How do I set up a course on Canvas Free-For-Teacher?

You will learn about Canvas's free site that any teacher can use for any student that has a valid email address.

About Free-For-Teacher

Canvas offers a free site for teachers to try out Canvas. An overview of free-for-teacher is available.

User Accounts

Teachers can create user accounts when enrolling students. Two-factor authentication is not required.


Canvas provides support for a limited list of activities (delete course, reset password, and a few others). For most support items, users will need to rely on the canvas guides.


Free-for-teacher does not allow site-level external tools like New Quizzes, Turnitin, or SCORM. Apps that can be added at the course level are allowed (check with the app vendor for details).


Courses are limited to 500MB. Users are limited to 50MB.

The full list of differences is available at Canvas_Account_Comparisons.pdf.

How to Get Started

1. Create your account

If you have never used Free-For-Teacher, create your account at Canvas Account Creation Page.

2. Log in

If you have a Free-For-Teacher account, click "Log In" and select "Canvas" at the Canvas Login Page.

Log In button is highlighted

Enter your login credentials and click the "Login" button.

Login screen requests email address and password

3. Create a Course

Click the "Start a New Course" button.

Start a New Course is highlighted

4. Adjust the Course Time Zone

The time zone of the course by default is U.S. Mountain Time.

You can change the time zone of the course with the steps in the Canvas Course Time Zone Guide.

Time Zone is highlighted

Bring in Course Materials

Canvas Course Export

Canvas course materials can be exported to a file that can be imported to another Canvas site (including Free-For-Teacher).

Details on exporting a Canvas course are available in the Canvas Export Course Guide .

The file must be less than 500 Megabytes in size in order to upload it to the Free-For-Teacher course.

Steps for importing the IMSCC file into a Canvas course are available in the Canvas Course File Import Guide.

Manual Set Up

The course can be "built from scratch".  Commonly used items are listed below.

The course will be empty. You can create a module to hold course activities with the steps in Canvas Create Module Guide.

If you want the module to be visible to students, you will need to publish it with the steps in the Canvas Publish Module Guide.

Pages are a great way to present information to students. Get details in How to create a page.

Discussions add a social, interactive element to courses. Details are available in How to create a discussion.

Assignment details are available in How to create an assignment and How to edit assignment details.

Currently only Classic quizzes are available in Free-For-Teacher. Get details at How to create a quiz.

Import from Canvas Commons

Canvas Commons has a wealth of user-contributed content. Details are available in Canvas Commons Import Guide.

Invite Students

Make sure your course is published and the start date has passed before inviting students.

1. Click People.

In the course menu, click the "People" button.

People is highlighted in the course menu

2. Click + People

At the top right, click the "+ People" button.

The + People Button is highlighted

3. Add People

  1. Add email addresses in the box.
  2. Select the course Role.
  3. Click "Next".
The Add People Interface

4. Missing User Info

If the email address is not associated with an existing Canvas Free-For-Teacher account, check the box next to "Click to add a name".

unable to find matches interface

Provide name(s) for missing user(s).

Guest Student is highlighted

If the details look good, click the "Add Users" button.

Add Users is highlighted

Student Access to Course

Students will receive a notification email from [email protected] "You've been invited to participate in a class at Free For Teacher...".

Students need to click the "Get Started" button in the email. When their web browser brings up the course, they need to click accept (near the top of the page). "You have been invited to join...". This will take them to the "Welcome aboard" screen where they need to enter a password for their user account, set their preferred time zone, check the "I agree to the Acceptable Use Policy" box, and click the Register button.

Article Summary

You have learned how to get a Canvas Free-For-Teacher course started.