One of the reasons that WCU chose Canvas was for the shift in student engagement and consumption of media using mobile devices.  The best way to design your courses is, of course, using your computer, but your students will appreciate efforts to make the course more engaging, immediate, and easy to access. 

Canvas has two apps for smart devices, the Canvas Student App, and the Canvas Teacher App. As an instructor, you will use the teacher app most of the time.  It will allow you to do many of the things that you can do in the full web-browser but will be more accessiblePilot faculty report that using the Speed-grader function on their tablets is especially convenient. With the Teacher app you can keep track of the progress of your course and interact with students. 

Most instructors will also want to download the Canvas Student App if only for the fact that when the Teacher app is accessing a common element with both Apps, it will open the student app to give the most accurate representation of the student’s view. 

At WCU, the Panopto video storage and streaming platform is also integrated into Canvas and for full video functionality both you and your students should download the Panopto app. In the same manner downloading, installing, and logging into your Microsoft Outlook App, the Microsoft Teams App, and the Microsoft OneDrive App will add even more functionality to both of your Canvas Apps. 

Canvas Teacher App

Canvas Teacher App

Canvas ToDo List

Canvas ToDo List

Settings in the Canvas App


Canvas Speedgrader on IPad or Tablet

Canvas SpeedGrader on IPad or Tablet 


App Capabilities and Limitations 

With the Canvas Teacher App, You Can:

    • View Your Course Materials 
    • Email Students 
    • Email Photos and Audio Clips to Your Students from Your Phone
    • Do basic grading of Assignments, Quizzes, Tests and Discussions 
    • Add simple text pages to existing Canvas modules 
    • Create spontaneous non-graded group discussions 

Your students can use the App to:

    • Send and reply to course messages 
    • Record and submit short audio and video clips to discussions and assignments 
    • Attach files to discussions and assignments from devices and from OneDrive (if installed) 
    • Take quizzes (low stakes – will not work with Respondus Lockdown or Monitor)

Meeting students where they live often encourages deeper engagement with subject matter.

In Canvas you can encourage the use of mobile apps to help the students:

  • Remain engaged with your course and activities 
  • Get reminders of due dates and upcoming meetings 
  • Access course material in a variety of environments 
  • Remain more organized and use their time and resources wisely 

While the basic Canvas layout and the full use of Canvas tools like the calendar, the syllabus tool, and modules will help make your Canvas course more mobile friendly, there are ways to improve it more.  A travel or experiential learning class, for example, might want to adjust all the online material in such a way that it could all be accomplished on cell phones. 

Canvas has a special guide for optimizing courses for mobile work. 

We also urge faculty to use caution when using the app to build courses.  It is best to start on a full computer browser.  The app does not allow you to create quizzes or exams, to add graded discussions, to create a module or group, or to create or modify a rubric


Download and Install the Canvas Teacher App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Canvas Student App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Newest Panopto App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Newest MS Outlook App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android
Download and Install the Newest Microsoft Teams App on Your Phone and/or Tablet iPhone/iPad, Android

Encourage your students to download the Student App, the Panopto App, the Zoom and/or MS Teams App, and the OneDrive app for full functionality. 

Banerjee, Robert. The Effect of Mobile Apps on Academic Success. (2019, March 7). EdTech Digest

How does this align to Canvas training materials?

Canvas logoPriming the Canvas: Module 6 “Structuring the Course”


Additional Resources:

Our next article will highlight Rubrics in Canvasvisit Canvas Blog to see all our Canvas articles.