External user accounts should not be used to provide non-registered students access to Canvas courses.
Occasionally, users without a current UNF affiliation need access to Canvas. Examples of these users might include guest instructors or members of UNF community partner programs that need access to instructional resources.
External Users and FERPA
The faculty member who requests the external user account is, in effect, acting as a sponsor for the external user account and will be responsible for adding the user to UNF’s Canvas instance. Because the process of adding an external user involves the sponsor to acknowledge a FERPA agreement, CIRT cannot add users on behalf of instructor (though we can help).
External users must agree to comply with the University’s regulations, policies, requirements and all applicable state and federal statutes while accessing UNF’s learning management system. They must maintain the privacy of student data in accordance with federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and any regulations, policies and requirements UNF has established or may establish regarding access and maintenance of student records.
When a UNF user with an N-Number signs into Canvas, they are usually prompted to enter their password and then authenticate using DUO. This two-step process (signing in and then using DUO) is referred to as multifactor authentication.
External Users may not have access to DUO, but they still need to use multifactor authentication. This is why external users must use Google or Microsoft accounts to sign into our instance of Canvas. Both Google and Microsoft support multifactor authentication. Without Google or Microsoft, we could not authenticate external user accounts.
- Article from Microsoft on Multifactor Authentication
- Article from Google on Multifactor Authentication
It is important to reiterate that external users do not sign into Canvas the same way that UNF users do. Because external users do not have UNF accounts, they will sign into Canvas using their personal (or work-related) Microsoft or Google accounts.
External User Access - Key Points
The UNF External Users Tool in Canvas allows instructors to grant temporary (up to 180 days) access to non-UNF users using Google or Microsoft accounts. Below are some key points to note about External User accounts:
- This tool uses Google and Microsoft authentication. If the user does not have an email account with either service, instructions on how they can register for these services are included in the documentation below.
- Access is temporary and expiration is mandatory. Refer to the documentation below for extending external user access.
- If an account expires and is later renewed, the account will have to be re-enrolled in prior courses and course activity will be restored at that time.
- These accounts are not intended to be used as test student accounts; instead it is recommend to use the Student View feature.
Granting External User Access
The UNF External Users tool is available from any course in Canvas for users with a Teacher role in the course. Granting External Users access to a course is a multi-step process that involves first requesting the accounts be created in Canvas, then adding the newly created accounts to course enrollments.
Step One - Adding the External User to Canvas
Before an external user can be enrolled in a course, they must first be added to Canvas in general. The following steps cover how to add an external user to Canvas at UNF.
Enabling the External Users Tool in a Course
A user with a Teacher role in the course must enable the External Users tool through the course navigation settings.
- Click Settings from your course navigation menu.
- Select the Navigation tab.
- Drag and drop the UNF External Users tool into the active course navigation list (or select the vertical ellipsis and click Enable).
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save.
Creating External User Accounts (Granting Access)
Important Note: Because the faculty member who requests the external user account is, in effect, acting as a sponsor for the external user account and will be responsible for communicating with that individual about their account, CIRT cannot add external users on behalf of an instructor.
External users must agree to comply with the University’s regulations, policies, requirements and all applicable state and federal statutes while accessing UNF’s LMS and maintain the privacy of student data in accordance with federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and any regulations, policies and requirements UNF has established or may establish regarding access and maintenance of student records.
Click on the External Users tool from the course navigation menu. In order for the external user to be added, all of the requested information must be entered.
The image and corresponding descriptions below detail each of the pieces of information that are required. It is particularly important to ensure that the Email Provider (Google or Microsoft) is correct for each user. If this information is not entered correctly, the external user will not be able to log into Canvas.
- Email Address Instructions: Instructions on how an external user can register for a Google or Microsoft account (can be sent to the external user).
- Email Address: The email address of the external user.
- Name: First and last name of the external user.
- Select Email Provider: Choose whether the external user will be using a Google or Microsoft account.
Important Note: Selecting the wrong email provider will prohibit the external user from logging into Canvas. Please ensure this information is correct.
- Number of Days to Keep Active: Enter a value from 1 – 180 days. You can extend the active period at any time before the account expires if necessary.
- Remove from List: Use this if an external user has been added in bulk and needs to be removed from the list of users.
- FERPA Disclosure: Please read the full FERPA disclosure and select the checkbox.
- Create Users: Click to submit the information and create the external user account. This will send a confirmation email to the external user.
- Reset: Clear all fields and start over.
Important Note: Oftentimes faculty will contact CIRT to let us know that external users cannot log into Canvas. Most of the time, this is because the external user is not using a Google or Microsoft Account to authenticate (or they are logging into Canvas using the wrong URL).
Note that having a Google or Microsoft account does not necessarily mean having an email that ends in @gmail.com or @outlook.com. Both Google and Microsoft have business operations that provide email services to unique domains. For example, your firstname.lastname@example.org email is operated by Microsoft. Most schools or commercial institutions use either GSuite or Office 365 to manage email services. Sponsors may need to discuss with external users which service they plan on logging in with prior to adding the user. Or sponsors may require that all external users use a specific email (like gmail) to make things a bit easier.
Once the information is entered, click the Create button. A confirmation email will immediately be sent to both you and the external user with specific instructions on how they should access Canvas. Now, you can begin the second step in the process – enrolling the newly created external user account into a Canvas course.
Step Two - Adding External Users to Courses
When external users are added to Canvas using Step One above, they will not yet be enrolled in any courses. They will be presented with a blank Canvas home screen instead. The following covers how to get external users into courses.
Enrolling External User Accounts
Simply creating the external user account does not automatically enroll them in a Canvas course. However, once the external user account has been created, you can search for the user’s email address to manually add them to a specific course (or courses).
Starting within the course where you wish to enroll the external user, click People on the course navigation menu.
From the People page that displays the course roster, click the +People button. The Add People pop-up window will appear. From here you can add one or more Canvas users to your course at a time. When adding more than one user, separate their email addresses with a comma.
You will receive a confirmation screen from which you can verify that the correct users are enrolled because their full names will appear next to the email addresses you entered. After confirming the accounts, click Add Users. The users are now added to your course and they will be sent a course invite e-mail.
Extending External User Access
External user account access can be extended at any point, even after expiration; however, if the account is fully expired then the external user will need to be re-enrolled in courses. It is for this reason that we recommend extending the external user access prior to the expiry date whenever possible.
The process for extending access mirrors the initial steps for creating the external user account. Simply access the UNF External Users tool within a Canvas course and fill out all of the necessary information. It is important to enter the account holder name and email address exactly as they appeared when the account was first created to avoid overwriting information or creating duplicate accounts. If you are unsure of a name spelling or email address you can confirm this information by going to a course where the account is enrolled and viewing profile information from the People page.
Shortly after submitting the request, an account update email will be sent to both you and the external user containing information about the extension. If the request was made after the account became deactivated, you can begin enrolling the external user into courses as detailed in the steps above.
Accessing Canvas as an External User
As mentioned above, the external user does not have a UNF account or N#, so they must use an email address that is registered with either Microsoft or Google.
Note that having a Google or Microsoft account does not necessarily mean having an email that ends in @gmail.com or @outlook.com. Both Google and Microsoft have business operations that provide email services to unique domains. For example, UNF’s “email@example.com” email is operated by Microsoft (which is why UNF account holders use Microsoft Outlook to access their email). Most schools or commercial institutions use either GSuite or Office 365 to manage email services. Sponsors may need to discuss with external users which service they plan on logging in with prior to adding the user.
If the external user’s preferred email address is not already provided by Microsoft or Google, it can be registered with either service by creating an account through the links provided below.
Important: Because external users access UNF’s instace of Canvas using a third-part email provider, they cannot log into Canvas from the same link as registered UNF students and faculty (canvas.unf.edu). Rather, they must use the link provided in the confirmation email that is generated once the external user account is created.
The link included in the confirmation email will be specific to the email provider (Microsoft or Google) that is selected during the account creation process.
- External Microsoft Users Login Here:
- External Google Users Login Here:
Steps for Logging into Canvas
The following information is also provided via email to all external users once they have been added to Canvas. If an added external user does not receive a welcome email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXTERNAL USERS MUST…
Read the confirmation email in its entirety. The email provides the link that must be used to log in, as well as important information about privacy policies.
EXTERNAL USERS MUST…
Click the provided link and log in with the registered email address (to which the confirmation email was delivered) and corresponding password. Please note, it is recommended that the initial login be completed from a computer rather than a mobile device whenever possible.
EXTERNAL USERS MUST…
Follow the prompts to complete the login process. Prompts will appear differently for Microsoft accounts than they will for Google accounts.
EXTERNAL USERS MUST…
Agree to the Acceptable Use Policy. Users logging into Canvas for the first time will be prompted to sign the Acceptable Use Policy. Select the check box to agree, and then click Submit.
EXTERNAL USERS MUST…
Access a Canvas Course. From the Canvas Dashboard, accept the invitation to join a course. Then, click the course card to enter the course.
As mentioned above, a limitation of the way External User accounts are configured is that they must log in using either the Microsoft or Google-specific URL. Some additional things to note that may present barriers during the external user login process include the following.
- If an incorrect email provider is selected during the account creation process, external users will not be able to login – regardless of which link they use. Instructors can contact CIRT for assistance in troubleshooting this issue.
- External Users cannot click the link on the Logged Out screen to log back in again. Rather, they must use the Microsoft or Google-specific link they were provided.
For additional help or to schedule a one-on-one training on how to add external users to Canvas, please contact email@example.com. We’re always happy to help.