Canvas Spotlight

Sharing Files with Students

Last updated on May 21, 2024

Tools: Canvas Files

Giving students access to digital files is important for online courses and can add value to in-person teaching as well. Powerpoints, PDFs, spreadsheets and more can be used to present content to your students as effectively as possible. The built-in tools in Canvas make sharing files with your students easy and simple and give you flexibility to make changes and updates as you go. There’s a lot you can gain by sharing files digitally, even in a face-to-face class: you can save time and resources printing copies, for instance, or make finding important documents easier for students than rifling through a folder of papers. In an online course, making sure files are easy to find and well organized is even more important to your students’ success; it will also keep you from being bombarded by emails requesting certain files!

Please note that you have a limited amount of storage space in each Canvas course (5.2 GB) and large files like videos can quickly use up your allotted space. For videos, we recommend you upload first to YuJa and then embed the video in your Canvas course. You can find instructions on that process in our Use Yuja to Create and Upload Videos tutorial. 

Best Practices:

  • Files should be added to Pages within Modules in Canvas to create an easy-to-find repository of resources for students. Using Pages in Modules (as opposed to directly adding the file to the module) will allow you to provide written context and instructions for the students.
  • Keeping files organized in a logical way will help your students find content easier and make managing your files easier for you.
  • Use Yuja for video files to save storage space in Canvas; this also improves accessibility through auto-captions.

Let’s walk through it together

  1. Go to MSU Denver’s Faculty and Staff Hub.
  2. Click Canvas in the Teaching & Learning section.
  3. Log in to your Canvas Account.
  4. Select the Course you’d like to work in.

Add a File to a Canvas Course

  1. ClickFiles in the left-hand navigation menu.
    • This will bring you to a file management system for whichever course you are working in, which behaves similarly to your files on your computer.
  2. Navigate to the Folder that you would like to put the file in.
    • Folders are for your organizational purposes. You can add folders as you like and arrange your files to fit your needs.
  3. Click Upload in the top right-hand corner.
  4. Locate the File saved on your computer.
  5. Click the File to select it.
  6. Click Open in the bottom right-hand corner.
    • The file will now be uploaded to Canvas. Depending on the file size and your internet connection, this could happen nearly instantly or take a few minutes.

Add a File to a Page

  1. Click Modules in the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. Click the + Icon next to the name of the Module.
  3. Click the Drop-Down Menu in the pop-up window.
    • It should say Assignment by default.
  4. Select Page from the drop-down menu.
  5. Click Create Page.
  6. Enter a Name for the page. This can be the same name as the File.
  7. Click the Page you’ve just created in the Module.
  8. Click Edit in the top right-hand corner.
  9. Click the Arrow next to the Image, Media, or Document buttons at the toolbar along the top of the text field.
    • This will depend on what type of file you’ve uploaded.
  10. Select Course Image/Media/Document.
  11. Find the File you’d like to add in the box to the right.
  12. Click the File once to add it.
  13. Add any other text to the box that you would like.
    • This can be instructions for the student on what to do with the file or supplementary information that you want to provide for context.
    • For example, you could type “Please use the PDF linked to in this page when writing your essay due on Friday.” This provides clarity to the student on why they need this file.
  14. Click Save in the bottom right-hand corner.