Canvas at College of San Mateo - FAQs
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Canvas Frequently Asked Questions
What is Canvas?
Canvas is a Learning Management System (LMS), also known as a course management system that will replace WebAccess.

Why are we changing to Canvas?
The move to Canvas aligns the three district colleges with the Online Education Initiative of California Community Colleges that strives to provide California community college students with a uniform distance education platform. While different from WebAccess, Canvas will provide a full-service, comprehensive, learning management system to enable faculty to provide the best online support for both online and on-campus courses.

What is the timeline for the migration to Canvas? When do we have to change to canvas?
The timeline for migrating to Canvas will take place over the next year in a step-wise process. By Summer 2017, SMCCCD will be fully transitioned to the Canvas Learning Management System. ITS will add more Canvas shells each term between now and that date. Courses will be migrated throughout the district based on the following schedule:
  • Summer 2016: The initial summer 2016 group will pilot 21 courses across the district on Canvas.
  • Fall 2016: 180 additional courses launched across the district on Canvas.
  • Spring 2017: 300 additional courses launched across the district on Canvas.
Can I still use WebACCESS if I don’t want to change to Canvas?
No. Beginning on June 1, 2017, both students and faculty will use Canvas.

How are courses chosen for each Pilot Group?
The CSM Canvas Transition Team will reach out to volunteers for groups 1, 2, and 3 with the focus on those faculty who are experienced users of Moodle/WebAccess and are slated to teach courses for Summer 2016, Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 respectively. You may also contact Erica Reynolds at to learn how you can participate in a pilot or start the migration to Canvas.

Backing up Online Course Materials
Will my course shells in Moodle/WebAccess be backed up by ITS?
No, you are responsible for loading course content into your Canvas course shells. You should always back up your course shells at the end of each term. Even though ITS will back up Moodle/WebAccess course shells, they cannot guarantee all of the content will be backed up. You are the expert of your course and familiar with all of the course content. When you back up your course, you ensure that your entire course shell is backed up. The same will be true of your Canvas courses: you are responsible for backing up your content.

How do I back up my course shell on Moodle/WebAccess?
For each class, go to the Administration menu for each shell and select the link titled 'Back-up.' Follow the instructions in the link for backing up your course shell. Once you complete the back-up, you will be redirected to a page with a list of your back-ups in a ZIP file. Download the ZIP file onto your computer. Make sure to create an easily recognizable file name for the ZIP file (e.g. ENGL 100 F15 Step-by-step instructions can be found in the first half of the Importing from WebAccess to Canvas.pdf.

How much of my course content, activities, etc. will transfer from Moodle/WebAccess into Canvas?
Around 85% of material transfers between learning management systems, no matter which two are being used. Most basic elements (e.g. documents, assignment dropboxes, forums, chats, surveys, images/videos and URLs), should experience little to no changes. More advanced options (e.g. quizzes, wikis, lessons/books, glossaries, et. a.), could experience more interference with transferring information. Publisher and outside content, such as TurnItIn or MyLab, will have its own set-up in Canvas; it may transfer over, but it may not transfer well. Ensure that all of your materials from Moodle are backed up using the back-up instructions in this FAQ.

How do I know that my content moved from Moodle/WebAccess to Canvas?
You need to look through your course in Canvas to make sure that content moved from Moodle/WebAccess to Canvas. This is an opportunity to revise and refine your course. If you notice anything especially alarming about content that hasn't moved over, content that is not displaying accurately, or anything that seems unusual, please contact Erica Reynolds at

What should I do to ensure that I do not lose any of my materials from Moodle/WebAccess?
Follow these simple steps:
  1. Back up your course shell at the end of each term. Follow the instructions for back-up in this FAQ.
  2. Always write out instructions and settings for all assignments in a word processing document (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc.) so that you have all information necessary for recreating the assignment on the learning management system. This includes instructions for students and settings you used.
Canvas Training
What training will CSM provide on Canvas?
Starting in Spring 2016, CSM will hold training workshops with the new Instructional Technologist with more in summer and throughout the 2016-17 academic year. These will be held on Flex Days in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 and on selected Fridays throughout the academic year. In addition, CSM will support faculty who wish to attend courses taught by @ONE. @ONE provides a self-paced Introduction to Teaching with Canvas course for free and instructor-guided courses for $65 (these fill up very quickly. Ask your Dean for assistance in paying for the course). Sign up by visiting @ONE. The @ONE webpage also includes resources and materials for learning Canvas, as well as other online instructional resources.

Additional training opportunities can be arranged with Theresa Martin, Professional Development Coordinator (

How can I try out Canvas before my course is migrated?
Canvas offers free accounts at You can open a course shell and try out the features there.

Will Skyline and Cañada also hold Canvas trainings?
Yes, Skyline and Cañada will have their own trainings.

How do I find out about Canvas Trainings?
CSM trainings will be announced on the CSM Canvas webpage, and through various directed emails. Trainings will also be announced at division meetings, Academic Senate meetings, IPC meetings, and DEETC meetings. Check the Canvas Overview page for the most current information about CSM Canvas trainings.

Canvas Support
Who can I contact for Canvas support?
Access the “? Help” icon on Canvas and submit a ticket. If the problem occurs outside of regular business hours, call the Canvas Support toll-free number 1-844-711-7104 (Mon. – Thurs. 5 p.m. – 8 a.m.; Fri. 5 p.m. – Mon. 8 a.m.).

What if I cannot log in to Canvas, and I have all the correct login information (username and password)?
Canvas Login help can be found on the SMCCD website. Start by clearing your cache/browsing history in the settings for your browser. Close the browser and open it again. If that does not work, submit a ticket using the “? Help” icon on Canvas. Also, do not bookmark the Canvas login page before logging. Type in the address and login before bookmarking the page.