Alphabetical list of the most important Canvas tools.

For each tool a short description is provided.


A teacher or tutor can place an announcement, this is a message that all students see. Depending on their notification settings they will receive a notification. In Student Portal new announcements are listed as well.

N.B.: it is possible to make an announcement exclusively for a tutorial group by posting it only to the corresponding section.


Assignments can be used for several reasons and can have different submission types. With assignments you can ask students to submit a paper, a specific file type or you can ask them to answer questions directly in a textbox. A Mediasite video assignment to enable students to upload videos to Mediasite is also possible. Or you could create a no submission assignment to grade student presentations.

Assignments video:

With the Assignment download tool, submissions from a specific date onward can be downloaded. See the manual.


Use this tool to track attendance of students. Attendance can be registered for the whole course or for individual sections. You will find it in the course navigation menu. When you register attendance, this will automatically also create an assignment called ‘Attendance’, which calculates the attendance percentage.

When used in very large courses Attendance tracking has a long loading time. when the loading time exceeds 1 minute a time out will follow. This will happen in courses with more than 1000 students approximately.

More information


Discussions can be of use in the Canvas course for several reasons:

  • to stimulate student-student interaction
  • to stimulate student-teacher interaction
  • as a learning activity
  • to provide help

Discussions video:



The gradebook is a table with a column for each gradable item in the course (assignments, quizzes and graded discussions) and a row for each student. When you grade an item via speedGrader, the grade will be listed here. Also for non submission assignments a column is added which you can use to manually enter grades.

There is also a column for the total grade. This is a running total of all the grades that has been accorded. To apply different weights to columns you can use a different maximum number of points or make use of Assignment groups. See the manual about Assignment groups.

Download the Gradebook

It is possible to download the Gradebook as a csv file. This file can then be edited and uploaded again. Grades can be added or changed and even new assignments can be added. See the manual for a detailed description.


Groups are subsets of students in a course. A group has its own environment with Announcements, Pages, Discussions etc. Groups are meant for students to collaborate. Teachers and tutors cannot be participants but they can see and edit everything.

If a course works with tutorial groups a group has automatically been created for each tutorial group. Teachers and tutors can add their own groups. Via People> Groups. First create a groups set, then create groups in the group set. Options are to manually enroll students or to have students enroll themselves or let the system randomly enroll students.


Outcomes are used to track mastery in a course. Outcomes can also be used in Rubrics. Outcomes can be added to different assignments and quizzes in a course to calculate the mastery of students. Several calculation methods are available.


At UM, Canvas assignments or quizzes are only meant to be used for formative assessment. Online summative assessment should be done by using TestVision.

Quizzes can be used for formative assessment existing of several questions with various question types, e.g. to self assess specific knowledge.

New Quizzes video:


Rubrics are a set of grading criteria that can be used order to give students insight in how they will be assessed and to facilitate unbiased and standardised assessment. In Canvas rubrics can be used with assignments, quizzes and graded discussions. Teachers can add rubrics to courses and reuse them in their other courses. Rubrics can also be offered by admin on (sub) account level.


SpeedGrader facilitates the assessment of written assignments (submitted documents) or essay questions in quizzes. You can annotate and highlight in the document or add comments.