How do I build a Simple Canvas Course?

This lesson is designed to accompany the Build a Simple Canvas Course video. Watch the video, browse through the Freshman Writing Seminar, and then download sample materials. To build a Simple Canvas Course, you need five things:

  1. Syllabus text
  2. Discussion prompt
  3. Assignment prompt
  4. OPTIONAL: Quiz (QTI .zip file)
  5. Course files (.zip file)

Note: This lesson requires an existing course shell. If your admin did not create a course shell for you, learn how to create a course shell.

1. Open Course Shell

Open Course Shell

Select your course shell from the "Courses & Groups" drop down menu.

2. Set Course Home Page to Syllabus View

When you first enter the course shell, you will see a banner at the top of the page reminding you that the course is still unpublished as well as the course status in the sidebar [1]. You will publish the course when you are ready for students to see course content. Click the Choose Home Page button [2] in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. Select the final option to enable the Syllabus view [3]. Click Save [4].

3. Edit Syllabus Description

Edit Syllabus Description

Click the Edit Syllabus Description button in the Sidebar. Copy text from your syllabus or this sample text and paste it in the editor window. Then click the Update Syllabus button.

4. Customize Course Navigation

Customize Course Navigation

Click the Settings link in the Course Navigation. Click the Navigation tab to customize the Course Navigation. Remove the following links from the Course Navigation by dragging them to the bottom half of the screen [1]:

  • Syllabus
  • Collaborations
  • Conferences
  • Modules
  • Quizzes
  • Outcomes
  • Pages

Reorder the links that remain as follows [2]:

  • Home
  • Announcements
  • Discussions
  • Assignments
  • Grades
  • Files
  • People

Click the Save button [3].

5. Create Three Assignment Groups on the Assignments Page

Go back to your course. Click Assignments in the Course Navigation to visit the Assignments page. Click the Add Group button to create two new assignment groups in addition to the default group [1].

Click the Settings icon to name the groups, "Papers", "Quizzes", and "Discussions" [2].

Click the Assignment Settings icon to view more options [3].

5.1. Assignment Groups Settings

Assignment Groups Settings

Click the checkbox to "Weight the final grade based on assignment groups" [1].

Enter in percentages. For this activity, Papers should be worth 50%, Quizzes should be worth 25%, and Discussions worth 25% [2].

Click the Save button [3].

6. Add Assignment Shells to Assignment Groups

Click the Add Assignment button to add a new assignment to the Assignment group [1]. Begin by adding a Paper assignment to the Paper Assignment Group. Enter the title of the Paper [2].

Select the Assignment type ("Assignment") from the drop-down menu [3].

Optional: Enter a due date and time [4].

Optional: Enter assignment points [5].

Click Save to save your Assignment shell [6].

Repeat steps 2 - 6 to add a "Quiz" to the Quiz group and a "Discussion" to the Discussions group.

7. Open Assignment Shell

Click one of the assignments you created on the Assignments page to open it up for further editing. Once you are finished editing the Assignment, Discussion, or Quiz, return to the Assignments page to open up another assignment for editing.

Publish the assignments by clicking the gray unpublished icon. The icon will turn green when the assignments are published.

8. Edit Assignment Details for the Paper

Click the Paper assignment from the Assignments page. Click the Edit button.

  1. Copy text from your Assignment prompt and paste it in the Rich Content Editor.
  2. Enter 100 in the Points field. The due date field should be populated.
  3. Select Online Submission from the Submission drop-down menu.
  4. Select File Uploads from the checklist.
  5. Click the Update Assignment button.

9. Edit Assignment Details for the Graded Discussion

Click the Discussion assignment from the Assignments page. Click the Edit button. Click the New Discussion link in the Sidebar.

  1. Title the Discussion and copy text from your Discussion prompt and paste it in the Rich Content Editor.
  2. Click the Graded checkbox.
  3. Enter 100 in the Points Possible field.
  4. Select Discussions from the Assignment Group drop-down menu.
  5. Enter a due date.
  6. Click the Save button.

10. How do I add a Rubric to an Assignment (or Discussion)?

While viewing the assignment, click Add Rubric.

10.1. Edit Rubric

Edit Rubric details [1] or find an existing rubric [2]. Be sure to check "Use this rubric for assignment grading" if you wish to use the rubric in the SpeedGrader to automatically post grades to the Gradebook [3].

11. How do I add an Outcome to my Rubric for alignment purposes?

How do I add an Outcome to my Rubric for alignment purposes?

Outcomes can be added to rubrics. Rubrics can be added to Assignments. Assignments that are aligned to Outcomes (via Rubrics) will surface in the Outcomes report under each student user. The next few steps explains how to add an outcome to an Assignment rubric for alignment purposes.

Click the Outcomes link in your Course Navigation. Then click the Find button.

11.1. Search for Account-Level Outcomes and Import Into Your Course

Search for Outcomes that have already been added to your department [2]. Select the Outcome you wish to use in your course [2] and click Import [3].

11.2. Add Outcome to your Assignment Rubric

Return to your Assignment and open the Rubric. Click the "Find Outcome" link to add the imported Outcome into your Assignment Rubric.

11.3. Import Outcome

Search for Outcomes that have already been added to your course [1]. Select the Outcome and check the "Use this criterion for scoring" checkbox if you want the rating scale to add to the Assignments points [2]. Click Import to include the outcome in your rubric as a new criterion row. [3].

11.4. View the Outcome Criterion and Update Rubric

Outcomes stand out in a rubric because a yellow tag appears to the left of the criterion description [1]. Rating descriptions and point values for a Outcome cannot be edited inside of the Rubric. To edit the ratings, you must edit the Outcome first. Click Update Rubric [2].

12. OPTIONAL: Import Quiz (QTI .zip file)

OPTIONAL: Import Quiz (QTI .zip file)

Optional: You may wish to import a quiz into your course. Download a sample QTI .zip file here.

Click the Settings link in the Course Navigation. Click Import Content into this Course. Choose the QTI .zip file from the Content Type drop-down menu. Browse to the QTI .zip file you downloaded. Click Import.

After import, Return to the Assignments page to delete the original assignment shell for the quiz and drag and drop the imported quiz into the correct assignment group. Add a due date to the quiz by clicking on the icon pencil next to the imported quiz and editing the due date field.

You may also wish to open the quiz from the Assignments page and edit quiz settings. When you are satisfied with the quiz, click the Publish button.

13. Upload Course Files

Click the Files link in the Course Navigation. Click the Upload button in the far right side of the Files browser window. Browse to course files in .zip format. Click Upload File.

Optional: Browse through uploaded files. Organize files into folders and practice locking files.

14. Create New Announcement with Flickr Image

Create New Announcement with Flickr Image

Click the Announcements link in the Course Navigation. Click the Add Announcement button. Add a title to the Announcement [1].  Add text in the content window [2]. Click the Save button [3].

15. Publish Course

There are several ways to publish a course. Click Home in the Course Navigation [1], then click the published link in the banner at the top of the page or Publish button in the sidebar [2]. All of the example students will receive an invitation to join the course.

16. Preview Course with the Student View

Click the Settings link in the Course Navigation [1]. Click the Student View button in the Sidebar [2]. Now browse your Simple Canvas Course through the eyes of a student.

You should browse through:

  1. the Home/Syllabus page
  2. the Announcements page
  3. the Discussions page
  4. the Assignments page
  5. the Grades page
  6. the Files page
  7. the People page

Congratulations on successfully building a Simple Canvas Course!

Lesson Feedback (Optional) (0)

Please let us know if any information in this lesson appears to be incorrect in terms of Canvas functionality only (please do not submit feature requests here). This is not a help site, and submitted comments cannot be answered. If your Canvas course/account is having trouble completing any of the tasks outlined in this lesson, please contact Canvas Support by submitting a HELP TICKET via the Help Link within Canvas or emailing Thank you.

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