Start of Semester Checklist

This page provides tips for faculty starting a new semester in Canvas.

Cross-Listing Courses

If you teach multiple sections of the same course in a given semester, you may want to cross-list your course shells in Canvas. Follow these steps:

  1. Watch our 5-minute video Canvas Cross-Listing Tool with SRJC's Liko Puha to learn how to instantly cross-list your own courses. 
  2. Read more about Cross-Listing Multiple Sections for important considerations. NOTE: You must cross-list BEFORE classes start or you will lose submitted assignments.
  3. If you have a special case as described in the video, fill out the Distance Ed Support Request Form

Back Up Past Courses & Set Up New Courses

Term Dates in Canvas

Term Dates for Spring 2019 runs from December 31 to June 14, 2019. By default, Canvas courses use these Term Dates, set in the background, that are only visible to Canvas Admins. When the term ends on June 14, Canvas courses will be in a read-only (archived) state. Read-only means that students can continue to view course content and grades, but the course is NOT available for submitting assignments, posting discussions, uploading files, grading, or any other action-based task within a course. We DO NOT recommend concluding your course as it becomes inaccessible to you.

If an instructor overrides the default Term Dates in the course settings, students will NOT be able to access the course content in any way. If you are considering doing so, please contact for more information about what will happen.

Review Course Materials and Navigation

  • Update Home Page content and/or layout.
  • Review and update your Syllabus.
  • Test all internal and external links using the Validate Links in your Course Settings.
  • Publish all learning activities and content (Discussions, Quizzes, Pages, Assignments).
  • Review Course Navigation links. (Keep it simple and make sure you hide navigation elements that are not being used, such as Conferences, to avoid confusion.)
    NOTE: We recommend not including Files in the course navigation, but if you do and there are any files you do NOT want students to see, be sure to unpublish those files.
    We recommend not including Pages in the course navigation, but if you do and there are pages you do NOT want students to see, be sure to unpublish those pages.

Review Modules

Review Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, Gradebook

  • Check all relevant settings for assignments, discussions and quizzes:
    • directions
    • submission type
    • point value
    • number of quiz attempts
    • availability date
    • due date
  • If you’re using weighted grading categories, ensure the assignments weights align with what you want your gradebook to be.

Review Student Experience

  • Review course using Student View (found in the right hand navigation bar on the Settings link) to review course from the student perspective and to check that all modules/items are published and updated.
  • If desired, submit assignment(s) or quiz(zes) while in Student View to verify everything is working properly.
    NOTE: Any assignments or quizzes tested with show up in the Test Student row at the bottom of your Gradebook.

Publish Your Course / Visibility Choices

  • Determine what, if any, materials to keep invisible to students.
    NOTE: You can publish a course, yet have some or all your materials hidden from student view by not publishing specific Modules, Pages, Quizzes, Assignments, etc. (See more about when courses become visible, the Term Date, hiding content, etc. on the Making Courses Visible page.)
  • Once your content is ready, publish your course to open it up for student access.
    NOTE: Publishing your course before the Term Date will not make the course accessible to students unless you also check the box to override the Term Date in the Course Settings. See the "How do I change the start and end dates for my course" Canvas guide.
  • Review the Course Visibility Settings page for explanations of the visibility settings.

Inform Students

  • Your students will automatically have a Canvas account created for them at the time they register. You do NOT need to instruct them on how to get a Canvas account.
  • BE AWARE: Students must confirm their email address with Canvas in order to receive announcements and notifications. There are directions for students to check if they’ve confirmed their email on the Student Help for Canvas webpage.
  • Students will not receive an automatic announcement alerting them to their Canvas courses. For that reason, after you publish your Canvas course, we recommend you send a message from the Faculty portal. (This ensures that students unfamiliar to Canvas will get your message.) Here is a sample message:

We are using the Canvas course management system for this course. Please see the Student Help for Canvas webpage, which provides instructions for logging in, finding your course, and confirming your email to receive Canvas notifications.

Your first due date in Canvas for this course is [date 11:59pm]. I recommend that you log in to Canvas now to read the Syllabus and participate in the Check-in Discussion, which is in the Modules area of the course. The course navigation menu includes links to the Syllabus and to Modules.

NOTE: Board Policy 8.1.5P says that "Instructors are required to drop all No-Show students immediately following the second class meeting. A No-Show is an enrolled student who has not attended any class meeting of the course. For classes that meet online, a No-Show is an enrolled student who has not logged on and initiated active participation by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the second day of the class." You may want to inform students of your drop policy in this first message.

Download and print the checklist >>

Helping Students Access Your Canvas Course

  • Direct students to log in using either the link in their cubby, the Canvas login link on the Distance Education home page or (no “www”).
    NOTE: Students will login to Canvas with the same login information as their Student Portal. 
  • Direct students who have problems logging into Canvas to the Logging into Canvas, Login Issues page.
  • Make students aware of the Canvas Support Hotline which is available to them (and you) 24/7. The phone number can be found by clicking the Help icon (question mark) at the bottom of the blue global navigation.
  • See the Wait List Students page for important information you may need to know and want to impart to your students.

General Tips and Tricks for Instructors

  • The Reset Course button (in course Settings) will permanently delete all current course content and render your course shell completely empty. Use with caution!
  • Conversation messages and announcements are not delivered unless the course is publishing. See more about communicating with students in Canvas.
  • Use 11:59pm instead of 12:00am to indicate a midnight end date. (12:00am is the first minute of the specified date, not the end of the day.)
  • Visit the Distance Education website ( for further tips and help documents.
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