What is Canvas?

Canvas is a learning management system that many universities utilize for online assignment submissions, quizzes, announcements, and discussions. If you've never used this platform before here are the 3 things you will need:

  • The web address of your institution's Canvas site
  • Your username
  • Your password

If you do not know the web address, you can find a link to the external website either on your institution’s homepage, or by asking your professor for assistance.

Canvas Layout

The layout for Canvas may differ among institutions. Once you have logged in, the main center of your Canvas is the Dashboard. This page is where you will find all of your classes, your to-do list, and general announcements from your school or university.

The main navigation tabs are on the left hand side of the screen. The panel tabs are as follows:

  • Account
  • Dashboard
  • Courses
  • Calendar
  • Inbox
  • Help

When you click on the Courses tab, it will show all the classes you are enrolled in. From here, you can select your course and proceed to the home page for that class.

Navigating down the home page, you will find your course menu, which will vary depending on the class but will look similar to the following:

  • Home
  • Announcements
  • Assignments
  • Discussions
  • Grades
  • People
  • Files
  • Syllabus
  • Quizzes
  • Conferences
  • Collaborations
  • Chat

Navigating Canvas

The general layout for most Canvas sites is free of graphics and unlabeled buttons. This means that you can freely use your up and down arrow keys, along with the tab key, to navigate pages. However, here are some helpful keyboard shortcuts that might facilitate faster navigation of the site:

  • Press q to navigate by region. Canvas utilizes regions, which means that you can get to the main part of a page and avoid menu items.
  • Press v to navigate visited links, which is helpful when you need to visit the same link routinely.
  • Press Control+shift+k to set a place marker, so after you can simply hit the letter k to navigate to that place from any spot on the page.
  • Press h to navigate by heading, e by edit box, and b by button. All are common organization schemes on Canvas.
  • Press Control+f to find exact text directly. Once you enter the word or phrase and press enter, use f3 to navigate by occurrence.

Submitting Assignments

Typically, file submissions happen in the assignments section of a course Canvas page. Once there, go to the main region and find your assignment and press enter. Then find the button to submit.

This action will open up a dialogue to either submit a text entry or a file upload, but your instructor can limit what types of submissions are valid. If you have a file on your computer, you can tab to the file option and select a file from your file system. You can also choose the text entry option, and use the letter e to get to the rich text area. After pasting your text, tab until you find the done button. In both cases, make sure to tab until you find the submit button. You should be able to arrow down from the assignment page to confirm it was submitted successfully.


Visit the Canvas Community Page on Accessibility to learn more.