Every course you teach should have a syllabus. Instead of printing out copies of your syllabus for your students, you can include your syllabus in Canvas for students to easily access. A syllabus can be added to your Canvas course in three primary ways below: 

1. Syllabus Tool (Tab) in Canvas

One way to include your syllabus is through the Syllabus option that you find in the Course Menu. The syllabus tool, referred to simply as the "Syllabus" within Canvas, makes it easy to communicate to your students exactly what will be required of them throughout the course in chronological order. 

In addition to a field at the top that can be edited with the Rich Content editor, when you add your syllabus using the Syllabus feature, all of the assignments you create are automatically displayed at the bottom of the page (it isn't possible to hide this list of assignments on the Syllabus page). It can only be changed by editing or deleting the Assignments or Events elsewhere in the course. All assignments (unpublished and published) are visible in the syllabus for instructors.

Benefits of this method:
  • Clearly-labeled, easy to find and consistent.
  • Settings allow the Syllabus to be previewed by prospective students prior to the course opening date.
Drawbacks of this method:
  • The assignments list which auto-populates at the bottom of the Syllabus tool is undesirable for fully-developed courses because it encourages students to skip module content and attempt assignments without reading other module contents. Because of this, we generally recommend adding your syllabus as a page in an orientation module and then disabling the tool (see the instructions under 2. Syllabus Tool as a Canvas Content page).
  • Having all of the assignments displayed at the end of your syllabus may detract from other important content you have in your syllabus. (You may instead want to hide the Syllabus option from the menu and try including your syllabus in one of the two ways described below.)

How-To Steps:

Note: If the Syllabus tool is not visible to you as the instructor, you may need to enable it by following the directions on How do I manage Course Navigation links?

2. Syllabus as a Canvas Content Page

Using a Canvas page to display your syllabus is a great option. It's similar to using the Syllabus tool, however, does not include the assignments below your content, which many prefer.

Benefits of this method:
  • Creates a friendly landing pad and confirmation that the student is in the right place.
  • You can easily edit your syllabus just like you would any other piece of content in your course.
  • Students can read the syllabus right on the page instead of opening a document
  • Easier for students to read = more likely to be read.
  • Fast corrections and updating for new semesters. No version control required; there is only ever one version, always available.
  • Canvas displays and streams one version only--the one the Instructor controls--in real-time to students.  
Drawbacks of this method:
  • Best for a Syllabus 1-2 pages long. An Excessively long Syllabus can be confusing to students on the homepage. To mitigate this, we recommend building your syllabus over multiple Canvas Content pages if it is over 3+ pages long.

How-To Steps:

You simply need to create a page, title it “Syllabus,” and insert your syllabus content. See the following guides for options to create a syllabus content page:

  1. How do I create a new page in a course? (Create a new page if you haven't already)
    1. You can either manually type your syllabus content or copy and paste it from an existing document, such as a Word doc.
      1. Note on copying and pasting from an existing Word Doc/PDF: Sometimes a document may contain old-style typewriter habits such as spacing or tabs to center text on and 8 1/2" x 11" paper will backfire and create odd gaps when transferred to any flexible display media like Canvas. Corrections and format improvements may need to be made in Canvas to display correctly.
  2. How do I set a Front Page in a course? (The first page that displays when clicking Pages navigation tab.)
  3. How do I change the Course Home Page? (The default display for the Home tab is the course activity stream of messages.)
Additional Options:
You can also insert or link your syllabus page into a separate introduction page or welcome module of your course, where students can find it easily. See How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items? for more information.

3. Syllabus as a File

Another way to add your syllabus is to simply include it as a file for your students to download or view on the page. If you do this, we recommend using a PDF instead of a Word doc. PDFs have a cleaner look when opened and students are not able to edit them.

Benefits of this method:
  • Fast. Can use a WordDoc or .pdf.
  • Easy for students to view and locate when clearly labeled.
  • Preview auto-displays when students click, preventing accidental downloading. 
Drawbacks of this method:
  • The downside to including your syllabus as a file is that you can’t edit it in Canvas. You have to edit the original file (wherever you stored it), upload the revised version, and then link to this new file. This can cause problems if students have already downloaded the syllabus, thus creating conflicting versions of your syllabus. 
  • Instructors must be prepared to manage the files area of the course efficiently, deleting old files, organizing materials for easy access and replacing syllabus each semester
  • Inconvenient for students viewing courses on small devices with limited storage.  
  • Version control is more complex and requires Instructors to have a better understanding of Canvas tools and design.
  • More difficult to update from semester to semester.
  • .pdf is the hardest to update and it is highly advisable to put both the .pdf and word doc version in Course Files. 
Depending on how you introduce your syllabus to your students, it will look something like this:

How-To Steps:

See the following options to attach a syllabus file in Canvas: 

  1. How do I insert course files into the Rich Content Editor using the Content Selector as an instructor? (Note: When you link a syllabus file, it will display by its file name).
    1. Note: remember that you must first upload your file to your Canvas course in order to link it to a page. To do this, see How do I upload a file to a course?
  2. How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items? (Using a WordDoc or .pdf file as a module item, auto-preview)

Points to consider:

  • There is more than one correct way to post a Syllabus.  The important thing is to provide access for your students. 
  • SLCC Online recommends the above methods in order of preference based upon considerations for maintenance convenience, version control, and student usability. 
  • We recommended content that includes the course's common Catalogue name (in addition to the auto-displayed numerical code), an image (instructor photo or relevant photo/graphic/banner).
  • Remember to Save and Publish your syllabus in Canvas.
  • Accessibility: Remember to use heading styles (i.e. Header 1, Header 2, etc.) when adding titles to sections on a Canvas page or in a Word document. Adding heading styles instead of simply increasing the font size will help to clearly divide up the sections and make it easier for screen readers to read.

REV EZ 06/18/21