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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
Community Coach
Community Coach

erinhallmark‌ and‌, I just tested again and disagree with Erin; but it's complicated.  If you don't use term dates or course start and end dates then yes, your teachers can direct share from old courses.  But, if you use term dates (end dates in particular) my testing shows that teachers can not direct share from a course that is in a term where the end date has passed.  I know not all schools use term dates, but I personally like them as a method to keep user's dashboards clean from old courses and to help bound the analytics page graphs.  I really don't want to get rid of using Term Dates just to make direct share work with old courses.  *sigh*

I of course could be mistaken with my testing, but here is a video showing exactly what I'm talking about VidGrid - Direct Share Issue with Old Courses 



We conclude our courses via terms as well, and just like‌ mentions, the direct share option does not seem to appear in these concluded courses.  I know concluding courses does remove access to most editing (and we do want that in place to keep a somewhat accurate historical record of the course), keeping access to share content is definitely desired.  Perhaps this couldn't be done through modules because of how the code works, but at least for us, visiting an assignment page in a concluded course does let a teacher "share to commons" through the three dots menu (screenshot attached), so I think the direct share option at least needs to be exposed there in concluded courses.



Community Coach
Community Coach

My own testing confirmed what has claimed!

While we wait for the engineers to apply a fix, I will be teaching my faculty how to work around this limitation, but I really do hate work-rounds, as they typically lead to other problems - not setting terms back, and not restoring end dates.

Like Rick, we will not be changing our term structure to accommodate this.


Learner II

Totally agree. 

Learner II

We use term end dates (for accreditation and privacy regulations) as well and it's a HUGE bummer that instructors can't copy/share from courses that have ended.

MANY instructors will be copying from previous courses to prepare new ones. And the import tool is too complex for just copying one page, assignment, etc-- especially if you can't select the module for it to go into. Instructors have a hard time finding imported pages in ALL Pages or assignments in ALL Assignments as there is a long list to look through and they are more familiar with building in Modules at our school. 

This new direct share/copy tool is amazing for that reason. I really hope Instructure can enable copy/share for courses with term end dates that have passed

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

If this helps in any way....

We provide all our teachers with a couple of Sandbox courses which have no term (they are either in Default Term or a term we called Manually Created Courses -- I can't recall which).   The Sandboxes are used to import their content from the term (school year) that just ended, so if they want, they can continue refining their course for the next term (or year).   When they receive their new courses, they import from the Sandbox course.    They can do course import, or they can do Direct Share from the Sandbox. 

Learner II

We also use master shells for faculty to design and copy from to their term shells. The direct share helps out so when they make a change in the active term shell they can easily copy that item to their master. I believe the master shell method is the best practice for schools to adopt. 

Community Team
Community Team

Hi, all,

Thanks for your comments on this document. Since we just released our March release notes, I'm going to close this thread for discussion. If you've identified something that would be a nice feature enhancement for Direct Share functionality, please make sure it's been created as an idea in our Ideas space so it can start to be tracked by our product team and voted on by others. The tag to use for Direct Share feature enhancements is noted in the document above.