Canvas Course Launch Checklist

Canvas, the newest learning management system at Rutgers, is now available for any faculty member to use. As you get used to the new platform, here are some things it may be helpful for you to check at the beginning of each new term. As you use Canvas, here are some useful hints and must-do’s to ensure that your semester and your Canvas course launch are trouble-free.

This list applies to all courses inside Canvas. If your courses have been migrated from another learning management system, there may be some additional points you should check before students enter the course. If so, the Proof-your-migrated-course checklist may be a helpful starting place.

Course Launch Checklist

Items to Prepare:

  1. Create Group Sets: In your new course site, create group sets using the same name as the group sets used in your source course. 
  2. Import your Course Content: Use the Course Import Tool to import an existing Canvas Course into your new course. (If you are using ProctorTrack in the source course, please navigate to the ProctorTrack Dashboard and disable proctoring for all exams/quizzes.  In the destination course, enable proctoring for the desired exams/quizzes.)


Items to Review:

  1. Course Settings
    1. Review start and end dates to adjust your course start and end dates, if desired. You may opt to allow access to your course prior to the start of the semester.
    2. Select check box: “Users can only participate in the course between these dates.” We recommend checking the "Users can only participate in the course between these dates" option, which permits students to view but not take action in the course until the start date. See previous Canvas Quick Dip on Course Settings - Availability & Visibility for more information.
    3. Verify your course visibility settings to restrict student access before or after the course dates.
  2. Syllabus: Click on your syllabus to ensure that your due dates transferred properly. Make adjustments for Spring Break or Thanksgiving Break.
  3. Reload course card image if you are using one.

Items to reset or activate:

  1. External Tools
    1. VoiceThread: For any assignment/external tool link in Modules using VoiceThread, you will need to select the type of VoiceThread portal for each item or VoiceThread assignment.
    2. Turnitin Assignments: For any assignment using Turnitin, instructors must visit each assignment prior to student submissions, in order to activate that assignment in Turnitin. Instructors must reset the Feeback Release date for all Turnitin assignments that were imported during course import.  These dates do not autoadjust and users will receive an error when attempting to access the Turnitin assignment.
      1. You may need to remove any due dates in your Canvas Assignment setting to access the Turnitin settings.  
      2. Access the Turnitin Assignment Settings
      3. Set the Feedback Release dates for a date in the future.
      4. Edit the Canvas Assignment settings and set Due dates and Availiability Dates (if needed).
    3. Publisher Content: For any external tool or course navigation link with integrated publisher content, you will need to pair your textbook for your new course each term.
    4. ProctorTrack
  2. Student groups - Group sets will not copy into your new course.   You must recreate your group sets and student groups and assign students to them automatically. Group Assignments and discussions that are imported into a course will be assigned to "Project Groups" unless a group set of the same name is already present upon course content import.
  3. SCORM files (rarely used) - SCORM files do not transfer, though the assignment shell does. Delete your old assignments that use SCORM files. Reload your SCORM files, recreate your assignments, and add to Modules. Adjust modules settings, if needed.
  4. Collaborations - Share documents with your new roster of students.

Final steps to launch your course:

  1. Run the link validator: In course settings, you can verify you do not have any dead links in your course. Please note, though, that sometimes a slow server for an external link may result in a link appearing as invalid when it is not.
  2. Cross-list your course or sections, if desired: You have the option to use one course site to manage multiple sections or cross-listed courses.
  3. Publish your Canvas Course. Students will not be able to see the content until you publish your course. Do this before your start date.
  4. Once the term or course start date has passed, resend course invitations to let your students know that your course in on Canvas. 

Diving Tips

As you continue to use Canvas, you may find it helpful to manage your specific course preparation steps by adding an unpublished module in your course. You may find it helpful to create pages in this module with links to all course content that uses external tools, notes on specific settings, communications to share with students, or a list of student groups to re-create. Here are some examples:

Example 1: This example provides a general page called “Pre-term Checklist” that may include links and reminders for an instructor prior to course launch.

Screen capture of a Canvas module, entitled, "Communication and Notes - Do not Publish."  Items include Pair your eText to your course before the first day of classes, Do not publish: Turnitin for Canvas ***Instructors Only***, Preterm checklist, and Activate these pages (links to all tools).

Example 2: This example divides various activities into different pages. Suggestions include: Pair your etext with your course before the first day of classes, Activate these pages, Turnitin for Canvas Instructors, and a Pre-term checklist.

Screen capture of an unpublish Canvas Module entitled, "instructor Resources and Notes (Keep Module and items unpublished)."  Items in the module include external links to Canvas Guides for Instructors and Faculty Orientation in Canvas (links to another Canvas course).  Other module items inlcude Notes and Pre-term Checklist.

Example 3: This example illustrates how frequently used announcements and emails are created in an unpublished module and will be present in all subsequent course copies. Routine course communication can be easily copied and pasted into new announcements or emails every semester.

Screen capture of an unpublished Canvas Module entitled, "Communicaiton and Notes - Do not publish."  Text header, "Before Term Start," lists content items Course Prep, Login Instruction Email, and Welcom Email.  Text Section header, Week 1, lists content items Day 2- CoiceThread and your Email Account and Day 3 - email for participants who have not logged in.  Section header, Week 3, does not list any content.

Common Questions

Q: What happens if my content copies incompletely or if I didn’t copy the correct Canvas content?

A: Canvas makes it easy to correct this. You will reset your course; be sure to add this course to your dashboard. This will create a new blank copy of your course while carrying over all of the people (students, TAs, course designers, facilitators, etc.). Then you will reimport your course content into the new version of your course. If you prefer, you may also elect to automatically adjust due dates.

After copying, be sure to do your pre-term check of due dates and content.

Q: I am using a tool not listed on this page. What do I do?

In Canvas, all external tools must be re-activated every semester. It is always best to view each external tool prior to course launch. If you have questions, contact the COHLIT Office of Instructional Design or the Rutgers Online Learning Help Desk.

Q: I tested my course in “student view” but when I click on some external tools like VoiceThread and Turnitin assignments, I get an error.

Student view is handy to review a course from the student perspective, but it does have limitations. External tools work on the premise that Canvas passes the identity of the user to the tool. Identifying information may include first name, last name, email address, and login name. The test student in student view does not have a valid email address so you will see an error if that information is required.


Last updated: March 29, 2017 at 11:15 AM