Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Member

How to incorporate large amounts of Supplemental Content/Reference Materials?

How do you visually design courses that incorporate supplemental content or resources in your courses?

We have several robust compilations of instructor-created supplemental materials (Internally dubbed "Libraries") that go along with a course, but don't necessarily correspond to any specific module or lesson. They include videos, PDFs, downloadable Word document templates and html content pages. In total there are probably around 500 pieces of content within these "libraries" and none are available publicly on the internet so they live in the LMS and don't link out.

In the past we had them as separate LMS courses where you gained enrollment into both LMS courses by virtue of enrolling into the single course (i.e. HPM 101 registration gets you access to HPM 101 Course and the HPM 101 Reference Library). 

We are changing this so that students only have a single LMS enrollment and we would love to know how others incorporate supplemental materials into their courses without making the module content too long or confusing students.We're fully online and the course is self-paced, so we are aiming for the experience to be as intuitive as possible for students. We would also like to keep the content in the LMS so we can get the metrics on which items are most accessed.

I will note that our use of "Library" to describe this collection of content is probably not the best, since when I search for "content libraries" I tend to get traditional library resources with discussion around involving your librarian in your course, which is not what we're trying to do. So I'm hoping that posting here will give us some ideas of how others do it and maybe a better word for these collections of content. 

7 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @victoria_rogge1  

We have a couple of faculty who provide "libraries" of resources, but more common for us are technical/professional programs who want resource libraries accessible to all of the courses in the program. We create open enrollment courses ( ) as the resource libraries, then post the link to the resource course somewhere in the instructional courses. Our favorite trick for this is to use the Redirect tool, so that the link to the resource library is in the course navigation menu.  This YouTube video will show you how, Canvas - Redirect Tool - YouTube 

I hope this is helpful,


Community Champion

Hi Tori R,

I want to second the advice that Kelley has given you:

Keep your separate course Reference Library

Use self-enrollment

Use redirect tool

By keeping your reference libraries as separate courses you have 1 place where information needs to be updated instead of in multiple courses, and multiple courses can link to the same reference library course. And I really love the idea of a reference library course for all that curated material that can be used over and over again; I'm going to spread the word on that wonderful tip to other instructors because it's a great solution and avoids having an overly cluttered course.

Thanks for the idea!
Cheers - Shar

Community Champion

GREAT idea, Kelley. I'm going to be working on a similar project coming up soon, and I didn't love putting all of the resources in the Modules!

Community Member

Hello Kelley and Shar,

Thank you for these tips. I may try a combination of a reference library and redirect. I have Modules A-Z with different types of REFERENCE information (internal and external) that I carry over from repeated courses quarter after quarter, and, throughout my GIS Curriculum (GIS 311 (Intro to GIS), GIS 312 (Intermediate GIS) and GIS 414 (Advanced GIS)).

I'm also battling my quiz-banks, which seem to function as rabbits each quarter when I import quizzes into my new courses. I hear that this external course may help me 'house' them, without running into a duplicate of duplicate quiz bank issues.

Thanks to everyone!


Community Champion

 @kmeeusen ‌, What do you use for the dates for the self-enrolled course? I just set one up and Canvas said it would send me an email when the course opened. I didn't have any dates set for the self enrollment course (although I do for the main course). When I click on the link I just see a link to go to the Dashboard.


Community Champion

Ohh... So, I see. Because it's a course, the self enroll button just adds it to one of my courses.  @kmeeusen ‌, do you give students directions as to how to access the course once they're enrolled? And what settings do you use for these settings? 

  • Force open in new tab
  • show in course navigation
  • show in account navigation (not sure what this is)
  • show in user navigation (not sure about this either)


Community Member

Hi Tori, 

In Canvas, you can change the visibility of a course in Course settings to allow anyone with the link to the course to view the content. This is one approach I’ve seen in making shared content or resources available in multiple courses. You create the shared resource course in Canvas and link to the course from the modules page, the course home page, an assignment page, or course content page. I’m not sure if this approach will allow you to capture the metrics that you’re looking for, but I wanted to put this option out there for anyone trying to implement a shared resource course.  

Thank you for posting this question. The suggestions you’ve received to this post have been very helpful!