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Canvas Quick Guide - Designing your Canvas Course with Modules and Pages

Designing your Canvas course can be done using Modules, Pages, or a combination of both. Take a look at our HSU Canvas Course Templates that can be easily imported into your course.

You can see what modules and pages look like to get an idea of what would work best to guide the student learning in your course.

Using only Modules

Modules organize your course materials by day, week, topic, unit, outcome, or any other organizational structure. A module allows instructors to add files, assignments, quizzes, discussions, and external resources in a guided learning experience. Here is a sample HSU course created using a combination of modules and pages: Dr. Christine Dobrowolski’s HED 446 Course. See more details about Modules in the Canvas Instructor Guide.

Designing with Modules Pros
Designing with Modules Cons
  • Most useful for learning materials that are set up in sequence
  • Can "lock' a module to open on a specific date
  • Can create prerequisite activities for student completion before moving on
  • Easy way to direct students to all their resources for a give topic/week/unit
  • Can use a linear framework for navigating resources, much like a "book"
  • Track student progress through a sequence of learning activities
  • Images and videos cannot be displayed in a module itself (students must cilck the specific item to view)
  • Text formatting is not available (no bold, italics, etc)
  • Using text headers to organize or explain module items can look cluttered

Using only Pages

Pages create an opportunity to build organization in one location that is visually appealing. You might use a Canvas page for each week or topic in your course and then create links to the various activities, assignments, resources, and assessments for that week. Or, you might use a homepage structure that has links to each important page in the course based on the content. Within each page, you can use the Rich Content Editor tool to insert text and images, embed a video, create a table, add links, and a link to an external website or other resource.  See the Canvas Instructor Guide on Pages for more details.  Here is a sample HSU course created using pages linked from the course home page: Dr. Amy Rock’s GSP 270 Course.

Designing with Pages Pros
Designing with Pages Cons
  • Can include text, images, and video within
  • Text formatting is available (bold, italics, etc.)
  • More visually appealing than Modules
  • Can make student-editable pages

  • Can be confusing for students to navigate if there are too many Pages or they aren't organized well
  • Pages cannot be "locked" to open on a specific date
  • If the Pages button is available in Course Navigation, the View All Pages button will allow students to view an unorganized list of all published course pages

Using a combination of Modules and Pages

The most common method in organizing course materials is to use a combination of Modules and Pages. In looking at the Pros and Cons above, you might want to consider using Modules and Pages to get the best of both worlds in Canvas. However you choose to guide your student learning experience in Canvas, it is important to remember three things: welcome the students, engage them, and guide them on where to go and what to do.


  1. It's good to have a student-friendly front page regardless of which method you use in organizing the student experience in Canvas.
  2. Whichever method you choose, be sure you customize your Course Navigation Menu to make visible only the menu links you would like students to dive into. Making them all visible can be very confusing to the student.  

“The bar on the left with the syllabus, etc. can be a lot. One class has 15 bars on the side...I would suggest consolidating the menu.” - Jacqueline, HSU Student