Options for Organizing Your Course Materials in Canvas

How do you help students find their way through your course materials in Canvas?

A pathway in the woods leads to mountains

When students encounter a Canvas site for the first time, they may not know where to go. Teaching online, we can aim to create navigable pathways through a Canvas site so that students know where to find the materials they'll need to engage with the course.

Options for Organizing Your Course Materials in Canvas:

To break some of these differences down, Jenae created a short video that clarifies some of the difference between three different tool options available to organize course material in Canvas. These three options are: 

  • Modules:  Instructors can organize course content into several chunks or groups of learning content. The pieces of information that students will access, including the syllabus, assignment sheets, activity descriptions, and outside links and resources, can be grouped together in the order that students might access those resources during a synchronous or asynchronous class session. Modules can give students access to readings, activity descriptions, outside links, and assignment submission links all in one place.
  • Pages: Instructors can create content for students to read or access that is not already created in a separate website or in a Word Document or other kind of document. The settings for Pages can also be changed so that the page can be edited by both instructors and students to create a class Wiki.
  • Files: Instructors can post key course documents, like the syllabus, readings, assignment sheets, and activity descriptions in this space.

Watch a video that explores these differences to see some good examples of what these three different ways of organizing content in Canvas might look like. A transcript of this video is available to read (at the link).

Still looking for more suggestions on organizing your course materials?

  • Comparing Online and Print Syllabi: This page in TeachingWriting shows several different instructors' approaches to designing their course material, recreating the syllabus experience on their course Canvas sites to help students access course materials.
  • Next Level Canvas Teaching TECHnique Webinar: Jenae recorded this webinar last year about some moves for becoming a "next level" Canvas user, including a discussion of modules, pages, and files here.
  • Getting Started (from the Online Writing Instruction community): This page gives some really great examples of different ways that instructors might break up and organize content within a writing course (written by Jessie Borgman and Casey McArdle, instructors outside of Stanford University)