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Course Content

Setting Up Your Course

In order to welcome students into your course, making it clear to students what they need to do to get ready for your course is a great practice to follow. Create a Module containing a welcome message and instructions for getting ready.

Uploading A Syllabus File

It is a good practice to give your students access to your syllabus in a very clear space. We recommend creating a Module that welcomes your students to your course and using this area to upload your syllabus. Canvas calls these content work areas, Modules. Once your welcome module is created, the upload process can be done by following these steps.

  1. Click the plus symbol on the right side of your module.
  2. Select the drop down menu labeled Add (it will typically be on Assignments and keeps the last setting you chose from this interface).
  3. Select File from the drop down menu.
  4. In the new sub-menu select New File.
  5. Below that interface you have the option to Choose File, select this option and browse for your syllabus file in your computer's folders and select it.
  6. In the Folder drop down menu, identify the folder where you would like this File to be saved in Canvas. This is a copy so you can reuse files within Canvas later on.
  7. Indentation levels allow you to move items displayed in Modules indenting left of the label degrees for your choice of organization; select your preference, Don't Indent is the default.
  8. Click the Add Item at the bottom of the interface. 

Selecting File item to be added to course

Adding a file item to a course

For more support, you can also explore These Canvas Guides:

What are Files?

How do I bulk upload files to a course?

How do I restrict files and folders to students in Canvas?

Adding Assignments And Course Content

Assignments and Course Content in Canvas are generally presented in modules for organization. This is what allows students to go either to and from, previous or next, between Pages and Assignments easily through the Canvas interface. As you make your Modules for Content or Weekly/Topic oraganization it is easiest to add your Assignments and Content there. 

Explore our Assignments and Activities page to learn more about building your course out in Canvas.  

Explore our Presenting Your Course Content page to learn more about showing and developing your course. 

Publishing Your Course

The ability for students seeing content and assignments in your course depends on your Publishing the content. The "little green check mark" by all modules, pages, assignments, etc. means an item is published and therefore, visible to students. This is also true in a more broad sense when students cannot see your course when they get enrolled at the beginning of a term or, if you can't seem to add and copy material from your course. This means the course or item is still unpublished and invisible. The "grey not symbol" means an item is unpublished and therefore invisible. 

To publish items in the course, simply select the "grey not symbol" next to an item and make sure it changes to a "little green check mark." To publish a course, follow the steps below.

  1. Log in to your Course.
  2. Select the Home button on the left of your page in the Course Navigation.
  3. On the far right of the Home Page there should be a column of grey buttons with options for the course. The top buttons will be for Unpublish and Publish.
  4. By default, Unpublished is selected and in a kind of light red. 
  5. To Publish and show the course, select the Publish button.
  6. The Course is now Published and visible
  7. To Unpublish the course, simply select Unpublish, if you need to continue working and hide material. 

Course Status From Home Page with Publish Course button indicated

NOTE: When Publishing a course for the first time, Canvas will automatically publish all of your Course Modules, though not all of its internal content, like assignments, discussions, or quizzes.

Course Structure and Navigation

​Creating the structure and flow for your course can seriously up its ease of use.  Modules, Text Headers, a Homepage, and Course Navigation can all help.

Adding And Renaming Modules

Use Modules to help structure your course content into units, chapters, modules, or weeks. Create an extra module to house items related to a project or other major component of your course.

Adding a Module

Adding Module (1)

Adding Module (2)

 

Renaming a Module

Renaming module (1)

Renaming Module (2)

 

How do I use the Modules Index Page?

How do I add a module?

How do I edit a module?

Using Text Headers For Module Structure

Within a Module, Text Headers can help bring a student's attention to specific assignments, activities, or content.

Adding a Header

Header (1)

Header (2)

Header (3)

How do I add a text header as a module item?

Choosing A Homepage

By default, the Modules View of the course acts as the Homepage for your course. Choose to customize the look of your course by creating a new Content Page, then setting it as the Course Homepage.

Select a Homepage for your chosen course

Homepage (1)

Homepage (2)

How do I use the Course Home Page as an instructor?

How do I change the Course Home Page?

Setting Course Navigation Items

It's unlikely you'll use every facet of your Canvas course. Hide the unused areas of your course to avoid student confusion.

Hiding unused Navigation Items from Navigation Bar

Select the Settings link in the Navigation Bar

Navigation (1)

Select the Navigation settings - Drag and drop any unused items to the section below or select the dropdown icon on the right hand side of the item and select disable.

Navigation (2)

Navigation (3)

The eye icon represents that the item is hidden from anyone other than Faculty and Staff registered in your course.

Navigation (4)

How do I use the Course Navigation Menu as an instructor?

How do I manage Course Navigation links?

Presenting Your Course Content

Uploading A File

You can add a file to your course by uploading directly to a Module or within an assignment. You can also import files using the course import tool in Course Settings.

Adding files directly into a module in Canvas
Adding Item to Module pop up

As an instructor, you can drag and drop files from your personal files into course files.

Personal files link in the account sidebar
Dragging a file from personal folders to course folders

How do I upload a file to a course?

How do I use Files as an instructor?

Adding A Content Page

You can create Pages to include text, multimedia, or links to web or course resources that support and enrich your course content.

adding page to course

How do I create a content page?

Pages can be edited anytime after being created. You can decide to always allow students to edit Pages.

How do I edit a content page in my course?

Former Moodle User Tip: Instructors can configure Pages in Canvas to function like a Moodle wiki by allowing students to edit Pages.

Adding An External Link

With so much rich content on the web, you can use external links to lead students to review authentic online material that will enhance your course. As a note, any website that is not "secured" or using HTTPS may have some issues with linking. With those sites, we recommend you set the link to open in a new window or tab.

adding an external link steps

How do I add an external URL as a module item?

Former Moodle User Tip: External link is the same as a Moodle url resource.  External links can be added in both Modules or as links in a Content Page.

Content created in Canvas as well as content uploaded to Canvas should be accessible to all students. This includes using Alt Text to describe images and graphics, ensuring sufficient contrast between text and the background, and the use of closed captions for video. 

How do I make my files and content accessible?

How do I use the Accessibility Checker in the Rich Content Editor?

Using The Rich Content Editor

Formatting Text

Whether you type text directly into Canvas or copy/paste from Word, use the Rich Content Editor to format your text.

How do I add and modify text in the New Rich Content Editor?

Adding Images And Graphics

Add compelling visuals to your course to help students understand difficult or abstract concepts, while improving the visual appeal of your course. 

How do I embed images from Canvas into the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

How do I upload and embed an image in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

Creating Links And Hyperlinks

Working With More Than Text And Graphics

Add other media types besides images and text. Embed a Youtube video, write an equation using the LaTeX Math Editor, or add a table to display data. 

Embedding Online Video

How do I link to a YouTube video in the New Rich Content Editor?

Using Math Editor for Equations

How do I use the Math Editor in the New Rich Content Editor?

Inserting a Table

How do I insert a table using the New Rich Content Editor?

Ensuring Content Is Accessible To All Students

Content created in Canvas as well as content uploaded to Canvas should be accessible to all students. This includes using Alt Text to describe images and graphics, ensuring sufficient contrast between text and the background, and the use of closed captions for video. 

How do I make my files and content accessible?

How do I use the Accessibility Checker in the New Rich Content Editor?

Leveraging Multimedia

Leveraging Multimedia. In this self-paced course, learn how to best utilize media in your course to free up design and engage students. You'll also learn how to find pre-existing videos and online content to help supplement your course.

Files

Viewing Files

As an instructor, Files allows you to store, upload, and manage your own created documents, images, slidesshows, etc.within Canvas. You can upload one or multiple files, view all details about your files, preview files, publish and unpublish files, set usage rights, and restrict access to files.

Course Files page on Canvas

How do I use Files as an instructor?

Uploading Files

Canvas supports a wide variety of file types. Common files including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDFs, and JPEGs can be previewed directly in the web browser. We encourage faculty to take advantage on saving files in Google Drive, Office365, or Dropbox.  Files saved here can easily be linked to and shared with students.

canvas file upload screen

How do I upload a file to my course?

All files available in your course can be accessed through the Files area of your course. 

How do I access files that I have uploaded?

Any file in your course can be inserted as a link through the rich content editor. This makes it easier for students to access relevant course materials.

file upload through rich content editor

How do I include a link to a file on a page?

Former Moodle User Tip: The same file types used in Moodle can be used in Canvas. The allowed file size has improved in Canvas!

Organizing Files

You can move and organize the files in your course by dragging and dropping files or using the Move options for each file. Files are always organized in alphabetical order, so you are not able to rearrange the organizational structure of files, but to locate a file you can always sort files by column. Files can be added to Modules and Content Pages, making it easier for students to find a file. 

File organizing options in Canvas

How do I move and organize my files as an instructor?

How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items?

How do I insert course files into the Rich Content Editor using the Content Selector?

Modules

Adding A Module

Modules control the entire flow of your course and its content. As an instructor, you can add modules, add items to a module, and manage module settings. You can also reorder all modules and module items.

Adding a module

How do I use the Modules Index Page?

How do I add a module?

Adding Content To A Module

You can add new or existing content items in Canvas to a module. You can also add an item to multiple modules, or multiple iterations of an item to one module.

Button to add content to a module
Types of content that can be added to a module

How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items?

Restricting Modules

When you set up prerequisite modules, students must complete a module before moving to the next module. When you add requirements to a module, students must complete the defined requirements within the module before the module will be marked complete. You can require students to complete all requirements in the module, or have them choose one item to fulfill a specific requirement. 

Editing a module
Module prerequisites and requirements

How do I add prerequisites to a module?

How do I add requirements to a module?

Pages

Creating Content Pages

You can create Content Pages that include text, multimedia, or links to web or course resources that support and enrich your course teaching. 

Creating a page in Canvas

How do I create a content page?

Editing And Deleting Pages

Edit a page at anytime after creating it. Decide whether students should be able to edit pages by modifying the option for who can edit. 

Editing a page in Canvas
Changing page editing permissions

How do I edit a content page in my course?

How do I delete a page in a course?

Former Moodle User Tip: Instructors can configure Pages in Canvas to function like Moodle wiki, allowing students to edit Pages. In the Page settings, locate the Can edit this page role selection, setting to Teachers and students. 

Setting A Front Page

The Course Home Page is the first view your students will see when they enter your course. For the Course Home Page, you can customize a page from your course Pages and have it display as the Course Home Page.

Setting a page as the front page in Canvas

How do I set a Front Page in a course?

Embedding Content Within A Page

Some websites provide HTML embed code, permitting the display of the website's content directly inside Canvas. Copy the embed code, edit the page, then use the HTML editor to paste the code. 

The HTML embed option in the page editor

How do I embed a video in a page in a course?

How do I embed other media or items from an external source in a page in a course?

Viewing Page History And Restoring A Page

When you can edit course pages, you can view the page history and see the date, time, and author of any changes made to the page. Page editors can also roll back the page content to a previous version of the page. 

Viewing page history for a page

How do I view the history of a page in a course?

Video

Here are ways to share and add video to Canvas. Before you do so and your course goes live, please double-check whether your links to online videos are working properly and confirm whether your videos are closed captioned to help meet accessibility requirements.

Embedding An Online Video

Youtube

A Youtube video can be embedded anywhere in Canvas that has the Rich Content Editor (RCE) available. Copying and pasting the Youtube video "Share" link into the RCE and pressing the Enter key (PC) or Return key (Mac) will embed the video.
How do I embed a youtube video?

Other Video Platforms

Other online videos have a "Share" option that will allow for the video to either be embedded or linked to. This option is available when a "Share" label or "Arrow" icon is displayed on the video. Embed code will be available to copy and paste into a Canvas Page using the HTML editor option of the Rich Content Editor (RCE).
How do I embed a video to a Canvas Page?

Adding Instructor Created Videos To Canvas

Video files can be uploaded to Canvas Studio. Canvas Studio is a video and audio repository found in Canvas that allows for student and faculty collaboration. Canvas Studio has a video captioning feature that can easily add captions to your video. A Canvas Studio video can be embedded anywhere in Canvas that has the Rich Content Editor (RCE) available once captioning has been added. 

Note: Because Panopto is a more reliable and capable video communication platform, Canvas Studio will be gradually phased out and replaced by Panopto. Instructors should start to use Panopto in place of Canvas Studio for the recording and hosting of video.

Please visit our guide on Migrating Canvas Studio Videos to Panopto for more information.

If you have created a video from a Zoom recording, Camtasia, narrated PowerPoints, or from your phone/tablet, you can add that video to Canvas studio.
How do I add content to Canvas Studio?

You can use Canvas Studio to create videos for your course.
How do I record a Canvas Studio video with a webcam for my course?
How do I record a Canvas Studio screen capture video for my course?

After recording or uploading a video, be sure to add it to your course in a module or by embedding on a page.
How do I embed Canvas Studio media in a course?
How do I add Canvas Studio media as an external tool module item?

Ensuring Accessibility Of Video

Checking Online Video for Captions

Check to see whether a video has captions and that they are appropriate for instruction. Here is a brief checklist you can use:

  • Is there a “CC” option available?
    • This indicates that there is at least one caption track available.
  • Is there a cog/gear (wheel) option with multiple captions tracks available?
    • Auto-generated captions without editing for accuracy may not be appropriate for instruction.
    • If the track states the language only, such as “English,” then it is likely a human-edited caption track and more accurate.
  • Do the captions have punctuation, correct spelling, and are they timed correctly?
    • This is an indicator that the captions are accurate and appropriate for instruction.
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