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.