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First time Admin help

I am a new - 2 weeks old - Canvas Admin. I've used Canvas as a professor but I've never been on an implementation, launch team for an organization. HELP! Where do I start? This org just purchased the Basic package a month ago and was hit with the "success team" fire hose. A friend suggested that I could help since I had been a user but I've never seen the back side of Canvas and don't know where to begin. HELP!

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22 Replies
Community Participant

Hi  @caccornero ,

Check out 'Be The Hero - New Training Course for Canvas Admins!' in Canvas LMS Community.

All the best in your new role!

Thanks, Dima

I've started making my through the "Hero" stuff. Still overwhelming but I'll continue.

Appreciate your note.

Chris Accornero | Canvas Administrator

Leadership Focus Team


Community Contributor

 @caccornero ‌ - I completely understand!  I am a total newbie to canvas.  I've become a Canvas user and Admin (and Field Admin) in the past week!  So I have to agree with  @dnimri ‌.  I completed the following three courses:  
1) Canvas Admin Launch (you might want to check that out if you haven't done so yet)
2) Growing With Canvas

3) Be the Hero: PSK12

I have spent 20+ hours on these three courses - they are very time consuming and very thorough.   I am happy that I did because I am starting a new job at a school that's been using Canvas for over 6 years.  So it was important to dive right in and just learn it. Hope that helps.

Nice prep for your new role/s rpsimon, then a great idea to just dive right on in there. 


And  @tlampley  what a line up to be included in! Wow. Thanks. 

Community Contributor

U Bet!

Coach Emeritus

Hi  @caccornero  , and welcome to wonderful life of a Canvas Admin.

Don't panic and don't forget your towel!

You are off to a good start in three ways.......

  1. You are in here, and this is the best resource you could ask for. It's my happy place and much better than Disney!
  2. You found the Canvas Admins group, and everybody in there has walked that trail before.
  3. You got the Be The Hero course!

You should also bookmark the Canvas Administrator Guide.

Also, the Canvas - Getting Started as an Admin Guide

I'm going to tell you a little story before I make my next suggestion. in 2012, our State CTC system made the switch to Canvas, and our school was one of five ready to pilot it Fall term. My office partner and I got wind of this InstCon (Instructure Conference) thing happening in June. We talked our boss into sending us to help us prepare for the Fall. Best move ever, and so.............. check this out, put on your knee pads, and go engage in some good old fashioned begging InstructureCon 2019 

The technical expertise is actually the least of your worries. You could train a monkey to be a Canvas Admin, and it wouldn't need to be a particularly smart monkey - don't tell any of my peers that I said that!

What is going to be more challenging is managing the transition to Canvas at your school! Some of it good soft skills, some of it good strong used car salesman skills.  For this, I would suggest joining and following the Canvas User Engagement Group.  Those folks will have you clearing the junker-lot in no time!

Finally, I will circle back around to item #1 in the list of things you did right - come back any time you just need help or advice. This is a very large community (450,000), with lots of very helpful folks. Granted, few of them are as good looking as I am nor have my excellent comedic skills, but they are helpful!


Awesome, Kelley, thanks for reaching out. Love being a monkey!

So appreciate your writing back!


Chris Accornero | Canvas Administrator

Leadership Focus Team


I know, Monkeys are cool, right!?!

In all seriousness,  @caccornero  , we are always happy to help in here. So any time!

Best advice I've seen for a while  @kmeeusen ! Great story too. They always help.

 @Chris_Hofer ‌ also makes a good point  @caccornero ‌, look at your immediate needs first. You don't need to know EVERYTHING all at once. That overwhelming feeling can be broken down to the necessities first, then interest points later.

And I totally agree with the suggested groups to join AND that the Canvas Community has loads of great people to ask questions of, share ideas with, and even share a giggle with. 

I'm envious of your proximity to the InstructureCon 2019. I will be checking it out remotely. Nearly as good.  

If monkeys can do it, chimpanzees can do it better

Oh heck yeah,  @GregoryBeyrer  !

I mean, who ever saw a monkey hanging out with Tarzan?

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @caccornero ...

Are there specific and immediate needs that you advice/help on compared to something that might be able to wait a bit?  For example, do you have questions about SIS Imports, Course Creation, User Management, Reporting, the Theme Editor, all of the above?  If you could help provide some details, that would be great.  I also echo much of what  @kmeeusen ‌ stated...though I am a huge Disney fan.  😉

Here's a good tip: If you are doing SIS imports via a CSV file, *don't* check the box to indicate it is a full batch update...

batch update

...else you risk deleting everything in your instance!

Coach Emeritus

One last quick thing,  @caccornero 

Is your school part of a district or system in which there might be other Canvas admins you could network with? It is much easier to work with a network!

If not, that is another good reason to try to get to instCon this summer, because the networking is awesome.


Coach Emeritus

 @caccornero  ,  @Chris_Hofer ‌ gave good advice, which prompts me to tell yet another story, maybe even two.

I already talked about our attending the 2012 InstCon as prep for getting started with Canvas. When we returned from Park City, Utah, we were incredibly excited and ready to get rocking and rolling with our Canvas instance and setting up our pilot - this was second half of June. Unfortunately our State Board and Canvas were not ready. days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and our Fall term pilot was looming. We had a dozen brave faculty read with something more than 30 courses they were willing to try. We had scheduled our faculty training date, and were starting to panic. Finally, the Wednesday before our schedule Monday faculty training, we got our instance. Between Wednesday, and Monday morning we enrolled our faculty, created empty course shells, set up the term, built some test students, enrolled them via CSV, and taught ourselves enough of the faculty side to do our Monday training. It was that easy!

Learn what you absolutely must to get started, then work your bottom off learning enough to keep ahead of your fist group of victims (oops, I meant volunteers). Long before your second term, you will be much better prepared for a larger rollout!

 @GregoryBeyrer  mentioned enrollment management, and he is sooooo right! This is an area you will will need to figure out rather quickly. For this we had the advantage of being part of a state system with five colleges participating in the pilot, and a state geek working on an integrations for our state student information system (SMS); which, of course, would be piloted right along with our Canvas pilot. The integration would create the section shells in the term, and enroll the faculty and students. With the first integration run, we immediately noted that the state's course naming convention would not work with the short course-name fields in Canvas. Faculty would not see the section numbers and term designators, and we recognized that this would be a problem as the numbers of course grew in each user account.

So, consider your course naming format. Keep key identifiers withing the first 15 spaces or  so. Canvas has since improved many of these field (Like in the Inbox) with expanding hover-text, but it is still challenging. We get many inquiries, questions, concerns, feature requests and outright complaints in this Community from folks who are challenged finding the correct courses - start out with this as a consideration.  Here is an example from our own format.....

HIT105 2522 - F19 - Comprehensive Medical Terminology

And here is what it looks like in the user Courses list..


And here is what it looks like in the Conversations Inbox when addressing a message......


As you can see, the term designator is hidden, but at least you can find narrow down to the correct course ID, and hover text helps with the rest.

You are going to have so much fun on this new adventure! It will more fun than a barrel of monkeys!


Community Contributor

Greetings All ( @kmeeusen    @GregoryBeyrer   @Bobby2   @Chris_Hofer   @dnimri  AND ESPECIALLY  @caccornero  ) Smiley Happy 

Seeing posts like this, from the Seasoned Vet's of our Canvas Community reminds me just how special this "thing" is we've got going!

You're all the best, and am happy just to be in the room with y'all!

Have a SUPER Day!

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Community Contributor

@Stefanie_Sanders, any chance this will be released an be able to import

into a Canvas course? Smiley Wink

On Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 8:07 AM stefaniesanders <>

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rpsimon‌, we maintain a parallel set of our documentation on a different platform for Canvas-course-embedding purposes, and you'll find the new Admin resource at Getting Started Tutorials | Canvas Guides (en) 

Community Contributor

So Stefanie, just to clarify, will I be able to find this in the Canvas Commons too?  

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rpsimon‌, we (Instructure) don't create Canvas Commons courses for our documentation; it's all housed and updated here. That said, perhaps our members have used the documentation to create their own resource courses, and have updated their courses to reflect the new resources. You might want to post a question to that effect in the Commons Users Group‌ to see if someone is aware of a course that encompasses the Getting Started resources.

Community Contributor

Thank you for clarifying, stefaniesanders‌! Smiley Happy