Category: eLearning News

Helpful Tips To Building a Canvas Course

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The start of each new semester brings with it the opportunity to build new Canvas courses for each of your classes. Building these courses each semester may seem a little overwhelming…right? It can be especially overwhelming for those who teach several classes, those who are new to teaching or using a learning management system.

Not sure where to start in building your courses? This blog post will walk you through several helpful tips to develop the basic structure and content of your Canvas course so it will be ready to publish in no time at all!

Re-purpose previous course content

Have you taught this course before? Do you have some great course content you wish you could use again? Canvas provides you the ability to import course content from any previous course where you were enrolled as an instructor. You can import a single assignment or the entire course.

Take advantage of the Homepage Template

Want to create a homepage quickly and easily even without much understanding of the Rich Content Editor? Each Canvas course has a Instructor Info Front Page Template already available for you to use. Simply select the template to be the front page and edit the page to include your course and instructor information. The homepage is also an excellent place to post a link to your syllabus!

Establish Assignment Groups

Course content can be divided into categories (ex. quizzes, homework, projects, etc.) with each category having a defined percentage of the final grade applied to it. These categories are known in Canvas as Assignment Groups. By initially defining the assignment groups, percentage value and course content, Canvas can easily calculate the course grades for you as the semester progresses. Each time you create an assignment, you can designate which assignment group it should reside under.

Plan your course structure

Having a structured organization to your course content can make it easier for your students to navigate through your course. Course content can be easily organized by weeks, units, chapters, etc. using Canvas Modules. The modules can be set up with requirements so students need to work through the content in a specified sequence. Lock/unlock dates can be placed on Modules–this allows the instructor to create and publish content within a module but the content in the module is not visible to students until a defined date.

Familiarize yourself with the gradebook

The Canvas gradebook provides a wealth of detail about course grades. Canvas uses many color codes, icons, views and grading type symbols to convey the detail about each students’ submission/score. It is helpful to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the layout of the gradebook as well as the color codes and icons.

Hope these tips prove useful to you when setting up your Canvas courses! Have a Canvas question you need answered? Contact the elearning team at