Using Modules for course organization

The Modules tool in Canvas can make course organization and navigation easier for yourself and your students. Modules are like binders. You can add your existing assignments, quizzes, discussions, and resources into a module in the order you would like your students to review them so everything is together in one place for each chapter or topic, or week. You can use them not only to organize your content and assignments in the order you want your students to move through them but also to set requirements for module completion and track student progress through the items.

The Modules Tool in Canvas can make course organization and navigation easier for yourself and your students. It is the place where you organize your activities, content, and assessments in the order in which you want your students to progress through them. Having all instructions, content, activities, and assignments in the Modules tool avoids the problem of telling students to “go there and do this” and then “go somewhere else and do that.” The Modules tool automatically creates “Next” and “Back” buttons at the bottom of each module item so students can easily navigate through the items in the order you would like them to.

The following video walks you through the process of making and using modules in Canvas.

Please add the topic you are covering and the inclusive dates for each week to the module title. It helps both you and your students keep track of where you are in the course without having to look at a calendar and count weeks from the beginning of the semester each time.

Make sure to publish all of your modules and everything in them that you want students to be able to see. If there is not a green checkmark to the right of the module name, students cannot see that module or anything in it.

The module overview page

The Canvas Pages tool lets you create simple pages where you can put text, images, and videos together instead of having separate module items for documents, links, and videos.

Using a module overview page is a very helpful way of getting information to students. It can include an introduction to the module, videos you want them to watch prior to class, and annotated links to readings and other resources. You can also include a brief overview of the assignments for that module and indicate how the readings, videos, and other resources will help students to complete the assignments.

An important usability benefit of the Modules tool is that, by organizing all your content, assignments, quizzes/tests, discussions, etc. in Modules, you can hide the Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, Pages, and Files tools in the left navigation list from student view. This gives students one and only one place for everything they need and in the order you want them to go through it. It also means fewer “where is ____?” questions for you and less time spent searching for things for your students. For instructions on hiding or enabling items on the navigation menu, see the Canvas Guide “How do I manage Course Navigation links?”

If you have files that you want to share with your students (either articles or other file types), it’s recommended to link them into the overview page instead of adding them as a module item. This keeps the length of the module from getting overwhelming and allows you to provide additional information about the file. If you do add a file to a module, please make sure it displays a meaningful name and not a file name.  You can edit the Module item name by clicking the options menu (the three vertical dots to the right of the item), selecting “Edit,” and typing in the actual name of the article or other document.

Open your modules at least a week before the module start date

Make sure your modules are open at least a week prior to the module start date. This is very important for students juggling a variety of responsibilities and challenges. Generally speaking, open the modules as soon as they are ready for the students. The point is for them to be able to see the module overview pages to be able to plan ahead.

You can use “Available from” dates on discussions, assignments, and quizzes if you want students to wait until that module to submit. However, keep in mind, if you put an “available from” date on an assignment or discussion, students will not be able to see the assignment instructions. In that case, make sure you have a description of the assignment on the module overview page.

Modules How-to

For more on using modules, see the following Canvas guides

You can also browse the full list of modules-related Canvas guides (scroll down to the Modules section).


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