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Canvas is a cloud-hosted learning management system (LMS), powered by Instructure, that allows Northwestern instructors and students to deliver course materials, submit assignments and tests, view grades, and create learning activities. Additional Canvas features include full-featured mobile Apps for both iOS and Android, a global calendar, and tools that enable two-way communications between instructor and students including text, video, audio, and attachments.

Consultation and Workshops

Northwestern IT provides expert assistance for University instructors who are both new and experienced users of Canvas. One-on-one consultations are provided for defining requirements for course design, course sections in Canvas, using Learning Apps within Canvas, and more. Meet with a Teaching and Learning Technologies expert at their office in the University Library or at a location more convenient to the instructor. Request a consultation.

Hands-on Canvas workshops are offered on various topics for all levels of Canvas users. In some instances, school specific workshops are scheduled. Sign up for a workshop.

Canvas Features

Multi-Section Courses

Every Canvas course offering has its own section of student enrollments that is automatically created each quarter by the Office of the Registrar. Sections are assigned to a course site that can be used for individual, cross-listed, and multi-section courses

In some instances custom course sites within Canvas may be created for academic and University business purposes upon faculty or staff request and authorization from a departmental chair, director, or dean.

Course Roles and Permissions

In Canvas, the creation of new courses, modification of existing course information, and submission of assignments is dependent upon user roles and permissions in Canvas. Schools and departments may also assign Canvas Administrators who have unit-specific permissions to access Canvas.

Canvas Mobile Apps

Access to Canvas is available on the web and through a variety of free mobile Apps.

Learn more about mobile applications in the Canvas Mobile Guides.

Learning Apps (LTI)

The Canvas LMS supports the use of learning tool interoperability (LTI), a technology standard that allows for the integration of a range of apps for adding tools, content repositories, and other functionality to course sites. While LTI Apps offer new possibilities for enhancing courses in Canvas, these services are independent of Canvas. Northwestern IT is currently developing a process for requesting the activation of Apps in Canvas, which will include security, reliability, usability, and support assessments of both the App and the service provider.

Course Retention Guidelines

All course sites are retained on the Canvas system. Courses that have "ended" are viewable under "Past Enrollments" of the course list. Student accounts remain in Canvas after graduation, however, deactivated users will not be able to access the Canvas system. Instructors may view submissions or additions to course sites in which former students were active.

Compatible Services

Blue Jeans is a cloud-based conferencing service that integrates with Canvas to seamlessly connect with educators and students both on and off campus. Using Blue Jeans, instructors can invite guest lecturers worldwide via audio or video right within their Canvas course. It also offers student study groups added flexibility when trying to coordinate schedules by providing a virtual meeting space. User guides and How-To videos for using Blue Jeans in Canvas can be found in the Canvas Learning Center.

Mediasite is the University’s lecture capture and management service. It is structured as a partnership model, supported by Northwestern IT, that provides lecture capture services for University schools, departments, and business units who wish to provide their users with the ability to transmit live and on-demand video streams over the Internet, or record and store them for on-demand viewing by students from a web browser.

Turnitin is an anti-plagiarism tool that works inside the Assignments area of Canvas. When a paper is submitted through Turnitin, it is compared against several databases; an originality report is generated that will show which elements of a student’s paper matches content from these databases. Step-by-step instructions on how to use Turnitin with Canvas are available in the Canvas Learning Center.

Terms of Use

Some of the materials on the Canvas Learning Management System are subject to copyright and may NOT be distributed beyond members enrolled in classes served by this course management system. Students' use of these materials is limited to the term in which a course is taught. This system contains student records that fall under the regulation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). See the Northwestern University FERPA policy for more detailed information on FERPA.

Last Updated: 20 December 2017

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