Set up your course

  • Learn how a course will be structured.
  • Import a course home page template from the Commons.
  • Set that page as the course home page.


In this tutorial I'm going to show you how to set up a brand new Canvas course.

What our end result will look like

First, though, I'm going to show you what the end result will look like. Here is a Canvas course that's nicely set up. Concentrate here on the middle where we have all the course content.

The first thing you might notice is this red start button that makes it clear where students should go.  A student who hasn't seen this before will know what to click. We have a little bit of a welcome and intro at the top, an easy place to start and down here are links to all of the topics or weeks of the course.

On the right side we have instructor information, links to important places like the syllabus, student orientation, support tutorials for students, and how to get help.

If the student clicks on the Start Here button they'll be brought to the modules. See how we have modules highlighted on the side here? This is a module. The first module in this case is called Introduction to Biological Anthropology. It has a series of items within this module.

The student would click on the first item and would see these lovely pictures. This "Next" button is provided by the module. The module knows there are more items.

A student can click Next to get to the next item in the module. In this case it's a PDF file that Canvas will natively show to the student, or the student can click here to download. Again there's a "Next" button to bring the student to the next item in the module. It's another PDF file, and it displays.  

The student can keep clicking "Next" to go through all the items of the module. At any time the student can click Home to get back to the course home page.

Suppose the student wants to go to a different module, say this one. The student clicks it. The student is brought to that module and the student would click again on the first item of the module, read what it says, click Next and just work his or her way through all of the items in the module, which would be a topic or a week right until they get to the end of module page.  At that point the student can go back to Home.  

That's our structure: a nice easy button for students to start, links to all the weeks or topics which Canvas calls Modules. There's that word "module." These are stored in modules, and then more good information for the students.

Starting with our empty course

Let's now switch back to our other course. Here I am at the Dashboard and I find one course. This is a brand new course no content in it whatsoever. When you look at a brand new empty course ... well I guess I exaggerated.

We, the Distance Ed team, put one piece of content into your course. And here it is: a set of instructions for teachers. If you click it you'll get to this page where you have instructions about how to make your course visible to students when it's ready, and here options to set up your brand-new course. We're going to be looking at "3. Starting from scratch." I'll go back to home.

Those instructions tell you that you want to have a homepage for the course. We've just seen how valuable a home page is.

Import home page from Commons

How do you get that nice looking homepage into your course? You click here on "Import from Commons". You might have to click an authorized button. Once you get past that, down in the search, just type MPC and then click "template MPC canvas course home page."

Over here we're going to import into Canvas. We're coming into this course, this is the course that I'm working on right now, and I click "Import into Course" and then I go back to my course.

Make the page the course Home

I'll go back to the Dashboard and go back to here. Nothing much appears to have changed except I now have a page in my course, a page called the "Course Home Page." And if I click home and click "choose home page" I can tell this canvas course that I want to use that new page as the home page of the course. Then click Save.

And now this is the homepage of the course. Anytime I click home, it brings me to this page. I have some cleaning up to do in this page, obviously. I have to insert the name and all my information and I have to make this stuff link to the actual weeks or topics of the course.

But I'm not ready for that yet because this course doesn't have any weeks or topics yet.  So the next tutorial will show how to make weeks and topics.