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Canvas - Teacher's Beginning of Course Checklist

This guide describes important steps you should complete to prepare a Canvas course. Complete these steps before your course begins.
  1. Locate Your Course in Canvas
  2. Import Specific Content
  3. Post or Update Your Syllabus
  4. Configure Assignment Due Dates
  5. Configure Course Participation Settings
  6. Publish Your Course
  7. Optional Steps:
    • Nickname Your Courses and Organize Your Canvas Dashboard
    • Prepare for the End of your Course
    • Learn how to Create and Manage Audio and Video in Canvas

Step One: Locate Your Course in Canvas

Scheduled classes are available in Canvas 50 days before the scheduled class start date. This means classes beginning later in the term won’t be created at the same time as those starting in the first course session.

Newly-created courses may not be added to your Canvas Dashboard by default, so remember to check your All Courses page to locate newly-created courses. You can also use this page to manage which courses show on your Canvas Dashboard and locate past courses.

Still can't find your course?
Please confirm that you are assigned to teach that class on the UW-Superior Class Schedule page. If you're not assigned, please contact your department so they can add you as the instructor of record. You will be automatically added to the corresponding course in Canvas as you're assigned the in E-Hive and on the Class Schedule.

Screenshot of Courses Panel

Step Two: Import Specific Content

Canvas makes it easy to copy content from a different course using the Course Import Tool. You can use this tool to import content from your own course, a shared departmental template, or a colleague’s course you can already access.

Please import just the items you need, instead of importing “All content”. We recommend selecting specific items to avoid creating duplicate items in your course. Also, don’t import:

  • Items that are only useful in a specific term: Consider skipping Calendar events and Announcements, because they’re usually based on the previous course’s schedule.
  • Student Information module from previous terms: This information is now included in the Navigation menu of all Canvas courses and the previous modules are now out of date.

Screenshot of Import Selection Panel

Do you need to import from another course?

Using the Course Import tool often isn't the most efficient way to transfer a single item from a previous course to your current one. Before using the Import tool, consider these other options:

  • Copy Assignments to Other Courses: You can copy many items in a Canvas course directly into another one of your active courses. For example, this guide explains how to copy an assignment to another course using the Copy To button. (You can also send assignments to other instructors.) When you copy an item to another course, any assets within that assignment (images, files, etc.) will be included in your assignment copy.
  • Copy and Paste Instead of Importing Individual Items: If recreating a single page, it’s safer and faster to copy content directly from the old course page and paste into a blank page in the new course. Always be careful to avoid duplicating or overwriting content when importing into a course that's already begun.

Sharing Course Designs

If this is your first time teaching a course and you need a past version, please reach out to the previous instructor. Canvas administrators will need permission from that course's instructor or your department chair to share the course design with you. For more information about sharing course designs, please read the guides linked below:

Check All Links in Your Course

Links to public webpages, YouTube videos, library resources, or online databases can change at any time. Even if the link still works, the content on that linked page could change without you knowing it.

Before your course begins, check every link to make sure (1) it still works and (2) it leads to the correct content. At minimum, click the Validate Links in Content button to to run the Canvas Course Link Validator. Check the links in your course design every semester; this is particularly important if you import an older course design that hasn't been used recently.

Confirm Link Functionality with the Student View

If you utilize a course design shared with you from another instructor, the links in their course may route to content you and your students can't access, like links to the previous instructor's personal OneDrive. Use the Student View to confirm links are working properly, even if you already used the Validator tool. (This is a good time to click through your course to view it from a student's perspective and make sure everything works as you expect.)

Screenshot of Link Validator

Step Three: Post or Update Your Syllabus

Please add a syllabus to your Canvas course. If you have a syllabus in your course from a previous term, remember to update it.

Note: if you’re adapting a course designed by another instructor, please check both your modules and the Syllabus tool to makes sure there isn’t information listed specific to previous versions of the course. For example, check the listed contact information to make sure it includes your preferred email address and office hours schedule.

If you’d like to use a Word or PDF syllabus document, add it to your course’s first module; this will ensure students see it as soon as they begin and always know where to find it as the course progresses. You can add your file directly into your first module, or you can create a new page and link to your syllabus document using the Rich Content Editor.

You can also use the Syllabus feature that’s built into Canvas to host your course syllabus, and then link to this tool from your first module. UW-Superior instructors often choose not to use the Syllabus tool since they’re already using a syllabus document; if you won’t be using the Syllabus tool, please hide it from your course Navigation to prevent students confusing the Syllabus tool and your syllabus document.

Screenshot of Syllabus Item in Module Screenshot of Syllabus Tool in Navigation Menu

Step Four: Configure Assignment Due Dates

While your syllabus likely includes some assignment due dates or a course schedule, it’s still important to configure due dates for any assignments you create in your Canvas course. Course assignments that don’t have a due date will not show on students' Canvas To Do list or Calendar.

If you’d like students to be able to submit to your Canvas assignments after the assignment is due, add a later assignment End date as well.

Screenshot of "Edit Assignment" Panel Screenshot of Assignment Availability Fields

Step Five: Configure a Course Start and End Date

Instructors can manage their Canvas course Participation settings from the course Settings page (Settings > Course Details). These settings manage when students can access your course and complete course activities.

Canvas courses always use the “Term” Participation option by default. This option doesn’t require you to set a start or end date and works well for most fifteen-week courses.

If you're teaching a shorter-session course that begins or ends mid-semester, select the “Course” Participation option instead, and input both a Start and End date. Choose an end date at least 48 hours after you post final grades. Once the course ends, students no longer have access to your feedback and grades.

Step Six: Publish Your Course

When you’re ready for students to access your course, remember to publish it.

This final step is important. Please note that course publishing is separate from publishing modules and your course’s Start and End date. Students will not be able to access your course if you don’t publish it, regardless of what Start date you configure, or whether you’ve published modules and items within your course.

Preview Period Settings
Please lock any graded materials (such as quizzes) prior to the first day of the term. This prevents issues if we have to open a new section and move students to a different Canvas course—we don’t want students to lose their work.
Also, students are not supposed to participate in graded activities before the start date of the class because it can impact their financial aid. Do not assign work before the scheduled class start date.

Optional: Nickname Your Courses and Cleanup Your Canvas Dashboard

Nickname Your Courses

You can nickname your courses in Canvas at any time to make them easier to identify. For example, if you teach multiple versions of a course in the same term, it may be helpful to nickname them so you can easily distinguish between various sections.

Please do not adjust the Course Name field on the course Settings page. This field impacts what students and administrators see as well. Nickname courses instead; nicknaming only changes how the courses are displayed for you.

This might a good time to cleanup your Canvas Dashboard. If you’d like to remove old courses from your Dashboard, open your All Courses page. Using the star icons on the left of the “Course” column, click to fill in the star next to any course you want listed on your Dashboard, and click any orange stars to remove that course from your Dashboard.

Prepare for the End of your Course

There are a few steps you should complete at the end of your Canvas course. For more information, please review our Teacher’s End of Course Checklist.

Add Audio and Video to Your Course

If you plan on adding a welcome video to your first module, sharing recordings with students, or using video assignments in your course, please read our detailed guide about How to Create and Manage Canvas Audio and Video Using Kaltura My Media. Share this guide with your students as well; its relevant to everyone who uses our Canvas system.

Screenshot of Canvas Help Menu

Need Help?

Please visit our guide about How to Get Help Using Canvas and Kaltura My Media.

Do you have a quick question about how to use Canvas? Please chat with Canvas Support from the Canvas Help menu. Canvas Support staff is available 24/7.

If you need help designing your course in Canvas, please email We’ll schedule a consultation with an instructional designer so you can discuss the needs of your course and how best to address them using Canvas and the tools availble to UW-Superior instructors.

And if you’re brand new to Canvas, please check out the following resources to learn the basics:

Screenshot of LinkedIn Learning Course Screenshot of Canvas Student Training Course

Keywordscanvas setup design   Doc ID135570
OwnerMichael M.GroupUW Superior
Created2024-02-19 17:58:04Updated2024-02-21 12:53:21
SitesUW Superior
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