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Canvas 101

| 4 minute read

As an online student, you don’t have to come to campus or sit in a classroom, but there is a place where you can find all your assignments, class information, and even communicate with your instructors. For online students, Canvas is the go-to hub for all your classes. Since you’ll be spending a large amount of time logged into this site, we wanted to make sure you knew what to expect when you get there. Let’s talk about all the things you can do after you log in.

The first thing you will need is your USM Outlook login information. If you haven’t already registered, or if you need to reset your password, visit our iTech page to open a work order. If you do have your Outlook information, all you’ll need is your student ID (which will look similar to w123456), and your Outlook password. Once you’re ready, log into Canvas, and let’s take a quick tour.

What’s inside

The first you’ll see once you’ve logged in is the Canvas Dashboard. If there are any announcements from Canvas that apply to everyone, you’ll see them on this page. If you’re looking for announcements specific to your classes, you’ll find them into your “Courses” section. You will also see a quick link to the classes you’ve enrolled in, and on the left-hand side of the window you’ll see a navigation bar.
(Note: You will only see classes that have been published in your Canvas student view.)

If you would like to view your classes in a list view, or check back on classes you have already taken, you can click the next icon down on the navigation bar labeled Courses. When you click the courses icon you’ll see your classes listed above a link that allowed you to view your past classes. There’s much to do for a past class, so click on one of your currently enrolled courses, and we’ll take a look at everything you can do there.

Of course each class will be different, but let’s go over the sections to get a feel of what you can expect. The first thing you’ll see is the course’s homepage. This will house any pinned post your professor provides pertaining to the course if your professor has set this up. 

Below the link to the course’s Home page, you’ll find the discussion board. This will be where you can post and comment on others’ posts. If there is a discussion element to your online class, it will more than likely happen in this section.

The Grades section is another important section that should allow you to stay on top of your progress. If your professor posts any grades you have received, you can view them here.

Another couple of sections you’ll find very helpful is the Assignments and Quizzes. Perhaps a little self-explanatory, but this will be where you can find your assignments and quizzes once they are posted.

The next section you’ll see is the Syllabus section. Here you should find your course syllabus, or a link to it. If your professor has uploaded a syllabus for the class, it will more than likely be housed here.

tools and Support

Library Resources is the next section of the course. Here you can access the USM library database to help find articles, sources for papers, or supplemental pieces to help you fully understand what you’re learning in class.

The final section of the course is Cisco Webex. If you have a synchronous class, you can access the lecture portion here.

Let’s take a step back and return to the navigation bar on the left-hand side. Below the course sections, you’ll find your Calendar. When you click on the calendar, you’ll be able to see any due assignments, meetings, or upcoming events that have been scheduled. On the right side of the calendar, you can click on a new date on the calendar and view the upcoming events from that day, week and month. You can also select which classes you want to see. This can help you prioritize your homework schedule, as well as keep your assignments and preparation in order.

Next you’ll see your Inbox. If any messages are sent to you or your classroom, you can find them all here. You can use the dropdown menu at the top of the window to view messages regarding specific classes.

Below your inbox, you’ll see the History section. This will help you keep track of things you have done, and files you have accessed through Canvas. If you ever get lost in Canvas or forgot where a file is saved, you can click this section and scroll through your history until you find your place again.

Finally, if you have any problems with Canvas, you can use the last feature on the navigation bar, the Help & Resources section. Here you can find answers to questions you have about Canvas. You can also report and issue you’re having and Canvas will help you get it fixed.

If you’re not a student, but you’re thinking of making a change in your education, Let us know which program you’re considering, and we’ll reach out to you. Our enrollment coaches are eager to get you on your path to a new career!


Office of Online Learning

All blog posts are written and maintained by the Office of Online Learning at The University of Southern Mississippi. We provide support to online students, to faculty teaching online courses, and to units seeking to develop, grow, or improve online programs at the University.

For more information, email us at online@usm.edu.