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Canvas - Getting Started with Canvas Commons [UW-Madison]

This document gives steps for accessing Canvas Commons and describes best practices for using Commons.

What is Canvas Commons?

Commons is a learning object repository that lets instructors find and import educational content into their Canvas course as well as share learning resources with other instructors. Canvas Commons accepts learning objects from Canvas - from full courses to specific modules, quizzes, assignments, discussions, pages, and documents.

Accessing Canvas Commons

If you have an instructor role in one or more Canvas course, you will be able to access Canvas Commons.

  1. Log into Canvas.
  2. Click the Canvas Commons button in global navigation panel.
    Screenshot of Canvas Commons icon
  3. The first time you access Commons, you will be asked whether it is allowed to access your Canvas account. Click Authorize to proceed.
    Commons prompt to enable account access

Canvas Commons Functionality and Benefits

With Canvas Commons, instructors can share their Canvas content and view colleagues' shared content.

  • Find resources by searching for a specific keyword, author, institution, title, or rating. This can help reduce duplication of effort and save time on course creation.
  • Import a resource into a Canvas course. Once the import to Canvas is complete, you can start using and customizing your resource.
  • Share resources you create in Canvas with all Canvas users or with a subset of users, such as only UW-Madison instructors or a closed group within UW-Madison. Submit the Canvas Commons Group Request Form to request a new Canvas Commons group or see Canvas Commons - Requesting and Managing a Group [UW-Madison] for more information.
  • Set the license type for your resource. Example license types include include copyrighted, public domain, and various creative commons licenses.
  • If you modify a resource in Canvas that you previously shared to Commons, you can reshare the updated resource to Commons and the existing resource in Commons will be updated. Instructors who have imported a resource prior to an update will be notified of the update and have the option to update the resource in their course. This can help schools, departments or programs standardize how courses or modules are delivered.

Canvas Commons Best Practices

  • Do not upload content to Canvas Commons that is not yours. Users should comply with campus policies including UW-Madison’s Copyright Infringement policy and UW System’s Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources policy. UW-Madison does not routinely pre-screen, monitor, or review posted content and associated data, yet reserves the right to remove, at any time and at its sole discretion, any content that it considers to violate these Terms of Use or provisions of any other campus policies that may govern use of campus networks, or that it deems in violation of a University policy or local, state, or federal law.
  • If you are sharing materials that you do not want students to see, consider sharing to a closed Commons group. Commons is accessible by anyone who has an instructor role in one or more Canvas courses, including Teaching Assistants and students who have requested Canvas sandbox courses. These students will be able to access any content that is shared publicly or institutionally on Commons.
  • Consider using a Canvas sandbox course to import Commons material into to preview it before importing and using it in a live course. If you don’t have a sandbox course, you can request one via the Non-Credit Canvas Course Request Form.
  • Include attributions or citations for re-used content as indicated by the Creative Commons license of the material you are reusing.
  • Consider adding a description and tags to any material you upload to Canvas Commons. This will make it easier for others to find.
  • Do not share anything to Commons that includes teacher or student identifiers.
  • Make sure you keep an original copy of any material you upload to Canvas Commons. Canvas Commons is meant as a resource for sharing material either with your own courses or others but not as a file repository.

Additional Resources

Please see Instructure’s Guides for more information on Canvas Commons:

Keywordslearning, object, repository, share, import, course, duplicate, update, module, sharing, importing, duplicating, copying, best practices   Doc ID90683
OwnerLearn@UW MadisonGroupLearn@UW-Madison
Created2019-03-27 13:44:51Updated2023-12-06 16:04:34
SitesDoIT Help Desk, Learn@UW-Madison
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