Dynamic Content in Canvas

computerWhat is dynamic content?
And why should you consider using it (if you’re not already)?
How can it make your Canvas course more enjoyable for your students?
And maybe most importantly… how can it make your life easier?

You’ve probably run into this situation: a slideshow that you prepared for your class needs to be updated to include new information; and in order for that updated file to be accessible to your students, you have to go into the course files section and upload a completely new version of that file. This could be called “static content”. Any time you make changes to the original, you then have to go and upload it into Canvas as well. Extra work…


If you store and/or create those documents in UT Box or Google Drive, you can link directly to those files or even embed them directly into a page, assignment, quiz or discussion post and whatever changes you make in Google Docs (or UT Box) will automatically be made in your Canvas course(s). That’s DYNAMIC content. You don’t have to do all that extra work!

How could this save you time?

  • Maybe you are sharing course materials with other instructors across multiple courses. If so, changes to one file in one persons UTBox account would trickle down to EVERYBODY’S course! Automatically!
  • Maybe you made changes last night to the slideshow you want to use in this morning’s class but you forgot to upload it to your course. If it’s linked to from Box or Drive, you don’t have to worry about it. Canvas was already updated!
  • Maybe the original file is stored on your office computer or a flash drive but you’re in class and don’t have access to them. If they’re stored in Drive or Box, you can access them from any location (as long as you have an internet connection…).
  • Create your syllabus as a Google Doc or Word Doc online (in Box) and then if you ever make adjustments (changing dates, changes to the grading scale) those changes automatically appear in Canvas.

How could this make things easier for your students (and for you too)?

  • Students can easily collaborate on assignments and see their changes in real time within the assignment in Canvas.
  • If students embed a collaborative document into an assignment, discussion or quiz, they need not worry about anyone mistakenly uploading the wrong file or deleting their changes.
  • Peer reviews and other types of feedback can be done completely online without the need to download or upload files.
  • Any type of document that is embedded into your course page, assignment, quiz or discussion displays on the page giving students the option to view the file within Canvas or download it if they wish (but they aren’t forced to download files if they don’t wish to).

So, how can you start taking advantage of dynamic content?

Linking to a file in Canvas is as easy as copying (CTRL+C) and pasting (CTRL+V) a URL into the Rich Content Editor of any page, assignment, module, quiz or discussion. And, you may already be linking to files in UT Box or Google Drive.
But there’s something that can make it even easier for you and your students to take your course content to the next technological level.

With a little help from your friendly neighborhood Instructional Technology Specialist, you can install the Box app (or Google Apps) into your course so that the Box tool appears in the Rich Content Editor any time you add or edit text in your course.

Once either or both of these apps is installed in your course, both you and your students will be able to click the icon in the Rich Content Editor to embed files directly into the content (pages, quizzes, discussions, etc.) of your course.
Here are some other reasons you should consider trying out dynamic content for your courses:

  • Files linked to from your Box or Drive accounts don’t count toward the 3GB limit in a Canvas course.
  • Large files, especially things like videos or podcasts, can take quite a long time to upload or download. They also chew up students’ bandwidth.


contacts If you have any questions, or you’d like to get one of these apps installed in your Canvas course, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


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