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Canvas provides instructors with many basic tools for sharing documents, posting and managing assignments, and assigning grades. Canvas also supports a wide range of other functions.

This page provides resources and step-by-step support for setting up a Canvas site for your course.

To avoid technical issues in Canvas, make sure the operating system and internet browser on your home computer and/or tablet are on the latest versions.

Featured Resources

Recording from an Introduction to Canvas Workshop with an overview of features and settings.

Canvas Guide for Faculty and Staff: Penn Libraries provides guides for using a variety of Canvas features and other learning technologies.

Logging On To Canvas

How to Set Up Your Canvas Site



Log in to Canvas and select the course title/button that corresponds to the site you want to work with.  Course cards are located on the course dashboard.

canvas 1


Create a Module

To begin adding content, select the blue button that says "+Module" or the icon that says "Create new module." These modules will become your homepage, what students will see when they come to your course. The option to create a new module will be in the center of the course homepage.


Add to Module

Give the module a name and select "Add Module" in the bottom right hand corner. You can s tart adding material to the module by selecting the plus or add icon (+) to the right of the module. ad to module


Add to Module Dropdown

Selecting the plus or add icon (+) will open a drop-down menu. add dropdown


Select Components

If you select the drop-down menu, you can access the list of different items that you can add to a module. The Modules drop-down menu lists a variety of components including assignment, quiz, file, discussion, and URL.

module dropdown

Select the item that you want to add.

  • If you want students to submit documents or attachments (such as papers, homework, pictures of handwritten homework or problem sets, and any other types of attachment), use assignment.
  • If you want to share material with students you can use files (for documents that you have loaded into the files section) or page (for material you want to generate or cut and paste into a page).
  • If you want students to take a test or quiz, use quiz.
  • If you want students to participate in an online discussion (asynchronously) use discussion.
  • If you want to link out to Panopto recordings, recorded class meetings, or other web links, use external URL.
  • If you have a number of different things that you want to organize for students, inserting the text header can help organize the module for them.


Publish the Module

Remember to publish items and the module when you are ready for students to access the material. 

The publish icon for modules and items is to the right side of each component. Items will be unpublished by default. Click or select the icon to publish items.




Publish your Canvas Site

Once you have added items to Canvas, students cannot see them if you do not publish them. This is a step that's easy to forget, so it's important to double check that you've published everything you expect students to access.

The publish button for the whole course is located on the right side of your screen. Course status is set to unpublished by default:

Click or select the course status button to publish the course. When the course is published it looks like this:



Your Sample Might Look Like This

Sample Canvas

Making Your Canvas Site User Friendly

As you work on your site, you may want to think about ways to make it most useful to students.