Three Tips to Quickly Build a Course in Canvas

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It may seem like it’s early, but next semester is quickly approaching. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about your courses if you don’t want to spend time during break to pull them together. If you’ve already set up the course in Canvas, it’s a simple process to import the content and change the dates. But if you need to start from scratch (or a Moodle backup), here are three tips to help you speed up the process. 

1. Make a game plan and template

Take the time upfront and look over your course. Identify which pieces are consistent across it to make a template. Maybe you have deliverables for a project across the course that follow the same process. Maybe you have discussions for students to participate in every week. Or maybe you have a series of papers across the course that have the same basic settings and just different due dates and instructions. Create “shell” items in Canvas for each of those pieces – one item that you can use as a model for the rest in the course. 

2. Duplicate your template items and fill in details

You’ve already identified what pieces are consistent across the course, so now you can use those to make a template in Canvas. You could work in two different places: the assignments page or the modules page. 

Assignments page

If you work from the assignments page, you can duplicate your items to create shells for each part, then go back and fill in the details. Remember that after you do this, you’ll still need to add each item to its module. 

Modules page

If you work from the modules page, you can set up your complete module structure with any text headings or other items you want to include. Then, duplicate the module to create shells for the rest of your course and start filling in the details. 

Note: a module cannot be copied if it contains an External Tool (LTI) item. You can copy the module by first moving the LTI item out, making a copy, then moving your LTI item back.

Canvas transition quirk

Canvas is transitioning from their old quizzes feature to a new quizzes feature. You cannot duplicate a module that contains a quiz built using the old system. The easiest way to work around this is to work with all of your quizzes on the “quiz” or “assignment” page, then add them into the modules when they are all ready. After Canvas fully moves to the new quizzes (anticipated date sometime in 2020), you will be able to duplicate modules containing quizzes. 

3. Only publish items when they’re ready

This might seem simple. But as I’ve built courses, I’ve learned it’s easy to track what items are fully ready for students to see (even if they won’t see them yet) and which still need work by using the publish/unpublish feature. I make sure everything is unpublished in a course when I start. I only publish items when all of my checks and reviews are completed and there is no reason I need to work on that item anymore. If you use this method, you’ll be able to quickly skim the green check marks to see what’s ready in your course and what needs a little more TLC. 

Try following these three easy steps as you’re building a course and see how they improve your workflow! Have you discovered any tips or tricks that help you more efficiently build a course? Please share them below in the comments so we can all learn from each other. 

Want to never miss a post? Subscribe here!

Subscribe to Blog

Enter your email address to receive email notification of new posts.

Leave a Reply