Online and Distance Education

Canvas FAQ

How do online courses work?
Most online courses at Missouri Western University are delivered through the Canvas learning management system. Using Canvas, you can connect with your instructor and peers, watch videos, review lessons, participate in discussions, take quizzes and exams, complete assignments and more. Online courses are equivalent to face-to-face courses, but allow you the flexibility to work on assignments and content on your schedule. Although online courses offer flexibility, it does not mean they are self-paced. There will be due dates and deadlines that will still need to be followed.
What is Canvas?
Canvas is the LMS (Learning Management System) used at MWSU to deliver online and hybrid courses and to enhance traditional face-to-face courses. It is an innovative, user-friendly learning management system that expands the possibilities for teaching and learning. It is likely that you will use Canvas in one of your classes at MWSU.
How do I know if I am ready to take an online course?
It is probably best to speak with an advisor before registering for an online course, but you can take a short assessment that may help you understand if online learning is right for you.
Online Distance Assessment
Do I have to sign on at a particular time or place?
Most courses allow you to sign in at any time of the day or night and anywhere you have Internet access. You will still need to meet the course due dates and deadlines and will need to plan your schedule accordingly. Many instructors in Canvas use zoom for online office hours. For more information on zoom click here.
Can I work at my own pace? Do online courses have deadlines?
Online courses are as demanding and rigorous as traditional face-to-face courses. They are not self-study or self-paced. Online courses are actively led by an instructor, and there are set due dates and deadlines. You will be expected to complete all online course activities by the specified due date.
Does Academic Integrity apply to online courses?
Online assignments are subject to the same standards of integrity that apply in traditional face-to-face classes. It is cheating to copy from others or from outside sources on any online assignment, quiz or exam (unless otherwise specified by the instructor). Your online instructor may use Turnitin Antiplagiarism software to verify that submitted work is your own. For more information on Academic Integrity, please see the Student Handbook.
Where do I go to log into Canvas?
To access your online courses you can go to You can also access Canvas from the portal or through the Canvas App on a smartphone or tablet.
Once I'm registered, am I able to access my Canvas course?
Online classes become available one week before the start of the semester. At that time, you can log into Canvas and access the course syllabus. Most instructors do not release the course content until the semester officially starts. If you register late, your course may not be available for 24 hours. If it is the first day of the semester and you still do not see your course(s), please contact the Help Desk at 816-271-4555.
How do I get my books and course materials?
You are responsible for getting your textbook and course materials for your online course(s). Textbook information can be obtained from the Western Bookstore. You can also obtain textbook and course materials from the course syllabus, available inside your Canvas course one week before the start of the course. Textbooks can be purchased from the Missouri Western University.
What are the technical requirements for using Canvas?
The basic computer requirements for Canvas are found at: What are the basic computer specifications for Canvas?
Which browsers work best with Canvas?
Canvas supports the last two versions of a browser release. For the best user experience, use the newest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer. We recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Safari. We have seen some minor issues with Internet Explorer. For the most up-to-date information on browsers please go to the Student Guide on Supported Browsers.
Where can I get help with my Canvas Login?
Contact the Help Desk at 816-271-4555 or visit them in the Hearnes Center. Check the Help Desk Hours.
Where can I get help with Canvas?
If you need help with Canvas, simply click the Help Menu in the right hand side of the Canvas window. There you will find access to a support hotline that is available 24/7, 365 days a year. You will also find a “Chat” tool for accessing Canvas Support, as well as, Canvas Guides that provide step by step directions that can be printed.
I have a disability, is it possible to get accommodations for an online course?
To request accommodations for an online course, you must first contact the Accessibility Resource Center at (816) 271-4330 or
Can I access Canvas Courses on my smartphone or tablet?
Yes! Read the Mobile apps guide for smartphones (iOS and Android) and the Tablet guide for iPads and Androids. Canvas apps are free in iTunes and Google Play.

Canvas by Instructure Android Device Guide

Canvas by Instructure iOS Device Guide

Please note: Although Canvas works on mobile devices, there may be an occasional lesson or quiz that is better viewed on a computer.
Why is my course not showing when I log into Canvas?
If you just registered, it may take up to 24 hours before your course appears in Canvas. If you do not see your course after 24 hours, please contact the Help Desk at 816-271-4555.
How can I email my instructor privately?
Once you are logged into Canvas, click the "Inbox" link to access Canvas's Messaging system. In the "To" box, select your instructor (type his/her name and then select their name from the drop down list); type a subject in the "Subject" box; compose your message and send.
I have attempted to contact my instructor several times without a reply. What should I do?
If you are unable to contact your instructor, please contact the department.
What are the 5 Steps to Online Success?
1. Know Your Course – Embrace the syllabus, familiarize yourself with the course requirements, purchase your text and required course supplies, learn how to navigate Canvas (MWSU’s Learning Management System).

2. Communicate – Engage in course conversations and discussions with your instructor and peers. Are you confused? Ask your instructor for clarification. Use appropriate netiquette for all your communications.

3. Manage Your Time – Procrastination is the downfall of many online students. Don’t fall victim to procrastination; plan your study times and stick to them. Set goals for yourself. You need to be self-disciplined and self-motivated.

4. Be Tech Ready – You need to have basic technical skills to succeed. These include creating and editing documents, navigating the internet and file management. If you type fewer than 25 words per minute you may find the online environment frustrating.

5. Be Persistent – Recognize when you are having technical or academic issues and seek assistance. Missouri Western has many student support services available to assist you.