How To Integrate Websites Into Canvas

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I wanted to walkthrough one of my favorite Canvas integrations. Originally, I discovered this integration and used it in one of the early professional development courses I led for faculty transitioning (from D2L) to Canvas back in May 2016, which you can view here. My discovery of this integration was driven by the desire to replicate what Adam Croom had done with his PRPubs.us course website in D2L. Anyways, this is the type of website integration into Canvas I'm referencing:

Mobile Blogging & Scholarship Canvas course shown with a Domain of One's Own website integrated inside the Canvas Course.

View from Canvas of an integrated website.

Canvas app on an android phone displaying the redirect tool+website integration.

View from Canvas App of the same integrated website.

What You Need

1. Website you control

If you have a DIY website through a web hosting company or use website companies like WordPress.com, then you are off to a great start. I use Reclaim Hosting for my website needs as Reclaim specializes in education. (Technically, any website can be used, but the one's I've tried using have been hit or miss. Thus, I believe a website you control is ideal and should work perfectly.)

2. An encryption SSL certificate for your website

Your website will only be displayed within Canvas if the site is encrypted. In other words, your site needs to function using a https:// address (instead of http://). There are many ways to obtain an encryption certificate. I use Let's Encrypt SSL which is offered for free by several web hosting companies (including Reclaim Hosting). Alternatively, you can use a service like Cloudflare to acquire a SSL certificate for your website.

Please note that many website companies like WordPress.com furnish https:// versions of websites to their users by default. In such case, you don't need to acquire a SSL certificate for your website as it's already present. If you're unsure about whether your site meets this requirement, try visiting your website with https:// at the front of the URL (like so: https://example.com) and see if it loads normally.

3. Canvas Course

Use your institutions page to login to Canvas and create a new course or use an existing one. If you do not currently have access to Canvas, you can acquire a free account by selecting "Build It" on this page.

4. Redirect Tool

In your Canvas course, under "Settings>Apps" is the Redirect Tool (the best app!)—make sure it is available for your course. Refer to the screenshot below, under Step 1, as a guide.

Setup Steps

Step 1 - Navigate to Canvas course settings and find the Redirect Tool in the Apps Tab:

Image showing how to access the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 2 - Click "Add App" to add the Redirect Tool:

Image showing how to add the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 3 - Configure the Redirect Tool with your Website Name (will appear in Course Navigation), the https:// URL, and check "Show in Course Navigation:"

Image showing my configuration settings of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Zoomed into my configuration settings for the Redirect Tool:

Zoomed in image showing my configuration settings of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 4 - Refresh the course by clicking "Home" to see the fruits of your labor:

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Step 5 - Enjoy:

Image showing successful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

Troubleshooting

If you're experiencing any issues, they are typically caused by one of these two problems:

Problem 1 - Redirect Tool Configuration:

Image showing unsuccessful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

If your website never loads in Canvas, there might a mistake in the URL submitted when configuring the Redirect Tool. To fix this, you will need to view the edit the App Configuration:

Image showing steps to reconfigure the Redirect Tool in a Canvas Course.

Image showing steps to reconfigure the Redirect Tool in a Canvas Course.

Image showing steps to reconfigure the Redirect Tool in a Canvas Course.

Problem 2 - Don't have https:// URL for the Website:

Image showing unsuccessful integration of the redirect tool in a Canvas course.

In this case, the website you're integrating into Canvas will have to be loaded in a new tab when students are viewing the content. If you have an https:// URL version of your website and you don't see it appear in Canvas, follow the steps outlined in "Problem 1" above to confirm you entered the https:// URL properly.

Integration Examples

I recently submitted proposals that included this website integration to the #Domains17 conference. As I shared then, I believe the best examples of this integration involve a course blog or research/course website.

Course Blog

The course blog in Canvas is a fantastic use case of the Redirect tool combined with the FeedWordPress plugin to bring all of the students' posts from their own websites into Canvas. This setup is inline with the POSSE publishing model and can be utilized to bring students' course reflections into Canvas for easier access and to promote peer-peer scholarship.

Cours Blog inside of a Canvas Course using the Redirect Tool

Research/Course Website

If you have course contents published on websites outside Canvas, you can use this trick to bring those materials into your courses. I've used this to bring my Canvas Camp curriculum into Canvas courses, but you could use it for course wikis, Drupal or Omeka research websites, and beyond.

Canvas Camp website displaying a lit campfire inside of a Canvas Course

Anonymous Blogging Inside of Canvas

When I ran the Mobile Blogging and Scholarship Canvas training back in May 2016, I used all of these tool in addition to the AccessPress Anonymous Post plugin to allow instructors to blog directly within Canvas. Here's some more information of the tools I used to accomplish this course design.

Canvas course with AccessPress Plugin configured to let students blog directly within Canvas.

There are many more use cases beyond what I've presented here, but I hope this post gives you the guidance and inspiration to integrate websites directly into Canvas.


This post was originally published on Keegan's blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Creative Commons License

3 Comments
Community Member

keeganlong-wheeler@ou.edu Thank Youfor such a well done guide! I've been doing this for a long time with all sorts of URL's. The redirect tool is definitely the Swiss army knife of Canvas!

I was very recently playing with microsoft sway‌ and I thought the PDF version of this blog post would be a great thing to try out in Sway. I thought you might like to check it out. While this guide can't be embedded into Canvas, the sway can via an iframe on a page!

Here's the regular web version: 

How-to-integrate-websites-into-canvas 

Here's the embed code:

<iframe width="100%" height="500px" src="https://sway.com/s/ouCrthFkrtKO6tHX/embed" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="border: none; max-width:100%; max-height:100vh" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

Here's a what it looks like in Canvas:

Gif screencast of microsoft sway embedded into a Canvas page

PS. laurakgibbs I did every bit of this on a Chromebook Smiley Happy Jive, PDF, Sway, Canvas, Screencastify, and then to close the loop, back to Jive.

Community Member

This is great, awilliams‌: I was just coming here to make a link to your other post but you beat me to it. And YES also to the superpower of being able to do it all on a Chromebook.

Between you and snufer‌ this week, my list to cool stuff to explore this summer has gotten about twice as long as it was before! 🙂

Surveyor

Love seeing the two different mediums for the same content. Really helps me compare between Blog and Sway as communication tools. Thanks for that awilliams‌. Smiley Happy