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Canvas - Overview (UW-Madison)

This document outlines resources for instructors on how to get started with Canvas at UW-Madison.

Note: Based on feedback from UW-Madison users, Canvas functions best when used with Chrome or Firefox. Safari is not recommended.

Credit-based courses in Canvas

All credit-based courses from the UW-Madison Course Guide (sometimes referred to as "timetable" courses) are available in Canvas prior to the start of each academic term and can be accessed at https://canvas.wisc.edu. For details on the Canvas automated creation schedule each term, refer to Canvas - Automatic Course Creation Schedule. For information on how courses and sections are created, based on the configuration in the Student Information System (SIS), refer to Canvas - How Automated Course and Section Creation Works.

Currently UW-Madison does not remove past Canvas courses or restrict instructor's access to to past courses. This policy may be revisited in the future as needs change. 

Non-credit courses in Canvas

In addition to traditional credit-based courses, Canvas can be used to deliver non-credit courses. This includes the following:

  • Continuing Studies/lifelong learning "L3" (enrichment or ongoing education) courses for external audiences
  • Compliance or institutional training courses primarily for UW-Madison employees and/or students

To use Canvas for these purposes, you must request a Canvas course (see the next section).

Request a Canvas course

Credit-based courses are automatically generated prior to each term. Canvas courses for other purposes can be requested through the Canvas Non-Credit Course Request form.

There are a number of reasons you may want to request a Canvas course:


  • For a sandbox course to experiment with Canvas and/or develop content outside of an official course
  • To deliver a Continuing Studies/lifelong learning "L3" course
  • To deliver a compliance or institutional training course for UW-Madison employees and/or students
  • For a course to house supplemental materials related to a Course Guide ("timetable") course or for-credit program
  • For a Blueprint template course for sharing course components across multiple courses

You will need to indicate your reason for needing a course when you complete the form.


Canvas support and training

Technical support of Canvas at UW-Madison is provided by the DoIT Help Desk. So if you have questions about Canvas, or are experiencing issues with Canvas, the Help Desk is the best resource.

For information on available Canvas training, please see Canvas - Training Resources (UW-Madison). For the latest updates about Canvas, please see the UW-Madison Canvas Information website.

For general questions about delivering a Continuing Studies/lifelong learning "L3" course for external audiences to Canvas, please contact:

For questions about using Canvas to deliver employee/staff and training courses, large-scale training and compliance courses for employees, and compliance courses for students, please contact the DoIT Help Desk.

Canvas system requirements and supported browsers

Canvas release schedule

Instructure releases updates to Canvas monthly. Please see "Canvas Release Notes" for information on new releases. New releases also generally contain a short video summarizing changes in a release. Check the release notes often to stay informed on bug fixes or new features coming to Canvas.

See Also:




Keywords:Instructure, Canvas, help, support, UW-Madison, sandbox, playground, timetable, play ground, Non Credit, noncredit, non-credit, test course,community, testing, environment, experimental, temporary, transitional, make, course, request, institutional, training, form, create, instructors, supported, browser, browsers, supported, recommended, recommend, retention, purge, delete, remove, old overview getting started   Doc ID:62630
Owner:Learn@UW Madison .Group:Learn@UW-Madison
Created:2016-04-11 07:05 CSTUpdated:2020-11-30 15:53 CST
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Learn@UW-Madison, UW-Madison Canvas
Feedback:  3   6