Start of Semester Checklist New Faculty

Create a Canvas Syllabus 

  1. Click on the Syllabus button on the homepage. 
  2. Click Edit. 
  3. Type your syllabus directly in the page or copy and paste sections from an existing syllabus document into the Canvas Syllabus Page. 
  4. Once finished editing, click Save. 

Once the Syllabus page is finalized, link it to the Syllabus button on the home page. 

Determine if merging or splitting sections is needed. To prevent loss of student data, this should be done before adding course content in Canvas. If a merge or split is necessary, Please Merge or split prior to the deadlines associated with each semester. For this issue, you can send an email to

This step is only necessary if material is imported from previous institution, or content from another instructor.  


To export or import course content, view Exporting and Importing Course Content for instructions. JI’s Canvas storage quota limits imports to 1GB. Duplicate data can be minimized by using the Import Specific Content feature which allows manual selection of content. For assistance with course export files that are larger than 1 GB, contact the IT Office.

The gradebook in Canvas is used for entering grades, tracking student performance, and communicating to students. Setting up the gradebook at the beginning of the semester helps students see accurate grades and minimizes required work at the end of the semester. To set up the gradebook: 


Settings: Establishing a Grading Scheme ensures the gradebook can be transferred to Howdy. 


Grades: Create Late and Missing Policies at the beginning of a course means the policies are applied accurately across all assignments. 



  1. Create Assignment Groups for weight-based courses. Assignment groups should follow what is outlined in the syllabus. Point-based courses may not need assignment groups. 
  1. Create Assignment Rules such as dropping lowest or highest score(s) or choosing assignment(s) that will not be dropped. 
  1. Edit Due Dates if content is imported or copied from another Canvas course. Due dates should be edited to ensure late policies are applied correctly. 

Use the Modules feature to organize course content such as files, assignments, quizzes, and discussions.

To facilitate the use of Modules, the template automatically enables these Canvas features in the course navigation menu: 

Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, Files, and Pages remain hidden from student view because they should be viewed through Modules.  When these items are enabled, students can navigate directly to assignments, files, and quizzes without viewing them through modules.  

Content Creation 

When building modules, consider both organization and structure.  Click on Modules in the course navigation menu and add content as needed. 

Add Pages using the Rich Content Editor to provide information from the instructor to the student. Pages establish the foundation of the module. In the course template, several examples have been populated and can be copied. 

Assessment Creation 

It is best to use a backwards design approach and create assessments before creating other content.  Assessments can fall under:

  • Assignments:For file-based, video-based, or text-based submissions (e.g., Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoints, or typing content directly). 
  • Discussions:For asynchronous interaction. Can also be ungraded. 
  • Quizzes:For quizzes, tests, exams, and homework assignments in a quiz-like format. 
  • Turnitin : Prevent plagiarism by identifying unoriginal content and manage potential academic misconduct by highlighting similarities among existing content.

Module Settings (not required) 

Students can be guided through a course in a custom format by locking modules, adding prerequisites, and requirements. To learn more, watch How to Lock, Add Prerequisites, and Publish Your Modules (3:26).

For additional guidance, watch Creating Module Content (3:06).

Publishing content for students involves three steps to ensure the course functions smoothly for instructors and students. 

Publishing Modules 

  1. Publish active modules when the course is published by: 
  • Locating the top line of the module. 
  • Clicking on the circle with a line through it. 
  • Once clicked, the circle will turn green with a white check mark inside. 
  1. View a course as a student. 
  • Click Home in the course navigation. 
  • SelectStudent View in the upper right-hand corner. 
  • Start at the homepage and navigate your course as a student. 
  • Fix any issues encountered.


Publishing the Course 

Published courses and content will remain in a “read only” state for students until the first day of the semester.  

  1. Publish a course by navigating to Home or Settings. 
  1. Select Publish from the menu option on the right side of the screen.

    Note: Please remember that published course content will remain in a “read only” state for students until the first day of the semester.  

Post-Publishing Considerations 

After publishing a course, continue to have an active presence by utilizing the following tools. 

  • Announcements:Serve as the main source for students to receive updates for course due dates, deadlines, and other information. 
  • Inbox:Send an email to students individually or in groups. 
  • Gradebook messages:The Canvas Gradebook has a “message students who” feature which sends messages to groups of students based on their status in relation to a specific assignment. This feature sends simultaneous messages to students who fall into certain grade-related categories (i.e., Have Submitted, Have Not Submitted, etc.). 
  • Calendar:The Canvas Calendar provides students with a to-do list in a calendar format, including Zoom class meetings, assignment due dates (if date is added in the assignment details), appointments, and more. 
  • Speedgrader:Can be used to add feedback in line with student submissions, or through comments on a rubric. 
  • Utilize the template bylinking the included weekly module buttons on the homepage to modules you previously created.  Watch Linking Homepage Buttons to Content (1:57) for additional guidance. 
  • Place a welcome message on the homepage or send by announcement. Watch Adding a Course Trailer to a Canvas Course(3:31) for additional guidance. 
  • Run the link validatorto eliminate broken links in your course.

Tip: We recommend conducting all communication with students through Canvas to provide a central hub where students know they can communicate about course activities.