Online Course Development in Canvas

A quick note at the beginning. When trying to decide what to do with regard to tools, resources, and new ideas you’ve encountered think of yourself first, then your students. What’s your comfort level and the workload associated with whatever you’re contemplating? What will be the impact on the students with regard to ease of use and workload? Your first time teaching on line in particular will present stressors new to you. So, keep things manageable. Don’t give in to the pressure from colleagues to try something new or your own enthusiasm related to some cool gadget or new pedagogical strategy. Think it through carefully then incorporate new tools and strategies when you’re ready.

This document assumes you’ve developed resources (syllabus, quizzes, exams, assignments, ....) outside of Canvas and are now ready to build out your online course on Canvas. If you’ve not yet considered how best to transition from in-person to online consider review of this information first:

Step 1:

Decide what Canvas resources you want your students to have access to on the left hand side of their screen. You will always have access to all of them, but it is wise to have showing for the students only the resources they will use. Recommended set:

Blackboard Collaborate

You may be thinking, why isn’t the Canvas ‘syllabus’ feature in the list. Answer is you are better off simply uploading a word or pdf version of your syllabus and making it available from the modules page. One less new feature to learn/employ is part of keeping things manageable.

Step 2:

Set up your home page. Consider having as your home page, one you design yourself. This way you can customize a message right there on the home page and be creative (eg. add image) if you want to.

Step 3:

Setting up your modules page. This is where you will post your syllabus, links to all files, websites, pages you create with assignment information, quizzes, exams, ..... A great deal of time will be spent here so get comfortable and just work your way through step by step.

Step 4:

Work on the Assignments page in canvas. The assignment’s page is not only where you put the equivalent of a ‘dropbox’ for students to upload work, it is also where you can create your gradebook items. If you want an item to show up in the gradebook for you and your students there MUST be an ‘assignment’ created on the assignments page.

Step 5:

Setting up discussion boards. At a minimum you will need one general Q & A discussion board where students can turn to for help throughout the semester from you and their peers. In addition, if you are planning group activities, you’ll need groups set up with an area within Canvas where they can work among themselves.

Step 6:

Setting up your synchronous group meetings. Blackboard Collaborate is integrated with Canvas. Makes it quite easy for you to set up meetings and for students to access them.