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Canvas - How do I build a course?

Here are some basic instructions on how to Build a Course in Canvas.

Login and Navigation

Logging into Canvas

    1. Go to
    2. When logging in, you will use your UWL email and password. Faculty and staff are required to use two-factor authentication (Duo) to access Canvas.

Global Menu

The Global Menu links to all of your account wide features. It will always appear on the far-left hand side.

Course Navigation Menu 

The Course Navigation Menu appears when you have entered into a course. It links to all of your course specific features and appears on the left-hand side next to the Global Menu.

Syllabus and Course Documents

Uploading and editing the Syllabus

The Syllabus feature in canvas has two parts. The first part of the syllabus is a description which allows you to add text and link files, images, and other course content. The second half is an automatically generated table of items based on Assignments and Events created within a course, which you can toggle on/off. The syllabus page allows students to see their assignments and activities in chronological order. It also updates with any changes you make.
    1. Once in a course, in the Course Navigation Menu, click the Syllabus link.
    2. At the top right click the Edit button.
    3. Edit the syllabus description using the Rich Content Editor. You can copy and paste your syllabus description from a Word Document to save time or upload the document file and add to description area. 
      1. Find a word document template of UWL Syllabus here
    4. Click Update Syllabus to save your work.
Quick Tip: You will see this same rich content editor layout when creating different activities. It will have a title at the top, description in the middle, extra options at the bottom, and a tools menu on the right-hand side.

CATL has a syllabus template (with the standard headings and language) that we can add to your Canvas course. Complete the form at the bottom of this page to request it be added. 

Uploading Files

Canvas allows you to upload files, syllabi, readings, or other documents into one area. Students do not have access to the Files in the course, instructors need to place files in Modules, Assignments, Pages, etc. 

    1. In the Course Navigation Menu, click on the files link.
    2. In the files content area, click on the Upload button near the top right-hand side of your screen.
    3. In the popup window of your computer’s file explorer, click on the title of the file you want to upload, then click the Open button

Creating and adding items to Modules

Modules is the main organizational tool for your course and the content. The module can represent a week, class session, chapter, topic or problem. Once you have created a module you can add items such as files, assignments, discussions, quizzes etc.

    1. In the Course Navigation Menu, click on the Modules link to go to the Modules Index Page
    2. In the Modules content area, click on the +Module button
    3. In the popup window, type a name for your module'
    4. Click Add Module to save your module. Your new module should appear in the list of modules.
    5. To the right of your Module name, click on the + symbol button. Each module will have its own + symbol button and its own settings button so that you can edit each module individually.
    6. In the Add Item popup window, click the drop-down menu and select the type of item you want to add.
    7. Once you have selected an item type the list will update to show you previously created items from that category
    8. Click Add Item to save the item to the module

Creating Assignments

In Canvas an Assignment is any activity given to the students which will be assessed by the instructors. Other Canvas features, like quizzes and discussions feed into the assignments area once they are set to be graded. The Assignments feature automatically creates the columns in gradebook.

    1. In Course Navigation, click the Assignments link
    2. In the top right corner of the screen click the + Assignment button
    3. Enter the assignment title and description
    4. Select appropriate assignment options (Points, Submission Type, Due Date, etc.)
    5. In the bottom right hand side click Save or Save and Publish

Entering Grades

In Canvas the Gradebook stores all information about student progress in the course. It can record letter grades, points, percentages and course outcomes.

    1. In the Course Navigation menu, click the Grades link
    2. Click the assignment cell located in the row of the student whose score you want to enter
    3. Type the new score in the cell and press Return or Enter. The New scores are saved automatically.


Making Announcements

You can create an announcement to share important information with the whole class.

    1. In Course Navigation, click the Announcements link
    2. Click the + Announcement button
    3. Type a title for the announcement in the topic title field and add content in the Rich Content Editor.
    4. Click the Save button near the bottom right.
In the Canvas app, announcements do not show up on the Home Page. The Announcements link in the navigation needs to be enabled. 


Customize the Navigation Menu

Instructors can control which links appear in Course Navigation Menu and rearrange the order of the links. Links cannot be renamed.
    1. In Course Navigation Menu, click the Settings link.
    2. Near the top center, click the Navigation tab.
    3. To reorder navigation links, you can drag-and-drop links to create a custom order or you can also click the ellipses Settings icon next to each link and then select the Move option

Student View

You can view a course the same way that your students view your course through Student View. Enabling Student View creates a Test Student in your course. You can activate Student View in your Course Settings.
    1. Look for the Student view button on the top right of the page. It includes an image of glasses and the text "Student View".
    2. After selecting the button, you can now view the course as a student would see it. There will be a persistent box on the bottom of the screen indicating you are logged into Student View and a magenta/ bright pink boarder around the screen.
    3. To return to your course in the instructor view, click the Leave Student View button.
24/7/365 Canvas Support is available through the help icon in Canvas, by calling the phone support for faculty, staff and students or email us directly at

KeywordsLogging in, navigation, content, assignments, RCE   Doc ID98779
OwnerStephanie S.GroupUW-La Crosse
Created2020-03-12 13:40:51Updated2023-06-29 10:51:25
SitesUW-La Crosse
Feedback  0   0