Cleaning, Maintaining and Organising files in a Canvas Shell

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It has been more than 2 years since RMIT adopted Canvas and its learning management system; and it can be said that almost every course taught across the university currently has a presence in Canvas. Although the last 24 months have been dominated by the adoption of the 14 elements and ensuring that all courses meet the criteria set out by RMIT Studios, little thought has been given to how teachers can maintain, organise and clean their Canvas shell. We know that the Roll-over function in Canvas is of great help as it saves times, however, what most teachers don’t know is that when rolling over all content from one shell to another, they are bringing across a large number of files that were imported from Blackboard, created by a previous teacher or copied from a template BUT that are no longer required. Teachers only become aware of these files when they run a links validation only to find out that they have a large number of broken links, or when they get alerted by a QA champion, or simply when they decide to explore Files and Pages and ended up asking themselves what are all these?

So, what can you do?

I will share with your some very simple approaches that will assist you to work around these issues. Keep in mind that these are suggestions, you might already have your own system and if that is the case, continue doing so. I will start with the simplest case scenario to the more time-consuming one, however, feel free to choose the one that appeals to you the most.

Building modules and content pages after organising a files structure

You will now find out how, after organising your files in Canvas, building your modules and content pages becomes easier.  In this section, I will assume that you know how to work with modules and pages, if you are new to this, please visit the section on Modules in the Canvas Guide for Instructors.

Let’s pretend that you have built the Module for Week 1, plus some contents pages.  It could look something like my example below.

Follow these steps:

1. Click on the content page you would like to work on.

2. Click on Edit

3. You can start typing the content directly into the editing box; however, for the purpose of this example, let’s assume for the moment that you are embedding a file.

4. This time around, instead of clicking on Files, then on Upload a new file, locate the file in your computer, etc, etc, all you need to do is to click on Files, you will see a folder called course files, if you expand the folder, Canvas will display all of your weeks folders.

5. To see the files within each folder, all you need to do is to expand the view for each folder by clicking on the down facing arrow (see example below).

6. Select the file that you would like to embed in your page.


  • If for any reasons you forgot to initially upload the file into Canvas, or you are using a new file, follow the steps below to ensure that you maintain your files structure:
  1. Click on Files
  2. Click on Choose File and locate the file
  3. Under Folder, select the folder for the Week you are working on
  4. Click on Upload

By following these instructions your file will be uploaded into the right folder, and it will be there until you delete it.

You can continue building your modules at your own pace.

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