FAQs offer brief answers and insight into frequently asked questions. Please use the tags on the left to filter and find the appropriate questions and answers for each corresponding application or platform.

I can't see/access course content, and I get an unauthorized error message

If you've received this error message when attempting to access a page, file, assignment, or anything of the like in your Canvas course... then know that you are not the only one experiencing this issue in your class! Most likely the content has not been published yet.

If possible, please report this to us [IT] immediately, and we can get in touch with the teaching team regarding the content.

Canvas Unauthorized Error


What notifications are sent out when using Modules in Canvas?

When Modules are created and published, notifications are not sent out. 

The only time notifications are sent out for content items within modules is when the content item itself is published, regardless of whether or not the module itself is published or not.

Note: If you publish the entire module instead of the individual item within a module, then all of the items will be automatically published within the module. The only exception is if you have already manually published one of the items within the module, then the auto-publish feature will not automatically publish all of the other unpublished content items within the module.

As noted in the official Canvas Notifications PDF, Modules are not included in the items that trigger notifications.


I can't find my course invitation or account registration email from Canvas!

Professional Education (Ex Ed)


You may not be able to find the email for several reasons:

  • Quarantine service / spam filter is automatically quarantining the emails
  • Domain for emails is black-listed
  • Email rule is either: deleting or moving the email to another folder
  • Focused or Other filter in O365 / Outlook 2016 is housing the email
  • Incorrect email address was entered when the invitation to the course was sent

To ensure that you receive the course invitation / acccount registeration emails in a timely manner, please ensure that the domain for Instructure.com is not black-listed. Keep an eye out for emails with the following properties:

from: Canvas for Harvard Ex Ed <notifications@instructure.com>

subject: Course Invitation

New Students

if this is your first time registering for a course at HGSE, you will receive an email requiring you to complete the account registeration process and to accept your invitation to join the course. 

The email will state that you've been invited to participate in a class at: exed.canvas.harvard.edu

Please click on the 'Get Started' button to begin.

Course Registration Email

Existing Students

You will also receive a similar email, if ytou have already completed your account registeration process in the past. The difference is that this email does not have the "You'll need to register with Canvas before you can participate in the class" note.

Course Invitation Email

Can I control who can see certain pages on my Canvas site?

Different content within Canvas can be organized and shared in different ways, either by using sections or groups within a Canvas site.

For instance, you could use sections to apply differentiated due dates for Section A and Section B, for a particular assignment or graded discussion. Groups also function in a similar manner in regards to group assignments.

For pages, unfortunately there isn't a way to enable/disable a page for a particular group/section of students within a course site. By design pages are intended to be visible to the entire site. In more niche cases, pages have been created within a group's isolated site and any specific content for that respective group can be posted there.

How do I access iPac & other Course Resources online?

Internal Students

HGSE students, should already have access to iPac readings within their respective Canvas courses. Other students who have a Harvard-affiliation will also be able to access iPac readings and other local Harvard/HGSE E-Resources as well.


External Students

Students that are cross-registering from outside of Harvard, who are looking to access iPac readings for a course will need to reach out to the course librarian at HGSE, and request access along 


Do note that there is a fee associated with accessing the iPac readings and other E-Resources. This fee is typically already factored in for HGSE students, however this may not be the case for external students. 

Can students see old course announcements that were previously imported?

Yes, students are able to see the previous announcements if they have been imported over into the current site.

Can they still see announcements if the tab is hidden?

Yes, they can only access the announcement only from the notification under the Dashboard via the Global/Recent Activity Stream view. They cannot access the announcements page directly using the breadcrumb navigation at the top of the screen after they click on the notification from the global activity stream.



How do time zones work in Canvas?

Time zones in Canvas are available in three different flavors, and should be configured accordingly in order to display the correct time.

System-wide time zone: This is the default time zone set by the Canvas administrators that applies to all courses within an account (root-account setting).

Course time zone: This time zone setting can be changed per course to suit the needs of the teaching team; otherwise it will follow what is the default system-wide time zone

Personal time zone: This time zone setting should be configured by users in order to accurately scale and display the course's time zone to their own locale time.

Note: To see an assignment's original time zone/due date, hover over the time and due date to see both times and dates.

Time Zone Hover


How to update course time zone

How to update your personal time zone