Canvas: Glossary Terms

Canvas Glossary


Announcements are News items, allowing you to communicate with your students about course activities and post course-related topics.


Assignments are any activity graded by the instructor. Assignments include Quizzes, graded Discussions, and online submissions (i.e. files, images, text, URLs, etc.)

Breadcrumb Navigation

The Breadcrumb Navigation is located at the top of the Main Body of the page and helps you to how to move up and down in the course hierarchy.


The Calendar allows students and instructors to see all events and assignments going on across all courses in an aggregated view.


Chat provides synchronous video, audio, and chat communication among users, with participation of the entire course or any subset of the course roster.


Collaborations make it easy for students and instructors to create and share working documents that can be edited by all course members or any subset of the course roster.


Conferences are virtual classrooms where students and instructors can interact in real time with audio, video, desktop sharing, and presentation tools. These can be hosted by both students as well as the instructor.


Conversations are the messaging tool used, like an internal email system, to communicate with a course, a group, individual students, or a group of students.

Course Activity Stream

The Course Activity Stream shows you all of the recent activity from a single course.

Course Home Page

The Course Home Page is the first page students see when they click “Home” in the Course Navigation. The Course Home Page can be customized to display a custom Page, the Syllabus page, the Assignment page, or the Modules page.

Course Import/Export Tool

The Course Import/Export Tool makes it easy to pull in content from existing Canvas courses and content packages from other LMS’s and textbook publishers.

Course Navigation

The Course Navigation is a series of links on the left side of the screen that help you navigate where needed within your Canvas Course.

Course Setup Checklist

The Course Setup Checklist helps a new user walk through all steps required to build a course and invite students.

Course Statistics

Course Statistics help the instructor to see which pages are being viewed most frequently.

Course Status

Canvas courses begin in an unpublished state. They then move to a published state. They can also be made publicly viewable.


The Dashboard consists of three main elements: Global Navigation across the top of the page, a to-do list with upcoming events on the Sidebar, and the Global Activity Stream that comprises the body of the page.


ePortfolios allow students (and instructors) to showcase their work to colleagues and prospective employers. They make it possible for students to create ePortfolio websites or presentations.


Canvas provides a file repository for each user, group, and course. Files can be public or private.

Global Activity Stream

The Global Activity Stream shows you all of the recent activity from all of your courses, in an aggregate view.

Global Navigation

The Global Navigation menu, always positioned at the top of the page, allows users to quickly navigate to any courses or groups that they are enrolled in. Grades and calendar can be viewed from here.


Grades are the name for the Canvas gradebook. Students can calculate hypothetical grades on this page. Instructors can quickly edit grades for any course or section.


Groups can be created for students or by students to enable efficient collaboration.

Help Corner

The Help Corner in the top right, is where you can ask for support, check your inbox, or modify your profile.

In-context Help

In-context Help links are marked with a blue question mark. These links open up short tutorials to help users get the most out of Canvas.

Math Editor

The Math Editor is a Latex-compatible toolbar that makes it easy for instructors to write math expressions and equations.

Mobile Apps

Currently, instructors can use the SpeedGraderâ„¢ on their iPads. Soon, students will be able to interact with their Canvas courses on the iPad and the iPhone.


Modules are ways to organize course content by week, topic, or day. Modules can be set up with prerequisites or co-requisites that force students to work through the material in a sequential fashion.

Notification Preferences

Each Canvas user can adjust the Notification Preferences in their Profile to fit their individual needs. Some users will want to be notified of course events on a more regular basis than others.


Instructors can specify learning outcomes for their courses and track how students are doing against those outcomes with Quizzes, Assignments, and graded Discussions.


Pages make it easy to build content inside a course. This tool is really a wiki and provides a dynamic way to co-create content. Pages can be editable by students and teachers.


The People page lists all of the students enrolled in a course.


Each user can modify their Profile in Canvas, including setting their display name, changing the time zone, and uploading a profile picture.


Quizzes are one of the assessment tools used in Canvas.

Registered Services

You can register with a number of web services from Canvas, GoogleDocs, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, Diigo. By linking to the web services you will not need to log in every time you join the service.

Rich Content Editor

Canvas has a simple, yet powerful, word processor that is available anytime for creating new content (assignments, announcement, discussions, blogs etc.) within Canvas.


A Rubric is an assessment tool for communicating expectations of quality. Rubrics are typically comprised of rows and columns. Rows are used to define the various criteria being used to assess an assignment. Columns are used to define levels of performance for each criterion.


Settings allow instructors to customize the Course Navigation, add users, import content, and link to external tools.


The Sidebar on the right side of the page provides the links and buttons you’ll need to get stuff done in the Main Body of the page.


The SpeedGraderâ„¢ makes it easy to evaluate student work. Instructors can use rubrics for fast assessment and leave text, video, and audio comments for their students.


In the Syllabus there are three main parts: a calendar and grading scheme for the course situated in the Sidebar on the right side of the page, a list of dated items in the main body of the page that is automatically managed by Canvas, and a syllabus description at the top of the page that you can edit.