      For Winter, Spring and Summer 2020….BOTH PolyLearn-Moodle and Canvas will be available. You will have shells in both systems each quarter and can choose which ONE to use. 

      I am a new faculty this quarter and want to use Canvas.
      Anyone who has Instructor of Record status of a course will have a shell waiting in the Canvas Dashboard.

      How do I move my Canvas Sandbox course into Production?
      Courses can be moved a couple of ways. Please see our Migration page for more information. 

      A student was moved from the waitlist into my course, but doesn't appear in Canvas?
      Canvas only gets enrollments once a day around 5am. So you may have to wait until tomorrow to see the student in your course.

      I am looking for the Roll Call / Attendance tool, where is it?
      Currently the Roll Call / Attendance tools in Canvas is buggy.
      Please vote to have the Attendance Tool Overhauled. Canvas will improve features based on user votes. 

      • Issues with cross-listed courses
      • Can’t use it for grading without high potential for error
      • Can’t edit points without messing up the Grades
      • Can’t delete, rename or un-publish attendance assignment without causing Grade errors

      To learn more - How to I get attendance to add up correctly

      Until the tool has been fixed, we have disabled it. In the mean time, iClicker has a free attendance tool you can use. Students can now use their smart phones to record attendance with a FREE application provided by iClicker (Reef/Cloud). Faculty can view which students attended class via a website.

      How can I add a boarder around the image?
      answer coming...

      Can I use 3rd Partly / LTI / Plugins in my Canvas courses? For example, my publisher has a Canvas plugin I want to use.
      At this time we are not ready to add any additional tools to Canvas that we do not already have in PolyLearn - Moodle. Please see the Enhancement Request Form for guidelines and information. 

      Error 500 - Internal Server Error
      If you are receiving an “Error 500 – Internal Server Error” message while trying to log into Canvas, you will need to clear the cookies on your web browser to resolve this issue. Please follow the instructions below to clear the cookies for your desired browser. Chrome | IE | Firefox | Safari Please make sure that you are using the latest versions of the browsers below. Before you begin troubleshooting, please close all the windows of the particular browser. Once you have gone through all the steps, re-open your browser and log into Canvas.

        Importing Grades into Canvas
        If you are using a MAC Excel, you must...

        1. Export the Canvas Grades
        2. Edit the CSV in Excel
        3. Save the Excel as a CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited) (.csv) file
        4. Import the CSV into Canvas Grades

        Assignment Rubric grades are missing
        I graded the assignments via the Rubric and now they are not appearing in the Gradebook. Make sure that the Rubric is assigned to that Assignment or the grades will not appear in the Gradebook. Find the Rubric, hover over the rubric, click on the a pencil Icon. Scroll down, select the option to use this rubric for assignment grading and then save.

        Canvas logs/data doesn't have the date and time students access resources, assignments, or activities (except quizzes).
        Canvas has student data, but not everything PolyLearn had. Please view the Canvas Data options and how to access them. 

        Accessing PolyLearn from the Portal...
        Sept. 10, the My Classes portlet has changed. You can still access your PolyLearn courses

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