About Canvas Camp

Welcome campers! 

Let’s talk about this training program:

Canvas Camp is intended to teach you how to use Canvas while you are producing your first Canvas course. Most of our time will be spent exploring notable features, developing courses, and problem solving how to design your course in Canvas together. All levels of expertise are welcome because Canvas Camp is flexible enough to scale and adapt to suit your needs—there’s always something to learn in our open-ended sessions! That being said, this training is meant to teach you several components of Canvas, but be aware, there are many more pieces beyond what we can introduce.

Canvas Camp occurs in 2-hour sessions over 4 consecutive days. Demonstrations of Canvas, exploration of features, and discussions of course design will all take place during our time together. Our main focus will be the development and completion of your courses!

Using This Website

Every day of Canvas Camp is listed in the website menu and contain the information you’ll need for each day of Camp. The pages of materials are divided into three sections:

Description – The general details about the content you will be exploring. This information is intended to be an overview and outline of the day’s session.

Goals – Your daily checklist of tasks! If you complete all 4 days of goals, you should finish your Canvas course. Please note, these are general guidelines to get you started—your goals may vary depending on your course setup and instructional materials.

S’more – This section contains all the resources and extra bits you might need as you are building your Canvas course. From links to guides & how-to videos to the Canvas community, these materials are intended to propel you into more Canvas content as needed and desired.

Facilitating Canvas Camp

If you are interested in facilitating your own Canvas Camp, read more background information about this training and reach out to Keegan with any questions. You are free to use any and all of these materials without asking permission as long as you abide by the following Creative Commons, open license:

Creative Commons License
canvascamp.keeganslw.com content by Keegan Long-Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Day 1: Introduction To Canvas

The first day of Canvas Camp is about getting to know each other and the Canvas software. Before we dive into content, we will spend some time learning about one another and what brought us to Canvas Camp.

After these introductions, we’ll start familiarizing ourselves with Canvas. Everyone will login to Canvas from canvas.ou.edu and follow along with a short demonstration. We will transition into course development after walking through the D2L to Canvas content migration process. This will give everyone the opportunity to start exploring Canvas from the context of their D2L content.

Alternatively, you are welcome to start from scratch and begin uploading your materials to your Canvas course from your computer.


Import D2L course contents (optional) – If you want the contents from a D2L course, they may already be in Canvas. Check your list of All Course in Canvas to see what courses are already present. If needed, follow this video guide to help you migrate a course from D2L to Canvas.

Explore Canvas – After you some content into a Canvas Course, start exploring how it’s organized. If you want to start uploading content to a course, navigate to the Files section and begin uploading files from your computer. As a frame of reference, here’s a video overview for Canvas.

Prepare course contents for next session – Next session will focus on organizing your materials in Canvas. In preparation for tomorrow, start gathering all of your course materials (i.e. assignments, presentation slides, readings, etc.) and store them in one folder on your computer. This will make uploading your materials much easier over the next few days.

Review this website and your Goals – To prepare for Canvas Camp, preview the 4 daily pages of this website to familiarize yourself with each days’ goals and content.


Overview of Canvas – Video guide:

Exporting a D2L course and importing into Canvas – Video guide:

Uploading files to CanvasFollow this guide to learn how to upload files from your computer to Canvas.

Edit Canvas content – Canvas uses a Rich Content Editor as the main mechanism to edit content. Anywhere you see it appear in Canvas means you can add text, picture, video, hyperlinks, and more to that content in Canvas. We highly recommend this video guide:

Learn the Rich Content Editor once, and you’ll know how to use it across Canvas!

Canvas Commons – Built into Canvas is the opportunity to share course materials like assignments, quizzes, and resources. You can import these contents into your own course if you desire. I recommend searching the Canvas Commons for materials in your discipline and as a way to obtain ideas and example Canvas courses. Want to learn more about the Canvas Commons? Checkout this page of information. Alternatively, learn how to use the Canvas Commons from this page.

Use official Canvas courses versus creating experimental courses – All of your official Canvas courses should be listed in the “All Courses” section of Canvas. This includes both future and past courses. If a course is not available when you think it should be, this typically means you are not currently listed as the instructor of record for that course.

Additionally, Canvas has the feature that you can create your own courses to experiment with or for informal uses like facilitating book groups or research groups. Be aware that courses you create will not contain any people until you invite them to your course. If you are unsure whether a course is official or not, the best indicator is to see if it contains students by navigating to the People section.

Keegan’s Intro To Canvas – This is a Canvas Course that I use to give an overview of the Canvas software. It may appear as a Canvas Course, but it is actually a presentation in disguise.

Day 2: Organizing Your Course

The second day of Canvas Camp is about learning how to use the Canvas software to best organize your course materials. We will focus on Modules in particular today.

In Canvas, much of the organization of materials is prescribed by the type of content. For example, all files in a course are present in the Files section; all assignments reside in the Assignments section; and all discussions can be accessed from the Discussions section. Modules are the feature in Canvas that allow instructors to setup a custom organization to their content. Most often, this is used to structure content chronologically by chapter, unit, or week etc.  Modules are flexible enough that they can be molded to fit the design of your course.

Although we will also spend some time reviewing Pages, adjusting your course navigation, and the Canvas apps available for Android and iOS devices, most of our time will be spent developing your courses.


Upload your course materials – All documents, slides, and files can be uploaded in the Files section of Canvas. These materials can also be organized by folders within the Files section. Note that by default, the Files section is visible to students and organizing your materials here helps you and your students.

Start organizing your course materials using the Module section – If you are importing content from D2L, your Canvas Module section will be filled with the materials from your D2L “Content” section. Typically we recommend modifying or creating your Modules to follow a chronological structure, however this is not always possible or suitable. Nevertheless, we generally advocate for chronological Modules. Ideally, all course content appears in at least one Module.

Set your Course Home Page – You have several options of a course home page. Start thinking about the first thing you want your students to see when they visit your course.

Set your Course Navigation – Canvas offers the flexibility of altering your Course Navigation to suit the needs of your course design. Consider which features of Canvas you will use (or not use) and follow this guide to modify your navigation as needed.

Download the Mobile Apps – Take a moment and download the Canvas mobile apps to your smartphone and/or tablet. They are available on Android and iOS. Even if you don’t use the app to interact with Canvas yourself, it’s beneficial to see what your course looks like on a phone.


Module Creation & Management – Video guide:

Module Prerequisites – Prerequisites allow you restrict access to Modules until other required Modules are completed. The most common use of this I’ve seen is restricting access to all class materials unto an introductory Module is finished. This setup allows instructors to require the syllabus to be accessed before course materials. Learn how to setup prerequisite Modules from this guide.

Module Requirements – Similar to prerequisites, Module requirements can be used to restrict access of materials, however requirements act within a single Module. In other words, you require students follow set pathways through course content where necessary. If used in conjunction with prerequisites, you have immense control over determining the order of content. Learn how to setup Module requirements from this guide.

Module Prerequisites & Requirements Note – If you pursue Module prerequisites and/or requirements, consider the effect this will have on the course because some students may benefit from this feature and others may not. For instance, students who want to look ahead at materials would be locked out of content when these features are setup. As you think about what is best for your students and your course, be intentional in your course design decisions.

Pages – One of my favorite underutilized features of Canvas, Pages allow you to essentially build webpages in Canvas. They can be used to combine video, text, graphics, and hyperlinks onto one page. Since Pages are HTML environments, you can use them incorporate content that can be shared using an embed code. This video offers a great introduction to Pages:

Add MyMedia Videos to your course – If you want to incorporate your videos from MyMedia into Canvas, this guide will introduce the MyMedia embedding process. Alternatively, if you used MyMedia content in D2L and are experiencing broken links when importing this content into Canvas, this video guides you through fixing this issue.

Add articles and library resources to your course – Using journal article permalinks and the ability to link to external URLs in Canvas Modules, you can direct students to specific articles you want them to access. Additionally, you can use this same process to include OU Libraries Databases and E-Reference materials. Finally, if you want to distribute and manage large reading lists for your students, consider adding Leganto to your course.

Canvas App Center – You can use the external apps in Canvas to add features to your Canvas course such as GitHub or YouTube integration. For a full list of apps, checkout this website. If you find an app you want to implement, follow this guide to add it to your course. My favorite app is hands down the Redirect Tool that I use to add OU Create websites to my course. See the “Integrate Course Website” tab in this course as an example of the Redirect Tool.

Day 3: Assignments & Interactive Content

The third day of Canvas Camp is about developing the interactive content in your course. From assignments to discussions, there are many opportunities where you can engage students with course materials and one another.

Our focus will be around developing your Canvas course to suit your instructional needs. This will include a few minutes of demonstrations and exploring the various settings available when creating assignments, quizzes, and more. This session builds on the content from yesterday since you will continue adding content to your Modules as you generate the interactive pieces of your course.

Please note, this is often the point where instructors’ needs start to deviate heavily as some utilize quizzes while others use discussions, etc. In other words, this session is always different depending on which instructors are present.


Add Assignments – You have several options and settings as you add Assignments to your course. Follow this guide to create a Canvas Assignment, this guide to edit a Canvas Assignment, and this guide to setup your Canvas Assignment Groups (i.e. “Papers,” “Exams,” “Quizzes,” etc.) to organize your assignments. Alternatively, this video guide gives a great overview of Canvas Assignments.

Generate Quizzes – Your quizzes can be as simple or complex as you desire. Whether you want to use multiple choice, matching, short answer, (etc.) or some combination, there are many configurations you can develop. To get you started, checkout the Creating Questions and Settings video overviews.

Look into the Canvas Question Groups and view the Moderate This Quiz section to see how to give students extra time/attempts to complete quizzes. Lastly, although Canvas Quizzes have their own section in the menu, they are also sortable using the aforementioned Assignment Groups.

Setup Discussions – If you use online discussions and want to prepare the discussions for the semester follow this guide.  Alternatively, you can organically produce discussions as your course progresses. Either way, here’s how you can interact with your students using Canvas Discussions.

Complete your Syllabus – Often, I see instructors copy and paste the text from the Word document version of their syllabus into the Rich Content Editor of the Canvas Syllabus. Additionally, I’ve witnessed faculty link to their syllabus document from the Files section within the Syllabus section.

The other part of the Canvas Syllabus is handled automatically by the system. Every assignment you add to your Canvas course will be listed chronologically at the bottom of your syllabus. Therefore it’s crucial to assign due dates to every assignment. The benefit of this setup means if a snow day occurs and you need to shift assignment due dates, doing so will result in a system-wide change that will notify your students. In other words, you don’t have resend our your syllabus to students with adjustments.


Peer Review – Canvas has a mechanism to facilitate peer review (which is typically a significant, logistical challenge), meaning it may be a great opportunity to introduce it into one of your courses. You can assign peer reviews manually or automatically and even anonymize the process for the students. Checkout this guide to create a peer reviewed assignment and consider using a rubric in conjunction with peer review so student have a guide when giving each other feedback.

Rubrics – There are two places to build rubrics in Canvas depending on your preference. You can create rubrics from the Outcomes section or within a specific assignment. Once setup, rubrics can be used within the Canvas Speedgrader to streamline grading, but they can be utilized to guide students when reviewing their peers’ assignments. If you build a rubric in Canvas, you can reuse it in multiple assignments across all of your courses.

Groups – If you want to conduct group projects, assignments, or facilitate study groups, Canvas Groups can be setup to manage the logistics of collaborating. Here’s a great video guide to get you started. Groups can be a great addition to your course, but be aware that they add a layer of complexity for your students to learn. Thus, using this feature may work best with students that have some experience using Canvas and I’d recommend providing extra guidance and support.

Quiz Question Banks – To randomize the question order in a Canvas Quiz, you will need to build a Question Bank. Once quiz questions are part of Question Banks, they can be used to build more quizzes or copied to another course. This versatility means when you are building a quiz, you should consider whether quiz questions should be built directly into the quiz or if you should create a question back.

Video Conferencing – If you need to host video conferences for up to 50 people, you can use the Conference section of Canvas. Setting up a Conference is a great option to host virtual open office hours for your students. Be aware that the resulting video from a Canvas Conference can be recorded and archived for 14 days to give students the chance to review the contents. The major limitation of this feature is that, since it relies on Flash, it will only work on traditional computers as opposed to mobile devices.

TurnItIn – One of the many tools that has been integrated into Canvas is TurnItIn. To use it, you will need to select “External Tool” in the Submission Type settings of an individual assignment. Follow this guide for TurnItIn setup, this guide to alter TurnItIn settings, and this guide to view the results of TurnItIn after a student has submitted an assignment. Note that since TurnItIn is initiated as a Submission Type, the alternative Canvas Submission Types cannot be used in conjunction with TurnItIn. For instance, you can not have a paper submitted through TurnItIn and a Media Recording. Instead, that example would require two separate assignments to be created to handle submission. Finally, our University has some guidelines when using TurnItIn.

iClickers – The current IT supported response system on our Campus is iClickers for physical clickers and REEF for app-based polling. If you plan to use iClickers in your course, follow this guide to enable iClicker registration in Canvas.

Homework Systems – Many of the common homework systems (i.e. McGraw-Hill Connect, Pearson MyLab and Mastering, etc.) are already configured in Canvas at our University. If desired, they can be integrated into your course from the Course Navigation section of the Course Settings. Follow this guide to enable these tools into your Course Navigation. Each homework system requires additional configuration, for example McGraw-Hill Connect lists out its LMS partners and provides instruction on integrating these materials into Canvas.

Add interactive content from external websites – The web is vast and there are many materials you could integrate into your courses using embed codes. For example, with trinket.io you can include interactive coding exercises directly into Canvas:

Here’s the guide I followed to accomplish this:

Teach with Interactive Code on Canvas

Day 4: Launch Your Course

The fourth day of Canvas Camp is about finalizing your course and taking the last steps to prepare it for launch. Start thinking about the final touches you hope to add to your course by then end of Canvas Camp.

We will kickoff the session with a discussion asking: “Why do you think the University switched to Canvas?” After spending several days with Canvas, this activity always yields rich conversation.

The remainder of our session will continue with regular course development and offer demonstrations over grading, adding TAs to courses, and fully publishing a Canvas course. By the end of our session, your course will be ready (or very close) to facilitate.


Complete your Canvas Course – Finish adding and organizing all the contents and assignments of your course in the Modules section. Ideally, all course content appears in at least one Module. Additionally, make sure to complete the Syllabus, double check all due dates in the Calendar, and review your course materials are correct.

Add TAs to the course – In the People section of your course, add your TAs.

Publish the course! – The final step! Make sure all of your content is in the “Published” status by referring to the green, check-marked clouds next to each of your materials in the Modules section. All content that has a gray, x-marked cloud is currently in the “Unpublished” draft form and not visible to students. Lastly, on the home page, change the Course Status from “Unpublished” to “Published.”

Bonus Goal? – Consider sharing your course materials with other Canvas users from the University or around the world using the Canvas Commons.


Calendar – Canvas has a strong calendar system that displays all assignment due dates across all courses. Here’s a video overview for the Canvas Calendar:

I recommend filtering your calendar by courses as needed and using the Canvas Calendar to edit assignment due dates with a simple drag and drop. All changes made in the Canvas Calendar are system-wide changes that notify students, meaning in case of a snow day, you can quickly adjust assignment due dates from the Canvas Calendar and these changes occur in real-time across Canvas (i.e. Syllabus section). Finally, the Calendar can also be used to generate assignments if you wish to build your course this way.

Messaging students using the Canvas Inbox – You can communicate with your all of your students through Conversations in the Canvas Inbox. This feature allows you to message individual students, your TAs, or the entire class. This video guide is a great place to start learning how to use this tool in Canvas.

Setup your personal Canvas Notifications – You get to decide how and when you want Canvas to send you Notifications. These alerts can be configure for you account. If you use the Canvas app, this is where you are able to designate what notifications you want pushed to your mobile device.

Take Attendance in Canvas – To use the Attendance system in Canvas, first enable it from the Course Navigation. During the semester, you can use the tool to track student attendance in your course. Although there are some Attendance settings to configure, your options for this tool are limited to this basic functionality.

Grades – The Canvas Gradebook is automatically generated from the Assignments in a course. First, checkout this overview video:

Then read through this guide to see how to interact with the Canvas Gradebook. You can set default grades (i.e. zeros for missing work), curve grades, and message students who make certain grades from the Gradebook. Additionally, I recommend muting assignments while grading if you prefer to release all grades and feedback to students all at once. Otherwise, students will receive notifications as you make changes at your grading pace. Lastly, you are able to download and upload scores to the Canvas Gradebook using CSV files if you prefer.

Use Speedgrader – The easiest way to grade assignments in Canvas is the Speedgrader. This video introduces its power when grading in Canvas:

The Speedgrader supports documents (.doc/.docx), slides (.ppt/.pptx), and PDF files, media recordings, website URLs, and more. This guide demonstrates the specifics of using Speedgrader, including how to enable anonymous grading, leave feedback for students, and use a rubric in Speedgrader. Additionally, you can grade Canvas assignments from the Speedgrader app on a tablet if desired.

Submitting your Grades – Our University aims to make submitting grades through Canvas simple. Checkout either the video guide or the text guide to learn how to complete this task at the conclusion of your semester.

Publishing Content – In the Modules section of Canvas, you can use the published state of contents to hide materials from students as needed. Unpublished materials are in a draft state and will not be accessible to students. Before you finalize your course, make sure all the content you want visible to students is marked as Published with the checkmark/green cloud icon.

Crosslisting in Canvas – You can combine sections from multiple courses into a single course. Before you do this, read this entire guide and view the cross-listing video because you want to make sure you understand how this works. I recommend experimenting and practicing with nonofficial Canvas courses first.

Copy Canvas Course – At some point you will need to move course content from one course to another. Follow this guide to migrate your materials to another Canvas course.

Get Canvas Assistance – The first place I go to get Canvas help are the Canvas Guides, in particular using the search bar on this page. The broader Canvas Community is a great place to get ideas and interact with other Canvas Users from across the world. Our University has its own Canvas Group on the Community website if you’d like to join us. Finally, there are more materials available for instructors on our campus ranging from OU’s Canvas Tutorials, to the resources on the Center for Teaching Excellence’s website.

If you’re hoping to get feedback on your Canvas course, I recommend asking the students in your courses and being open with them about trying new things. Students will be able to give you great feedback on how Modules are setup, etc. At the end of the day, we are all in this Canvas learning process together.

Happy course building, campers!