Starting Winter...

Canvas logo

Canvas Guides

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 didn't find what your 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.

Current Items to Note

Course storage/size/space:
The default course size set by Canvas is 512 MB. Please see our support page for more information. 

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:

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

Email/Messages/Announcements: Students will not receive Canvas communications until the course is Published and after the course Start Date (Mar. 30). It is best to use outside email to send the students a welcome message until the course is Published and the Start Date has passed. 

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.

Dashboard: You currently have access to Winter and Spring courses on your Dashboard. If you do not see a course in your Dashboard, click on the Courses > All Courses link to view all. 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. 

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

Why can't my students access my course early?
1) From the Course Menu > Settings
2) In the Course Details tab, change the Starts date. 

NOTE: be mindful which options you have selected below. 

General Settings
3) At the bottom, click on the Update Course Details button.
4) 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) Change the Start date here too and Update Section
section start date
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 are OUT of section 1 and would need to click on it again in the Dashboard. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Does Canvas have a direct email tool?
Canvas doesn’t have a direct email tool, however, the Canvas Inbox function serves a similar purpose.  In addition to messages being accessible 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. 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 notifications

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

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.

    Related Content

    Canvas Guides

    Canvas Guides

    View the Canvas Guides

    Upcoming Events


    Canvas Workshops

    Workshop Schedule

    Accessibility in My Courses


    Fixing your courses...



    Learn more...