Canvas for Students

Navigating Canvas

Navigating Canvas

This section provides an overview of the various navigation options within Canvas. For a quick overview, please watch the Canvas Interface Overview video on this page which describes how to navigate the Dashboard and Course Interface, or review the Geisel specific tutorials posted below the video.

Dashboard vs Course Navigation


The Dashboard is the first page you see when you log into Canvas. The Dashboard provides a global view of all of the courses you have in Canvas.

The Dashboard consists of four main elements:

  1. Global Navigation
  2. Help Center
  3. Sidebar
  4. Global Stream

Global Navigation

The Global Navigation consists of tabs that will direct users to menus or pages displaying specific information about the courses you are taking.

The Global Navigation is persistent in Dashboard and Course view and displays menu tabs including:

  1. Courses and Groups
    This tab provides you with access to all of your courses and course groups. If you are not assigned to a Group within Canvas, you will not see the Groups option. Students can customize the Courses dropdown menu.
  2. Grades
    This tab provides students with access to the grades area for all of the courses in which they are enrolled.
  3. Calendar
    This tab provides users with a global view of their calendars in Canvas. Calendars can be toggled hidden and visible for ease of viewing.

Help Corner

The Help Corner is accessible from any page within Canvas and provides users with access to four options:

  • Settings
    Click your name or the Settings link to:
  • Inbox
    Click on the Inbox link to take you to your “Conversations“. The Inbox is an internal messaging/email system that maintains a record of your conversations with peers and instructors.
  • Logout
  • Help
    Clicking the Help link will provide you with access to Canvas Guides and Canvas Support.


  1. To Do
    The To Do feed lists the next five assignments you need to turn in. Assignments will still show up in this list even if they are past due. Click the links to go directly to the Assignments page.
  2. Coming Up
    This feed lists the next five assignments or calendar events coming due in the next week.
  3. Recent Feedback
    This feed helps students and instructors keep the conversation alive around Assignments. This feed will let instructors know when students have left comments about work they have evaluated.  The same feed lets students know when their instructor has left a comment or a grade for one of their submissions.

Global Stream

The Global Stream contains a stream of recent activity from all of your courses. The Recent Activity stream helps users to stay on top of what is going on in the course and allows them to easily ask questions and post to discussion forums.

The streams include:

  • announcements
  • discussions
  • assignment notifications
  • conversations

You can view the details of each section by hovering in the section area and clicking the Show More button.

Course Interface

Once you enter a course the Course from the Dashboard, you will be presented with the Course Interface. The course interface consists of 4 main components:

  1. Course Navigation
    The course navigation menu provides links to help you interact with the course content. Note that faculty may hide or reorder these links to simplify how students navigate the course.
  2. Content Area
    This is where the content of the course will appear. The appearance of this area changes depending on what area of the course is being viewed.
  3. Breadcrumb Navigation
    This area shows your current location within a course and allows you to easily move to a previous screen.
  4. Sidebar
    This area is dynamic and will change depending on where you are in the course. It often provides tools and resources to help you engage within the course.