Canvas Behind the Scenes

Helpful behind the scenes info on how Canvas integrates with my.harvard, common administrative questions, and more.

Data Feeds

Canvas gets data feeds from my.harvard every 5 minutes, including:

  • Course catalog information (course description)
  • Class roster (instructors, enrolled students, prospective enrollees, teaching fellows)
  • Sections

Accessing Canvas site(s)

Giving people access

Combining sites

Courses with multiple catalog listings, but one actual meeting time/group of students, can use a single Canvas site. This includes:

  • Cross-listed courses between schools 
  • Cross-listed courses across departments
  • Multi-level courses (e.g. for both undergraduate and graduate students)
  • Courses taught in section (e.g. Expository Writing, Languages)


Courses with sections can either:

Course conclusion

  • Course sites become “read-only” at the end of academic year
  • Alumni can still access their Canvas sites via their HarvardKey (in most cases)