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  8.  — 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

Let’s make editing pages on Canvas better. Quickly create and edit pages, creating grids and other elements without using the HTML editor.

Developed by Ranga Auaha Ako, Canvas Design Blocks is a Google Chrome and Firefox extension that allows users to easily create engaging pages on Canvas.

With Design Blocks, you can quickly add elements such as grids, columns, and buttons without having to know HTML. You can also edit elements and customize their style, all without writing a single line of code. Everything you create with the tool is responsive (adjusts to different screen sizes) and can be edited by other users with the browser extension installed.

Canvas screenshot

Canvas’ rich text editor showing the Design Blocks button enabling you to add columns to the page

Getting started

To use Canvas Design Blocks in your courses, you will need to be using Chrome or Firefox. Select which browser you are using to be taken to the installation page:

Firefox (coming soon)


Creating Blocks

Once you have Canvas Design Blocks installed, open Canvas and head to the page you wish to edit. On the left-hand side, above the course menu, you will find a new button:

Canvas screenshot

Click Design Blocks to expand the menu. From there, click Add Grid or Add Button to insert blocks into the page. These will be placed at your cursor in the editor, or at the end of the page.

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

Block Types

Using grids gives you the power of responsive and accessible multi-column layouts within the visual editor of Canvas. 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 and edit the page.

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

Canvas screenshot



The first of more to come, buttons allow for a more prominent alternative to links. They use the built-in Canvas styling, and so appear as a native part of the Canvas experience on desktop and as regular links on mobile.

To edit a button, click on the text within the button and either use the built-in “Link Options” to edit text and website URL, or adjust advanced settings and design options in the Design Blocks sidebar.

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

UoA Canvas Icons

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.

Canvas plugin tool from the rich text editorAdding icons

On any Canvas page:

  1. open the rich text editor (edit the page)
  2. select the plugin tool
  3. click View All
  4. click UoA Canvas Icons

Zac Miller-Waugh demonstrates the use of the UoA Canvas Icons tool.

Booklet generation and processing for paper assignments

The University has developed a tool to generate and process assignment ‘booklets’, giving staff the option of delivering their assignments offline, then uploading the scanned completed assignments for online marking using SpeedGrader.

  • Booklet Generation allows staff to upload a template and generate individualised booklets for a specific Assignment. The generation of booklets can be carried out for different assignment types, including essays, projects, tests or exams.
  • Booklet Processing allows staff to scan and mark completed script booklets online in Canvas SpeedGrader.

More information can be found in this .

Course Roster

Course Roster provides student information to assist your teaching.

  • Course Roster lists student information including student photos, ID numbers and usernames.
  • The Course Roster is only available to teaching roles in a course, and can be found in the course navigation menu.
  • In addition to viewing the roster on screen, you can print, save and create a PDF.

UoA Toolbox

UoA Toolbox hosts a variety of custom reports and tools that have been produced and made available to either UoA staff or students. Currently, the UoA Toolbox application has three different features available to use, which are:

  • Reports – this area will provide all developed custom reports for users to download
  • Assignment – this area will provide the ability for users to generate booklets for tests upload these scanned tests for marking to the SpeedGrader
  • Utilities – this area will provide all developed custom tools for users to use.
  • This tool is enabled on the account level and must first be enabled from the Navigation option for each course.
  • Information about how to activate and use 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.


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 04/08/2023 (minor edit)

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