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Digital Education and Information
College of Education and Human Development
Start of Term Checklist | Digital Education and Innovation

Start of Term Checklist

Canvas is an online system used by the University for hosting course sites. It is a versatile teaching tool. Canvas is the official platform for course delivery.

All courses have Canvas sites, which are automatically created four months prior to each semester. There is no need to request one. These course sites will be empty when they are first created. You can either add content within the course shell or copy content from a previous Canvas course or development site.  Unused Canvas sites remain hidden from students.

If you need assistance, please let us know by emailing:

New to Canvas?

Have you decided to use Canvas for the first time? Follow these steps:

How to Find Your Canvas Site and Your Students

Copy Content from a Prior Term to Your Canvas Course Shell

  • Import Canvas content from a previous semester or development site. In the new course site, from Settings, select Import Course Content. Choose to copy from a Canvas Course. Search for and select the course that will be copied. You can choose to copy all content or select specific content to copy. You can also update dates as part of this process. – or –
  • Create new content.

Review Course Settings

  • Verify course full and short names.
  • Verify course format.
  • Enable the UMN  course grading scheme (choose, Set Grading Scheme and then Select Another Scheme and choose University of Minnesota Letter Grade Scheme).
  • Edit course navigation.
  • Recreate student groups if you are using them (Group Sets copy from prior courses but groups within do not).

Review Course Content

  • Create modules to organize and display course content and materials by week, unit or topic. Use the Prerequisites and Requirements to track student progress on each module.
  • Review content in module overview pages, as needed. Module overview pages are a course feature included with the CEHD Canvas template.
  • Upload files (course syllabus, course readings, grading rubrics, etc.).
  • Add content (course resources/student assignments).
  • If you are using online course reserves (the Library Course Page in Canvas), contact to submit a new reading list or to request your reading list from a previous semester be copied to the new semester.
  • Verify due dates and availability dates.
  • Update course syllabus.
  • Delete outdated or unnecessary headings, content, or activities.
  • Configure gradebook to support grading described in the syllabus.
  • Set up a grade posting policy.
  • Organize course activities by using Assignment Groups/Categories to organize graded activities and assignments.
  • Organize items within each group in chronological order.
  • Set Assignment Group (gradebook category weights), if required.
  • Verify alignment between course total points and course syllabus total points.

Update Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions

  • Verify your module activities are published.
  • Verify assignment and activity due dates. Due dates automatically appear in the course calendar and the Syllabus page as convenient reminders for students. “Available from” and “Until” dates will unlock and lock the activity.
  • Verify instructions are accurate and well formatted.
  • Verify the submission type (assignments only).
  • Publish all modules, headers, pages, quizzes, discussions, and assignments.
  • Publish your course before the official course start date.
  • Verify that groups and group sets are populated correctly.
  • Verify assignments are weighted correctly, if using a weighted grading system.
  • Verify discussion settings , including post options, grade (if applicable), group settings, and due dates.
  • Verify discussions are listed in the correct order on the Discussions page.

Share your Course With Students

  • Publish all modules, headers, pages, quizzes, discussions, and assignments.
  • Publish your course before the official course start date (whenever it is that you want students to be able to access the course).
  • Send an email to your students telling them how to access your course in Canvas.

Things to Consider

  • All of your content will be deleted if you click the Reset Course Content button. While this may be valuable to you while building a course it would be wise to avoid doing so while a class is in session.
  • Do not click on the Permanently Delete this Course button.
  • Use caution when using the Conclude this Course button. Doing so will restrict both the instructor and students to read-only access to the course.
  • Students will not receive any Instructor-generated announcements or messages sent from Canvas until the course is published AND students have accepted the Canvas Terms of Service.
  • Pay attention to the clock hour setting on any activity or assignment where you have set a date. Canvas lists 12:00 to indicate midnight, the very first minute of a selected day. To set a clock time for the end of the day, choose 11:59PM.


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