Canvas Quick Start

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.Canvas is generally considered intuitive and user friendly, but the fact is that any learning management system is highly sophisticated software with a wide variety of tools, settings, options, and possibilities.  

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “How do I use Canvas?”

But there are some good places to start.

Where to begin?

First, do you have the skills?  Find out if you are well prepared to use Canvas:

Essentials – Quick Technology Self-Check

After that, the best place for faculty to learn how to use Canvas is with training from TMI.  

View the Canvas Training Schedule
or Make An Appointment

But if you’re just anxious to dive right in, here are a few tips to point you in the right direction… 

How To Access Canvas

A link to Canvas is also available on this site at the top of the sidebar on the right.

Overview Of Canvas Interface

This video provides an overview of all the components in the Canvas interface, and is a good introduction for instructors new to Canvas..

The Dashboard

The Dashboard is the first thing you see when accessing Canvas.  It serves as an entry point to your courses, provides a selection of updates on activities occurring within the courses, and includes an option to make new courses for your own experimentation and development.


See the Canvas Guide:

How do I use the Dashboard?

Customize Your Course List

Know how to show/hide your courses on the Dashboard, and Courses menu!  

Be sure to put the courses you use most in the Courses menu for easy access.


See the Canvas Guide:

Customize Your Course List

Add Your Syllabus

One of the most fundamental elements of a course is the syllabus. This is a good starting point for faculty just learning Canvas, and an essential asset for students.

Instructors may add the course syllabus as:

text pasted directly into Canvas (e.g. from a Word document)
as a link to a file (e.g. a PDF document)

Per the Academic Senate, all faculty are strongly encouraged to post their syllabi in the District learning management system (Canvas).

See the Canvas Guide:

How do I use the Syllabus as an Instructor

Import Content From Another Course (course copy)

If you have already developed content in a “sandbox” course, you will need to copy the content into a official course for use with students.  This process is also used when copying content from one semester to the next.

Students are only enrolled  into official Butte College courses, which are created automatically.  Do not attempt to add students to a development course.

See: Preparing For A New Semester: Copy Course Content

See the Canvas Guide:

How do I import content from another Canvas course?

“Publish” Your Course

A course can either be “Published” or “Unpublished,” as determined by the instructor.  


Courses are not published automatically.  You must publish your course to make it available!

See the Canvas Guide:

How do I publish a Course?

Explore The Canvas Guides

Getting Started with Canvas as an Instructor
The complete list of fundamental Canvas Guides for teachers.

Other critical information for new users:

How do I view my Canvas courses?

How do I set my Notification Preferences?

How do I reorder and hide Course Navigation links?

How do I change the course Home Page?

How do I use the Syllabus as an Instructor?

How do I create a new Page in my course?


3 Responses to “Canvas Quick Start”

  1. John Martin says:

    I need to copy and transfer my HIST 10 course into my Canvas HIST 10 course ASAP.

    • Chris P. (admin) says:

      Hi John,
      If you are referring to copying a HIST 10 course you have developed in Canvas, see the link above for help with importing content from one Canvas course to another. If you need to move content from a Bb course to Canvas, please contact TMI and we can make an appointment to evaluate your needs.

  2. Daniel Griggs says:

    Course copy/import was easy when I copied ‘all content’. The new shell was for a Fall class which starts 22 August. I noticed that in student view I could not access any quizzes because the course, technically,was not available, even to the ‘test student’ (before 22 August). So make sure that your course really is set to go before you copy it into the official course shell.

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