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Instructor pre-semester checklist

Are you ready and excited to begin a new semester? We have created this Canvas checklist for instructors to ensure you start out the semester on the right foot.

1. Confirm your courses

Have you listed all the courses you're teaching on your Canvas dashboard? Please contact the person in your department who is responsible for setting up the class schedule if any are missing or in error. If your name is connected to the course on the schedule but it does not show up in Canvas, you may need to complete FERPA certification.

2. Add/import course content

Courses are empty at the beginning of each semester. You can create new content from scratch inside Canvas, but it’s usually easier to import and modify existing content. If you have not taught the course before and are using existing content, the previous instructor needs to email to give you permission to copy the content.

This would be a good time to review and update the content. If you would like help creating new modules, videos, or other content, please contact the Faculty Center.

3. Check your links

Links can get broken during the import process. Use the Validate Links tool to check all the links in a course at the same time.You can find this tool under Settings in the left-hand navigation panel. 

4. Update assignment due dates

If you imported a course from a previous semester, it’s important to check all the assignment dates are correct for your new semester. You can adjust availability dates and due dates easily, as well as add assignments and other important dates to your course calendar. Make sure to update your syllabus, too.

5. Set availability dates

Want to make sure your students stay on pace with one another (or need some more time to fully develop the second half of your plan for this semester)? Consider adding availability dates to your content so students access your lessons at whatever pace you’d like.

6. Check for ADA accommodation requests

Do any of your students have accessibility accommodations this semester? It's important to make sure all your students are set for success. This can mean adding extra time to an exam for a student, ensuring your content is screen reader ready, or adding alternative text to images. Discover how Blackboard Ally can help you to improve your course's usability.

Questions? Reach out to the Faculty Center or Center for Disability & Access (CDA) to learn more.

7. Clean up the navigation and activate your apps

Organizing the course sidebar makes navigating your course simple and more engaging for students. To manage your course navigation links, go to Settings > Navigation, then drag and drop the links to reorder them. Remember to scroll to the bottom of the page to save your changes.

Using any cool tools this semester like Portfolium, Lucidchart, or Perusall? You can add apps to your course from the same place! Go to Settings > Apps and select your apps from there. Don't see what you're looking for? Contact for more information.

8. Add your syllabus to the Syllabus tab

Adding your course syllabus to the Syllabus tab in your course makes it easy for students to access all they need to know about your course in one place. If you have your syllabus in a document, consider copying your content directly onto the Syllabus page in Canvas to make it easier to navigate and see on any device.

9. Publish your course

Students will not be able to access your content until you publish the course. New courses will be listed under Unpublished Courses on your Canvas dashboard. Make sure all modules, assignments, and pages you want your students to see are published, too.

10. Connect to your classroom technologies

Will you be using AV equipment in the classroom this semester? Look over the classroom AV semester start checklist to ensure you are prepared. Teaching a hybrid or online class? Visit the Zoom Announcements page for the latest updates on Zoom features and offerings.

11. Speedgrader

Speedgrader makes assessing student submissions simple. There are lots of neat tools built into it to customize the process. Brush up on the ins and outs of Speedgrader to make grading a breeze this semester.

12. Update your profile and preferences

Has your contact information changed? Want to change how you receive course notifications? Make sure your notification and contact preferences are updated. Edit your Canvas profile or change your profile settings, as well as manage your notifications to keep your info up to date. Ask your students to do the same.


And now you’re set! If you have any additional questions about Canvas, please contact us at

Last Updated: 1/26/24