Canvas - Creating Teaching Materials (for Instructors)



Canvas is Virginia Tech's learning management system (LMS). Instructors use Canvas to manage teaching materials like assignments, quizzes, feedback, and student grades. 

  • Official courses are automatically created in instructors' Canvas accounts.
  • Enrolled students are automatically added.
  • Instructors can reuse teaching materials by importing them to a new course site.
  • Canvas provides 24-7 support by phone (833-639-7621) and chat (click Help on any Canvas screen).

The Canvas Instructor Guide has full instructions on using Canvas. These instructions are specific to Virginia Tech. To see other Canvas topics, please see Using Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Instructors).



For best practices for designing your content on Canvas, see Canvas - Best Practices for Canvas Course Design.

Creating Draft Course Sites

Create and edit your teaching materials in a draft course site.

  • Students can't see draft sites, so they won't see your work in progress.
  • You can import some or all of your materials from draft sites into official course sites.
  • During the semester, you can still edit in the draft site and export new items to official course sites. 

To make a new draft course site: 

  1. Log into Canvas
  2. On the right side of the Dashboard, click Start a New Course
  3. If you see a drop-down for Which account will this course be associated with?, choose either Manually Created Courses or Draft Courses.
    • If you don't have this drop-down, go to step 4.
  4. Enter the course name and click Create Course
  5. Add collaborators to the site. See Adding/Removing People from Canvas Sites.
  6. To add teaching materials, see the Canvas Instructor Guide. Commonly-used tools are:
    • Announcements
    • Assignments
    • Discussions
    • Files
    • Gradebook
    • Modules
    • Pages
    • Quizzes
  7. Publish the site by clicking Publish on the Home page (only you and collaborators can see it). 
  8. View the course as if you were a student using Student View. See How do I view a course as a test student using Student View?

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Importing Teaching Materials into an Official Course Site

See How do I copy content from another Canvas course using the Course Import tool?

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Importing Printed and Publisher Quizzes using Respondus 4.0

See Using Respondus 4.0.

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Making Videos

You can create your own videos and post them in Canvas sites using the My Media and Media Gallery tools in Canvas. See Video Content Management - Using My Media and Media Gallery (for Instructors).

See Copying and Sharing Materials - Kaltura Videos if you and another instructor are looking into sharing videos.

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Copying and Sharing Materials

Draft Course Sites

  • You can share your draft course sites with other instructors if you add them as Teachers. See: Adding VT affiliates
  • All Teachers in a site can import materials to other courses. See: How do I import content from another Canvas course? 
  • Only copy quizzes from a draft course site ONCE. Multiple imports can overwrite quizzes and student submissions. 
  • To modify shared materials throughout the semester, consider using a Blueprint course instead. Go to Learning Management System (Canvas) and click on Service Request Options to read about and request a Blueprint course.

Direct Share

Canvas' Direct Share tool lets you:

  • Share individual Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, and Pages with another instructor. 
  • Copy individual items in Canvas to other Canvas courses.

For details and instructions, see Canvas Release: Direct Share.

Kaltura Videos

You can collaborate with other instructors on video content by adding them as a collaborator as a:

  • Co-Editor: allows editing privileges
  • Co-Publisher: allows publishing permission to their Canvas Course Gallery 
  • Co-Viewer: allows viewing permission

Please keep in mind before publishing another instructor's videos or sharing your videos that you're following the FERPA Guidelines for Lecture Recording:

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits the release of personally identifiable information of a student. Lecture recordings can be tricky because faculty members must ensure that a student(s) personally identifiable information isn't released outside of what FERPA allows. To heIp ensure adherence to FERPA requirements when using lecture recording:

  • Faculty should not upload recordings of a class session where the students are the focus in anyway in the recording, either by name or by image, to a public site.
  • Faculty who wish to record lectures for use in later semesters may do so by recording the course in such a way that the students' identity in the course is never revealed.
  • Faculty may use recorded lectures that identify a student(s), such as names viewable in a zoom session or student's presenting for a portion of the course, only if they are shared through Canvas ONLY with that course section.  

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Concluding/Deleting Draft Course Sites

Courses will automatically conclude once the end date of a site has passed. You can still import that content into other Canvas sites. If you need to conclude your site manually:

  1. On the Course Navigation Menu (second menu on left), click Settings.
  2. Click Conclude This Course to archive the course content.

If you want to unconclude or delete the archived site for any reason, go to the 4Help Portal, log in, and click Get Help to reach a Canvas admin. Please include the URL or the CRN and semester of the site. Please note that we can only delete draft sites, not official course sites. 

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Making Materials Accessible

Creating accessible content supports learner variability and provides access to individuals with disabilities. Virginia Tech recommends our community members check the accessibility of teaching materials to make sure they comply with VT Policy 7215 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Virginia Tech provides the following resources below.

To learn more about how to make content created or shared in Canvas accessible, see our video series based on the Canvas Rich Content Editor Checklist.

Canvas Rich Content Editor Guidelines

See the Canvas Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checklist.

Captioning and Transcripts

Media Gallery Videos: Video Content Management - Captioning Videos in My Media.

  • Add machine-generated captions to videos. 
  • Request professional captions.

Zoom Meeting Recordings: Video Conferencing - Making Zoom Accessible.

  • Enable closed captioning during meetings.
  • Add machine-generated transcripts to recordings. 

Virginia Tech Captioning Services Request Form

  • Request professional-grade captions for teaching materials.
Speech-to-text and Text-to-speech

Read on-screen content aloud: Literacy Software - How to Use Read&Write

  • Read aloud text on your desktop and online.
  • Convert speech to text.
  • Look up words and check grammar. 
Accessible Documents On and Offline

Google Workspace for Education documents: Accessibility Checker for Google Suite Documents - How to Use Grackle

  • Check documents for accessibility.
  • Export documents as accessible PDFs.

Microsoft Office documents: Accessibility Checker – How to Create Accessible Documents with Microsoft Office Products

  • Check documents for accessibility.
  • Convert documents to accessible PDFs.

Canvas course sites: Accessibility Checker for Canvas - How to Use Blackboard Ally

  • Check Canvas files for accessibility & give feedback on how to improve accessibility.
  • Create accessible, alternative formats for student download. 

Color contrast: Accessible Technologies – How to Ensure Sufficient Color Contrast in Web Content

  • Check for adequate contrast in MS Office documents and Canvas and other online content. 
Digital Math

Digital Math - How to Create and Edit Digital Math with EquatIO

  • Convert between LaTeX, hand-written equations, printed documents, spoken and typed math and digital math.
  • Read math in screenshots aloud.

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Getting Help

For instructions on resolving common issues with Canvas, see:

Instructure, the creators of Canvas, provide 24-7 Canvas support, including live chat and a support hotline.

To get Canvas help, click Support on any Canvas screen and choose from help options:

In Canvas, use the new Help Docs button located near the Support button that will provide quick access to a knowledge base located inside Canvas.

Image of the above instructions

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