Find out how to set up a module using Canvas, including information on the best template to use for your School.

Setting up a module

Follow our step-by-step guide below to help you set up modules in Canvas, so students can access them at the start of term. 

Step 1: Apply a template and import content

To begin, you must apply your Schools approved template to your module. 

You can see how to apply the correct template to a module by selecting your School below: 

Step 2: Structure the module

You must structure your module so that learners can find the key information and support they need. 

Covering key details now allows learners to be ready and familiar before learning and assessment begins. It also means information is easy to find, which reduces stress and creates a more positive experience with Canvas.

You should also:

  • ensure the template homepage is the first thing students see when they navigate to your module
  • customise the navigation menu, to ensure any unessential menu items are hidden
  • consider having a shared space for students to post questions – this could be a Canvas discussion, a moderated Canvas chat or use a tool such as Padlet
  • use an online reading list on Talis Aspire. (Training for this is provided by the reading list team in the library and can be booked via email: Alternatively, you can use the library reading list guide for information about getting started, structuring your list, using Ebooks and linking to Canvas)
  • make it clear if specific software is required for the module
  • add a dashboard card image which is unique and can help students identify the module
  • think about creating an introductory video by the module convenor to help establish an initial virtual presence.

Step 3: Update the content

Old and inaccurate information can create barriers with learners, who may stop looking at your site, miss key information, and ask you more questions individually, which inturn increases your workload. It is essential you keep information up to date.

New Canvas Turnitin and Canvas Online assignments will be created automatically from the Sussex database early in the academic year. You must ensure that last year’s e-submission assignments are unpublished or deleted.

You should also: 

  • give a meaningful and descriptive header to each week or topic page (for example, Week 1: Principles of online learning)
  • provide an outline of the focus for each week or topic, which highlights the key elements of the module
  • enhance access and engagement by creating several small or compressed files or videos (don’t use large files and long videos which can present accessibility challenges for students)
  • update dates and times for sessions, or office hours, for the new academic year
  • ensure your module information page is filled in – including adding module documents (make sure you link to any relevant files) or tutor contact details 
  • make a copy of any recordings you want to use from last year and move it to the folder for this year’s module (this will ensure it is visible to students in the Panopto area).

Step 4: Check compliance and accessibility

When adding content to your module (including images and documents), you must follow accessibility guidelines and copyright rules. This means we can support all of our learners with accessible content and resources that meets their needs.

Not all websites are available internationally (for example, YouTube is blocked within mainland China). Ensure essential required resources are accessible to all your students or provide an alternative resource.

Use Canvas to check your module for any broken links. Any embedded resources must be checked manually.

Step 5: Publish the module

The last step is to make sure your module site is visible to students. Before publishing your module, you must check the units and items in your module have also been published.

When you publish the unit (by clicking the ‘no entry’ icon at the top of the unit) any published items within the unit will become visible.

When you are ready to make your module site visible to students:

  • go to ‘home and on the right of the screen you will see ‘module status’
  • click the ‘publish’ button, which will then turn green and show the status as ‘published’.

Last updated: 25th August 2022

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