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Designing your Course with Modules and Pages

Designing your Canvas course can be done using Modules, Pages, or a combination of both. The CSUSM Canvas Course Templates provide examples of how to combine Modules and Pages in your course design layout. You can preview the CSUSM course templates to get an idea of what would work best to guide the student learning in your course. The course templates have been designed to help you get started structuring your content in Canvas and can be easily imported into your course and customized for your needs. For more information and instructions on how to preview and/or import the course templates visit our CSUSM Canvas Course Templates page.


Modules organize your course materials by day, week, topic, unit, outcome, or any other organizational structure. A module allows you to add files, assignments, quizzes, discussions, and external resources in a guided learning experience. See more details about Modules in the Canvas Instructor Guide.


  • Easy way to direct students to all their resources for a given topic/unit/week.
  • Provides a linear framework for navigating resources, much like a “book” or “Table of Contents”.
  • Useful for learning materials that are set up in a sequence.
  • Can “lock” a module to open on a specific date.
  • Can create prerequisite activities for student completion before moving on.
  • Track student progress through a sequence of learning activities.


  • Images and videos cannot be displayed in a module itself (students must click the specific item to view).
  • Text formatting is not available (no bold, italics, etc.)
  • Modules do not provide a narrative to accompany the content. In many instances, instructors want to provide a back-story or rationale for why a particular reading is assigned or how it might relate to another reading.
  • In situations where instructors want to give students a sense of what's taking place and how all of the pieces of content fit together, Canvas provides even more capability via Pages.


Pages create an opportunity to build organization in one location that is visually appealing. You might use a Canvas page for each week or topic in your course and then create links to the various activities, assignments, resources, and assessments for that week. Or, you might use a homepage structure that has links to each important page in the course based on the content. Within each page, you can use the Rich Content Editor tool to insert text and images, embed a video, create a table, add links, and a link to internal and external websites or other resources. See the Canvas Instructor Guide on Pages for more details.


  • More visually appealing than Modules.
  • Provides context for what's taking place this week, what the students are expected to learn and which files, assignments and discussions they will need to complete.
  • Can include text, links, embedded images and video.
  • Text formatting is available (bold, italics, etc.).
  • You can make student-editable Pages.
  • You can assign Due Dates to Pages.
  • For blended and online classes using pages is essential to provide context for the content in Modules and remember that Pages can be added to Modules.


  • Pages cannot be set to automatically appear when you want (like a module).
  • The Pages Index is organized alphabetically. This can be confusing to navigate for students. If you have a lot of pages and are using the "Pages" view, it is recommended to create a consistent naming pattern. 

Combination of Modules and Pages

The most common method for organizing your course materials is to use a combination of modules and pages. In looking at the Pros and Cons above, you might want to consider using modules and pages to get the best of both worlds in Canvas. However you choose to guide your student learning experience in Canvas, it is important to remember three things: welcome the students, engage them, and guide them on where to go and what to do.

Design Tips

  1. The course Home Page is the first view your students will see when they enter your course. Our best practice recommendation is to create a student-friendly front page regardless of which method you use in organizing the student experience in Canvas. A welcoming home page provides students with a grounding point for your content. Consider providing your contact information, information about where to get help, and instructions for how to get started and how to navigate to essential content on your home page. By creating a home page that is inviting, intuitive, and informative, you can begin to foster a culture of community within your course.

    Steps for Creating a Home Page:
          1. Create Page
          2. Save & Publish!
          3. Set as Front Page
          4. Set as Home Page

  2. Whichever method you choose, be sure to customize your left course navigation menu to make visible only the menu links you would like students to view. Making them all visible can be very confusing to the student.
  3. Canvas provides a built-in Accessibility Checker in the RCE. This tool can help you ensure that your Pages, as well as your Assignment, Discussion, and Quiz instructions are accessible for all of your students.