Providing structure with modules

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Share how you approach course design. How do you organize content so it’s efficient for both instructors and students? What tips and/or tools can you share?

Designing an effective course in Canvas isn't easy. There are many choices that can be made. After two years of working with teachers and support staff in our institution, I finally came up with a template that's good for most teachers.

  1. Turn modules into your home page.
  2. Hide everything in navigation except Home, Announcements, Grades and People.
  3. Add the last announcement to the top of the home page.
  4. Add an 'introductory module' with course information.

introduction module

The introductory module looks like a numbered list. This makes it easy to communicate to students where they can find the necessary information. Another advantage is that the numbered items appear at the top when you navigate to pages.


Add requirements (view the item, or mark the item as read) to every page of the ''introductory module''.


Explain how you structure course flow. How do you keep content and learning experiences “tidy”? Does it make a difference for learners? If so, how?

Add a module underneath the ''introductory module'' for every every lesson you teach. 


  1. Give these modules a name and a three letter abbreviation (f.e. LO1). Use this abbreviation for every item in the module. This makes it easy to find out to which lesson a quiz, assignment or page belongs to.
  2. Start with an introductory page. This page can contain learning outcomes, a short introduction, a video,...
  3. Add a page with learning activities. Add files to this page (slides, articles,...) and explain why students need them.
  4. Add interactive elements to your module (quizzes, discussions,...)
  5. End your module with an assignment so you can check if the learning outcomes are achieved. (more information about this is in my other blog post: Assignments as fundamental building blocks.)


Add requirements if necessary: f.e. view the page, submit the assignment, etc.

By adding requirements you tell your people what you expect. You can make content available after they completed some requirements, but this is often not necessary. Just adding the requirements, makes sure your students know what to do, and it becomes very easy for you as a teacher to track students progress.