Canvas Modules: Organizing your Canvas Course

When you develop a course in Canvas, you’ll soon find yourself thinking about Modules. Check out our KB document, Recommendations for Modules in Canvas, describing what modules are, some ways to structure them, and how to set permissions or restrictions to guide students through a course.

Before diving into the details and the how-to, you may want to think about the many possibilities for organizing your course material. What are the patterns that recur throughout your course? Is there a rhythm or a flow of work that you want to communicate through modules? Let’s explore 3 options for course organization: Linear, Topical, and Student-Driven.


This type of organization is probably the most common and the easiest to set up in Modules. Students progress from one item to the next. They can navigate using the modules page if you make it available, or they can use the Previous/Next buttons on each content page to move in sequence. You might use a module for each day of class or each week. You might have a pattern of Reading/Viewing/Lecture → Practice/Lab/Discussion → Homework/Knowledge Check/Assessment.


Depending on the type of course you teach, it might not matter that students work through the course content in the same order. You could make a module for each course topic. Perhaps you’re using the Canvas course as a file repository or course supplement. The Files tab lets you find your files in Canvas and organize them in folders. Unless your files are extremely well-organized, however, we recommend hiding the Files link from students. Instead, link to needed files in pages or as module items.

Learn how to restrict file availability by date.


You may be developing a course to meet students’ specific needs or using input from them to determine which direction the class takes. In this case your modules or module content may change throughout the term, instead of being fixed. And/Or you might want to set up collaborative spaces within the course. Did you know that any course page can be created as a wiki? That means you can set up a page so that instructors and students can edit it. This allows students to post resources for each other, keep track of information collaboratively, and be more engaged in the course.