Getting Started with Canvas

What is Canvas?

Developed by Instructure, Inc., Canvas is IU's learning management system (LMS). Canvas includes most of the standard tools found in open source and commercial management systems (assignments, discussions, announcements, quizzes, syllabus, etc.) as well as enhanced tools and features for communication, collaboration, and assessment, including real-time web conferencing, a multimedia recorder, a Google Docs integration, outcomes and rubrics, and course analytics.

All IU students, faculty, and staff can log into Canvas using their IU credentials or an IU Guest account. You can access Canvas at IU from a web browser (on a computer, smartphone, or tablet) or via the mobile apps distributed by Instructure.

If you need to access Canvas with an IU group account, you will need to contact the UITS Mission Critical team and request a corresponding Canvas account. For more about accessing Canvas, see Access Canvas at IU.

How do I access my courses?

  • Go to, then click the Login button.
  • Once you have logged in, view your course(s) in the “Courses & Groups” dropdown menu at the top.  
  • Canvas works great on desktops, laptops and mobile devices.

A course I’m teaching in the future is not yet available. Can I still get started in Canvas?

Yes! First, you will want to create a practice site in Canvas (aka “Course Shell). Once you create the practice site, you can add in all your future course content here. Once the official course becomes available, you can easily import all content to the new course.

How will students know where to find my course?

Students will not be able to access course sites in Canvas until they are published. If you are not using Canvas, you do not need to take any special action to prevent your students from accessing your Canvas course.

How will students learn Canvas?

Students have had very few issues with using Canvas due to its intuitive and easy-to-use design. Canvas has an excellent student guide and a large support community online. Students can also contact the UITS Support Center for additional help.

Where can I get additional help as an instructor?

Center for Teaching and Learning

phone: (317) 274-1300
755 West Michigan Street
UL 1125
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5146
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