Canvas Course Design

Site Design

Step 2 focuses on the course site design models in Canvas. Course site design in Canvas will require instructors to make decisions about how they want to engage students and deliver content within the LMS.

Canvas provides a variety of models for the design and delivery of content within a course. Each of the design models described within Step 2 allow for different levels and modes of student engagement.  Given this fact, It is likely that a combination of models will be employed within a course.

As you consider how you will design your Canvas course site, it might be helpful to be able to visualize how each of the content delivery options connect to each other. Click the links for each model to learn more about the pros and cons of each delivery option.

This diagram illustrates how the models connect to each other. In brief:

  • Files can be used to deliver content if the learners are only expected to retrieve documents from the course.
  • Pages can be used if the learners will be engaged in a narrative that includes images, videos, and files as well as assessment and communication tools.
  • Modules can be used if the learners will be expected to engage with a variety of filespages, and external resources as well as assessment and communication tools.
  • Calendar/Syllabus can be used to focus the students on the course content and assignments based on the class meetings and assessment due dates by directing students to various filespagesmodules and other course tools.

Course building steps

Click on the buttons below to access information on building courses in Canvas.

Canvas Course Design

Navigating Canvas

Step 1 is all about learning how to navigate Canvas.The URL for Canvas at Dartmouth is

The Canvas Video Tutorial will step you through both the:

  • Dashboard
  • Course Interface


The Dashboard is the first page you see when you log into Canvas. The Dashboard provides a global view of all of the courses you have in Canvas. The Dashboard consists of 3 main components:

  • Dashboard
    • Course Card View (toggle position to the left)
    • Global Stream View (toggle position to the right)
  • Global Navigation
  • Sidebar

Course Interface

Once you enter a course from the Dashboard, you will be presented with the Course Interface. The course interface consists of 4 main components:

  • Course Navigation – The course navigation menu provides links to help you design course content. You may hide or reorder these links to simplify your course navigation.

    Note: Click the List icon above the Course Navigation to hide it. Click it again to show the navigation. This is a helpful tool for mobile devices and for increasing screen space.
  • Content Area – This is where the content of the course will appear. The appearance of this area changes depending on what area of the course is being viewed.
  • Breadcrumb Navigation – This area shows your current location within a course and allows you to easily move to a previous screen.
  • Sidebar – This area is dynamic and will change depending on where you are in the course. It often provides tools and resources to help you build and manage your course

Course building steps

Click on the buttons below to access information on building courses in Canvas.