Policies and Procedures Governing Canvas


What is Canvas?

  • Canvas is the primary Learning Management System (LMS) used by Chico State students, faculty, and staff for academic and research purposes.
  • Canvas is web-based, which means you can access it anywhere there is internet access.
  • Canvas is cross-platform for Windows, Mac, and mobile users.

The administrators of the Learning Management System will make every effort to:

  • Safeguard the privacy of individuals using the system
  • Ensure backup and recovery procedures are current and functional
  • Follow established change management procedures for upgrades and maintenance

Account Creation

User accounts in Canvas are created and updated by Account Center. Accounts are created or disabled automatically by Account Center based on a user's active affiliation records, such as student status or employment status, as specified in PeopleSoft.

Account Center assigns the following information for each account:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email
  • Login ID
  • Student ID number

The Email field will be set to either a user's legacy WildcatMail address (*@mail.csuchico.edu) or their Exchange address (*@csuchico.edu), depending on whether the user is a student or not.

Does having an account give me access to courses?

Most of the content in Canvas is kept in courses and organizations. You must have an account before you can gain access to those, but an account by itself does not grant any course/org access.

Do all students, faculty, and staff have Canvas accounts?

All current/active students, faculty, and staff have Canvas accounts; this includes employees of university auxiliaries.

Do former students have access to Canvas?

Former students will have their Canvas accounts disabled after a period of time in accordance with the university's identity and access management policies.

What about other users, such as volunteers or consultants?

After appropriate paperwork is on file, registered volunteers and consultants can request access to Canvas by opening a ticket at IT Support Services (ITSS).

Course Access

General access to Canvas system: Canvas policy is aligned with FERPA requirements, Chico State computer and network use policies, and reviewed and approved by the Registrar’s office in collaboration with General Counsel. Canvas course sites are created based on information verified in PeopleSoft, including Subject, Catalog Numbers, and Class Number. Course sites are populated with users based on information verified in PeopleSoft. Other users added to course sites are received through requests by the instructor of the course to their department chair. These additional requests normally include Graduate Teaching Assistants, Graders, and Co-Instructors. All other users must have a documented “educational purpose” for their enrollment into the Canvas course site. Enrollment of other users must be approved by the instructor of the course and the department chair. The only users enrolled in the course who have access to making changes in the grade center should be the instructor and, if appropriate, TA or Grader. An exception to this guideline may be made to assist the instructor with technical issues in the grade center on a short-term by the support staff or after approval from appropriate administrators.

Course enrollments are primarily controlled through PeopleSoft. Enrollment changes in PeopleSoft will normally sync over to Canvas within 15 minutes, provided that certain conditions are met:

  • All enrollments are held until the user's Canvas account exists
  • Faculty enrollments are held until HR finishes processing the user's I-9 paperwork
  • Changes to prior or future terms may not be processed automatically

Access to Course Sites During a Term

Instructors have access to their course sites from the date the course is loaded into Canvas until the section's end date specified in PeopleSoft. Instructors should not rely on the term dates listed on the course settings page to determine when students can participate in the course. Additionally, instructors have ten days of extended access after the configured end date to wrap up course-related activities, including grading. After this extended period, the course section will transition into a read-only state, restricting instructors from making modifications unless they manually change the end date in Canvas.

Instructors have unrestricted access to their course sites before the official start date, allowing them to prepare and organize course materials in advance. Students can access course sites immediately after the instructor publishes the course, but they cannot participate (i.e., submit assignments) until the section's configured start date unless the instructor changes the section start date. Instructors should only publish courses when they are ready for students to see the course content.

For example, if a course in the Fall semester starts on September 1 and ends on September 30, students will be able to participate in the course from August 21 at 5 PM to October 9 at 5 PM. Instructors will also be able to enter grades in Canvas until October 9 at 5 PM. After that, the course transitions to a read-only state.

Incompletes in the LMS

University Incomplete Policy

The university's policy for Incomplete grades is set by Executive Memorandum 10-018. The EM states that

Incompletes (I) will be assigned only in cases where instructors conclude that a clearly identifiable pattern of course requirements cannot be met for unforeseen reasons. An Incomplete shall not be assigned when it is necessary for the student to attend a major portion of the class when it is next offered. An Incomplete is also prohibited where the normal practice requires extension of course requirements beyond the close of a term, e.g., thesis or project-type courses. In such cases, use of the RP symbol is required.

Application of the Incomplete Policy to Canvas

In Canvas, courses automatically enter a read-only state roughly 10 days after the course section's configured end date (usually the last day of an academic term). This means that course content cannot be created, updated, or deleted. Likewise, students cannot submit assignments nor can instructors grade assignments. This can be overridden in limited circumstances, such as for students with incompletes, courses that transcend the bounds of a single academic term, or if an instructor needs additional time to compute student grades after the end of the term.

If a student needs access to a course from a previous term to fulfill the requirements of an Incomplete, the Learning Technologies team will, at the course instructor's request, create a special section in the course shell that allows both the student and instructor extended participation and access. The end date for this section will be set in accordance with the expiration date set on the incomplete contract.

However, if a student needs access to a current term course in Canvas, the Learning Technologies team must request approval from the registrar. The initial request should come to the Learning Technologies team via a ticket with compelling reasons for the exception. When the ticket is received, the Learning Technologies team will contact the registrar for approval. If the request is approved, Learning Technologies will create a new section in the requested course and add the student and faculty with a specific expiration date that is within the year as allowed by the EM.

When requesting extended access to a current or previous term course shell the instructor should include the following information in the ticket:

  • Student's name and Wildcat ID
  • Full course ID (e.g., 2232-BIOL-101-1234) or Canvas course URL
  • End date for the incomplete contract
  • Compelling reasons for special access (only for adding a student to a section they were not regularly enrolled in)

Application of the Incomplete Policy to Legacy Blackboard Learn Courses

This section applies specifically to students taking courses in Blackboard during the Summer and Spring of 2023. Fall 2023 courses were not loaded into Blackboard, and faculty are unable to add anyone to any course in Blackboard since August 1st, 2023. Faculty and students will be able to access previous Blackboard courses through December 21st, 2023.

  • Students can complete the work in the section they were enrolled in.
  • Students cannot be added to current term courses as they will not exist in Blackboard.

Cross-listing sections

Several class definitions and use cases exist:

  • Lecture
  • Lecture and lab with all students
  • Large lecture with small breakouts

For reference, we're including the following glossary terms:

  • Combined Class  Two separate classes taught at the same time and location, such as Ballroom for men and women.
  • True Cross-listed Course  One class owned by two departments, such as Multicultural & Gender Studies and Psychology.
  • Cross-listed Section  Sharing one Canvas space between two or more classes with different enrollment populations.

By default, each section of a course is given its own space in Canvas. Instructors can elect to cross-list two or more of those sections together. For example, an instructor who is teaching one course with two lecture sections and four lab sections might prefer to keep all of their Canvas content in one place.

Note: it is recommended to avoid cross-listing courses that share the same meeting space, enrollments, and content (e.g., a lecture and its attached discussion section)

Cross-listing courses in Canvas can also be useful when multiple instructors want to share a course shell. Here are the steps for two instructors to cross-list their courses:

  1. Nominate one instructor to be the "primary" instructor who will manage the cross-listing process.
  2. Contact the department and request that the "primary" instructor be added to the other class as a Teacher. The department should be able to add the "primary" instructor to the other course as a teacher in Canvas.
  3. The "primary" instructor should then perform the cross-listing process by following the same steps as outlined in the guide below.

To cross-list a section, refer to TLP Guide: Cross Listing Canvas Course Sections.

If a cross-list was made in error, open a ticket with Learning Technologies. Note: de-cross-listing a section after students have already started participating will result in the loss of student data.

Sandbox Courses

As soon as an instructor is assigned a course to teach in PeopleSoft, they are given the ability to create sandbox courses in Canvas. Sandbox courses will never receive student enrollments and are useful to prepare content, experiment with Canvas features, or collaborate with colleagues.

Student Access to Courses

Students register for courses through the Student Center in PeopleSoft. In Canvas, enrollments will typically process within 15 minutes, assuming the term has been loaded.

Students have access to a course from the time it's published until the conclusion of the course, typically ten days after the end of an academic term. After the course concludes, students have read-only access to the course.

Students can typically begin participating in a course ten days before the listed start date of an academic term.

Instructor Access to Courses

Once HR populates an instructor's data in PeopleSoft, their department office can assign them to teach courses. Instructor enrollments will begin processing as soon as a term is loaded into Canvas.

Instructors can request additional people to be added to their course through their department chair. See the Canvas Roles guide for more information on this policy and the available roles in Canvas.

Instructors have read and write access to a course from the time it is loaded into the LMS until the conclusion of the course, typically ten days after the end of an academic term. Instructors can extend the end date of a section in the course settings if additional time is needed to complete tasks within the course. After the course concludes, instructors have read-only access to the course.

Considerations for Reassigning Instructors

From time to time, academic departments may decide to change instructors' teaching assignments. This can lead to a situation where the original instructor loses access to course materials they were preparing without an easy way to recover them. As such, departments should take extra care to inform instructors before reassigning the course to allow enough time for the original instructor to create a copy of the course materials. Additionally, instructors may request that Learning Technologies Services reset the course to the default course template before the reassignment happens to protect their intellectual property and help prepare the course site for the new instructor.

When are courses loaded into Canvas?

Several months before each term starts, Canvas will begin loading courses and all enrollments; roughly ten days before the first day of classes, Canvas will allow students to begin participating in published courses. Instructors must publish courses to allow student access.

Specific access dates are maintained in our knowledge base: Learning Management Systems Class Load Dates.

Course Roles

In Canvas, the following course roles are available:

  • Teacher - has access to posting content, copying a course, posting grades, and publishing/unpublishing a course
  • TA - Provides access to everything included with the Teacher role, except course copy and publishing the course
  • Designer - Provides access to everything included with the Teacher role, except the Gradebook
  • Grader - Provides access the Gradebook to post grades
  • Student - Provides access to all areas of the course, excluding the gradebook and the course settings
  • Faculty Peer Evaluator - Provides same access as Student
  • Peer Mentor - Provides similar access as Student, plus the ability to send messages to the entire class

For more information on the roles available in Canvas, see the Canvas Roles guide.



Organization Site Request

Faculty and staff can request a course site for an academically-related organization by opening a ticket.

Available User Roles

See the Canvas course roles above. For more information on the roles available in Canvas, see the Canvas Roles guide.

Managing Users in Organizations

Teachers can manage the users in an organization. See the Canvas guide, "How do I add users to a course?". Note: due to technical limitations in Canvas, teachers cannot add other teachers. To add other teachers to an organization, open a ticket with Learning Technologies.

Acceptable Use

Chico State Computer and Network Acceptable Use Policy

Chico State Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities

Technical Administration

  • System Administrators – Learning Technology Services is responsible for complete system administration and has three employees with system access
  • Backup & Recovery – Our Canvas system is hosted by Instructure, and they provide full disaster recovery capabilities. Our Blackboard system is hosted by Anthology and they provide full disaster recovery capabilities.
  • Routine Maintenance schedule – during the semester we avoid any maintenance that involves downtime. Scheduled System Maintenance hours without downtime are Thursdays 8-10AM. All times are Pacific Time.
  • Planned upgrades and advanced maintenance – planned upgrades and advanced maintenance will be posted via Canvas banners and in Campus Announcements (when relevant to the entire campus community). These upgrades typically occur twice a year in June and December


University and the LMS - specific policies are relevant to Canvas users because they address:

  • Possible abuse of the system that could affect privacy and access.
  • Rights of the authors of the materials placed on Canvas.
  • Retention and safeguarding of information placed on the system.
    • System Administration
      • The administrators of the Learning Management System (Academic Technologies) make every effort to minimize the amount of personal information about students and instructor that resides on the system. Information used to create user accounts includes the student ID and instructor/staff Empl ID, first, middle and last name, and e-mail address.
    • Student Privacy (FERPA)
      • Instructor, students, and staff should become familiar with the FERPA guidelines regarding education records. The instructor should consider student privacy issues when making choices regarding access to areas in their Canvas courses for users not enrolled in the courses. Areas of concern include grades, discussions, student homepages, and class roster.

Copyright and Intellectual Property

  • All materials placed on the Blackboard and Canvas servers by faculty and students are governed by the CSU Chico's general intellectual property policy, aligned with the NDUS policy.
  • The Blackboard and Canvas systems are intended solely for support of teaching and learning at CSU Chico.
  • No use will be made of any materials posted by faculty and students on these servers other than those intended by the faculty member teaching the course.
  • The faculty member teaching the course is responsible for informing students about the use he or she will make of materials that students post on the system.
  • Links to more information:
  1. TEACH Act
  2. US Copyright Office-Fair Use
  3. Library of Congress – Copyright
  4. Creative Commons
  5. CSU Chico Intellectual Property


Article ID: 113663
Fri 10/13/23 8:48 AM
Mon 1/29/24 12:32 PM