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New Semester – Canvas Checklist

Back To School - image of books and chalkboardEach new semester brings changes.  After copying over content from a previous semester, take the time to go through your courses and update any old or irrelevant information, clarify things that might have generated questions last semester, remove unused or unwanted content, fix typos, and generally make improvements. 

Are there changes to the syllabus?  New edition of the textbook?  Are you ready to try using a new tool in your Canvas course? How about integrating with publisher content?  Need to improve any assignment instructions?

Make changes before the new semester begins, so your students have the most accurate and effective content!

Getting Ready

Verify And Organize Your Course List


Confirm that your courses are available in Canvas.  Go to Courses > All Courses from the sidebar menu to indicate which courses should be available on your Dashboard.

Official courses are available to faculty two weeks before the first day of a term.

See: Customize Your Course List

Combine Course Sections (optional)

icon_checkmark-blueIf you teach multiple sections of your Course and you want all students to access the same content, you can combine or cross-list sections before the semester begins.

Course sections must be combined BEFORE classes start.  Student activity and submissions in a merged section will be lost.

If combining sections, the following information about updating content and settings only applies to the Primary course.

See: Combined Sections In A Single Canvas Course

Copy Content From An Older Course

icon_checkmark-blueFaculty may reuse content from a previous semester, a “sandbox” course, or another instructor’s course (with permission). If it is a course taught by someone else, you may need that instructor to give you access to that course.

See: How do I import course content from another course?

Content Changes and Updates

Update The Syllabus

icon_checkmark-blueMake any updates and corrections to the course syllabus as necessary.  Confirm dates, SLOs, grading policy, links to Academic Integrity and Attendance documents provided by the District.

See: Butte College Student Academic Policies & Procedures

  • Attendance Guidelines
  • Academic Integrity
  • Accommodations (Accessibility)

Be sure to refer students to the Help menu in Canvas for general support.

Review Modules and Content

icon_checkmark-blueTake the time to look over the materials and links in your Canvas course.  Did you use everything in it?  Are there any new items to add?  Typos to fix or clarifications needed?  

Review Content Items
Examine module contents and make any necessary edits to item titles and content, remove unused items, add new materials.

Review Course Accessibility
There are several important elements all instructors should consider to ensure maximum access to course content, so every student is able to succeed, regardless of ability.

Some of the most important features of an accessible course include:

  • converting most PDF files into Canvas Pages
  • adding ALT text to images
  • captioning video
  • Contact TMI for assistance

Accessibility and Canvas
Universal Design For Learning
CCC Accessibility Center

Module Settings
Check Lock Until dates and Publish status.  Incomplete modules may be locked or unpublished to prevent student access.

If used, ensure module requirements and prerequisites are set properly.

How do I lock a module?
How do I unpublish a module?  (Draft state)
How do I add requirements to a module?
How do I add prerequisites to a module?

Internal Links
Test all internal and external links using the Validate Links in your Course Settings.

See: How do I validate links in a course?

Publish Course Content Items
Review all course content items (Pages, Assignments, Modules, etc.) to confirm Publish status.  Only content that is Published can be seen by students.

Confirm Course Navigation

icon_checkmark-blueConfirm the Course Menu contains the appropriate items in the desired order. Only necessary items should be visible to students to avoid confusion.

The following Course Menu items ARE recommended for student access:


The following Course Menu items are NOT recommended for student access:


See: How do I reorder and hide Course Navigation links?

Grades and Assessment

Review Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes

icon_checkmark-blueExamine all gradable activities in the course, update instructions and details as needed. 

Check all relevant settings for assignments, discussions and quizzes:

  • directions
  • submission type
  • point value
  • number of quiz attempts
  • availability date
  • due date


icon_checkmark-blueConfirm grading policy, points possible, and grade displays in Gradebook.  If using Assignment groups for weighted grading, ensure the assignment weights align with the information provided in the course syllabus.

See: How do I weight the final course grade based on assignment groups? 


Adjust Dates

icon_checkmark-blueMake adjustments to assignment due dates, availability dates, module lock dates, and any other time sensitive information.  Double check the calendar and syllabus to be sure your course events and due dates are set correctly.

See: Preparing For A New Semester – Adjust Dates

Check Announcements

icon_checkmark-blueAnnouncements from the previous course will be copied when content is imported from another course.  Review content for accuracy, delete unwanted announcements, and adjust delay dates to reflect the new semester.

See: Canvas Guides – Announcements 

Preview The Course In Student View

icon_checkmark-blueBe sure to examine your course using Student View (found in the right hand navigation bar on the Settings link) to preview the course from the student perspective.  Ensure that all modules/items are published, available and updated.

Check the Assignments Summary on the Syllabus page to be sure all Due Dates are present, and the correct assignments are visible to students.

You may submit assignments or quizzes while in Student View to verify everything is working properly.  NOTE: Any assignments or quizzes submitted in Student View will appear in the Test Student row in the Gradebook.

See: How do I view a course using a test student? 

Publish The Course

icon_checkmark-blueStudents have access to courses beginning on the first day of a semester.  However, instructors must Publish a course to make it visible and available to students.  Students only see Published courses.

See: How To Publish A Course

Review The Roster

icon_checkmark-blueAfter the semester starts be sure to compare your Canvas course roster (use People tool) with your WebAdvisor roster.  Student enrollments in Canvas are updated every hour to reflect enrollments in WebAdvisor.  Please report any enrollment discrepancies to User Support Services (usersupportservices@butte.edu, 530-895-2888).


6 thoughts on “New Semester – Canvas Checklist”

  1. Great check list! Thanks guys! I am wondering if it would be possible for you guys to auto create shells sooner than 2 weeks out for those who like to get going sooner. I know we can create a sandbox and then copy it over to the official shell but I think most would feel better have the real deal to get everything dialed without any last minute surprises.

    • Mike,
      Thanks for your question. Official course shells are generated two weeks prior to each term to allow for the numerous scheduling and staffing changes that occur (often all the way up to the first day of the semester!). As you mentioned, faculty can create their own “prep course” at any time, and be fully ready before official courses are generated, still having two weeks to perform the short process of copying the updated content.
      However, faculty can also request to have official course shells generated in advance, if desired:

      Hope this helps!
      / chris

  2. Hi Chris – The checklist is a great reminder. However I noted that the links for the Academic Integrity and Attendance Guidelines in the Contents Changes and Updates are not valid. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Bill! The name of the committee hosting those documents had changed, but the links hadn’t been updated. Fixed now.

      / chris


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