Preparing for a New Semester

This page provides a list of tasks that should be completed by all Canvas users prior to the beginning of each semester. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the eLearning Department via the eLearning Support Request Form.

Distance Learning and Hybrid Courses – Canvas course shells for the new semester are uploaded automatically several weeks before the semester begins. However, when your course shell appears in your account it is empty. You may import content yourself (often from an existing course from the previous semester) or you may submit an eLearning Support Request form and we will help you.

Companion Websites – If you intend to use Canvas as a companion website you must first log into eRoster and identify the section(s) as having an eLearning component per the steps below:

  1. Log in to eRoster.
  2. Select the semester for which you’d like the companion shell(s).
  3. (Please note, only current semester course shells can be uploaded to Canvas.)
  4. Click the “Companion Courses” button (from the list on the left).
  5. Select a course section.
  6. From the “eLearning Companion” drop down list, select Yes and click the Submit.
  7. Repeat this process for each section requesting an eLearning Companion site in Canvas.

Add Course Content – Canvas course content can be imported or copied from an existing course shell. If this is your first time using a companion site in Canvas, content will need to be created using the tools in Canvas or by uploading course files. If you are teaching a distance learning course, all course content should be uploaded and ready at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of the semester. If you need assistance in this area please submit an eLearning Support Request form prior to the first day of class.

Introduction Make sure your course has, at a minimum, a published introduction or homepage accessible to students at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of the semester. This goes for all course types (companion, hybrid, and distance learning). Canvas is used by so many students now that it is wise to have something available to those enrolled in any Canvas course on the first hour and day of the new semester. If you are teaching a hybrid course and will not meet with your students until later in the week, tell them so. If you use Canvas as a companion website, welcome your students to your class and explain how Canvas will be used. This best practice will put your students at ease and minimize confusion on the first day of the semester.

Syllabus – Upload or update your syllabus for the new semester. You may use the syllabus tool in Canvas or upload a separate pdf file and include it in your Course Information Module.

Dates – Set/adjust all course and assignment due dates. This is especially important as Canvas will place these items on the course calendar automatically. Course beginning and ending dates are set by the college and not by the instructor. Remember, student access to Canvas opens at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of the semester. Also, while students may access to their Canvas course beyond the last day of the semester, all course activity (assignments, exams, etc.) should not extend beyond 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the semester/session without the assignment of an Incomplete.

Assignments – Organize the Assignments manager and check final grade calculations.

Navigation – Hide navigation elements that will not be used or could be confusing to students.

Evaluations – Do not hide the Evaluations link in the navigation sidebar. Students will use this link when completing course and instructor evaluations later in the semester.

Discussion Forum – Update Discussion Forum options (located in the Settings for your course). If appropriate, deselect the check box that allows students to create discussion topics.

Grades – Enable/update your course grading scheme.

Third Party Integration – If you are using publisher content such as Pearson “MyLabs,” Panopto, etc., be sure the integration is configured properly and is working as it should. You may contact the eLearning Department if you need assistance with this.

Review – Be sure to check your course from the perspective of the student before the semester begins. This can be done by simply viewing the course in Student View.

Publish – Don’t forget to publish your course. Your course is not accessible by students until it is published.

Proctored Assessment – If proctored assessment is not a requirement for your course, no action is required.  However, if you do require proctored assessment please make sure students are aware of the procedure early in the semester so they can plan ahead. Please note the following:

1)  If you would like the eLearning Department to verify the proctor, students must be made aware of the proctoring process. This information is available at the following locations:

Proctoring Information for Students

Proctoring Information for Faculty

2)  Send your test information to the PSC Testing Center early in the term as most of your students will probably use this service. The Pensacola Testing Center will forward this information to all campus Testing Centers. Be sure to provide access codes, and any other information as needed (e.g., whether or not your test requires the Respondus Lockdown Browser). Inform students they must make an appointment with the Testing Center to take their test.

3)  If you are going to allow students to use ProctorU (recommended in fully online courses) please make sure they are made aware of that option early in the semester.

ProctorU – Information for Students

ProctorU – Information for Faculty

Respondus Lockdown Browser – If you intend to require the Respondus Lockdown browser for assessment, students need to know this at the beginning of the semester. Also, if you intend to use ProctorU with the RLDB, ProctorU will need to know this when you submit your access information to them at the beginning of the semester.

Respondus Monitor – If you intend to require the use Respondus Monitor, students need to know this before the end of the drop/add period as some students may object to being recorded.

Support – Your first line of support for Canvas is Canvas. Please click on the “Support” link under “Faculty” on the eLearning website for details. If the folks at Canvas cannot help, they will route your request to the PSC eLearning Department.