Canvas Settings That Make Teachers' Lives Easier

Community Team
Community Team

Today, I'm co-leading a short presentation on Canvas updates at my institution. During that presentation, I will highlight some Canvas Settings (that may not be 100% intuitive to faculty members). Based part of the discussion from Saving a partial test​, I thought I'd share some of these [Hidden] Canvas Settings so other K-12'ers could benefit.

Assignment Options in Canvas

  • Display Grade As… has several options. After entering the amount of points a student can earn, be aware of the options for gradebook display.
    • Percentage
    • Complete/Incomplete
    • Points (default)
      • The default is what Canvas programmed. Click View Grading Schemes to see other options.
      • If your institution has their own grading schemes, you need to select the appropriate grading scheme from the list. Just like with rubrics, this needs to be done with each assignment.
    • Letter Grade
    • GPA
      • As an institution for grades 9-12, we've found this confuses our students. We do not recommend our teachers to use this options. Your institution may have their own preferences.
    • Not Graded
  • Available From/Until is a great tool for teachers. It does have some limitations at this point.
    • Teachers can publish a page, assignment or quiz and set the Available From date. Until this time, students will not be able to access any information on that item. The Available Until date will relock the assignment.
    • Once the Available Until date has passed, students can access the item’s information and feedback from the browser version of Canvas only. If students access locked/closed items from the iOS app, they will only see a padlock. (Note: Canvas is working on this functionality in Mobile. See the discussion in What is the difference between assignment due dates and availability dates?​)

Notes in Gradebook

  • In Gradebook settings, teachers can Show Notes Column. This will create an entire column for a teacher to use for private memos about students right next to their name/user information and grades.
  • One idea would be to place their graduation year in the column. Another would be to write short-hand codes for important information like “A” for accommodation plan or learning plans (not the plan itself!), etc. to jolt your memory in an inconspicuous manner.


  • In Course Settings (directly under the file storage box), there is a place for TurnItIn Comments. Whatever you type in the box will appear with each assignment for which a teacher activates TurnItIn submissions. Of course this box will not appear if TurnItIn is not activated for your institution/course. I like this feature because you can kindly remind students that their submissions will be scanned through TurnItIn, but Canvas helps you by "canning" a message to add to those assignments.
  • When creating an assignment, and you select Enable TurnItIn Submissions, you have many options. Teachers can also select when students see the originality report: immediately, after grading, after the due date, or never. While there are pro's and con's to both, hopefully teachers can find that one of those fits well with their classroom.

Discussion Options

  • These settings are not in the same location as the discussions themselves. There are some important settings linked to the main course’s settings.
  • From your course’s home page, click Course Settings. Then More Options at the end of the page.
    • Let students attach files to discussions
    • Let students create discussion topics
    • Let students edit or delete their own discussion posts

Saving a Quiz Mid Test

  • Canvas quizzes automatically save when a student completes a question. There is not a formal “save button.” As long as there is not a time restriction on the quiz, students are able to complete the quiz at a later time.
  • Sometimes it is important for a faculty member to administer/monitor the quiz. To restrict a student from continuing a quiz on their own, it is possible to update the password for a quiz even if there are active attempts.

If anybody has other settings that they highlight with their staff, feel free to reply to this post!