Adaptive Release Canvas Course Design

Adaptively Releasing Folders & Files

In the Files section of the course, it is possible to create a folder for each area of content covered in the course to which files can be added. The availability of that content to the students can be set at either the file or folder level.

The images below illustrate content locked at both the folder and file levels until a set availability date.

To set lock/unlock dates within Files:

  1. Click Files in the course menu.
  2. Click on the folder or file in the left hand Files menu.
  3. Click the lock icon that will appear at the top of the display window.
  4. In the resulting window, select the appropriate lock/unlock options.
    • Option 1: Publish (default setting)
    • Option 2: Unpublish (not recommended)
      Note: Not recommended unless you will remember to publish it.
    • Option 3: Restrict Access (contains two options) Only available to students with link. Not visible in student files.
      • Schedule student availability (recommended)
        Note: This option then presents the instructor with the ability to set available from and available to dates.
  5. Click [Update] to apply the settings.
Canvas Course Design

Files Design Model

In the Files section of the course, it is possible to create a folder for each area of content covered in the course to which files can be added.


  • Files can be organized by folders.
  • Files can include .pdf, .doc, .ppt, etc as well as uploaded media and images.
  • Students can download files en bulk from Files.
  • Setting lock/unlock dates at either the folder or the file level can control file availability.


  • Assessment and communication tools cannot be linked to from within Files, thus other Canvas tools/menu items would need to be available in the course menu
  • In general, using folders within Files is
    • a good practice for content organization
    • not a good, stand-alone, design model

The example in the image below is based on the Year 1 and 2 organization schema of Topics for Quiz.

Files Overview

Files Tutorials

These tutorials cover Files management. For information about delivering files to students within the course, proceed to Step 3: Add Content.

Content types

Add Course Files

Each course has its own file repository into which instructors can upload any documents, readings, or media files that will be used in the site. Instructors can link to files in the course-file repository from anywhere in Canvas that has a rich content editor.

Below are some examples of how you’d add Files to a Module and to Pages. The process seen in Pages will apply to adding files to Events, Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, etc.

Adding file to a module

  1. Select + icon to the right of the module.
  2. From the Module Options, select Add Content.
  3. From the Add Item window, select File from the Add Dropdown list.
  4. Select the File you wish to add from the Files List.
    Note: If the file has not yet been updated, select the [New File] option.
  5. If you wish to offset the file in the Module listing, select an Indentation option.
  6. Select Add Item when finished.

Add Files to a Page

To add files to a page:

  1. Click on the Files tab that appears under Page Tools in the Sidebar.
  2. Select the File you wish to add to the page.
    Note: If you’d like to create a hyperlink from a word within the page, highlight the word before clicking on the File.
  3. The file will automatically be added to the page.
  4. Click Save Changes when you are finished editing the page.

Files Tutorials

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.