Lessons are collections of course materials—content, assignments, discussions, links, and files—that cover a particular section of your course curriculum.

  • You create them and access them on the course Lessons view. There you'll find a list of all the course's lessons and recent discussion activity.
  • You can make lessons available on a specific date or the course start date.
  • Course materials like assignments and files can be required—to finish the lesson, the student must submit something, participate in the discussion, etc.
  • Lessons can be "gated": a student must finish a lesson in order to access the next one.
  • As students complete lessons, you can check their progress on the Lessons > Student Progress report.

What will my students see?

To see how the lesson will appear to your students, click the View tab at any time.

How to create a new lesson

  1. Click Add a Lesson.
  2. Give the lesson a name.
  3. Select how you wish to make the lesson available to your students:
    • Select whether to make it available on the course start date or on a specific date in the term.
    • Check to require students to complete the previous lesson before accessing this one.
  4. Click Save.

You can also add lessons by cloning them from another course.

Ordering lessons

The order in which lessons appear is the one that students must follow—especially if you require students to complete one lesson in order to access the next one.

  1. Click Reorder lessons.
  2. Drag and drop the lessons into the desired order.
  3. When you're done, click Done Reordering.

Designing your lesson

To start designing your lesson, click its name in the lessons list. Then, click the Design view.


Adding materials to your lesson

Start by clicking the Add link for the material you wish to put in the lesson.


Headings are simply a line of text introducing a section of the lesson.


Content is the meat of the lesson—the text and media by which you wish to convey the lesson. Content blocks include a text editor that lets you do the following:

  • In the text editor window, enter your notes by typing or copy-pasting from another document or website (copy-pasting will probably alter the original formatting).
  • Within the text editor, you can change the text size, add headings, some light formatting, create numbered or bulleted lists, and link to other sites.
  • Embed media hosted by Populi by copying the EMBED code from one of your media files (see "Files", below). You can also click the Upload image symbol to include a picture.
  • Check out the different ways you can embed audio, video, images, et. al. in your lesson.



After you've created assignments, you can add them to your lesson. When students come across an assignment in the lesson, they'll be taken to the assignment's page, where they can submit their work and interact with you in the assignment feed.

  1. Select the assignment from the drop-down.
  2. Check if you wish to require that students complete the assignment in order to access the next lesson.
    • "Completing" the assignment depends on the assignment type. The student must have submitted a test, participated in a discussion, uploaded a file, or submitted an essay.
    • If you add a grade-only assignment, the student will not be considered complete until you enter a grade for him!

You can also use a link to send students to an assignment hosted in another LMS by using an LTI tool. See the section on Links below.



This creates a new discussion linked to the lesson. To link an existing graded discussion, you can also use the add an assignment feature.

  1. Click Add a discussion.
  2. Enter the discussion details.
  3. Check to allow students to start discussions in this lesson; if you check Yes, you'll also have the option to requireeach student to start a discussion.
  4. Check to require students to participate in the discussion to complete the lesson.

In the lesson's settings, you can set a date to close all discussions (after which no one can contribute to them). This does not over-ride any Comments Closed dates/times entered for individual discussions.



  1. Search for the file or drag-and-drop it into the upload area. You can also import a file from another course.
  2. Check if you wish to hide this file from your students. Do this if you wish to embed a media file elsewhere in the lesson (or course).
  3. Check to require students to view or download the file to complete the lesson.
  4. If you upload a media file, after you save, click   to retrieve the EMBED code for it.


You can use links to send students to another site or to an assignment page in another LMS using LTI tools.

  1. Enter the URL.
  2. Enter a display name for the URL—if you don't enter anything here, the lesson will just display the raw URL.
  3. If you wish to use an LTI tool:
    • Click show advanced options.
    • Select a built-in LTI tool or manually enter LTI credentials.
    • Select the assignment from Populi to which the student's grade in the other LMS will be pushed.
  4. Check to require students to visit the link to complete the lesson.

Tin Can

Tin Can is a kind of file exported from certain learning management systems that collects data about student activity. If enabled for your school, you'll see the Tin Can option for your lessons.

  1. Export the material from the other LMS as a Tin Can package. Consult the other system's documentation for specific instructions. It should export as a .zip folder.
  2. Search for the file or drag-and-drop it into the upload area.
  3. Check to require students to complete the Tin Can in order to complete the lesson. If you require it, you can also specify a minimum amount of time students must spend on the Tin Can.
  4. After saving, it may take a few minutes for Populi to process the Tin Can package. Once it's finished processing, the package will display similar to a link.

Here's what happens when a student engages with the Tin Can section in a Lesson:

  1. When the student clicks the Tin Can package link, the package materials open up full-screen within the lesson.
  2. She works through the Tin Can materials—watches the video, plays the game, etc.
  3. Once completed, the student is taken back to the regular lesson window. At the same time, the Tin Can tells Populi that she has finished the package.
  4. If you've required the Tin Can, the signal from the Tin Can will set that portion of the lesson to completed, letting the student proceed to the next lesson.

Changing materials

After adding materials to your lesson, here's what you can do to change them:

  • Click   to edit the material.
  • Click   to delete it.
  • Click   to move the element to another page in the lesson.
  • Click   to insert new material below this element.
  • Click   to drag-and-drop the element to another part of the lesson.

Settings, pages, and materials

The right column of the page shows you the settings for this lesson, the pages in it, and any additional materials (discussions, assignments, files, and links) that you've added anywhere in this lesson.

  • Change any of the settings by clicking the setting name.
  • Add a page to the lesson to divide and structure the flow of the lesson.
    • Click   to change the page name.
    • Click Reorder Pages and drag/drop the pages into the order you'd like.
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  • 1
    Scott Butler

    Is there still a way to change the lesson title once one has been assigned?

  • 0
    Scott Butler

    Just found it DESIGN > SETTINGS > NAME

  • 0
    Amaryah LaBeff

    When I try to upload a .zip as a 'tin can' I get an error that says:

    "That doesn't look like a valid Tin Can file... couldn't find tincan.xml"

    ... help! I've tried several different .zip files with no luck!

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