Requesting a Non-OPUS Canvas Course Site

The primary purpose for the Canvas learning management system is to support the teaching and learning mission of the university. All OPUS courses have course shells automatically provisioned, and all faculty may request sandbox containers for testing and planning purposes.

Departments may also request non-OPUS Canvas course sites for use in a variety of contexts, and such requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Teaching & Learning Technologies to determine if Canvas is an appropriate fit.

Considerations for a Canvas course site include:

Use fit

Basic use of Canvas consists in teacher-to-student communication via announcements and posted files. Fuller use of Canvas includes student-to-teacher and student-to-student communication - students submit assignments, post in discussions, take tests and quizzes, work in groups, etc. These features distinguish Canvas from other platforms. Course sites in Canvas should have some academic context, as Canvas is not designed or supported as an administrative intranet or groupware solution.

Audience fit

Canvas is most appropriate for student audiences participating in a process with specific learning outcomes. Other platforms may be more appropriate for audiences made up of faculty and staff.


The primary role of Canvas is to provide course support and enrollment processing for university faculty and students. The primary role of Canvas is to provide *academic* course support and enrollment processing for university faculty and students. Requests for non-OPUS course site that will be unusually difficult to support may be refused based on that criterion.

What requests don’t fit in Canvas?

There are certain use cases where requests for Non-OPUS Canvas course sites will be denied. These include:

  • Public-facing Web sites: Canvas isn’t designed or supported as a Web Content Management System and shouldn’t be used to create public-facing sites for departments, labs or other initiatives. Alternative: Cascade is the university’s supported Web CMS.
  • Administrative document repositories: Canvas’s file management tools are designed to be used in the context of course delivery and are not replacements for more robust file storage options, nor is Canvas designed or supported to store financial, HR, or other sensitive data. Alternative: Emory's Box and OneDrive are the officially supported tools for Emory document storage and collaboration.
  • Formal certification and training: Canvas can’t track completion of employee certification or training in an auditable way. Alternative: If you are a business unit that has requirements to retain records and audits of employee certification and or training, you should work with the PeopleSoft team to create a space on the Emory Learning Management System(ELMS) that will include automatic audits, etc. To request a space on ELMS:
  • External-facing collaborations: Access to Canvas is solely available for users with university netids. If non-Emory users need access to the course shell, they will need sponsored accounts. Alternative: Many supported collaboration products exist with a variety of use cases and options, including Office 365, Zoom, SharePoint and Confluence.
  • Student Organizations: Student organizations have a dedicated service, OrgSync, that is designed and optimized for hosting student organization content.
  • Healthcare initiatives: Canvas is only licensed for university students, faculty and staff for academic use. Alternative: Emory Healthcare has a separate instance of Canvas intended for specific training uses. That instance is located at
  • Protected data: Canvas is not certified for Protected Health Information and is not an appropriate location for human resources, financial, staffing, patient or other protected information. As a learning management system, it is designed for student-facing course management. Other tools should be used in any protected-data scenarios. Alternative: Consider Office 365, Box, or other appropriate repositories for such uses.
  • Administrative intranet sites: Canvas is designed for academic course delivery and does not provide tools optimized for many of the tasks departments demand from intranet or groupware products. Alternative: In most cases, Office 365 will provide a better and more easily supportable experience.

Course Retention
Non-OPUS courses are reviewed annually and will be automatically deleted from Canvas if they have any of the following:

  • No enrollments six months after creation
  • No user activity for six consecutive months
  • No content added, or course is unpublished, six months after creation

Requesting a Canvas Course

Please fill out the form at this link if you would like to request a Canvas course site. Requests are evaluated regularly and additional information may be requested to ensure an appropriate fit for Canvas.

External Integrations

Requests for new external LTI integrations for non-OPUS course containers will be not be supported. Non-OPUS course containers will, where licensing allows, have access to enterprise-licensed integrations within Canvas.

Office 365 Groups

Office 365 Groups can support mass messaging, document sharing, calendar and event sharing, planning, workflows, surveys. Groups can be a more appropriate or robust choice than Canvas for some audiences and use cases. You can view Office 365 groups by logging in to and looking for Groups on the left menu. Request a group via your local computing support

Read more about Office 365 groups here.