How do I design a course using best practices in Canvas?


Describes Canvas course design considerations for faculty to evaluate high-quality features of sample courses and create courses using best practices.


Quick Links: | Module Design Guidelines | Page Design Guidelines | Course Evaluation Checklist | View your Course with Student View | Verify links with Link Validator | Simplify Course Navigation | Mobile Checklist |

When building your course in Canvas, it's essential to consider various design guidelines to create an effective and user-friendly learning experience for your students. This article provides valuable tips and checklists to help you optimize your course content and navigation.

Modules Design Guidelines

Organizing your course content into modules is a great way to present information in a structured and coherent manner. When creating modules, consider our module design guidelines and keep these tips in mind:

  • Modularity: Break down your course content into logical units, creating modules that group related topics together. This makes navigation easier and allows students to focus on specific subjects.

  • Consistency: Maintain a consistent layout and design throughout the modules. Use clear headings, subheadings, and formatting to make the content visually appealing and easy to follow.

  • Multimedia: Utilize multimedia elements like images, videos, and interactive elements to engage students and enhance learning. Don't forget to add alternative text to explain these elements for students of all abilities.

  • Accessibility: Ensure that all course materials are accessible to students with disabilities. Use alt-text for images, provide captions for videos, and use accessible document formats.

Page Design Guidelines

Effective page design plays a crucial role in enhancing student engagement and promoting a successful learning experience. When designing pages for your Canvas course, consider the following page design guidelines to ensure your content is presented in an organized and visually appealing manner:

  • Visual Appeal: Incorporate relevant images and videos to make your pages visually appealing and engaging for students.

  • Chunked Content: Break up long blocks of text into smaller chunks to make the content more digestible and easier to read.

  • Clear Writing: Use clear and concise writing to convey information effectively and avoid unnecessary jargon.

  • Organized Layout: Utilize headings, subheadings, and bullet points to organize content and improve readability.

Course Evaluation Checklist

Before making your course live, run through the Course Evaluation Checklist to ensure everything is in order. The Course Evaluation Checklist is a valuable tool that helps you assess the overall quality of your Canvas course. It covers various aspects, such as accessibility, content organization, and usability. Use the checklist to ensure your course meets the highest standards of course design.

View Your Course with Student View

To understand how your course appears to students and test its functionality, use the "Student View" feature. This feature allows you to simulate the student experience and ensure that everything works as intended.

To access "Student View," navigate to the upper right-hand corner of your pages and click on the option.

Canvas Tip: More than half of Chico State students use the Canvas Student app to view content, complete assignments, and check grades. To ensure your course looks just right, don't forget to use the student view in the Canvas Teacher app.

Verify Links with the Built-in Link Validator

Broken or incorrect links can lead to frustration for students. To avoid this issue, use Canvas's built-in course link validator. The link validator automatically scans through all the links present in the course and checks their validity. It identifies any broken links, which are links that lead to non-existent or inaccessible web pages. Broken links can negatively impact the learning experience as students may encounter errors or dead ends when trying to access essential resources.

By using the link validator, you can quickly identify and fix broken links, ensuring that all the provided links are functional and lead to the intended destinations. This tool helps maintain a positive learning experience for students and ensures that course content remains up-to-date and relevant. Regularly validating links is essential, especially when courses are updated or when external websites change their URLs, to guarantee a smooth learning process for students.

Simplify Course Navigation

Simplicity and clarity are crucial when designing the course navigation. Keep the left-side course navigation menu as simple as possible by hiding unused tools or tabs from view. A long menu bar can be overwhelming and disorienting for students. Consider the following tips:

  • Hide Unused Tools: Remove any unused or unnecessary tools or tabs from the navigation to streamline the student's experience.

  • Avoid Duplication: Prevent duplication of content. For instance, if you have files added to specific modules, hide the files tab from student view to streamline navigation inside the course.

  • Use Modules: Use Modules to organize course content in a logical flow, allowing you to remove most navigation links.

Mobile App Design Checklist

Considering mobile app design is essential, as students access Canvas and course materials using different devices. When designing your course consider Canvas's mobile app design checklist. Some key points to remember include:

  • Accessibility: Design your course content and activities with mobile users in mind. Ensure that all elements are easily viewable and interactable on various screen sizes.

  • Platform Neutral Prompts: Use platform-neutral instructions and prompts that work well across different devices and platforms. Avoid referencing specific desktop features that might not be available on the mobile app.

  • Testing on Mobile: Download the Canvas Teacher and Canvas Student apps to see how your course content appears on mobile devices. This way, you can make adjustments if necessary to improve the mobile user experience. With the Canvas Teacher app, you can even create content on the go.

Remember that a significant portion of your students may access the course from their mobile devices, so considering mobile app design is crucial to ensure an inclusive learning environment. Using the Canvas mobile app provides students with convenient access to course materials and communications on the go, fostering a more flexible and accessible learning experience. The Mobile app offers:

  • Ease of Access: Students can quickly access course content and receive notifications without being tied to a desktop or laptop.
  • Offline Access: Some features allow students to access content offline, accommodating situations with limited Internet connectivity.
  • Faster Notifications: Push notifications ensure students stay informed about announcements, assignment deadlines, and other critical updates you post.
  • Accessibility: Mobile devices are more accessible to a broader audience, including those without regular access to computers.

Following these guidelines and incorporating best practices will help create an engaging and friendly learning experience for your students in Canvas. Taking the time to carefully design your course will result in a more effective and enjoyable learning journey for all participants.



Article ID: 113602
Thu 7/27/23 11:45 AM
Tue 7/2/24 8:20 PM