Starting Winter...

Canvas logo

Cnavas 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.


Automatic Course Shell Creation

Course shells are uploaded from Peoplesoft. Course shells appear a quarter before. [For example, Fall shells will appear in Canvas 2 weeks before the Summer quarter starts.] A Course Shell is a course website without any content, which is available for instructors to use. Log into Canvas through the My CalPoly Portal ( and add the content to the Course Shell. Students will be unable to view or access the course until the instructor makes it available (Publish). If the instructor is teaching a cross listed course and only wishes to use one of the Course Shells, the instructor can merge the sections.

Automatic Instructor Assignment to a Course Shell

The instructor information, listed in Peoplesoft, must be current in order for the Course Shell to be created accurately. If the instructor information in Peoplesoft for the course is listed as Staff, the Canvas Shell will not be assigned to you. If the courses are not accessible to you from Canvas and the instructor of record is Staff, you will have to contact your department. Your Department Scheduler will notify the University Scheduling Office, which will update Peoplesoft. The Peoplesoft data is sent to Canvas M-F, twice a day 8am and 4pm, so it could take up to 16 hours (M-F) before you will have access to the Canvas Shell.
You can check the Class Search to see who is assigned Instructor or Record for the course - if "instructor" is listed as Staff, then you need to do the above. 

If you are team teaching a course, the first instructor listed in Peoplesoft will be assigned to the Canvas course and will need to add and change the role of the other co-instructor(s).

The content added into the courses by the instructor of record (and others the instructor has added with the same role), remains that instructor's intellectual property. If the instructor would like to provide access to their own intellectual property in Canvas, the instructor can "Enroll Users" into their course or fill out the online Request Access form. Due to the nature of the course intellectual property, we are unable to provide access to course content without the written permission of the owner (instructor of record). To learn more, please see the Cal Poly Intellectual Property Policy

Automatic Student Enrollment

On the first day of registration, enrolled students will be added into the Canvas Course Shells. The enrollment data in your Canvas Shells will be updated M-F at 5am to keep up with add/drop, name changes, etc.

Students who have enrolled through CP Reg during the first two weeks will need to wait until the data is sent to Canvas M-F at 5am, which can take up to 24 hours (M-F). This can sometimes be later in the second week of the quarter. Instructors can manually add wait-listed students until they are officially enrolled by PeopleSoft.

Student Course Access & Duration

All enrolled students will automatically be added to the corresponding Canvas Course Shells. Once the instructor has made a course available (publish & set start dates) the student will have access to the course (via the Portal) until the END date of the course (default set by term) and the access levels that have been set by the instructor.
Students will not see the course link in the Portal until instructors' make your course available. If you do not want your students to access the course after the quarter has been completed, then you must make the course unpublished or set to read-only.

Canvas Login/Access

All users (Cal Poly faculty, staff, and students) login to Canvas through the Cal Poly Portal ( Only Cal Poly users can access Canvas and therefore, your courses.

Canvas courses will remain within the Cal Poly Canvas system for nine quarters. Winter 2020 is the first quarter instructors can teach with Canvas. Once Spring 2022 starts, sometime in late April 2022 - Winter 2020 courses will be deleted from Canvas. 

Non Cal Poly Users

It has recently become policy that ITS is unable to provide Canvas accounts to access courseware for non Cal Poly users (those who are not current faculty, staff or students) based on FERPA (privacy rights of the students).

Guest accounts can be created to allow non Cal Poly users to access the Portal, Canvas, email, and calendar. For more information please visit the online form. If you have questions about this, please contact the Service Desk (

A course can be set to "public" for outside users to view (read only), but they cannot participate in the course (discussion, quiz, assignments, surveys, messages, etc).

If you want to share a course with someone outside of Cal Poly, you can create a shell on the Instructure free system

Student Data and Retention

Cal Poly Canvas will hold up to 20-quarters of course content and student participation. If a student refutes a grade, the Canvas Course will remain as it was if a review is needed. Faculty Gradebooks will be saved for five years. Although not required, faculty can export/download a Canvas Gradebook and save to a secure location, such as (OneDrive). Faculty can also choose to download files for each Assignment and download the Classic Quiz results - click on Student Analysis to download file.  (New Quiz currently does not have an option to export results to CSV). 

Depending on your needs, you can:

Canvas Data Export

Canvas courses can be backed up and saved. Canvas courses can also be placed in the Commons for personal or shared access. 

Canvas Commons
Export Canvas Course

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...