Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Canvas has a number of features for creating and organizing content on your course site.


Modules allow you to organize your content to help control the flow of your course.

Modules are used to organize course content by weeks, units, or a different organizational structure that works for your course. With modules, you are essentially creating a one-directional linear flow of what you would like your students to do.

Each module can contain files, discussions, assignments, quizzes, and other learning materials that you would like to use. You can easily add items to your module that you have already created in the course or create new content shells within the modules. Course content can be added to multiple modules or iterated several times throughout an individual module. Modules can be easily organized using the drag and drop feature. Elements within the modules can also be reorganized by dragging and dropping.

You can use Modules to:

  • Create prerequisite activities that students must complete before moving on in the course
  • Track student progress through a sequence of learning activities
  • Organize course content by unit, day, week, topic or Outcome

For step-by-step instructions on how to use Modules visit:


Pages can be used for content and educational resources that are part of your course but don’t necessarily belong in an assignment, or that you want to refer to in multiple assignments. You can include text, video, and links to your files on any page. You can even make links to other pages. Canvas keeps the entire history of the page so you can see how it changes over time.

For more information about Pages, visit


Files are where you upload course files, syllabi, readings, or other documents. As an instructor, you can lock the folders so students cannot access your files. Files can be placed in Modules, Assignments, or Pages. Files and folders are put in alphabetical order and cannot be rearranged.

Canvas users will find access to files (documents, images, media, etc.) in three different places:

  • Personal files, located in each user's profile (students, teachers, and TAs)—View a video about personal files
  • Course files, located in each course (students, teachers, and TAs unless files are locked by the teacher)—View a video about Course Files
  • Group files, located in each group (students and teachers who are enrolled in groups)

For more information about Files, visit

File Permissions and Restrictions

You can edit permissions for files, including setting the state of the file (published or unpublished), make files available to students who have the link, or schedule availability dates for the files.

When the link restriction is set (only available to students with the link), the file can only be viewed if students are given the link to the file. However, this option only allows files to be hidden from students in Course Files. This functionality is not valid outside of the Files feature. For instance, if a file with a link restriction is added to a Module or Assignment, the file can always be viewed by students.  

When the student availability date restriction is set, students can view the name and information for the file. In addition to Course Files, files with an availability date restriction can be viewed anywhere in Canvas (such as when the file is added to Modules or Assignments), but the file will be locked and students cannot view the actual file until the specified date.

Note that when you link files to a public course syllabus, files restricted by link or date become available (using a verifier code added to the URL) not only to people enrolled in the course, but also to other loggedin Canvas users and to people not logged in Canvas at all. In essence, the files become publicly available. Similarly, if you make your entire course publicly visible, files restricted by link or date become available not only to people enrolled in the course, but also to other logged in Canvas users and people not logged in to Canvas at all.

If you want to maintain tighter control over files in your course, do not make your course publicly available. We recommend changing your course visibility settings to "Institution,” meaning all users associated with Harvard can view the course. For even tighter control, change the visibility setting to "Course,” and deselect the option to make the syllabus public. Doing this limits your course access to enrollees. (For step-by-step instructions visit .)

Note: For links to files in course syllabi and course pages, Canvas cannot currently differentiate whether the link is being clicked by an enrollee in the course or any other authenticated Canvas user. It is, therefore, not possible to create a file link that will only work for enrolled students.

For step-by-step instructions on how to restrict files, visit:

  • No labels