How do I share content with other faculty in Canvas?

Quick Links: | Direct Share | Export/Import Course Content | Canvas Commons | Sandbox Courses |

Sharing and collaboration are core features of Canvas. Canvas offers several options to allow faculty to share course materials with each other, tailored to the specific need. This article offers a high-level overview of the different options for sharing content in Canvas.

Direct Share

Direct Share allows you to send select content to specific people through Canvas. With Direct Share, you can send assignments, quizzes, pages, or even whole modules to anyone at Chico State. To use Direct Share, click the three dots next to an eligible content item [1] and select Send To [2].
send to highlighted

A dialog will appear, allowing you to specify people who should receive the content. Enter the person's name in the search box [1] and select them from the list of options. You can share with multiple people. When you've selected everyone you want to share with, press Send [2].
search for recipient


Receiving Shared Content

If someone has shared content with you using Direct Share, the content will appear in your Canvas profile. From the dashboard, open the Account menu [1] and select Shared Content [2].

account > shared content

From this page, you can see all content that has been shared with you. You can import the content into an existing course, preview it, or remove it. To import the content into a course, click the three dots [1] then select Import [2].

select import

Canvas will prompt you to select a course. Search for the course you want to import the content into and select it from the dropdown [1]. Next, select Import [2].

select course

Advantages of Direct Sharing

  • Easy to share select content with specific people
  • The recipient receives a notification when content is shared with them
  • Choose exactly what to send

Disadvantages of Direct Sharing

  • Cannot send entire courses
  • Cannot collaborate with others in a shared space
  • Can only share with other Chico State faculty

Export/Import Course Content

If you need to send an entire course to a colleague, Canvas's course exports might be for you. Faculty can export the entire course from the sidebar on the Course Settings page. To create a course export, go to your course settings [1] and click Export Course Content [2].
Note: while this method can be used to share content between Canvas instances (e.g., Butte College's Canvas instance and Chico State's), incompatibilities will exist, especially with external tools or other campus-specific modifications.
navigate to settings and select export course content

The Content Exports page allows you to export specific quizzes or entire courses. You can also download past exports from the last 30 days. To create a new course export, select Course as the export type [1], then click Create Export [2].
select exxport type

Canvas will email you a link to your course export file within an hour. You can download this file and send it to any number of colleagues.

Receiving a Course Export

If a colleague has sent you a course export (such as a Canvas imscc file), you can easily import it into your course. From your course, go to Settings [1] and select Import Course Content [2]

select import course content from settings

The Import Content page allows you to import content into Canvas from a variety of formats. From the Content Type dropdown, select Canvas Course Export Package [1]. Next, in the Source field, select the course export file from your computer [2]. To choose specific content from the file to import, choose Select specific content. Otherwise, choose All content to import everything in the source course [3]. Finally select Import [4].

fill out import form

If you opted to import specific content, you'll need to choose the content to import now. Under the Current Jobs [1] header, find your import and click Select Content [2].

select content from current jobs

When you choose which content to import, you can choose to import the course settings [1], syllabus page body [2], modules [3], assignments [4], or other content. When selecting modules, any pages, assignments, quizzes, discussion topics, files, and other content inside the module will also be imported automatically. When you're satisfied with your choices, select Select Content [5].

select wanted content

After starting an import, it may take several minutes for Canvas to import the content.

Advantages of Course Exports

  • Quickly share entire courses with colleagues.
  • Recipient can choose exactly what content to import.

Disadvantages of Course Exports

  • File sizes for course exports can be too large to send through email, requiring using an external storage service such as Box or OneDrive.
  • Course export files may degrade over time as Canvas updates its functionality.

Canvas Commons

The Canvas Commons is the most flexible option for sharing content. Everything from a single page to an entire course can be shared to Commons. enables educators to find, import, and share resources. A digital library full of educational content, Commons allows Canvas users to share learning resources with other users as well as import learning resources into a Canvas course.

Share Entire Course

To share your entire course to the Canvas Commons, go to your course's Settings page [1] and select Share to Commons [2].
select import to commons from settings

Share Specific Content

If you want to share a specific content item (such as a module, assignment, or page), find the item you want to share, select the three dots [1], and select Share to Commons [2].

select share to commons from modules menu

Commons Sharing Settings

Once you've selected the content to share to Commons, you will need to describe the content and select who can use your resource.

Currently, content can be shared to the following audiences [1]:
  • Only Me
  • All of Chico State
  • Select Group(s)
  • The entire CSU
  • All Canvas users
For Commons, there is no way to send content to a specific person.

Once you've chosen who (if any) to share with, select an appropriate license for your content [2], give a title for your content [3], and describe it [4]. Finally, select an image [5]. Check over your options and press Share [6].

fill out required fields


Receiving Commons Content

When someone has shared content with you from the Canvas Commons, you can import that content into an existing course.

From the Canvas global navigation, select the Commons [1]. Search for a resource in the search box [2]. To narrow down your results, use filters to spcify attributes such as content type [3] or audience [4]. When you've found the content you want to import, select it [5].

search commons


Before importing content, Canvas Commons will generate a preview that you can browse [1]. If you want to save the content for later, select Add to Favorites [2]. When you're ready to import the content, select Import/Download [3].

import from commons


Finally, choose the course(s) to import the content into [1]. When you're ready, select Import into Course [2].

import to course

It may take several minutes for the import to complete.

Advantages of Canvas Commons

  • Import content to multiple courses easily
  • Access to tens of thousands of ready-made resources
  • Easy to update resources
  • Share resources will the entire Canvas community

Disadvantages of Canvas Commons

  • Few fine-grained sharing options
  • Finding resources can be difficult

Sandbox Courses

If none of the above options fit your use case, consider using a sandbox course to share content. Sandbox courses are manually-created courses that allow people with the Teacher role to add others to the course as Designers. For more information on the permissions available in Canvas, see the Canvas Roles guide on the Learning Technologies website.

Invite Collaborators to Your Sandbox Course

Unlike official courses, sandbox courses allow people with the Teacher role to invite others into the course.

From your dashboard, open your sandbox. In the sidebar, select People [1]. Next, select + People [2] and enter the person's university email address [3]. Select the appropriate role (typically Designer) [4] and select Next [5].

add people to sandbox course


Canvas will allow you to confirm the people to be added. Select Add Users. Canvas will send the selected people an invitation to collaborate on your course.

Receiving Sandbox Course Content

Once you've been invited to collaborate in a sandbox course, Canvas will send you an email to accept the invitation. Alternatively, you can view the invitation from your Canvas dashboard. When you're ready to accept the invitation, select Accept [2]. The course will appear on your dashboard with your other courses [2].

accept course invitation


Advantages of Sandboxes

  • Great for multiple people working on course content
  • Similar to prep areas in Blackboard

Disadvantages of Sandboxes

  • Large numbers of courses may slow down your Canvas experience
  • Can only share within Chico State

Learn More

If you want to dig deeper, check out these articles on the Canvas Community:
Print Article


Article ID: 113465
Tue 1/24/23 4:53 PM
Fri 1/12/24 10:31 AM

Related Articles (2)

This is an article which explains how to copy course content in Canvas.
Faculty can create sandboxes in Canvas to prepare content, experiment with Canvas features, or collaborate with colleagues. Sandboxes are courses that will never receive student enrollments.