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 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 Fall 20 shells start appearing June 8. If you need more shells - look at the forms at the bottom right in the menu. 

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

Try First (Troubleshooting)...

  1. Try in a private/incognito browser window
  2. Try a different supported browser (make sure the alternate browser is also fully updated, I recommend Chrome or Firefox)
  3. Make sure your browser is fully up to date
  4. Check your browser version and settings
  5. Clear your cache (here is how to do that on a PC and a Mac)
  6. Try on a different device (if possible)
  7. Try on a different network (if possible)

Current Items to Note


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

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

Allow students to access course after
Courses are set by Term dates…
course End date screen image
...and will not allow students to participate after the END date. 
If you want to all a student to continue to use your course after the end date…you will need to:

  • 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.

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 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.

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.

Images will not appear in the course.
There is an issue with Safari. It might be occurring because you have "prevent cross-site tracking" enabled for Safari. You can try to disable this setting for your Safari application. The other work around for this would be use another browser. 

Images not appearing in Quiz.
Go to the Files course menu and then publish the images in the quiz.

    Students will not receive Canvas communications until the course is Published and after the course Start Date (Sept. 14). 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.

    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.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    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. 

    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. 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 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

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

    • If it is only content (no students), make the course “public” and then share the URL so the person can SEE the course. 
    • You can export the course and they can install it in their own Canvas.
    • You can share it in the Commons, if they have access to their own Canvas. 

    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. 

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