Getting started in Canvas for students

Your first step as a student should be to see what your instructor has shared in the Course Syllabus and any other items your instructor has shared with you. See the sections below for information on how to navigate Canvas, set frequency of notifications, get help with questions, and learn more about some tools that might be used in this course.

How to Navigate Canvas

In this video, you will learn about your Canvas Dashboard and Global Navigation links. You’ll also learn about navigating a course and accessing assignments.

Manage your Canvas notifications

Canvas includes a set of default notifications that you can receive for your courses. However, you can change the default settings by setting your own notification settings. These settings only apply to you; they are not used to control how course updates are sent to other users. To learn more about each notification, default settings, and notification triggers, view the Canvas Student Guide.

Getting Help

Help button icon If you need help using Canvas, you can check the guides shared in the Canvas global navigation menu. Select Help in the bottom of the menu and choose Student Learning Resources or Search the Canvas Guides to locate a solution.

If you feel Canvas is misbehaving, you can easily report a problem by selecting Help and choosing Canvas & IT Support Resources. It is best to do this while on the page where the problem is occurring.

If you need help with an assignment or activity or have any questions, you can contact your instructor directly by selecting Ask Your Instructor a Question from the Help menu to send them a Canvas message. Refer to your course syllabus to find the best times and ways to contact your instructor, and how quickly you can expect a response.

Tools that may be used in this course

Following are descriptions of a few commonly used tools that may be used in this course. There are many other tools available to your instructor.  If you have questions about a tool, contact them using their preferred methods as stated in the syllabus. Information about other tools that may be used in your course can be found on the student support site.


Zoom improves student outcomes with secure video communication services for hybrid classrooms, office hours, and more. Instructors and students access Zoom through the Zoom navigation button in a Canvas course. If you have never used Zoom before, you can refer to the Getting started in Zoom guide.

Accessibility Statement

Privacy Policy


Panopto is a screen and lecture capture tool that can record lectures with PowerPoint, Google Slides, or any other websites your instructor wants to show. You may also be asked to create your own Panopto video as part of an assessment. If you need more information about Panopto, please see these help guides.

Accessibility Statement

Privacy Policy

Google Apps (G Suite)

G Suite is a collection of cloud-based educational tools available to all UM System students. Apps such as Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google sites may help you organize learning materials and projects, collaborate and communicate with your peers on assigned group projects, monitor the project progress, and easily access the content with fewer time and space restraints. To set up a UM Google account, please follow the instructions on the UM System website.

Accessibility Statement

Privacy Policy


A VoiceThread is a collaborative multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways—using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). If you need more information about VoiceThread, please see these help guides.

Accessibility Statement

Privacy Policy

Need help with any tools in this course? Select the Support & Policies link in the course navigation menu for Canvas Support.

Modified on: Thu, Jul 13, 2023 at 11:55 AM

Did you find it helpful?

Can't find the information you need?

Help us improve the site.