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

create an image gallery

Jump to solution

How do I create an image gallery in Canvas? I teach art history. I want to be able to create image galleries (5-20 images each) for students to study. Some images will appear on quizzes. Please understand that I am a novice, I am easily frustrated and extremely technophobic. It will help me (and possibly others) if answers are in simple clear English and if all technical terms are defined. Please don't assume I have any real understanding of this thing because I don't. Thank you.  image gallery art history

1 Solution

I use Padlet with my art students all the time. They love it, and they would agree; it's really easy to learn! We use it to create galleries of their work, share resources, swap ideas, etc. We've found many different uses for Padlet, and I am also surprised that more teachers don't utilize it. :smileygrin:

View solution in original post

59 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi ellenbcutler

So what you want is a tool (preferably a Canvas tool) that will allow you to create a place in your classroom where your students can browse through a couple dozen images of Impressionist or Cubism example, with your text explaining each example of something along those lines. This would be useful for far more courses than just Art History!

Canvas does not have a built-in tool like that, and in searching for just such a tool that could be integrated into Canvas (for a couple of my health career programs), I did not find any that were simply an image gallery.tool.

However, there are several "Lesson-Building tools" available for which a component would work for what you need, and they integrate well with Canvas.  My personal favorite is SoftChalk Cloud

You can use SoftChalk to create lessons, entire courses and even ebooks; but for your purposes it includes many easy to set up activities, and one of those is an image gallery. SoftChalk is incredibly easy to learn, and I was building lessons after less than a 20-minute introduction by a co-worker ages ago. It is not too pricey, and way less so than a product like Camtasia.

SoftChalk fully integrates with Canvas, and the activities can even be linked to the Canvas Gradebook. And, because it is cloud-based, you create/revise once, and embed everywhere needed. Revisions in the cloud are instantly reflected everywhere it is embedded.

If, however, you would like to see Canvas develop an image gallery as part of it's native functionality, please submit this as a feature idea. You can learn more at


Community Contributor

Thanks Kelley. I am very disappointed that there is no such tool in Canvas. Basically I am frustrated with and disappointed in Canvas. We have to change from Moodle to Canvas just at the point I had begun to develop comfort with Moodle (took about 4 years / 8 semesters). Someone thought Canvas was "better" for us (an art college) because it had better tools and was more "intuitive." Let's just say there are no unique tools I am finding useful and a pox on anyone claiming something is intuitive. 

I was also able to get hold of our faculty tech person and she suggested creating a powerpoint presentation for each group and uploading them to the modules. (Powerpoints I am good with.) I had already experimented with that and thought they weren't loading. Turns out they are just sorta slow. I'm not thrilled with this option but it meets my needs. (images plus text identifying them etc.)

As a technophobe and a person who takes forever to learning anything (deeply stupid when it comes to this stuff) I would be unlikely to go to SoftChalk Cloud. I just can't deal with yet another challenge. I get the "fully integrated" concept as much as a peabrain can, but again it is just too much and I don't have a human to lead me through the learning process. I am largely incapable of learning anything without an instructor.

I reviewed similar options with my techie and pointed out that using to create study galleries is something I have done in the past but I can't get the students to go there and the extra travel time creates a learning barrier. On the other hand I have managed to get a pretty good grip on, which is ideal for setting up visuals like an image gallery. Apparently I can place a link to a gallery in any module, along side links to readings and whatnot. So I think I will go one of those ways.

So again, thanks.

I am a huge fan of Padlet, ellenbcutler‌, so I am glad to hear that is something you think will work nicely for you. It definitely plays very nicely with Canvas.

Also, it has the advantage of being something that students can use, either collaborating together in a Padlet, or building their own Padlets, so maybe that is something that will be worth exploring.

I personally prefer using non-Canvas tools which can then plug into Canvas because I like to use tools side by side with my students. Padlet, Pinterest, YouTube, blogging: those are all great online options that my students are motivated to use and explore, and if you want/need for them to be displaying inside your Canvas space, you can do that too. 🙂

Laura Gibbs, I am surprised that more people haven’t heard of Padlet. I keep introducing colleagues to it. It is so easy to use—OMG, I am the most incompetent computer user in the world and even I find it pretty easy and fun. I have made it a part of my teaching in several different classes with pretty good results. And there are some new bells and whistles I haven’t check out yet, but they are likely to be useful. Cheers!

AGREED! Padlet is easy, fun, and useful in all kinds of ways. I really like it too! 🙂

I use Padlet with my art students all the time. They love it, and they would agree; it's really easy to learn! We use it to create galleries of their work, share resources, swap ideas, etc. We've found many different uses for Padlet, and I am also surprised that more teachers don't utilize it. :smileygrin:

Tell students to download the Powerpoint file to their computer and then play it. It will work more smoothly. 

Community Team
Community Team


I am a high school art teacher, and when I need to create galleries in Canvas (for study), besides Padlet, I tend to gravitate towards two resources. Google Slides and Google Photos. If you feel comfortable with PowerPoint, moving to Google Slides would be a lateral move. I like that I can embed the slideshow in with notes or an assignment. (‌). With Google Photos, I've created albums of artwork and then used comments to provide context or other important information. I can then link the album to the assignment. In either case, with the right sharing settings, students can collaborate or curate the collections as well.

If this is something you'd like to explore further, let me know! I'd be happy to help. Smiley Happy

Community Champion

Hey Ellen

Try giving PhotoSnack a go. Seriously easy. Just need to create an account. The free version gives you 100 images which you just upload to the site. You can then change the layout design to include thumbnails and an autoplay slideshow. What's more you can even add music!

With a tiny bit of tech (which, if you are a Moodle user should present no hurdles at all) you can copy and paste the code to paste on a Canvas page. Once it is on the page you can then play full screen.

Happy to demo if you want?

Here is a link to one I made in about 5 mins with images I saved from the web and a classic 1984 backing track: PhotoSnack | Testing slideshow by gideonwilliams 

PS Love Padlet. Works really well when embedded on a Canvas page and you let kids use the stylus!

Thanks Gideon. I’m already intimidated. There’s a stylus for Padlet? Don’t know anything about that. And I’m so technophobic and incompetent that the only thing I “use” in any meaningful way is email. Everything is a hurdle.

I appreciate the offer and I will definitely ask if I decide to go that way. Part of the problem is that as an adjunct at a college, I earn squat and I am loath to spend much personal time expanding my tech skills. There simply is no form of remuneration and beyond a point, personal satisfaction doesn’t cut it. (I know that does not reflect well on me.)

The classes I teach bear so little resemblance to the art history classes I took in college. We read textbooks, went to lectures, wrote papers, memorized artworks. That structure—especially the reading textbooks and writing papers parts—doesn’t work well with kids in the 21st century. They come from a general knowledge base that is so much unlike mine. But they are good for me, and I hope that in my own fuddy-duddy and clueless kind of way, I am good for them.


The stylus option for Padlet is available if they have a device that has a stylus - its quite good for student doodles eg circuit diagrams or Maths formulas. Makes a change from the text stuff.

Perhaps the college could think about investing in some digital leaders (students) who might want to help support staff and/or design some resources?

Good luck and don't hesitate to give me a shout if you want to look at this or other Web 2.0 tools. 

The Canvas community is pretty awesome and there are lots of people out there willing and happy to share and support each other.

I hear you, ellenbcutler‌! I am also an adjunct and one of the things that has sustained me in my long years of adjuncting is the sheer pleasure of getting to work with IMAGES and MUSIC as part of my job. I love the Internet! I did my undergraduate work in a world of books, and I love to read (very much!!!), but I also love images and music, and having that be part of my classes is something that makes ME happy as well as making my students happy too. 

There are plenty of people still teaching the textbook way, and I think it is great you are going beyond for your students!

Ooooh, PhotoSnack looks so fun,  @GideonWilliams ‌: thank you!

Its kind of cool and very easy to set up...

One of my goals is to up my game with images this summer, esp. harvesting images from old books. Having a fun new tool to explore at the same time is going to work out perfectly! 🙂

0 Kudos

Laura Gibbs, do you have access to It is a wonderful database. I use it mainly for works of art but it is loaded with imagery of other kinds. Even if I weren’t teaching art history, though, I think I would make much deeper use of pictorial material in my classes. It is wonderful how the analysis and discussion of imagery helps secure information in the mind and connects people on a more visceral level. And music too. Sometimes I will play a slide show with music before class to give students something to look at, begin to introduce the topic, encourage them to formulate questions.

I think we have ArtStor through our Library databases (?), although I encourage students to work with freely licensed materials they can find online, especially Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.

One of the Tech Tips I have for students is to get them to install Google Art's browser extension so that they can get art when they open a new browser tab; I love this extension!

Online Course Wiki / Chrome Google Art Extension 

Here's the lovely work of art that Google is giving me today:

A Perch of Birds by Hector Giacomelli (French, 1822-1904)

A Perch of Birds by Hector Giacomelli (French, 1822-1904)

New Member

Hi Laura!  I also teach art history.  I am not a technology lover either, but I am fanatic about using quality images in teaching.  Feel free to ask me if there is anything specific you need. 

If I just want to post pictures so students can study, I use PowerPoint which can be easily saved as a PDF and posted in Modules.  I save every class PowerPoint as a PDF and post it in the module for that class, and then I also sometimes post review packets of images or sets of images that they will need for an assignment. 

PowerPoint lets me put in additional slides (not shown in class) with more images, details or explanations in writing which other image-gallery options don't always offer.  And with PowerPoint you can use the drawing tools to circle important details or make arrows or diagrams right on the image.  PowerPoint is an excellent simple graphic tool for making your own diagrams, setting up comparisons, cropping large images and blowing them up to show details.   

I also use Softchalk to create web-page based lessons for online delivery through Canvas, but that is an expensive license, formatting the pages is not easy and it is a learning curve.  For someone in your position, I don't know that it offers any real advantage as a display tool over a simple PowerPoint, unless you want to set up galleries that students can move through in a non-linear way.  But Softchalk has space limitations that are a pain, and creating those galleries (which I do by using small images in the Softchalk page which are then hyperlinked to large PDFs that can be opened for closer inspection) is time consuming and fiddly.

Canvas doesn't have a dedicated gallery tool but you can create a simple one easily, for simply displaying thumbnails and giving access to images. 

Create a Page, post a thumbnail on the page, upload the larger image in PDF format to canvas, then link your thumbnail to the larger image.   Students click on the thumbnail to open the PDF.  If you want to organize the thumbnails on a page you can use a table to do that. 

But if you want students to flip through a lot of images, putting a bunch of them into a single PowerPoint would be a lot easier to set up (for you) and to use (for them).   That can be simply posted in Modules or linked to a Page, as explained above.

PDFs (of whole powerpoints, or individual images) are easy for anyone to use and anyone can get Acrobat Reader on their device. 

As for images sources:  ArtStor is a valuable tool that students should learn to navigate in if the institution has it, but many of their images quite poor in quality - old images scanned from slides, that were photographed originally from print media-- and their  coverage is very spotty. Some fields are well covered, others not.  For archaeology and architecture, I can often find usable diagrams, reconstruction drawings, models and plans in ArtStor that are not available otherwise except in printed books.  Any standard diagram, plan or view that has been regularly used in classrooms is likely to be in ArtStor.   Their search interface is quite good.  Just don't go looking for Picasso in ArtStor - they don't have much at all.  It is not a curated rational image collection, but a dump from institutions.

I also love Google Art Project which has a less efficient search interface than ArtStor but very broad coverage including the collections of many foreign institutions and small specialized collections.   It too is built from institutions (mostly museums and archives) that contribute their images, but unlike ArtStor it is mostly high-quality original photography, with quite a few very large megapixel images.    It has fantastic zoom capacity which can be breathtaking.  It is full of unexpected treasures.  But this is not where you will find teaching tools like ground plans and diagrams.  I give students assignments to use this source and they really love exploring in it (it also has large amounts of other kinds of visual documentation, not just art).  Some museums do not contribute much or anything to Google Art Project, and you have to go to their websites which may or may not give you good images.

The other two sources I use most frequently are the Web Gallery of Art (mostly good for standard canon items, especially painting) and Flickr.  Flickr often has excellent images of things like Egyptian tomb reliefs, medieval buildings, metalwork, ivory carving, anything that is in public view or open to be visited.  It is international and you often find foreign photographers contributing images from their home countries that would be hard to get otherwise.  Image quality varies but it attracts a lot of very serious scholarly photographers with deep knowledge who know their subject-areas and contribute excellent documentation.  I teach a lot of architecture and have used the many excellent drawings and ground plans of buildings contributed by Gerard Michel who is an architectural draftsman and spends his time making exquisite freehand architectural drawings of things that he visits.  Quite a few institutions also contribute imagery to Flickr such as the Brooklyn Museum and the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.   Usually the photos can be downloaded in high res sizes.

If you are teaching medieval manuscript illumination, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich and the Saint Gall Abbey Library are just three of a number of institutions that make fantastic images available for free online.  The British Museum also often has excellent photographs of major artifacts and if you ask they will email you high-res large images for teaching purposes free of charge, just for the asking. The Getty does the same.  You can create a page in Canvas and link to anything on the Internet, so that often is how I give my students access to things I want them to use, where space limitations would make it hard to upload the actual item to Canvas. 

I'm afraid this is too much information but as you can see, I have been dealing with this for years and am enthusiastic about the topic!


And just to put in a boost for museums like the ones mentioned here ON TWITTER. Museums provide some of the best materials at Twitter that I reshare with my students; it's just a single click to retweet.

I have a dedicated Twitter account for my classes (mythology and Indian epics) here:

Laura Gibbs (@OnlineMythIndia) | Twitter 

It's then easy to make use of that Twitter stream inside Canvas, and I also harvest a lot of images and links for future use too. 🙂

More about Twitter in Canvas here:

Twitter Widget Catalog: Twitter4Canvas 

Here's something via British Museum in the stream right now 🙂

Roman votive relief with eyes, dedicated to Zeus. British Museum

At the start of our Canvas journey and before Office365 had LTI integration* I set up personal OneDrive accounts for each of our school departments. These were accounts shared by users in departments to allow them to embed PowerPoint presentation and share resources.

Anyway, many of our staff share their resources on Canvas from this and have learned, very successfully, to embed the presentations on to pages. The OneDrive personal account makes this hugely straightforward (right click on OneDrive file > click embed > copy code > click on HTML editor on Canvas page > paste)

What I like is the link is dynamic and changes made to the PowerPoint are reflected instantly (with a refresh) on the Canvas page. Plus you don't have to have Office365! If you are lucky to have Windows 10 then you can save files directly into your OneDrive from your device instead of going to the Web each time.

*The Office 365 LTI still does not allow embedding on pages nor does it have the facility to allow for sharing of resources (a real weakness and big concern for me when staff leave!). Both features are part of the Google LTI  - grrrr.

And same with Google: even without the Google LTI, I can embed Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms. Google Forms is INCREDIBLY useful for me.

I'm doing a yoga mat giveaway for my students in fact, and using a form to see who wants to go into the raffle. I find occasional uses for Google Forms like that all the time. 🙂

Gideon, I do use OneDrive and am one Windows 10. I started because I found I was away from home a lot and still needing to work on lectures and the like. OneDrive solved a lot of problems. I am a newbie to Google because given my comfort with Office I was loath to spend time learning something else. At the same time, I am discovering benefits little by little. Honestly, I would like to spend a couple of months in Canvas and Google school, doing nothing but learning how to use them!

I started out teaching online before there were all the Google education tools and now, step by step by step, almost everything I do is being facilitated in some way by Google... and I am very glad to be teaching my students about Google tools also since it is pretty much all Micro$oft in their other classes. 🙂

One thing about google as a substitute for Microsoft - Google Docs doesn't have the advantages that Microsoft Word has for keeping metadata in the files and also for how problem-free the files are if you are using Turnitin. Google Docs does not have the same level of editing and formatting capacities that Word has and Word is the standard in business and professional life so I make my students use it.

For their future professional lives, students also need to learn how to format online materials as well, and also how to work with images. I know my students get plenty of practice with printed documents in their other classes (my online class is usually their only online class; their other classes are classroom-based), so I am glad to provide them with some knowledge beyond Microsoft. Helping them learn how to spellcheck and a word counter in their browser, for example, as opposed to copying and pasting things into Word, and then copying and pasting back onto the web... and getting all the awful Microsoft formatting along with it. Which in turn becomes an opportunity for me to teach them about the power of the Tx button in (most) web-based editors. 🙂

OMG, yes, yes, yes! I am stunned at how generally incompetent (and unconcerned) my students (I teach at an art college) are about the documents they create for me. The cutting and pasting, the mix of formats. I provide a detailed style sheet of what I require (margins, line spacing, font, pitch, etc. etc.) and many students continue to ignore it. We have a Writing Studio (whose previous director finally and justly recently received the boot) and I am asking them (for the third, fourth, fifth time) to provide instruction and support for creating documents, particularly in word (doc or docx). They need to understand how to insert foot/endnotes and bibliography; they need to understand how to insert images in a stable way, and so on.

The key for me is to build revision (repeated revisions!) with lots of feedback into the process. Since I know that many of them are struggling with some basic aspects of writing mechanics (spelling beyond-the-spellchecker, punctuation, sentence structure), the only way they can learn these things is by getting lots of supportive and also accurate, actionable feedback from me about it. So instead of having them turn in something near the end of the semester, I take a modular approach to their writing project for class, and we start working on it in Week 1 of the semester (when they look at other students' past projects, very inspiring!), and then brainstorming for a couple of weeks, and then a cycle of writing-revision-writing-revision-etc. that starts in Week 4 and goes on all semester. It really works! But without the feedback and revision elements, they would not make progress... I am really lucky that I am teaching a course where I can focus on writing and process rather than on content and testing. 🙂 Here's our process:

Online Course Wiki / Project Overview

And here are past projects! 🙂

Online Course Lady: E-Storybook Central 

Preaching to the choir. I establish my expectations. Writing projects are chunked. So for instance, If a student in Ren-1855 is doing a research project on a work in the Walters Art Museum (my local), part one requires that they collect certain information, photograph the work in situ, and create a preliminary annotated bibliography. Part two might be a biography of the artist and a summary of the relevant art movement. Part three is usually a full critical analysis. Part four, now that the student is the "expert" is the creation of a "museum label". The length of each element is controlled and rarely over 1000 words. The full critical analysis can run maybe to 1500 words. The museum label has to be between 125 and 175 words (long by museum standards but a real challenge for students who had decide what details to offer and how to offer them efficiently in an engaging style. 

WALTERS ART MUSEUM: oh my gosh, that is one of my favorite online collections. How wonderful that your students get to see it for real!

And your approach to the writing project sounds wonderful: 1000 words is my sweet spot also; I can give substantive feedback on that, and it's also not overwhelming for the students to revise. I really like how your project incorporates a variety of writing styles so that students can see how form/purpose interact. 

I think I would enjoy your class very much! 🙂

Here are just some of the images from Walters that I use in my class: if you are ever in touch with the museum staff, tell them THANK YOU for their digital efforts. Their Indian artwork is constantly being shared on Twitter and elsewhere online (Indian Twitter is a great space).

Indian Epics: Images and PDE Epics: Search results for Walters 

Just one of many:

Kali with Indra, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

Kali at Walters Art Museum

The Walters is fantastic--and it is literally walking distance from MICA (MD Institute College of Art). It's always called a "gem" but it really is. I will share your appreciation if I run into any staff. It is a wonderful environment to work in--quite relaxed, a fair number of benches where one can rest, lots of different kinds of spaces, but intimate and manageable.

The other thing I have done there, which you might find interesting, Laura, is the ekphrastic projects I did with my high school precollege workshop. We'd do a speedy run-through the the museum then they were left on their own to choose a work that speaks to them and produce and ekphrastic work based on it. (See Kathy Walsh-Piper, "Image to Word: Art and Creative Writing.") Most often these were poems but they could be absolutely anything: an essay, an analysis, a meditation, a song. They turned the draft in for critique the first week (pre-college was 4 weeks) and then revise and hand in again the third week. I had my TAs organize the pieces into a little booklet, make sure there was a thumbnail of each work included and photocopy the booklets so everyone get to have one. Providing digital copies would also work. The kids did absolutely spectacular work. Many also ended up with a more profound and art-historically solid understanding of the work they chose.

Wow, that sounds FABULOUS.

And I was a Classics major in college, so I'm all about ekphrasis. 🙂

Working with images and text together: it's one of the main reasons I opted to teach online years ago.

Community Contributor

Just as I was finishing up a long but I thought well written response, there was a power surge. Lost my note. Oh well. Let's see, I was saying I agreed on Powerpoints and had begun experimenting with them because of changes in my department focused on the Modernism course I had been teaching since 2003. The story is long and complicated but one point made by the full-time faculty who designed the new structure (way too rigid and fraught with problems from my point of view) was sensible: as there are many sections of this required course, we should standardize a set of works with which we expect all students to become familiar. To me this was rather like the picture study rooms I used as an undergraduate and graduate student. While I couldn't get an interaction on the matter from the full-timers, I fooled around with the idea of a weekly set and made some Powerpoints that functioned like flashcards. The first slide should the image with cues to provide artist, artist's dates, title, date of work, movement of work and summary definition of movement. The next slide is identical, but it provides the information prompted on the first. They looked pretty snazzy but they didn't seem to be opening. Turns out they were just a little slow, and yes, supporting them with pdfs that can be used offline is a great idea. So thanks! 

As for images, is a work in progress (although I don't expect the Picasso heirs every to loosen their stranglehold on digital images) and the quality is steadily improving as more museums provide recent hi-res digital images. (I do wish they would hire an intern or some impoverished artist to start weeding out the worst, most degraded versions, though.) I am pretty adept at search for what I need--and whenever I happen to notice something appealing and potentially useful, I tend to grab it right away and add it to my personal library.

Oh, and there is no such thing as too long a comment, INHO!

That slides-as-flashcards approach sounds really cool, ellenbcutler‌! Before I got into to teaching writing, I was a foreign language teacher, and I was a huge fan of flashcards. It would be fun to be teaching foreign language classes now with all the cool new tools available.

I use images as supplements to the writing my students do, so they are never studying the images per se but it sure is a big part of my classes. Especially in my Indian epics class, with so much amazing content shared by the British Library online. 🙂

0 Kudos
Community Champion

One of the not-yet-mentioned advantages of PowerPoints is that students can download them and use their local copies for reviewing even when they do not have internet access. I know it seems like internet access is an all the time thing now, but every now and then I end up in a no-free-wifi situation (usually at conventions, and convention centers/hotel meeting rooms also will have spotty cell service an annoyingly large amount of the time) and I realize how little of my work I can get done that day between panels. Anything that can still be done offline is appreciated. 

It also means that if you have a local copy of your presentation saved on your computer, you don't have to worry about losing your work if some random internet site decides to change business model and/or feature set in the middle of the term.

Of course, I'm old and cranky by internet years (been using computers since the 80s and resent anything that won't quickly give me a command line/batch processing mode when I realize I need to do a task more than once), so I don't exactly represent the perspective of Today's Youth. When I took an art history/architecture course, I printed out all of the images and made physical notecards to study from and annotate...(that was a while ago).

Community Contributor

Linnea, glad to know the "old and cranky" neighborhood is well populated! 😉 Yes, the pdf conversion is a singular benefit and I have used it before. I hadn't really thought about it from your point of view, though--that it could function as back up and an off-line resource for both me and my students. 

Community Team
Community Team

ellenbcutler‌, as a former humanities instructor who loved creating image-rich courses in Canvas, I'm thrilled to see all of the great responses you've gotten so far. Since no single answer is likely to emerge as singularly "correct," I've flipped the format of this post over to a discussion.

Stefanie, thank you so much for the conversion. One of the most wonderful results of my question--even beyond the wonderful and useful suggestions--is the creation of an instant community of people who completely grasp what I am talking about and think it is important!

AGREED!!! Community is my favorite Canvas feature. 🙂


Hi @Ellen:    I'm wondering if this suggestion would be easy and helpful for you:

How about using Files and creating folders with meaningful Gallery names?  You can make the Files link enabled in your Navigation, and make the Gallery folders published for your students to see.   You upload the photos easily via drag and drop.  This allows the students to see the "Galleries", and also allows you to use the images in Quizzes, discussions, etc....