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 you can include interactive coding exercises directly into Canvas:

Here’s the guide I followed to accomplish this:

Teach with Interactive Code on Canvas