Part 9: Spring 2019 Labs

150 Course Management Tips for Canvas – 01.17.2019

In the January 17, 2019 Active Teaching Lab, attendees shared Canvas design and facilitation practices that save instructors time and effort while also making learning less complicated for students. Participants heard from other instructors and swapped best quick-start tips to make the most of Canvas for instructors and students alike.


  • Use templates to provide time-saving structure, flexibility to adapt to various course needs, and intentional design informed by experts in both pedagogy and academic technology.
  • Embed documents to save space. UW-Madison Canvas courses have a 1GB storage limit (KB document), so organizational tricks are important. Rather than uploading files to Canvas, embed them to streamline access, organization, and updating.
  • Keep students on the page by using iframes. Iframes enable embedding of all sorts of online content (Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Folders, videos, animations, etc.). Be sure to check sharing permissions.
  • Eliminate distractions. Help students focus on course objectives by minimizing the cognitive effort of locating materials and instructions. Reduce visual clutter by hiding unused Navigation bar options. For each class, use a single page that includes learning objectives, activity instructions, embedded materials, and a summary.
  • Ask the students what works for them. They’re each in several different courses and have a much better perspective of what other instructors are doing with their courses. They also may know what works for them and perhaps what works for their generation. Offer points to reflect on each assignment as well as to give feedback on course design, then demonstrate that you’re listening. Some may offer great insight to leave their mark and improve the course for future students.

For more information on course management in Canvas, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.), room 120. 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.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


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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