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Frequently Asked Questions

Will VCU be moving to Canvas right away? The first courses taught in Canvas were in Summer 2020, with even more in the Fall of 2020. Training opportunities were available in late Summer 2020 and will continue throughout the transition and beyond. Blackboard course content must be moved to Canvas by May 31, 2021. All courses will be taught in Canvas beginning Summer 2021.  Please refer to the timeline details.

How can I get an answer to a question that doesn’t appear in this list?  Please use this Google form to submit your questions.

Q) Does Canvas have the same features as Blackboard?

A) Yes, Canvas has many of the same features as  Blackboard, but not all. There are some new features and some familiar ones, such as  discussions, groups, gradebook, modules, etc. Please refer to the VCU Blackboard to Canvas Equivalences Chart, which compares the features and provides linkkd and information for each.

Q) Could My Media Gallery be used as a repository of online external links (like vimeo) I want students to view.

A) The "My Media" and "Media Gallery" options in course navigation are generally used for Kaltura Media embedding. Canvas does have a tool in the Rich Content Editor that supports Vimeo, YouTube, and Kaltura content.

Q) Can Excel files be submitted as graded assignments?

A) Yes. Supported File Types are listed in the Canvas Guides: How Do I Create an Online Assignment?

Q) Can faculty hold synchronous classes through the Conferences tab?

A) Yes. The conferencing tool that is packaged with Canvas is Big Blue Button. It does has limitations. For example, recordings are only kept for 2 weeks (14 days) and are not downloadable. You may find Zoom to be better suited for this task.

Q) Can formula sheets and statistical tables be added to tests?

A) Yes. See the How Do I Create a Formula Quiz Question With a Single Variable? page. You can also use the Canvas Formula Quiz Question Helper Functions.

Q) How is partial credit added to test questions?

A) Yes. Question Types with partial credit options are outlined here on the Understanding Multiple Answers Questions page.

Q) How can users rename course tabs/navigation menu (i.e. "meeting room" instead of discussion board, or "course articles", etc.?)

A) Usres cannot rename the existing Course Menu options. However, the Redirect Tool can be used to create custom links in the course navigation. your course. In addition, links can be hidden.

Q) How can I create a reoccurring event without having to manually enter the each time? (i.e. Weekly Office Hours)

A) The Canvas Calendar has a great agenda feature that will allow you to create office hours. More information can be found in the Canvas Guides here

Q) How do we create a canvas course card with an image/gif? Are animated Canvas cards just gifs?

A) Users can upload an image to display behind the course card in the Canvas Dashboard. Accepted images include JPG, JPEG, GIF, and PNG files. For more inforamation on how this is done, see the Add an Image to a Course Card page.

Q) Is there a way to set up a course for self-enroll?

A) Canvas Self-Enroll is being evaluated and how we would approach using that option. We believe that Canvas Catalog is a viable solution and will be providing more information on that in the near future.

Q) Does Canvas support groups within a class the way Blackboard did?

A) Yes, Canvas offers course and department-level groups. Go to the "What are Groups?" page for more information.

Q) Is there a Canvas mobile app?

A) Yes, there are Student and Instructor mobile apps available for iOS, iPadOS, and Android. Announcements, Discussions, Quizzes, Assignments, and Grades can be accessed from the Student app. The teacher app allows annotations in the Canvas DocViewer. For more information, go to the Canvas Mobile askIT page.

Q) Does Canvas make my course content more accessible for my students?

A) Canvas is built to be an accessible platform, but development of accessible content within a course is the instructor's responsibility and still needs to adhere to university accessibility guidelines. For more information, please refer to "Resources for instructional faculty to use in their teaching" at

Q) Does the accessibility checker work?

A) Instructure has stated that the Rich Content Editor's accessibility checker tool is an ongoing project and they are continuing to improve the 11 different checks that it currently performs. More information can be found in the Canvas Community.

Q) How are test results and feedback defaulted to display after students have submitted a test? On a certain date? After it has been graded? etc.

A) There are a few options to select when deciding how you would like test/quiz results to display. Here you will find the different options for setting up a quiz.

Q) How is Extra Credit handled?

A) Canvas outlines a few way you can potentially administer extra credit. See the How do I give Extra Credit? page for details.

Q) Does Canvas offer a weighted grade system?

A) Instructors can create as many assignment groups as necessary to accomplish variations of weighting. PLease view the How Do I Weight the Final Course Grade Based on Assignment Groups? and How Do I Create Rules for an Assignment Group? pages in the Canvas Guides.

Q) How do users manually create a column in the gradebook?

A) Columns in the Gradebook are only created by adding an assignment in Canvas. If you need to create a column in the Gradebook to use for manual grading, you can create a No Submission or On Paper assignment.

Q) Will I be able to push my class grades from Canvas directly into Banner?

A) This capability is available and will be completed before the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Until then, the process will be very similar to pulling grades from Blackboard for import into Banner.

Q) I currently use a third party tool or publisher integration in my Blackboard course. Can I use that in Canvas?

A) The TS Learning Systems staff have evaluated all Blackboard integrations that are currently in place and have already implemented most of them in Canvas, including Zoom, Kaltura and VoiceThread. Work will continue to address any that have not been installed.  Most third party apps and publishing integrations that work in Blackboard will work similarly in Canvas.

Q) Please elaborate on the ease of recording class in Zoom, sending to Kaltura, and then having it go to Canvas (like it has in the past to Blackboard)? 

A) Zoom is currently integrated with Canvas and can be made available through course navigation. This is excellent for scheduling recordings, which will automatically notify your students and place a link on their course calendar. All Zoom Cloud recordings are currently being copied to Kaltura and can be accessed through the "My Media" option in Canvas for embedding the final video.

Q) Does Canvas come with a web conferencing tool?

A) Yes. The conferencing tool that is packaged with Canvas is Big Blue Button. It does has limitations. For example, recordings are only kept for 2 weeks (14 days) and are not downloadable. Canvas also integrates seamlessly with Zoom and Collaborate Ultra.

Q) Will Canvas have Plagiarism detection?

A) Turnitin has been chosen as the university supported plagiarism tool and has already been integrated with Canvas. Faculty training has already been conducted. The recording for this training is posted on the Canvas Training Videos page, in addition to the recordings for all trainings that have taken place so far. For more informations and step-by-step instructions, go to the Turnitin askIT page.

Q) Will SoftChalk be integrated with Canvas? How is this used?

A) Yes. There are a great many options and all are listed on the vendor's web site here:

Q) How do you link Google Drive in your Canvas course so student can participate in collaborative editing or fill out a google doc for an assignment? How does faculty set up the Google doc for the cloud assignment so they are giving them a master copy?

A) First, the instructor will need to link Google Drive as a Service. Second, a Google Doc can be either embedded in a Canvas Page or you can use the Collaboration Tool to share the document with one or more students.

Q) Can quizzes and exams be uploaded to Canvas' grading section when using the "MyLab Finance" through Pearson Publishers?

A) The MyLab Finance app and Pearson will work similar to how it does in Blackboard.

Q) How does Canvas work with the Adobe Creative Cloud integration? Will Adobe Portfolio specifically integrate (i.e. as the Drive/Vimeo etc. does) or just Adobe Spark?

A) The Adobe Creative Cloud has been integrated with Canvas. See the Adobe website for more information.

Q) Can videos posted in Bb using Kaltura media be copied into Canvas? How are they incorporated into Modules? Pages?

A) Kaltura videos that already exist in your My Media can be embedded into Canvas. The same Kaltura Mediaspace is accessible in both Canvas and Blackboard at VCU.

Q) I'm a faculty member. Will I be trained on how to use Canvas?

A) Yes, you can find the training schedule on our Canvas website, under the Support & Training tab (

Q) What will happen with my Blackboard course(s)? Will I be able to copy over my content? Will there be a My Faculty Tools app for new course creation and copy, similar to what we have in Blackboard now?

A) No, users do not have ability to create their own courses in Canvas. An empty course shell will be created for every new Canvas course before the start of a new semester. The instructor of record will be automatically enrolled, as well as, registered students. 

Copy Content within Canvas - Here are instruction on how to  Copy a Course or Export and Import a Course within Canvas. These will be a great help when transferring content from one semester to another.  

Transfer Content from Blackboard to Canvas - Instructions to export content from Blackboard and import into Canvas. IMPORTANT NOTE: Content must be exported from Blackboard by May 31, 2021.

Q) When will Canvas courses be created so that faculty can begin to enter content?

A) Canvas courses will be created about a week before advance registration begins.

Q) Will Blackboard Organizations be transferred to Canvas?

A) As with courses, it is the leader's responsibility to retrieve all content from their Blackboard organization, including Promotion and Tenure.

Here are some steps to take for getting this accomplished:

The deadline to retrieve organization content is March 31, 2021, not to be confused the the deadline to retrieve course content on May 31, 2021

Q) How are course archives and incompletes handled in Canvas? Will faculty have permanent access to those courses and will that include student records?

A) Courses Archives will be kept in the Canvas Cloud for several years and will be accessible by instructors under their previous courses area, which can be found under Courses in Global Navigation. For now, faculty have access to those courses permanently but this could change over the course of several years with the development of new retention policies. Yes, student records will be included.

For Spring ’21 Incompletes: The faculty member would indicate to us using the Request a Continuous Enrollment Course Shell form, requesting a “continuous enrollment" course for students who need a place to submit work to clear their incomplete. This should only be needed during this transition period. Once VCU is fully Canvas, the instructor can add a section to their course and modify term settings to keep the original course open so the student can continue submitting work in the same place. Go to the Students with Incomplete Grades page for more information.

For subpoenas and other legal grade requests/disputes: We have a way to extract grades from Blackboard archive files, so at a minimum we should be able to produce a CSV file that is requested. In addition, it is always recommended that faculty download their Blackboard grade book at the end of each semester and keep for their own records. This is even more encouraged as we transition between LMS'. Go to the The Blackboard to Canvas Archive Process page for more information.


Q) How are courses Cross-Listed (formally known as merging in Bb) in Canvas?

A) Cross-listing can now be performed by the instructors themselves. This can be accomplished by going to the course your are cross-listing FROM under Course Settings and clicking on the sections tab and pushing them out to the course you are cross-listing TO. For more information, go to the Cross-List Course Sections askIt page.

Q) How do I give students access to my course?

A) When a course remains unpublished, students do not have access. A course must be published in order for students to see it on their Dashboard, assuming it is being published within the term dates set in place. Once the course is published, you can determine how much content you want students to view. Once the instructor has graded a submission, they will no longer have the option to unpublish the course. For more information, see the Publish and Unpublish a Course askIT page.

Q) When publishing a course, is this immediate or on a delay?

A) Students will be able to access the course immediately after publishing, assuming it is within the start and end default term dates. Here is more information on term dates and how to change them if needed. Also, please note that you will be unable to unpublish a course if you have graded an item in the gradebook.

Q) What are Term Dates?

A) By default all courses are set to open and close on a certain date. These dates will follow the spring term dates set forth by the university. This means, if you publish your course before the defaulted open date has approached, the students will still be unable to access the course. You will then have to go and change the default term dates. If you need students to still have access after the default term date has ended you again need to go in and make sure these dates are what you need. If you follow the default dates set by VCU, you only need to publish your course.

Q) How do I make course content available?

A) When creating content within your course, you have the option to publish that content immediately or leave it unpublished until you are ready for the students to view it.

Q) How can users import the VCU Course Template? 

A) Please see the Import the VCU Course Template askIT page for instruction on how to import the VCU Template.

Q) How can I send a join link to students/faculty/staff for an organization in Canvas

A) This can only be done with manually created courses (i.e. sandboxes or organizations,) not for credit courses. Here you can find instruction on how to enable course self-enrollment with a join code or secret URL.