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Community Team
Community Team

Canvas Release: Direct Share (2020-01-18)

This document introduces the Direct Share feature as noted in Canvas Release Notes (2020-01-18) 


This feature was enforced for all Canvas institutions in Canvas Release Notes (2020-07-18)  


For additional feature updates, please refer to the direct share release notes entries.

Direct Share allows users to copy individual course items to another course and share individual items with other users. This change allows content to be shared directly in Canvas without having to use a secondary repository like Commons. 



Account Management


Users who want to share content directly must have the Course Content - add / edit / delete permission. 


At the account level, account admins have this permission by default. 


At the course level, TA, Teacher, and Designer-based roles have this permission by default.



Users with permission can manage content with the Content Shares API.


Course-Level Features


In Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, and Pages, instructors can copy content to another course and share individual content items with another user. 


Send to and Copy to options in assignments


The menu for individual content items also include the Send To and Copy To links.


Send to and Copy to links in an individual assignment


Note: If the content being shared or copied includes other content in the course (such as a quiz that includes a file), only the direct content item selected for sharing/copying will be included. The additional files must be shared/copied individually.


Send Content

The Send To option is used to send content to another user.


Users can search for other users via email address. Content can only be sent to users with instructor-based roles who can manage course content. Users can be identified by typing at least the first three letters of a user’s name in the search field. Search results display users by name and email address. Select the name of the user when it appears.


Send To window with selected user

Send To Window with user added


The same content may be sent to more than one user by adding other users individually.


When all users have been added and the content has been sent, the window confirms the content has been shared successfully.


Send To Window Confirmation


Copy Content

The Copy To option is used to copy content to another course. Instructors can only copy content to their own courses. Admins can copy content to any course in the account.


To copy content, locate the course where the content should be copied by typing at least the first three letters of a course name in the search field. Search results display courses by name. Select the name of the course when it appears.


Copy To window with course name selected


The content can be placed within a specific module in the course, if applicable. This menu is optional. 


Copy To window with selected course and Module window


To use the module option, type at least the first three letters of the module in the search field. Search results display modules by name. Select the name of the module when it appears.


When all fields have been completed and the content has been copied, the window confirms the content copy process has started successfully. The content may take a few minutes to display in the selected course.


Copy To Window Confirmation


User-Level Features

Any user who receives shared content from another user is notified about the content In the User Navigation Menu. Shared content is indicated in the user’s Account icon and also in the Shared Content link.


User Navigation Menu with Shared Content Link


Shared Content Page

Shared content items are listed in the page in reverse chronological order. Additionally, pagination is supported after a user has received 10 content shares.


Each content item displays the title of the content, the type of content, the user who sent the content, and the date and time received.


Shared Content Page with shared content


Users can manage the content item within the page by clicking the Actions menu. Options include previewing the item, importing the item, or removing the item.


  • Preview: The user can preview the content item directly from the page. The content loads in the same window and the user can close the window after the content is reviewed.
  • Import: The user can import the content into a course using the same functionality as copying content to another course.
  • Remove: The user can remove the content from the page and take no action. A separate window will display to confirm the removal.


Shared Content page with action items


Content items are considered read once the user has selected an action for each content item. However, content items can be manually marked as read or unread by clicking the dot next to the item. Unread content items are displayed in the account’s primary color.


Community Resources

Future Enhancements

This document outlines existing functionality included in the initial release of this feature. The direct share functionality may continue to receive additional feature enhancements over future releases as indicated in Release Notes. Please follow the release notes for future functionality updates, which will be indicated by the direct_share tag.


Customer Feedback

Community feedback for this feature is welcome per Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines, which outlines general feedback, broken functionality, and feature enhancements.


Feature enhancements should include the direct_share tag. Before submitting a new idea, please review all existing Direct Share feature ideas.


Feature Documentation

Documentation for this feature is available in the Canvas Guides.

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37 Replies
Adventurer III

On the regular course import page, you see the term under under the course name, but in the direct share drop-down, that information is missing. For the majority of our teachers, this isn't an issue because the drop-down only shows active courses, but in our schools department chairs and some other teaching staff also have a subaccount admin role. When you have the admin role you see all courses and since the course name does not contain the term, there isn't a way for these staff member to identify which course is the correct course to share to.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hi!  This is really great for sharing one specific content item!  Very easy!  And I'm very excited to share this with our teachers.

For multiple items, or an entire Module, I'll continue to direct our teachers to enroll themselves in each other's in courses with a Role we created:  Non-Editing Teacher.   This Role allows Teacher B to see course content, and import content, but not accidentally edit or delete Teacher A's course content.

My question is:   Does anyone know if Direct Sharing a assignments works?  I was testing with a colleague, who Sent a Q.N assignment to me.  When I imported it to a module in my Sandbox course, and tried to access it, it brought over the Password, and I was locked out.  Furthermore I couldn't figure out how to Edit the Q.N. assignment to remove the password, or add/edit questions.     (I actually have not used Q.N much, so maybe I'm missing something.   Or maybe Direct Share isn't working quite well with Quizzes.Next, yet?)

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Also.....    Could this be expanded to #rubrics‌? Teachers often ask about sharing rubrics.  Thanks!

Community Coach
Community Coach


For multiple items, an an entire Module, I'll continue to ask our teachers to enroll each other in their courses with a Role we created:  Non-Editing Teacher.   This Role allows the Teacher B to see course content, import content, but not accidentally edit or delete Teacher A's course course.

As a suggestion (and maybe you are already doing this based on your second paragraph?), do you know if your school has "master" versions of courses?  For example, we have a "Master Term" in Canvas where we house a "master" version of courses we've built in Canvas for our instructors.  We also created a custom "Viewer" role at the admin level.  How do I add a course-level role in the Permissions page?  This custom role is based on the "Teacher" role type, but with some permissions turned off...such as being able to not edit any content.  So, after we have built a course in our "Master" term, we invite the curriculum writer (often, this is also the instructor of the course) along with others who also may be teaching their own sections of the course for the term.  The curriculum writer/instructor gets full "Teacher" access.  But others get our custom "Viewer" role.  This has worked well because only the curriculum writer can make changes to the "master" based on feedback from the other instructors with the "Viewer" role and also based on feedback from students that are taking the course.  Also, the "Viewer" role is still able to import content from the "master" course into his/her own course.  I've written a blog about this process which has more detail: Our Custom "Viewer" Role for "Master" Courses.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Very interesting, Chris!  Thanks!   

We don't have many master versions (hopefully we'll get there some day!).   Our teachers create their own courses -- so collaborating and sharing content is super important!   Direct Share makes it super easy for individual items, and teachers are going to love this!

And our "Non Editing Teacher" role can continue to work great for importing entire Modules, entire sets of assessments, selecting various items, or even an entire course, from a colleague's course (without the risk of accidentally editing or deleting their content).

Surveyor - in some experimentation today, it seems that when a rubric is attached to an assignment that is directly shared, the rubric travels with the assignment and is then available for use by the receiving teacher. This was very encouraging.‌ and I discovered that today.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

oh yay!  That's awesome!  Thank you!

Explorer III

We are noticing you cannot direct share from concluded courses.  It would be great to be able to.

Explorer III

I just tested sharing content with linked files with‌. We also found that files to which we linked from assignments, discussion, quizzes, and pages were included with shared content (even the folder structure was included when the files weren't at the top course files level). I'm glad to find that others get the same result. Thanks, Brian and Chris, for your posts.

We were not expecting files to be included, because this document says "Note: If the content being shared or copied includes other content in the course (such as a quiz that includes a file), only the direct content item selected for sharing/copying will be included. The additional files must be shared/copied individually." Could I request clarification about this note, erinhallmark‌?

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Clint,

In confirming with our engineers, you can share from concluded courses if you still have access to the course. They didn't explicitly design the feature to not share from concluded courses. Your institution may have enabled a setting that doesn't allow you to manage the course after it is concluded. I'd recommend checking multiple concluded courses and see if there are any discrepancies on settings and whatnot, and if something seems amiss where you do have access to a concluded course but still cannot share, please let our Canvas support team know and they can investigate.