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I’m teaching at a new university this year. I’m excited to get started, but before I can, I need to set up my new course websites. At ISU, we use a Sakai-based system. [Here’s that video tutorial, with other online teaching tips.] At STU, I’ll be using Canvas instead. Canvas is a super popular learning management system, so there are plenty of tutorials already out there. But, I thought I’d still create my own video tutorials, as well, from the perspective of a newbie getting the feel for the tools available in this LMS. So far, I’ve covered the four major elements of Canvas: pages, discussions, assignments, and modules. You can learn more about these elements in this post or by going straight to the YouTube video series playlist. Additional videos will be created as I gain more experience with Canvas.

How to Create Pages on Canvas

Pages are the building blocks of your Canvas LMS, so learning how to create them is an essential part of the process. With pages, you can create lessons for your students, describe each class period’s classwork and homework assignments, link to important supplementary resources, and much more. I go over all this information in the video.

How to Use the Discussions Tool

Discussions are a great way to create asynchronous activities for your students. The discussions don’t have to be only written text. You can have students link videos, images, and more. You can also create small group discussion activities in a couple different ways. Find out more in the video. Also, here are seven online discussion designs you can try out in your classes.


How to Use the Assignments Tool

I take a pretty paperless approach to creating and collecting major assignments from my students. So, the assignments tool on Canvas is the best way to design assignments that are easy to collect, view, and grade. I go over various settings in this video, including connecting the assignments to the gradebook and adding the peer review element to the assignments. More information on group work can be found in the discussions tutorial.

How to Create Modules in Canvas

If pages are the building blocks of your course website, modules are how you’ll make it easy to your students to navigate through these pages (and discussions and assignments). Constructing modules that flow well from one to another is key to a user-friendly course website. You can also lock future modules so that students can’t access them early, and you can add the “requirement” feature to module elements that forces students to complete a task before they can move on to further module elements. Again, find out more in the video.

More Canvas Tips

My favorite tip in this video? How to copy and paste content in between courses. Makes life so much easier when you’re teaching two or more sections of the same course. I also go over using the attendance tool, linking content together with images, and more. This will be the final Canvas video for a while, but let me know if there’s anything else you’d like me to cover in the comments section.

Final Thoughts

These four elements are the most important ones to use when creating your Canvas course website. I’ll be adding more tutorials on smaller elements of Canvas in the future. I recommend subscribing to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss future updates, but you can also bookmark this blog post and check back periodically. If you have any questions about Canvas, let me know in the comments below. And, if you’re looking for online teaching tips and resources, here are all the online teaching resources that I’ve been creating.

Comment Below: What’s your favorite Canvas tool and why?

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Here's a video tutorial series all about using Canvas to create your class website. Find out how to create pages, discussions, assignments, modules, and more. #highereducation #edtech