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Canvas Readings & Resources: Engagement and Analytics

Options for Engagement and Analytics

In order to increase student awareness and engagement with your assigned readings, you can:

Add Notes, Tags, and Due Dates

You can customize your list to make it easier for students to get the most out of your assigned readings.

  • Tags can be added under each resource on your list.
  • To add notes or due dates, open the menu next to the specific resource on your list and edit.

Link Readings to Pages and To-do Lists

Once your Readings & Resources list has been created, you can link to readings from other parts of Canvas.

  1. Create a page in Canvas. If desired, choose to add the page to the student to-do list in order to notify them of reading due dates.
  2. Click the icon for external tools and then choose to view all.
  3. Click on Readings & Resources. 
  4. You should now see the reading list associated with the course. Choose which readings you want to link and the citation style and then Add.


Link Readings to Modules

You can include links to readings in your Readings & Resources list as items in a module.

  1. Choose to add an item to a module.
  2. Select External Tool as the type of item to be added. Choose Readings & Resources.
  3. You should see the reading list for the course. Choose which readings you want linked from the module and click Select. You can select individual readings or you can select an entire section.
  4. Click Add Item. There will now be a link to that item or section in Readings & Resources in the module.

Enable Class Discussions

You and your students can create threaded annotations as a class of PDF items. Google Chrome or Firefox are the recommended browsers for this feature.

  1.  Open your Reading List and click Add Items.

  2. Select Add Other Resources. Click to drag or upload a file and save your document. Be sure to use PDFs that have searchable (OCR) text.

  3. Once you've added the PDF to your reading list, you will see the option to Read & Comment below it.

Screenshot of document upload in Readings and Resources

The PDF will open in a new tab. Choose the Class Discussion tab to share annotations with your students. Open the comments panel on the far right side. Select some text, then choose to highlight or comment.

Create Assignments

If you want to track individual student engagement with readings, assign students to read and comment on a PDF from your Readings & Resources list. For general information on how much the class is interacting with your readings, use Analytics.

  1. Add the reading you wish to use for the assignment as a PDF to your reading list.
  2. Create a new assignment in the Assignments section of Canvas or by adding a new assignment to a module.
  3. On the details page, look for the section Submission Type. Select External Tool.
  4. Check the box to load the tool in a new tab.
  5. Click Find to select Readings & Resources as the external tool.
  6. Title your assignment, add instructions, and then Create.


Readings & Resources offers some analytics on how much students are engaging with your reading list. If you want analytics on specific students' reading, you need to gather that by creating an assignment.

Toggle analytics on and off in the menu above your reading list.