Outage Affecting All Penn Authentication Services (Canvas Included)

Courseware Support has been notified of an outage affecting all Penn Authentication services including Canvas. We will post any updates we receive to the Canvas at Penn blog, as well as an announcement when the issue has been resolved. In the meantime, if you receive the following message when trying to log into Canvas:


An error has occurred.

Detailed Information: Cannot contact any KDC for requested realm”

Please try clearing your cache, closing your browser, opening a new browser, and logging into canvas.upenn.edu with your PennKey username an password. If the error message appears again after cache-clearing, please follow these steps again periodically to see if the issue has been resolved. We have added instructions for clearing a cache in different browsers to the end of this post.

We will post updates on this outage as we receive them. We apologize for any inconvenience this issue may cause.

How to Clear a Cache in Different Browsers:


Go to Tools > Clear Private Data/Recent History

Check all the boxes and select “Clear Private Data Now”/”Clear Now”

Mac users should also restart their machine.

Internet Explorer:

Go to Tools > Internet Options > Browsing History

Select “Delete” and then “Delete All”


Go to Safari > Empty Cache > Empty

Then go to History > Clear History > Clear

Then select the Apple button > Restart > Restart


Click the wrench icon on the browser toolbar.

Go to Tools > Clear browsing data

Use the drop-down menu at the top to select the time frame. (Choose “beginning of time” to delete the full


Select all the checkboxes > Click “Clear browsing data”

Please try them for your preferred browser and then open a new window and try logging in again.

New Semester Checklist

BooksHere are a few tips to help you get started with Canvas this term.

1. Create a Course Site. If you haven’t requested your site yet, now is the time. It’s easy! Use the Canvas Site Request Form.

2. Get Help.  Register to drop in to Canvas Office Hours at the Weigle Information Commons (or the Education Commons on 8/26) to meet with experts who want to help you.

3. Publish Your Site. Students are added to Canvas course sites automatically, but they can’t access course content until the site is published. Just click the Publish button when you are ready!

Screen shot; Publish your site

Questions? Email us at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu, or contact your local support provider.

Here’s to a great semester!

Canvas Office Hours at the Education Commons

Photo of Education Commons

Penn’s Education Commons is an amazing place to visit and learn.

Want in-person Canvas help but can’t make it to the Van Pelt Library? If so, then please sign up for Canvas office hours at the Education Commons. Canvas office hours at the Education Commons will be held in addition to office hours at the Weigle Information Commons.

To reserve a consultation time, please register for Canvas office hours at the Education Commons:

We would like to thank the Education Commons team for helping our users prepare their Canvas sites for the Fall 2014 term!

Reminder: Campus Pack Changes August 2nd

Courseware Support would like to remind our users that the Campus Pack (blog and wiki tool in Canvas) will change this week. This upgrade will not affect Canvas or any other integrated tools.

The Eastern Daylight Time change will occur at 7am on Saturday, August 2nd. Please see this table for the complete schedule of Campus Pack interface changes by timezone:


For more information about the Campus Pack interface changes, please see our June 26th blog post:

Coming August 2nd: Changes to Campus Pack

If you have any questions, please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Upcoming Canvas Office Hours and Workshops

Courseware Support has increased its office hours in late July and throughout August to help faculty and staff prepare for the Fall 2014 term. Office hours are a great way to connect with a Canvas specialist for assistance.

We are also hosting several online and in-person workshops in late July and throughout August. The online workshops will be on the following topics: Canvas Basics, Blackboard to Canvas, and Assessment and Grading in Canvas. Links to recordings of the online workshops will be posted to the Canvas at Penn Blog.

To sign up for office hours or workshops, please go to:

Canvas Workshops and Office Hours Registration

Basic Computer Requirements for Canvas

Kate Dyachuk, Courseware Support Intern, has complied some useful information to help you make sure your computer meets the basic requirements for Canvas. We would like to thank Kate for writing this post!

Canvas runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, or any other device with a modern web browser. It supports the last two versions of every browser release.

Two required browser components are Flash for handling media and file uploads and Java plug-in for screen sharing in Conferences (some browsers do not support Java). It’s highly recommended to update to the newest version of any browser you are using as well as the most up-to-date Flash plug-in.

As of June 14, 2014, Canvas supports the following desktop browsers and Flash versions:

• Internet Explorer 10 and 11

• Chrome 34 and 35

• Safari 6 and 7

• Firefox 29 and 30 (Extended Releases are not supported)

• Flash 12 and 13 (for recording or viewing audio/video and uploading files)

For more information about Canvas supported browsers and Canvas on Mobile devices, please take a look at this guide:

Which browsers does Canvas support?

If Canvas is acting unusually, the first thing to try is either using a different browser or clearing your browser’s cache and cookies. Any of these solutions might fix issues with Canvas.

To give you a better idea of what we mean by “Canvas acting unusually,” here are some examples:

  • if the site freezes;
  •  buttons don’t work;
  •  file uploads don’t come through;
  •  you can’t access a Canvas area that you had always access to (e.g., Files);
  • after sharing a computer Canvas keeps bringing you to another user’s account;
  •  or if you are having problems watching recorded lectures on media site or viewing an embedded video.

If you need directions on how to clear your browser’s cache we recommend checking this guide:

Computer Specifications for Canvas Users

If you’re still having issues even after you make sure you’re using a supported browser, have an updated Flash plug-in, and have cleared your cache, please contact Courseware Support for assistance at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Reminder: Draft State Is Coming Saturday, July 12th!

On Saturday, July 12th, Draft State will become a standard feature in all Canvas course sites. In Draft State, Assignments, Quizzes, Modules, Pages, and Discussions are unpublished by default, meaning that students cannot see these items until they are published. Additionally, graded items like assignments and quizzes are not included in gradebook calculations.

There will be some changes to the Canvas interface once Draft State becomes a standard feature:

  • The “Pages” area has an Index page and displays Page titles.
  • Individual Pages do not include sidebars.
  • Instructors can select any Page to be the Front Page of their course.
  • Quizzes do not have to be republished if the content is changed.

For more information, please see our Draft State documentation:

Working with Draft State

We would like to thank Kate Dyachuk, the Courseware Support Intern, for creating this documentation.

Please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu of you have any questions.

Coming August 2nd: Changes to Campus Pack

Do you use Campus Pack blogs, wikis, or journals in your Canvas site? If so, you’ll be interested in upcoming changes to the Campus Pack interface.

The Campus Pack interface will change on Saturday, August 2nd. 

While your blog, wiki, or journal may look different once the changes take place, the tools will retain the functionality you’ve grown to love about Campus Pack with the only difference being a more streamlined, easier-to-use interface than what was available previously.

Here are some improvements to look forward to:

Page Layout Re-Design

Pages will be contained within a frame so that content remains separate from blog-, wiki-, and journal-level navigation and settings. This change fixes the problem you might have encountered with navigation- and settings-options being pushed out of view in your browser window when you made horizontally wide pages. Also, navigation options will be on the left side of the browser display, and the display text will be significantly larger than what’s in the current version of Campus Pack, making the interface much easier to navigate and view.

The following screenshot highlights specific changes to page layouts:


Although this screenshot is of a Campus Pack wiki, the changes are similar to what you’ll find in the new blog and journal page layouts.

New Drop-Down Display for Menu Options

The menu options that were formerly in the upper right corner of a Campus Pack page are now accessible through a drop-down display.

Old Menu Options


New Menu Options


Text Editor Improvements

These changes to the Campus Pack text editor will enhance your use of wikis, blogs, and journals:

  • Faster-loading page content
  • Easier media embedding, with HTML5 support
  • Easier table creation


We’re excited about these improvements and hope you are too! If you have any questions about the changes to Campus Pack tools, please contact Courseware Support at canvas@pobox.upenn.edu.

Canvas Groups: An Introduction

Many instructors use groups in their courses for collaborative learning. This entry explains how to create Canvas groups and gives some suggestions for how to use them. But before we dive into the “how-to’s” of Canvas groups, we need to explain a few things about how this tool works.

What Should I Know about Canvas Groups?

Please be aware of the following before planning to use Canvas groups:

  • Groups are not the same as sections. If you want to use Canvas groups for sections in your site, then you’ll have to manually create them.
  • Selecting “This is a Group Assignment” isn’t enough to make a group assignment. You’ll also need to make Group Sets and Subgroups (please see the next section for instructions). We recommend making Group Sets and SubGroups before you set up a group assignment.
  • Teachers and TAs can access any groups in a site, but students can only access groups to which they’ve been added.
  • By default, SpeedGrader lists group-assignment submissions by group name, not by individual student. If you select “Assign Grades to Each Student Individually” for an assignment, then SpeedGrader switches back to the student-name list.

Now that we’ve covered how Canvas groups work, let’s take a look at how to create them.

How Do I Create Groups in Canvas?

Creating groups in Canvas is a two-step process:

1.) Create a Group Set:

A Group Set works like a category for organizing Subgroups (Canvas’s name for student groups). So, for example, if you want to assign group presentations, start by creating a Group Set (You could call it “Presentations” or something else that indicates the purpose of the Group Set).

Here are instructions for making Group Sets:

How do I make a new set of Groups?

2.) Select the type of Subgroups:

You must decide which type of Subgroups—the groups of students who’ll work together—you want in the Group Set. You have the option to let your students pick their Subgroup by having them sign up; to have Canvas automatically assign students to Subgroups; or to manually create Subgroups, which means you can handpick the students for each Subgroup.

Here are instructions for setting up self-assign (students’ choice) Subgroups:

How do I create self sign-up Groups?

Here are instructions for creating auto-assign (Canvas’s random selection) Subgroups:

How do I automatically create Subgroups?

Here are instructions for creating manual-assign (instructor’s choice) Subgroups:

How do I manually create Subgroups?

Please note that you’ll also need to assign students to each Subgroup if you use the manual-assign Subgroup option. There are instructions for how to do this in the “Add Students” sections in the link above.

Once you create Group Sets and Subgroups, your students can start working in their groups.

When Would I Use Canvas Groups?

Canvas groups are great for the following (please click on links for instructions):

How Can I Get Started with Canvas Groups?

You can begin making groups immediately after students are added to your Canvas site.

Please note that it’s best not to manually assign students to groups until after the add-drop period; otherwise, you may have to rearrange group enrollments if students drop your course.

Please contact canvas@pobox.upenn.edu if you have any questions about groups in Canvas.