Quick Start in Canvas

Before Getting Started
To improve your course development process, review these quick references to be more familiar with Canvas:

  • Canvas Course Types:  On your Canvas Dashboard, you'll notice a variety of different course "tiles," such as Growing with Canvas, Sandboxes, BeachBoard Courses, and a course shell for the upcoming semester. Learn how to use each of these courses in your development process.
  • BeachBoard vs. Canvas Comparison:  a side-by-side look at features in both systems to become familiar with the terminology.

Follow the steps below to get your Canvas course ready!

screenshot of the layouts tile in Canvas Commons

To help speed up the course-building process, import one of the optional CSULB Canvas Course Layouts (templates) to your course.

Visit CSULB Canvas Course Layouts for instructions. 

NOTE:  Importing a layout will not override or integrate with any existing content in your course. You will need to manually add or copy content into your layout.

TIP: Try importing the layout first into your Sandbox or Development course to see how it works before importing into your live course shell.


Create a Homepage
The Homepage provides a brief course introduction and instructions for students. 

Import Content from an Existing Canvas Course
Copy course content, assignments, and quizzes from a course taught in a previous term and quickly import them into an existing course using the Course Import Tool.

Edit Your Syllabus
The Syllabus in Canvas makes it easy to communicate to your students exactly what will be required of them throughout the course in chronological order. You can also set the syllabus as your course homepage.

Upload Files
"Files" allows instructors to upload and store files and assignments within Canvas. 

Create Pages
Pages are used to add content to a course or group. A page can be set as a course homepage.

Create Modules
Add structure to your course with modules. Modules can by organized by day, week, unit, topic, or outcome. 

Organize Your Course Navigation Menu
The Navigation Menu on the left side of your course helps you and your students access different course areas. Instructors can choose to reorder and hide course navigation links as needed to help guide students.

Check Your Course
Make sure your course contains all the recommended, essential elements using this ATS checklist:


Using recorded lectures and announcements helps students maintain a sense of instructor presence and connection with the course.

Create media in Canvas with Kaltura Express Capture:

  • Kaltura Express Capture is a tool available through the Media Gallery that provides an easy method of creating your own videos, presentations, and podcasts directly on Canvas.
  • Everything captured is uploaded to your Canvas Media Gallery and available for you to share with your students.
  • Get step-by-step instructions for using Kaltura Capture.

Upload media to your course with the Canvas Media Gallery:

Use Camtasia to capture presentations:

  • Camtasia is an easy-to-use tool for screencasting/recording interactions on your computer.
  • Record and import PowerPoint presentations and turn them into videos.
  • Download Camtasia from the CSULB Software Depot; Camtasia is not integrated with Canvas, but files can be exported and uploaded to Canvas.

Use Zoom to deliver a live lecture or record a lecture:

  • Be creative! Zoom can be used in many ways. Try virtual advising, short video announcements, live class discussion or chat (with the camera off, if you prefer)
  • Get written instructions for using Zoom.

Use the tools below to communicate with your enrolled students after you have published your course:

INBOX:  Send an email through Canvas:

  • The Inbox is a messaging tool used to communicate with a course, a group, an individual student, or a group of students. You can use the Inbox to communicate with others in your course.
  • Users display in the Inbox once they have an active enrollment in the course, and users cannot join a course unless it is published.
  • Once a course has concluded and its term date has passed, you can no longer message students in that course.
  • Get step-by-step instructions for using the Inbox to send emails.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Post course announcements and updates on Canvas:

  • Announcements allow instructors to communicate with students about course activities and post interesting course-related topics.
  • Designed to allow instructors to broadcast information to all course members or to all members of sections within a course.
  • Students may be able to reply to announcements, but replies are not considered to be a conversation and will not appear in the Inbox.
  • Instructors should post announcements on BeachBoard if they are teaching on Canvas.
  • Get step-by-step instructions for using the Announcement tool.

DISCUSSIONS: Stay connected and engage students:

ZOOM: Hold live (synchronous) meeings or record lectures:

Organize student assignment submissions with the Assignment Tool in Canvas:

Set up Quizzes on Canvas:

Manage and share grades with students using the Grades in Canvas: