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  6.  — Canvas tools and plugins

Canvas tools and plugins

These add-ins to Canvas can make designing your course a little easier.

Here we feature add-ons to Canvas that have been developed by the University of Auckland development team and Canvas developers. Some have been added to Canvas to meet the specific needs of the University and others are open source, available to the Canvas user community.

Canvas Design Blocks

Canvas Design Blocks helps to make pages ‘pretty’. You can structure content using grids, buttons and other page elements, all without needing to know HTML. Everything created with the tool adjusts to different screen sizes (responsive design) and can be edited by co-authors of the course.

The tool was developed by Ranga Auaha Ako.

Canvas screenshot

Canvas animated screenshot with cursor clicking the Design Blocks button to open options to add a grid or button.

Getting started

The tool appears at the top of the side menu whenever you are using Canvas’ rich text editor. There you will see the Design Blocks button. Click it to expand a list of options. Click the options to add the elements to the editor window.

Block Types

Grids gives you the power of responsive and accessible multi-column layouts. Without using the code editor, you can easily author and later come back to edit grids, and preview how they would look without needing to save the page.

To edit a grid, click inside one of the columns to show the menu. From there, select a pre-made column layout or open the advanced settings to configure it further.

Canvas screenshot

Canvas animated screenshot showing cursor clicking a table cell and selecting the split cell into two button.


Buttons allows for a more prominent alternative to links. They use the built-in Canvas style, appearing as a native part of the Canvas experience on desktop and as regular links on mobile.

To edit a button, click the text within the button and use the built-in options to edit the text and website URL, or adjust the colour, size and button icon.

Image cards

These are popular for displaying a grid of cards that link to prominent pages. A suggested use is to add them to your course homepage, where each card links directly to a module.


The Profiles block is integrated with your Canvas Profile. To add your profile to a page, simply search for your name, or the name of your colleague, then hit Enter. To edit your profile, go to Account > Profile from Canvas’ left hand menu.


Consider adding a header to your course homepage. It provides a space for the course name, a brief description of the course (perhaps a one-line headline), and an optional series of buttons that link to support pages, e.g., Getting started, Meet the teaching team, Assignments, Schedule, Syllabus, FAQs, and Finding support.


Insert Canvas icons to add snappy visual elements to your course. Icons can be used to highlight important elements, draw attention to certain areas, and differentiate topics. For example, you can use icons to indicate the type of content in a module, to highlight important due dates, or to indicate a quiz or assignment. Icons can be added to the course home page, modules, pages, announcements, and more.

UoA Toolbox

The UoA Toolbox hosts a variety of custom reports and tools that have been developed at the University and made available to staff with teaching roles. The Toolbox features:


If the Toolbox is hidden from view in your course side menu, enable it from the Settings > Navigation tab. Information about how to activate and use the tool can be found in the .

UoA Assignment Cover Sheet

Lets students generate their own assignment cover sheets with all their information automatically filled in.

  • Staff can select their preferred template of cover sheet. There are four selections to choose from.
  • Note that the selected cover sheet will be used for all assignments within the selected course.
  • See on how to enable this feature in a course.

SSO Grade Submit (Final Grade Submission Tool)

Final Grade Submission Tool allows the addition of special grades and submit final grades to Student Services Online (SSO). The final Grades Tool is accessible from the Canvas gradebook. To access the tool, select the Prepare Grades for SSO button in the gradebook.

SET Reports & SET Evaluations (Summative Evaluation Tools)

Students evaluate the quality of University of Auckland teaching and courses. SET can be accessed by students and staff in Canvas. SET evaluations are managed and coordinated by the Academic Quality Office.

Integrated LTIs, apps and plugins

LTI means Learning Tools Interoperability, enabling third party tools to integrate with Canvas. See Learning technologies to support teaching for a list of all centrally supported learning technologies that are available to University of Auckland staff.

As well as the above University of Auckland tools, the following LTIs and apps are available from the course navigation menu:

Pearson My Labs Mastering has been added to Canvas and staff who would like to use it will need to contact the sales rep/Vendor to arrange access/demo.

Folios are the new academic portfolio platform in Canvas. They enable students to display their achievements and connect with professionals. Discover the benefits of Folios for you and your students.


These LTIs and external apps can accessed in the rich text editor Apps menu:

These LTIs and external apps can accessed in Assignment settings in submission type then selecting ‘external tool’ option:

Related guides:

New Analytics

The Canvas New Analytics provides interactive chart graphs and data tables about assignment grades and students’ weekly online activities (such as page views and discussion posts). You can evaluate components of your course and your students’ performance.

  • Use course analytics to track course activity, course submissions, course grades and student analytics.
  • Use student analytics to view individual activity, communication, submission and grades.
  • Identify if students have met online attendance criteria.
  • Send a message to all students or individual students based on specific participation criteria
  • You can also run CSV reports for missing assignments, late assignments and excused assignments.

Video: Canvas tutorial – New Analytics


Support options are available through the Staff Service Centre or the 24-hour hotline. Please visit the learning technology support page for details.

Page updated 12/02/2024 (Canvas Icons now combined with Design Blocks)

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