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A learning management system is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. 

Canvas is the University of Denver’s Academic Learning Management System (LMS), providing a secure environment for online, face-to-face, and hybrid courses. Canvas easily connects faculty and students and is used to monitor grades, manage active enrollments and assignment submissions, share course documents, and facilitate communication between students and faculty. Canvas is available for all DU faculty, staff and students and required for all courses.  

The following LMS Guidelines may be subject to change by Information Technology (IT) and the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL). Please reach out to the OTL with any questions on these guidelines. 

Note: These guidelines apply to the academic LMS only. These do not apply to the employee management platform, Cornerstone. Cornerstone is managed by Human Resources (HR). Contact HR with any questions or concerns. 

Academic Concerns

What tools are available that address academic integrity and discourage plagiarism?

  • TurnItIn is an online tool integrated into the Canvas environment that can be used to assess written assignments for originality. While it may be used as a deterrent for plagiarism, the Office of Teaching and Learning strongly encourages its use by students as a tool for review prior to assignment submission to identify and resolve problems with appropriate citation or other issues. More information can be found on the TurnItIn Knowledge Base webpage. 
  • Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Canvas. Students are locked into the assessment and are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications. Respondus Monitor builds upon the LockDown Browser integration, and uses a student’s webcam and industry-leading video analytics to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams. More information can be found in the Respondus Knowledge Base.

Is Canvas accessible? The Canvas LMS framework is compatible with screen-reader software to accommodate visually-impaired users. However, faculty are strongly encouraged to verify that the content they upload into the system (or link from an external site) are also accessible, including text files, graphics, audio files, video clips, and pdfs. For more information about identifying or creating accessible instructional materials, check out our Accessibility Knowledge Base or schedule a consultation with our Instructional Designer of Universal Design for Learning or our Accessibility Technologist. 

Who is responsible for training faculty, staff, and/or students to use the LMS? The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) is responsible for training faculty members about how to use the LMS, although some departments may provide supplementary training.  The OTL does not offer training to students, but encourages faculty members to share DU Canvas Student Orientation with their students. 

What training options are available to faculty, staff, and/or students? The OTL provides one-on-one training, webinars and workshops, robust asynchronous resources, and maintains a self-paced faculty-facing Canvas training course. 

Are course sites expected to meet specific quality standards? Yes! Courses are expected to meet the DU-specific Quality Matters (QM) standards. 

Are course reviews to be conducted according to schedule or prompted by other events? Self and peer QM course reviews are conducted at the end of the Teaching Online Short Course. Instructors are also able to request a course review by scheduling a consultation with an Instructional Designer in the OTL. 


Who has access to the Canvas LMS system? Students, faculty, and staff. Access is limited to individuals with a valid DU ID number. For guest access, all requests must go through the Office of the Registrar via the Community Member Form. We will not permit anyone into the LMS without valid DU credentials. 

How are non-DU individuals (e.g., guest lecturer’s) provided access to a course and when is this access terminated? Due to FERPA concerns, non-DU individuals are not allowed access to Canvas sites without requesting access through the Office of the Registrar. The access is terminated immediately after leaving DU and/or upon request. 

Are DU faculty members required to use Canvas? Yes, as of Fall 2021 all courses require a Canvas presence, including online, hybrid and fully face-to-face. To learn more about the minimum requirements visit the Canvas home page

How long before the quarter starts do faculty and students gain access to a course? Faculty gain access to their course containers at least one quarter/semester before the course begins. It is then up to the instructors to publish the course for students to gain access. It is best practice to publish the course one to two weeks prior to the start of the quarter/semester.

How long past the end of the quarter/semester do students retain course access? Access to past courses varies by course, department and college. Students may retain access until they graduate and/or leave the institution unless otherwise noted by the instructor. 

How is access for administrative oversight provided? There may be times that a dean, department chair, or educational technology support specialist must have administrative access to the LMS. Access must be requested through the OTL, where FERPA training and Canvas Admin training is required. 

When is user access disabled for faculty/staff who are no longer employed at DU? As with other DU resources, the LMS may be accessed for 90 days after leaving the university. There may, however, be exceptions to access based on administrative directives. Canvas Admin access will be immediately terminated upon leaving DU. 

Are instructors allowed to add users (manually) to a course site? Instructors are not allowed to manually add students to academic courses. Students are automatically added to academic courses through Banner based on academic registration. Instructors may add additional users, such as Observers, Teachers, Designers and TA’s. 

While copyright law protects the rights of creators and users of works, the doctrine of Fair Use provides us with the ability to share and advance information, ideas, and images with fewer restrictions. Links to the original sources should be used for publicly available material whenever possible. For any copyrighted materials used in instruction, the following steps should be taken to obtain copyright permissions and/or demonstrate Fair Use:

  • Obtaining Copyright Permissions: E-reserves should be used for text-based copyrighted content. When requesting material through E-reserves, copyright permissions will be obtained by the library. To request material through E-Reserves, be sure to follow the steps outlined in the Faculty Guide to Reserves. 
  • DU CourseMedia should be used to obtain video-based copyrighted content. To request material through CourseMedia, complete the library e-reserve web form.
  • Images to which the rights are owned by DU or LMS Guidelines, the individual instructor (through purchase or subscription, e.g. Microsoft Clipart, images purchased from the creator, etc.) do not require citation.
  • For all other images, including open source images, proper citation should always be provided as a demonstration of good faith toward Fair Use. Please refer to the OTL Guide to Using Images for Instruction for specific examples.

How are existing copyright policies communicate to faculty and students? The DU Library maintains a LibGuide on Copyright and Fair Use. There is also a Fair Use policy listed on the DU website

  • For official academic courses, LMS course shells are created through automated integration with the University’s student information system approximately 9 months before the course begins. 
  • LMS Administrators have the authority to create master course shells. 
  • All other requests for course shell creation are evaluated by the LMS Account Administrator on a case-by-case basis, please reach out to the OTL with any questions. 
  • For official academic courses, all users are automatically enrolled in course shells through an integration with the student information system when the student registers in the course. 
  • Students are not enrolled manually in any official academic course.  
  • Those who require access to a non-academic course container must contact an LMS Administrator to request enrollment. 
  • Course Shells will be retained and managed in accordance with the University’s Records Retention Schedule 

Can I share my Canvas login credentials with someone else? No. DU’s Acceptable Use policy states that “Users who have been authorized to use password-protected accounts may be subject to both civil and criminal liability if they disclose passwords or otherwise make accounts available to others without permission of appropriate system administrators.” This policy applies to anyone using the Canvas LMS. Sharing Canvas passwords shares all DU data. 

How are grade information and other protected data kept secure? DU employees are required by law to protect confidential student information, including that found in Canvas (e.g., ID numbers, grade information, course registration, etc.). Only Teachers, TAs, and Canvas Administrators can see grade information for students; guest users are granted student-level privileges. For more information, consult the FERPA Guide for University of Denver Employees

What safeguards are in place to prevent students from uploading files that may contain malware or other dangerous code? The Canvas system automatically scans files and sanitizes code entered into the content editor.

What campus unit pays for the LMS license? IT pays for Canvas as a centrally-supported resource (similar to email, for example). 

Who is authorized to decide whether to renew (or not) the license? Any decision to change from one LMS to another will be discussed by a committee that will then make a recommendation to the Provost for the final decision. This process will not be undertaken lightly and such decisions will involve faculty input. 

The following represents user types and permission restrictions for users in Canvas at DU: 

  • Student: Students are permitted to submit assignments.  Student permissions are restricted, but they have enough permissions to  access and interact with course materials. 
  • Teacher: The teacher role grants a user course admin permissions, giving them control over their assigned course(s). Teachers are not able to add/remove students to course containers. They are able to add/remove TAs and observers. 
  • Observer: This user role can be linked to a student user enrolled in a course or strictly to observe course content. They are not able to submit assignments or engage with other students. 
  • TA: These users have permissions designed to support teachers with creating and editing content as well as managing the gradebook and student assignment submissions. 
  • Designer: These users are permitted to access and create course content, including announcements, assignments, discussions, quizzes, and content pages. Designers cannot access the gradebook. This role is recommended for TAs who should not have access to students grades. 
  • Non-Academic Teacher: This role is similar to the teacher role, except it is allowed elevated privileges to add/remove students. This role is only to be assigned in non-academic courses, typically used in sandbox containers. 
  • Support Admin: This role has set permissions for specific sub accounts in Canvas. Contact the OTL to request this permission. 

Changes to the LMS

The OTL will evaluate any major changes to tools and new features by soliciting input from a variety of stakeholders in the following groups: 

  • Teaching and Learning Support Strategic Leadership Team – The Strategic leadership team is a collaboration between IT and OTL with the goal of providing a centralized front for teaching, learning, and technology. Comprised of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, the Assistant Vice Chancellor, Campus Partnerships, the Assistant Vice Chancellor, Enterprise Application Services, The Registrar, and the Director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, this team meets regularly to consider structural solutions for campus-wide issues at the confluence of technology and teaching support.
  • Courseware Faculty Advisory Board (CFAB) – CFAB provides faculty input on policy and issues related to the LMS and other instructional technologies. 
  • Instructional Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC) – ITAC provides staff input on policy and issues related to the LMS and other instructional technologies. 

Instructure may also make campus-wide changes to the LMS based on functionality testing and releases

Major changes will be implemented with the quarter/semester schedules. 

Content Management

To begin, instructors should populate the Syllabus in their Canvas course. Try using Cidi Labs Design Tools Template Blocks to enhance the organization, navigability and accessibility of your Syllabus page. We also encourage you to consider including Covid-19 related accommodations and policies. Check out our Sample Syllabus Statement page for more.

Assignments are another important element in any Canvas course. Any assignments created in the Assignments tool will automatically show up in Grades, Calendar, and the Syllabus Course Summary. All courses are required to have a place for students to submit assignments online. Assignments can be weighted by creating assignment groups.

Modules are another component of course organization that can be set up weekly or thematically depending on your course structure. Modules should include relevant pages, assignments and links to course content. You are required to host content in Canvas which could include handouts, readings and other instructional materials. Link these materials to the appropriate weekly module for easy access. 

If your course is meeting synchronously, be sure to set up your recurring Zoom sessions in your Canvas course.

For more information on the minimum requirements for a Canvas course, download our Course Checklist.


Once you get your course set up, you’ll want to make sure you publish your course so students can access it.

What is the Canvas Commons and how should instructors use this resource? Commons is a space within Canvas that allows users to find and share resources, including course assignments, discussions, modules, and entire course sites, like the OTL Canvas Template. Instructors can share content on Commons with themselves, with their department, across the University, or with all other Canvas users, worldwide. When sharing to Commons, Teachers can choose from different levels of Creative Commons licenses to determine how others can use these shared resources. Teachers can also choose to import shared resources from Commons into their course sites. Sharing course resources on Commons can inadvertently lead to sharing copyrighted material. For questions about what is appropriate to share, please contact the OTL.  

Is the LMS available to faculty/staff for non-instructional use? Canvas is licensed to support instructional activities at DU. Other uses may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the OTL. 

How frequently are non-instructional sites purged from the active server (if ever)? These sites will be reviewed annually for possible deletion. Site owners will be contacted prior to deletion.

Course Shell Management

When and how are new/empty course shells created? When the course is assigned a Course Reference Number (CRN) in Banner, it gets a Canvas course shell. Although the shell has been created, the instructor will not have access to it until they are listed as the instructor in Banner (this timeline can vary by department). The Office of the Registrar works hard to have courses available to assigned instructors one to two quarters/semesters in advance, but sometimes delays may occur. 

Who may create a new course shell? LMS Admins have the ability to create course shells when necessary, for instance, if a master shell is needed that will not be assigned a CRN.

Who is responsible for copying or otherwise recycling existing sites for re-use? Instructors have the ability to copy their content from one course to another course shell. The practice of recycling course sites may vary by department; check with the department chair for clarification.

How long are course sites accessible to owners after the quarter/semester has ended? Canvas course sites are not archived, but are available indefinitely (or until the owner leaves DU).  

Who may restore a course site? If a course is accidentally deleted, admins or Canvas Tier 1 support staff can restore it. There is no guarantee that content, student grades, or other information can be retrieved intact, however. 


The course container or course site.

The legal rights in and to a Work as provided by applicable statute, regulation or judicial decision, including, without limitation, patent, copyright, trademark, service mark, trade secret, domain name registration, mask work, or plant variety protection certificate.

Software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses, training programs or learning and development program. 

Intellectual Property

The University of Denver recognizes the intellectual property rights of faculty, staff, and students. The following guidelines are aligned with those already in place on the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer webpage. The developer of a course site (and associated materials) within the LMS retains sole ownership of these works, unless: 1) the creator of such works has signed a work-for-hire agreement specifying otherwise, or 2) the University has provided substantial assistance that is significantly greater than that usually provided. (Library resources, office staff support, computers, network access, and consultation services from the Office of Teaching and Learning are all examples of typical support that would not be considered “substantial assistance.” However, some types of support for developing course materials may constitute “substantial assistance.” For example, a course release or stipend provided specifically for course development may fall into this category). Any associated materials copyrighted by others and included in the site in accordance with Fair Use Guidelines are expected. Ownership of a course site includes the right to create or request an archived copy of the site in digital format. 

In the event that more than one individual contributes to the creation of a course site, the intellectual property will be jointly owned. DU administrators will not arbitrate issues related to ownership of course materials; therefore, it is assumed that all individuals with Teacher status for a given course (as designated within the Banner system) have rights — including copyright and intellectual property rights — to any and all content in that course site, unless otherwise specified, as in the use of materials included in accordance with Fair Use. (See Section 1.d. of these Guidelines for information about the use of works copyrighted by others.)

Instructors may choose to post student work (or expect students to post their own work) in the course site, assuming that only the instructor, TA’s, and other students enrolled in the course may see it. However, students must be informed of this (preferably in writing) at the beginning of the course. If the instructor wants to retain student work in the course site beyond the duration of the term and that work will be visible to others, the instructor must obtain written permission from the student to do so. No evaluative commentary or grade information may be included if the work includes any information that could identify its creator. Students retain all rights to their work, including contributions to a discussion forum, blog, wiki, or other online communication environment. Sample permission forms and syllabus statements appropriate for these purposes may be obtained from the Office of Teaching and Learning.

Information regarding LMS performance or usage is considered the property of the University of Denver. Information regarding specific LMS course sites or individual accounts will be held in confidence, although data may be gathered and used in aggregated form by authorized University staff members to improve university services or for professional development activities such as conference presentations and/or scholarly publications. 

LMS Policy

The LMS Policy is to designate the intended use of the LMS, which includes the protection of privacy, copyright and relevant intellectual property of the University and Community. This policy establishes the Office of Teaching and Learning as authority for providing and facilitating use and outlines processes and best practices to assure use, content management and access. The LMS Policy is currently under review, awaiting Chancellor approval. 

LMS Support

  • The Canvas Community is an incredible resource for answering questions.
  • Chat with Canvas Support 24/7 365 days/yr.
  • Canvas Support Hotline (Faculty): call 1+(833) 291-3240
  • Canvas Support Hotline (Students): call 1+(855) 712-9770
  • If you need assistance with something in Canvas that’s specific to your department, contact your unit’s Canvas Administrator.
  • For Canvas training, check-out our upcoming sessions of Canvas Coaching or Canvas Office Hours on the OTL Event Calendar.
  • Our Canvas articles in the OTL Knowledge Base include more FAQs, tech support, and information on external tools.
  • Canvas courses receive updated student and faculty enrollments from our Ellucian®Banner Student Information System every 2 hours from 7am to 11pm daily.
  • Access Online Resources for Students for student facing resources.
  • For any additional questions, please contact The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) at:

The LMS vendor provides 24/7 support for faculty, staff and students. Assistance is also available within the university. The three support levels include:  

Tier 1 – Contact the vendor’s 24/7 support via phone, text, chat, or online help guides.  

Tier 2 – Contact the LMS Support Administrator within the Academic Unit during regular business hours.  

Tier 3 – Contact the Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL) during regular business hours. 

Canvas commits to 24/7 365 days/yr. support for faculty, staff and students. Find the top three ways to contact Canvas support below:

Technical Issues

How are users authenticated into the LMS? Users authenticate via DU ID number/passcode (managed by IT).

Will an individual user be allowed multiple accounts? Yes, some users display adequate reasoning for multiple accounts. All requests should go to the OTL. 

Who will establish additional user accounts? DU LMS administrators can create additional accounts, if approved. Please contact OTL for assistance.

How are security policies (e.g., not sharing login information with others) communicated to LMS users? Please refer to the IT Acceptable Use Policy for the most up-to-date information about digital security.

Are size limitations for each course site imposed? There is a 500MB per course limit. Check out this knowledge base guide for managing course storage. Contact the OTL for additional support. 

Who monitors course sizes? The Canvas system automatically monitors file size. Admin users may increase the course quota, if necessary.

Are individual files uploaded into the LMS restricted by size? No. Users will receive warnings about their quota, if applicable. Users are encouraged to use Kaltura (or other repositories) for large media.

Unplanned outages: In the event of an unplanned system outage of the LMS, Canvas Tier One Support can provide specific information and/or an estimated time for system restoration. View the Canvas Status page here or call 855-712-9770.

Planned outages: Down times for system maintenance, upgrades, etc. will be announced on the Canvas home page, at a minimum, 3 days in advance. These will be scheduled to avoid high-traffic days/times whenever possible. 

How will users get assistance with technical issues? IT can help with user authentication and hardware/software problems. Canvas Tier 1 support is available 24/7 via chat, phone, and a ticketing system. Contact or call 855-712-9770. OTL also provides faculty support during normal business hours.

Who monitors LMS tech support response times and customer service concerns? The LMS provider (Instructure) sends out these statistics monthly to system administrators.

Third Party Integrations

Who will identify, evaluate, and select third-party software that integrates with the LMS? The OTL assists with identifying account-level integrations with the LMS. IT is responsible for SIS integration and authentication software. Faculty members may request that OTL staff evaluate specific software in which they’re interested, to determine the viability of adopting those applications.

Who installs third-party software on the LMS? Account-level plugins and OTL-created applications are installed and managed by OTL. IT is responsible for enterprise-level integrations such as Banner and LDAP. Instructors may also add applications in their courses via the Canvas App Center. Contact OTL for assistance.

Who pays for third-party software on the LMS? In addition to paying for the LMS license, IT pays for most third-party software integrations. In some instances, individual users or departments may also pay for licensing.

Who tests and maintains third-party software on the LMS? OTL is responsible for testing and maintenance of third-party software installed at the account level. IT is responsible for enterprise-level testing and maintenance.

Who supports third-party application technical issues? You can find a list of software that the OTL may provide technical support for. In some cases, the most effective support may come from the software/application itself. 

IT maintains a whitelist of third-party applications that have been pre-approved for integration into courses in the LMS. Apps appearing in the Canvas App Center have been whitelisted and may be added to a course by an Instructor or Administrator role. Some apps require a key and secret for integration. Reach out to your unit administrator or the OTL for key and secret information. 

Student records protected by FERPA may not be stored in any third-party tool without the University entering into a contract with the vendor. 

Third-party applications that are not listed in the Canvas App Center must be requested through IT/OTL and vetted by the Technology Review

For any additional questions or clarifications about these guidelines, please contact the OTL.