Canvas Spotlight

Canvas Spotlight: Canvas Mobile App

Last updated on May 1, 2024

Best Practices

What are the best uses for the Canvas Teacher App?

  • The Canvas Teacher App is best used after a course is already built. It is not meant to assist in the course-building process. While the Canvas Teacher App has limitations, here is a list of possible uses we find are most helpful for instructors:
    • Messaging students using the Canvas Inbox. Since most communications with students via the Inbox feature only require simple text replies, this can be helpful for staying in contact with students on the go. Many times, it may be easier for you to reply quickly and promptly through the app rather than log in on a traditional desktop.
    • Grading assignments with SpeedGrader. The Canvas Teacher app can grade with some of the same functions as the desktop version of Canvas. If you ever have a simple assignment to grade by a certain date but don’t have access to your laptop, this may be the best option for you. 
    • Posting Announcements. The Canvas Teacher app allows you to add announcements quickly. This feature may prove useful should you need to communicate quickly with the whole class. 
    • Participating in Discussions. This may be useful should you need to participate or moderate a discussion. Often, discussions can be livened by your presence. This can be done easily and quickly in your spare time by using the Canvas Teacher app. 

What are the main limitations of the Canvas Teacher App?

  • The main limitation of Canvas Teacher App is that is not meant to assist in the course-building process. Here is a list of some other notable limitations of the Canvas Teacher App:
    • View or edit the gradebook.
    • Create, add items to, or remove items from Modules.
    • Create new assignments, quizzes, or graded discussions.
    • Reply to group discussions.
    • Change the submission type of an assignment.
    • View or edit the syllabus.

What are Key Ways Students Might Use the Canvas Student App?

  • Like the Canvas Teacher App, the Canvas Student app has a few key uses and limitations. Here is a list of a few main ways students may use the Canvas Student App:
    • Submit quizzes, discussions, and assignments. 
    • Check Grades, To-Do List, and Calendar.
    • Communicate with their instructor via the Canvas Inbox.
    • Review course material in modules.
  • The Canvas Student app features an interface that minimizes text and streamlines organization. Due to this interface, it is critical to incorporate foundational module-building techniques outlined in the CTLD Spotlight on Advanced Module Building. Following these techniques will create a much more user-friendly experience for students.

How can I build a course compatible with the Canvas Student App?

  • Accessibility issues can be exacerbated when they appear on a smaller screen. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to review the CTLD Spotlight on Accessible Principles and build your courses according to them. Here are a few practices that will make your course more accessible to students using the Canvas Student App:
    • Use a minimum of 18pt font on any PowerPoint presentation to ensure students can view it effectively on their mobile devices. Minimizing text on each slide may also be necessary. 
    • Ensure pages, PowerPoint presentations, and other files do not have color contrast issues. Make sure background colors strongly contrast the text. Color contrast issues are exacerbated when viewed on a smaller screen. 
    • Organize pages using headers and chunked sections. Though this may seem like a small detail, a large block of text without breaks is much harder to read on a mobile device than a laptop screen. 
  • Make sure assignments have the text entry option when appropriate. Short assignments that require file upload are an unnecessary burden on students when using the Canvas Student app.
  • Modules are the primary way students view and navigate your course with the Canvas Student App. Organizing, formatting, and chunking your modules is the best way to build a course that is compatible with students accessing your course from their mobile devices. For more information on building your modules to be compatible with the Canvas Student App, review the CTLD Spotlight on Advanced Module Building. 

Let’s walk through it together


Download and Log In to the Canvas Teacher App

Note: This tutorial is recorded using the Canvas Teacher app for Android devices. iOS devices/iPhones may have slight user interface differences with this tutorial. 

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
  2. Type Canvas Teacher in the search field.
  3. Tap Canvas Teacher Instructure when it appears in the drop-down menu..
  4. Tap the Install button.
  5. Tap the Open button when the app download is complete. 
  6. Tap the Find My School button.
  7. Type MSU Denver in the text field under “What’s your school’s name?”
  8. Tap MSU Denver Instructure from the list that appears under the search bar.
  9. Sign in using your MSU Denver email and password.

Message Students Using the Canvas Inbox

  1. Tap the Inbox icon In the Navigation Bar at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Tap the Add icon
  3. Tap the Select a course menu.
  4. Select the course or group for your message.
    • To search by name, enter the name of your recipient in the To field
    • Tap the name when the full name of the recipient appears, then move on to step 8.
  5. Tap the Add icon to search by filter. 
  6. Select users by group.
  7. Tap the name(s) of the recipients.
  8. Tap the Done button.
  9. Type a subject for your message.
    • If you want to send individual messages to each recipient, tap the Send individual message to each recipient toggle.
  10. Type your message.
  11. Tap the Send icon .

Grade Assignments Using SpeedGrader

  1. Tap Dashboard in the navigation menu at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Tap the name of the course you’d like to grade in.
  3. Tap Assignments
  4. Tap the assignment you’d like to grade.
  5. Tap the right-facing arrow under the Submissions section.
  6. Tap the name of the Student you would like to grade. 
  7. Tap the Grades tab
  8. Enter a score for the submission.
    • To manually enter a grade, tap the Pencil icon.
    • To use the grade slider, tap and hold the circle on the slider and slide it to the right for more points and to the left for less points. 
  9. Tap the Comment tab to leave a comment for the entire submission. 
  10. Tap the back button in the upper left corner to return to student submissions. 

Add an Announcement

  1. Tap Dashboard in the navigation menu at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Tap the course you would like to add an announcement to.
  3. Tap announcements.
  4. Tap the + button at the bottom right of the screen. 
  5. Type a title for your announcement.
  6. Type the description for your announcement.
  7. Select the section under the “Post To” heading you would like to post this announcement to. 
  8. Tap the toggle button next to Delay Posting to select a later date for posting the announcement. 
  9. Tap the toggle button next to Allow users to comment if you would like to allow students to comment on the post. 
  10. Tap the Send button in the upper right corner to post the announcement. 

Participate in Discussions

  1. Tap Dashboard in the navigation menu at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Tap the course you would like to work in.
  3. Tap Discussions.
  4. Tap the discussion you would like to participate in. 
  5. Tap the Reply links to respond to the initial prompt or to a single student’s reply.
    • Tap Reply under the main text box to create an original reply to the prompt. 
    • Tap Reply under any student replies to begin a thread and respond to that student. 
  6. Tap the send button in the upper right corner when you are ready to post your reply.