Part 8: Fall 2018 Labs

125 Canvas Course Design – 09.06.2018

In the September 6, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, participants discussed Canvas course design methods that have (and haven’t) worked well for students and instructors across disciplines. Attendees weighed in on how to design a clear, compelling, and navigable Canvas course, including when and why to choose Modules or Pages as well as chronological vs. topical course organization. 


  • Be consistent. Put documents, deadlines, and “FYI only” resources in the same place every time.
  • Hide unnecessary tabs and tools. Removing distractions from view will streamline the look and navigability of the course.
  • Rather than creating lists of links, set the context and objectives by including the purpose and intended outcomes for each file links/assignments. For example, instead of a lone link to an article, provide a target for students: “In class on Friday, be able to summarize the author’s main point, list examples she used to support her position, and share an example from your own life that relates to the article.”
  • Use headings (rather than simply bolding or enlarging text) to create hierarchical structure within text that is accessible for those using screen readers.
  • Include images, video, and media to add personality and interest.

For more tips on designing a Canvas course, check out the session’s activity sheet.

The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm (room 302) and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am (room 120) in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) during fall 2018. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

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Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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