How do I use the Global Navigation Menu as a student?
The Global Navigation Menu is located on the left side of every page in Canvas. Global Navigation links provide quick access to frequently used Canvas features. These links provide access to all your courses collectively. Default links include the Dashboard, Courses, Groups, Calendar, Inbox, User Account, and the Help menu.
Note: Your instructor may choose to display a different font for one or more of your courses. When viewing those courses, the Global Navigation Menu displays in the same font.
To view your user information, click the Account link. A menu will expand and display links to access your user settings, notification preferences, personal files, and ePortfolios.
You can also use the Account link to log out of Canvas.
The Dashboard is the landing page after you log in to Canvas. The Dashboard can be toggled to a course view, list view, or recent activity view and shows notifications for all current Canvas courses.
To view your courses, click the Courses link. The Courses menu displays your list of favorite courses, or, if you haven't selected any favorite courses, the menu displays current courses where you are enrolled. If a course includes term dates, the name of the term will appear as part of the course listing.
To view a course, click the name of the course. To customize your courses list or view all your Canvas courses, click the All Courses link at the bottom of your course list.
If you are enrolled in Groups, view your groups in the Groups link. A menu will expand and display all groups in current courses where you are enrolled.
To view a group, click the name of the group. To view all your groups, click the All Groups link.
Note: Groups cannot be customized in the drop-down menu.
To view your Calendar, click the Calendar link.
To view your Conversations Inbox, click the Inbox link. Conversations is the Canvas messaging system where you can communicate with other users in your courses. The number of new messages are shown as part of the Inbox icon.
To view your recent Canvas course page view history, click the History link. Recent History displays up to three weeks of your Canvas course page view history.
The Dashboard is your landing page in Canvas.
- Card View: displays course cards for quick access to all your favorite courses (the same courses display in the Courses link from the Global Navigation Menu)
- List View: displays all course to-do items in an agenda view
- Recent Activity View: displays all recent activity for all courses
View Global Announcement
The Dashboard may also include global announcements, which are announcements created by the VCU LMS admin team. To remove the announcement from your dashboard, click the Remove icon.
View Dismissed Announcement
If you dismiss a global announcement, you can view dismissed announcements on the Global Announcements page.
Change Dashboard View
To change your Dashboard view, click the Options menu and select your preferred viewing option.
By default, active course cards are automatically added by Canvas and display up to 20 courses.
Dashboard courses are ordered alphabetically by course name and your role in the course; nicknames and course codes do not apply to course ordering. Courses with instructor roles are listed first, followed by TA roles and student roles.
Note: If you want to remove the default course card setting, you can customize the course list and manually select your favorite courses to display in the Dashboard. When you favorite at least one course, the Dashboard will only display favorited courses. Canvas will also continue to automatically favorite new published course enrollments.
View Card Details
Course cards show an overview of course information including the course name, course code, and term .
Each card can include up to four tabs , which represent the four main Canvas features for student course activity: Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, and Files. These tabs mimic visibility and order in Course Navigation, so for instance, if an instructor hides the Announcements link, the Announcements tab will not display on the course card.
An unread icon on the Discussions or Announcements tab indicates that there is a new discussion or announcement in the course . The number in the icon indicates the number of new items.
If one of your courses includes a long or confusing name, you can create a nickname for your course. Most courses are created using Student Information Systems (SIS) that generate course names based on terms, departments, and section numbers, and courses with similar names may be hard to distinguish.
Course nicknames appear in the Dashboard, Course Navigation Menu, course breadcrumbs, and notification emails.
A course nickname does not affect the course name at the account or course level; it only changes the name of the course for the individual user who created the nickname.
If you need to know the original name of the course, you can hover over the nickname and the original name will appear. Additionally, the course code is not affected and always displays on the course card for course reference.
- This feature does not currently apply to the global Grades page and Dashboard sidebar elements such as the To Do list.
- Course nicknames are limited to 59 characters.
To add a nickname, click the More Options icon , then type the name in the nickname field . Click the Apply button .
To remove a nickname, open the card options and remove the nickname. The Nickname field will display the original name of the course.
Change Course Color
Course cards can help you organize your courses by customizing the color, which is synced with the color shown for the course in the Calendar. To change the color, click the card's More Options icon , then select a new color. The check mark indicates the selected color , and the hex color code displays in the text field . If you want to use a color not shown in the window, you can enter the color's hex code directly in in the text field. The hex field will display a warning icon if the hex code is not valid. Additionally, any variation of white is not accepted as a course color.
Click the Apply button .
Note: If you change the color for a course in the Calendar, the color also updates in the Dashboard.
Move Course Cards
You can also move a course card to another location in the Dashboard or remove a card from the Dashboard. Click the Options menu  and select the Move tab . Depending on the placement of the existing card, you can move the card to the top of the Dashboard, ahead or behind a specific card, or to the bottom of the Dashboard .
Once a dashboard card has been reordered, new courses added to the Dashboard always display at the end of all existing courses.
To remove the course card from the Dashboard, click the Unfavorite option .
Note: The Unfavorite option only displays if you previously selected favorite courses.
Drag and Drop Course Cards
You can also manually drag and drop a course card to another location in the Dashboard. Click on a course card and drag it to the desired location.
View Color Overlay
Some courses may include an image for the course behind the course color . By default, course cards with an image include a color overlay. To remove the color overlay from all course cards that contain an image, click the Options icon  and then deselect the Color Overlay option .
Remove Color Overlay
To open Dashboard List View, click the Options icon and select the List View option.
View List View
The List View Dashboard defaults to the current date .
To view previous and future dates, scroll up and down the page .
To quickly return to the current day's To Dos, click the Today button .
To quickly access prior items with new activity, click the New Activity button .
View Item Details
When multiple courses include To Do items on a single date, courses are listed by Course Name and items are are listed by due time .
Graded items display the point value for the graded item .
To Do items include icons that represent the item type:
- Peer Review 
- Assignment 
- Announcement 
- Quiz 
- Calendar Event 
- Discussion 
- Page 
To access a To Do item, click the item name .
To view the home page for a course, click the name of the course .
View Item Status and Activity
List View includes labels and icons to quickly communicate an item's status and activity.
Items with new activity display an Unread indicator  and include an activity label. New activity can include one or all of the following labels:
- Graded : a submission is graded
- Replies : an announcement or discussion has new replies
- Feedback : a graded item has new instructor feedback via submission comments (does not display if feedback is only via DocViewer annotations)
Once a graded item is past the due date, the item displays a Missing indicator  and a Missing label .
Missing items submitted after the due date display a Late label .
If your instructor has reassigned an assignment to you, the item displays a Redo label . You must resubmit your assignment.
Mark Item as Complete
Graded items are automatically marked as completed once they are submitted. Non-graded items must be manually marked as completed.
To manually mark an item as complete, click the checkbox for the item . When you manually mark an item, the item's status will update when you refresh the page.
Completed To Do items remain in the To Do list for you to view at any time. To view information about completed To Do items, click the Show completed item link . The completed items display a completed checkbox . To view completed item information, click the item name . The next time you refresh the page, the completed items will once again be hidden within the completed link.
View Alerts Menu
To view a list of graded past-due items across all your courses, click the Alert Menu button . The Alert menu helps you see what opportunities are available to you to improve your course grades.
To view new alert items, click the New link . You can dismiss new alert items by clicking the Remove icon . Dismissing a new alert item does not affect its status or mark it as completed.
To view dismissed alert items, click the Dismissed link .
View To Do Items
You can add your own To-Do items to the Dashboard. Items associated with a course display as part of the course items and arranged by due date . General to-do items always display below all courses . To-do items can be edited at any time by clicking the Edit icon .
To add a To-Do item, click the Add Item icon .
Note: You can also use the Calendar to add to-do items, which will also display in the List View Dashboard.
To change the Dashboard view at any time, click the Options menu.
In Global Navigation, click the Dashboard link.
Open Global Activity Stream
Click the Options icon  and then click the Recent Activity link .
View Global Activity
The Global Activity Stream contains recent notifications from all of your courses, including announcements, discussions, assignments, and conversations. This activity stream helps you see all recent activity in your courses and easily ask questions and post to discussion forums. Unlike course cards, the activity stream does not mimic the visibility of Course Navigation links.
Activities are indicated by activity type and display an icon  for the activity. Each activity also includes the name of its associated course .
New activity in your account is indicated by an unread icon . Discussions and Announcements indicate new activity items published in a course, and Conversations indicate a new message received from a user in a course. Recent Activity items remain for four weeks.
Expand and Collapse Notifications
You can view the details of each activity by hovering in the notification area and clicking the Show More link . To collapse recent activity, click the Show Less link .
Manage Recent Activity
You can directly access your recent activities by clicking the course link . To remove a notification, click the remove icon .
In the Global Navigation menu, click the Account link, then click the Global Announcements link.
View Current Announcements
To view currently active announcements, click the Current tab.
There are five announcement types for global announcements:
- A blue announcement with an i icon indicates an information announcement type.
- A red announcement with an exclamation icon indicates an error announcement type.
- An orange announcement with an exclamation icon indicates a warning announcement type.
- A blue announcement with a question icon indicates a question announcement type.
- A blue announcement with a calendar icon indicates a calendar announcement type.
View Recent Announcements
To view announcements from the past four months, click the Recent tab.
View Dismissed Announcement
When you dismiss a global announcement, Canvas displays a message notifying you that you can view the announcement on the Global Announcements page. To view the announcement, click the View button.
View Sidebar Course Items
The sidebar shows various action items in all your courses. Each item is associated with a specific course. All items from all your active courses display in the sidebar—not just favorited courses in the Dashboard.
For course identification, each sidebar item displays the course code, or short name, for the course . The course code is located directly below the full course name.
Course nicknames can be set in place of sidebar course codes that are long or otherwise confusing to remember which courses they represent. If you have created a nickname for a course, the nickname displays in the sidebar instead of the course code . However, the original course code always displays in the course card.
View Student Sections
The sidebar helps you see what you need to do next and what feedback you've received across all your courses. However, assignments that are not graded or do not require an online submission only display until the due date.
The To Do section shows up to seven items with due dates or event dates in the upcoming weeks, including ungraded quizzes, assignments that do not require a Canvas submission, and course announcements . Each item in the To Do list displays the assignment name, the course name, the number of points, and the due date for the assignment. Once the due date has passed, items remain in this section for four weeks.
The Recent Feedback section shows assignments with feedback from your instructor during the last four weeks .
The View Grades button links to the Dashboard Grades page and displays grades for all active courses .
Manage Sidebar Items
Each section item displays an icon to differentiate between different assignment types and other items in the To Do list .
If a section contains more items than can be shown, you can view all to-do items using the Show All link . This link directs you to the List View Dashboard.
To remove a To Do item, click the remove icon .
Note: Assignments submitted through Canvas disappear automatically from the To Do list; no-submission assignments (submitted on paper/in class) can only be removed from the list manually.
You can view overall course grades in the Dashboard. This button is available to all user roles and displays grades for both courses being taken and courses being taught, if any.
Note: You may not be able to view grade totals.
In the Dashboard sidebar, click the View Grades button.
The Courses I'm Taking heading displays the name of each course and a current overall grade, if available . If no grades have been assigned, the grade appears as no grade .
To view grading details, click the name of the course .
Note: Your instructor may restrict you from viewing grade totals.
View Grading Periods
If your course is using multiple grading periods, the course displays the name and grade of the current grading period . To view grades for another grading period, click the grading period drop-down menu .
Note: Your instructor may restrict you from viewing grade totals.
In Global Navigation, click the Courses link, then click the All Courses link at the bottom of your course list.
Courses are organized into All Courses , Past Enrollments , Future Enrollments , and Groups .
Courses and groups are sorted alphabetically by course or group name.
View All Courses
All Courses are courses that are part of the current semester or term. However, depending on access settings for a course, My Courses can also display courses that have not yet started or are unpublished.
Active courses that are available to you are listed in blue text . These courses have been published and include a link to the course. To open a course, click the name of the course. Courses that are within the current term dates but are not yet available are listed in black text . These courses have not been published.
You can also view any nicknames you have created for courses .
If a course includes a term date , the term date displays next to the course name.
Each course includes your enrollment status . Statuses can be student, teacher, TA, observer, designer, or a custom role as created by your institution.
In the All Courses section, you can customize the courses list and mark courses as favorites . Favorite courses display in the Card View Dashboard.
To favorite a course, click the star next to a course . Courses with filled stars show the course is a favorite .
- After you have manually favorited at least one course, Canvas automatically favorites any new published course enrollments for you.
- You can only favorite active courses.
View Unpublished Courses
If a course is unpublished and you are allowed to view unpublished courses before the course participation dates, you cannot favorite the course. If you hover over a star icon for an unpublished course, you can view a message indicating that the course cannot be added as a favorite.
Future and past enrollments also cannot be favorited.
How to find public courses or organizations
Browse More Courses
In the My Courses page sidebar, click the Browse More Courses link.
View All Courses
You can view all courses that have been included in the public course index, with the most recently created courses shown first.
You can view the name of the course  and a description, if any .
You can search for courses in several different ways. In the Name field , you can type the name of a course.
You can also search for courses by status. If you want to view only public courses, click the Public courses only checkbox . If you want to view only open enrollment courses, click the Open enrollment courses only checkbox . Open enrollment courses are courses that you can join at any time.
When you are finished selecting your search options, click the Search button .
To view a course, click the name of the course . If a course lets students self-enroll, you can join the course at any time by clicking the Join this Course button . However, you can view the course first and enroll in the course home page.