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Teaching and Learning - Preparing Your Canvas Course for the Semester Start

This KB article provides comprehensive guidance on setting up and customizing a Canvas course for instructors. It covers essential aspects such as configuring notification preferences, customizing course detail settings, simplifying course navigation, verifying students and roles, adding a profile picture, setting up assignment groups, reviewing assignments, verifying the calendar, adding a course card image, validating links, reviewing the course from a student's perspective, publishing the course, and welcoming students. Specific recommendations are given for what to enable or disable to optimize the course experience for students.

Set up account notifications 

To ensure you receive communication from Canvas, set up your Notification Preferences and contact method in your Canvas Account. 

  • Please note that Notifications are global for all your courses in Canvas 
  • Also note that students have control over their Notifications  

Customize course detail settings 

It is important to be aware of the many different options residing under Course Details in Course Settings. Selecting More Options will open a menu of extra features to turn on and off, such as allowing students to post their own discussion threads. 

You may want to look at “More Options” at the bottom. Here you will find some additional options that you may want to consider 

  • We recommend that instructors uncheck the following:
    • Let students create discussion topics
    • Let students organize their own groups
  • You may wish to consider unchecking: 
    • Let students attach files to discussions
    • Hide grade distributions graphs from students
  • Do not check "Hide totals in student grade summary" or students will not see grades.

Simplify course navigation 

For optimum course experience, hide unnecessary course navigation links.  

  • It is recommended that you have the following visible to students 
    • Announcements, Grades,  
  • It is recommended that you hide the following from student view 
    • Files, Quizzes, Pages, Assignments, Discussions, Syllabus 
      • These individual items should be included on the Home Page/modules to give them context in your course 
    • Note that Files and Conferences are locked and cannot be enabled in Navigation  
    • The order of the navigation is not able to be changed 

Verify students in the People link

Select People to verify your Canvas roster (teacher, student, TA, etc.) for accuracy. 

  • When adding a TA to a course, if you need the TA to be able to grade, the TA will need to be added as a "TA Grader" in your Canvas course. 
  • Students that appear with the tag “Inactive” have either dropped the course or are in a waitlist for the course. 

Add a profile picture in your settings  

Set Up assignment groups (if applicable) 

If you use weighted grading categories for your final grade calculations, you will want to add Assignment Groups to the Assignments Index Page and assign weights to each Group. 

Review the Assignments page  

Review the Assignments Page to verify all your assignments are in your course 

  • Your assignments should be included in your modules to give those both context and be visible to students  
  • Assignments will directly populate into your Gradebook also 

Verify Calendar 

Check the Calendar tool to verify Assignment due dates and Events scheduled for your course. 

Add a course card image 

Adding an image to your course card can help students quickly identify your course.

Validate the links in your course content  

You may want to select Validate Links in your Course Settings to ensure there are no broken links.

Review Course in Student View  

Review your course content from Student View to experience your course from a student perspective. 

Publish the course for students 

When your course is ready for students, you will need to publish the course for students.  

Welcome students to your course 

Now that your course is live and published, consider sending your students a welcome announcement to the course.  

KeywordsCanvas, account notifications, Notification Preferences, course details, course settings, discussion threads, grade distributions, course navigation, announcements, grades, People link, verify roster, TA Grader, profile picture, Assignment Groups, weighted grading, Assignments Page, Gradebook, Calendar, course card image, validate links, Student View, publish course, welcome announcement   Doc ID94071
OwnerDavid D.GroupCETL
Created2019-08-26 12:17:32Updated2023-10-30 10:54:54
SitesUW-Milwaukee Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Feedback  6   4