Start-of-Semester Checklist

Please Note: this checklist is a mixture of necessary (publish your course when done) and optional ideas/items we collected that instructors may want to include or review in their course. Some items may not relate to you as every course and what tools they use may vary, especially when comparing a fully-developed online course to a face-to-face/web-enhanced course that may just be using Canvas to post handouts and grades. 


  Banner courses are available to instructors in Canvas around the time registration opens for a term 

  • mid-April for Summer and Fall and  
  • mid-November for Spring semesters 

If you want to start developing a course for a term before Banner courses are available or are still waiting to be assigned to a course in Banner, you can Request a Temp course to begin development. Don’t forget that if you develop in your Temp course, you will need to copy the content into your Banner course when it is available.  

  Web-enhance your course (if applicable) 

Once the Banner schedule of classes is live, web-enhance your face-to-face Banner course.  
Note: Courses that are offered as an Online, Hybrid, or for an Accelerated Online Programs in the schedule do not need to be web-enhanced. They will automatically show up in Canvas once the integration is enabled for that term. 

  Group your sections (if needed)  

If you plan to group your sections into one Canvas course, do so before you start building your content in your Banner courses (you can still do course development in Temp courses). You will lose access to the Banner child courses once they are grouped into a parent course. Also plan to group at least a week before the term to avoid processing delays which would result in the loss of student work. 

  Add Course Assistants. If you have a TA or someone helping you with the course, request they be added using the Add Course Assistant Request Form.  


If you would like to reuse content: 

☐ If you would like to use content from a Learn course, see the Migration Options page on getting started. 

  Import/copy content from another course, such as a Temp course, Migrated course, a course from a previous semester, etc.If you have been using a Temp course, please know that students will not have access to that course.You will need to import it into your Banner course. 


  Create your content from scratch. Visit Instructor Resources for documentation about using Canvas and view the Training Opportunities page for available/upcoming Canvas trainings. 


  Upload any files you need into the Files tool. 

  Add your Syllabus using the Canvas Syllabus tool. You can link to your own Syllabus document within the Syllabus Description area. You can also select the Show Course Summary if you want it to display all the due dates for your course’s assessments.  

  Build Course Modules. Modules are used to organize content by weeks, units, or whatever organization structure works for your course.  

  Determine the types of assessment you will use.  Determine how you will assess learning, the types of assessments you will use, and when the students will take the assessments to meet your course objectives. Quizzes, exams, papers, projects, presentations, discussions, group work, etc. are examples of different types of assessments. Consider alternative assessments too. 

  Organize your Gradebook. If needed, you can create assignment columns for non-submission items, that can be used for manual or imported grades not tied to an assessment within Canvas. You can also weight final course grade based on assignment group. 

  Set a grade posting policy for assignments in the Gradebook. You can decide whether to post grades automatically as soon as you enter a student’s grade or whether to post them manually (once you feel you finished grading everyone).  
  Set a Grading Scheme. A grading scheme converts a percentage grade into a letter grade. If you don’t set a grading scheme, students will only see their percent grade; they will not see a letter grade. A gradebook column with a final letter grade can also be exported from Canvas and imported in LoboWeb for final grade entry later, which may be helpful for large enrollment courses. 
  Add any external apps/integrations ( e.g.RedShelf, publisher content, etc.) that you are using. (Visit External Apps for documentation on each app/integration) 
  Hide the Grade Distribution Graph from Students in low enrollment classes*. Personally identifiable information is never provided to students. However, this level of data access may be especially problematic in courses with low enrollments, as students may be able to extrapolate grade information about their classmates based on the information provided.  


☐  You can create a custom front page to set as your course’s home pageA homepage for the course equips students with essential information about the course and where to get started. See Home Page Layout Options for other choices for home pages besides a custom front page. 

  Utilize  Modules for course flow. Modules provide an at-a-glance view of the activities for a given week or topic. They also create a linear flow for navigating through the week’s activities.   

  Link course content through Canvas. Linking all files, and other course materials into Canvas modules helps students find course content and obtain an at-a-glance view of materials.   

  Use Kaltura for all media content, if using videos. Do not directly store videos in Canvas. Instead upload all media content into Kaltura, UNM’s streaming media service, and embed the Kaltura content in your course.  

  Customize course navigation links. Keep only the links that are necessary. Canvas recommends keeping your Course Menu simple for students by using Modules to move them through your course content instead.  For example, in most cases the following should be hidden: Assignments, Quizzes, Files, People, Pages, Outcomes. Most of these will be very confusing to students.  

  • The recommended links to keep displayed to students are Home, Grades, Modules, and Syllabus (if you are using the built-in Syllabus tool).  
  • If you utilize announcements often, you could also add Announcements to your Course Menu. 
  • If you are using self sign-up groups in Canvas you will need to display People in your course menu, so students can sign up for the groups. 
  • Some integrations, such as Zoom or RedShelf, will need to be added and visible to students in the course menu if you plan to utilize them. 
  Customize your Canvas Course Card (this is the picture that goes with your course on your Dashboard) . If you update the nickname or the color overlay on the card, please know that those settings are not displayed to students. Only the image will display to students. Students can add their own nicknames and color overlays to course cards for themselves. 
  Decide if (and how many) announcements you would like to display on your home page.  


  Use the Ally tool to check that your content is accessible. 

  Canvas also has an accessibility checker tool in the RCE (Rich Content Editor) that you can use. It will check things such as appropriate heading structure, alt tags on images, appropriate color contrast, etc.  .  

  If using Kaltura, add or edit captions on your videos.   


  Verify activities to be used in the course are published.  

☐  Verify that discussions, assignments, and quizzes are appropriately linked in your modules. If you are giving students access to the index pages for any of those tools, be sure that the assessments are in a logical order. 

  Verify the following: 

  • Dates - Adjust due dates if needed. (Due dates are added to the calendar and the syllabus tool and serve as reminders to students. “Available from” and “Until” dates will unlock and lock the activity.) 
  • All instructions are accurate and well formatted.  
  • Points, number of attempts, and submission types are correct.   
  Use “Preview” option in each quiz to check for errors. 
  Verify assignment groups are weighted correctly, if using a weighted grading. 

  If you have a student that needs special accommodations on quizzes, you can set this up in either quiz tool you may have chosen to use. 

  • Classic Quizzes – you can use Moderate Quiz to grant extra attempts, grant extra time for timed quizzes, or manually unlock quiz attempts.  
  • New Quizzes - you can Moderate a single quiz attempt for a student or add Accommodations that will apply to all quizzes in the course for a student. 
  If you have a student that needs a differentiated due date for an assignment, you can use the  Assign to option to give a student or set of students their own due date. 


  If copied from a migrated course, review your course for any place you may have mentioned UNM Learn or pointed to Learn documentation and update that information and documentation links for Canvas 

  Update Information on Getting Help. The best way for students (and faculty) to get help is to click on the “Help” button at the bottom left of every page in Canvas. It includes links to the UNM Canvas Help Site ( site and has a link to UNM Canvas Support. 

  Verify total points possible in the gradebook is correct. 

  Review Syllabus for accuracy. Make sure you put your preferred contact method either in your Syllabus or on your course Home Page. 
  Review any Announcements 
  Validate links  

  Verify Modules 

  Use Student View to review the entire course. This is a good time to verify that all of your content is available in an accessible format.  


  PUBLISH YOUR COURSEStudents will not have access until you have Published your course and the Start Date has passed. 

☐  Send a welcome email to your students telling them how to access your course in Canvas. If you are teaching a course that meets in person, you can wait and go over this information with your students in a class meeting. You can send a message using the Conversations (Inbox) even if the start date hasn’t passed, as long as your course is Published first.  


  Add a profile picture. Add a picture of yourself or something that represents you to your Canvas profile.   

☐  Set or verify your notifications.You can also add additional email addresses  in Canvas. There is also an Canvas Teacher App that you can download on your mobile device. 

 Participate in training. To help ease the transition to Canvas, UNM instructors have full access to Instructure’s training portal. Instructors can learn at their own pace via asynchronous programs and courses, and can register to attend live trainings (webinars) as well. Please visit Training Opportunities page for more information.  


  Inbox (Conversations) messages cannot be sent if the course is not publishedInstructors will receive an error if the course hasn’t been published. If your course is published, the system will immediately deliver them to students even if you send them before the start date of the course. 

  Pay attention to the time stamp on anything you have placed a date on. 12:00 AM means the very first minute of the selected day. For end dates, it is often best to choose 11:59 PM to ensure you are setting it up on the correct date and so due dates are clear for students. If you would like to set a different default time than 11:59 PM, go to your course menu > Settings > Edit Default due time” to the time you want to be the default > click the Update Course Details” button at the bottom to save. 

 *   Most of the settings you can modify are on the Settings page in your course under More Options near the bottom. Some information, such as Name, Course Code, Term, Course Start and End Dates, student access settings, etc., on the Course Settings page are controlled at the system level and some of that data comes from our Banner integration. If it’s greyed out or not editable, then it is locked for UNM Canvas, and cannot be modified at an individual course level.