Canvas Term Start Checklist

Prior to each semester, you will need to make specific updates to your Canvas course site. This article provides a timeline checklist of necessary maintenance tasks. A PDF version of the checklist is linked at the bottom of this article for your convenience.

6-8 Weeks Prior to Start of Semester

Course Copy

Make sure your Canvas course site has the most recent course content. Please send a request indicating the source and destination semester for the copy (i.e., SU22 to FA22). If you do not submit a request by the required date, the most recent version of your course will be copied into the site for the upcoming term.

Merged sections

If you are teaching multiple sections of a course and would like these merged into a single section, please send a request indicating the course number and course sections you would like to have merged.


Review current eReserves and determine if you will be using the same eReserves as the previous semester, or if the eReserves will need to be updated. For additional information see FAQ: Online Course Reserves (eReserves).

  • If you will be using the EXACT same eReserves as the previous semester, send an email to In your email, include your name, course number, and your request, indicating that you would like the same eReserves set up for the upcoming semester as for the previous semester.
  • If you have CHANGES to your eReserves from the previous semester, send an email to In your email, include your name, course number, and a detailed description of the changes that need to be made. Be sure to include the bibliography of any new source(s) you plan to include, as well as under which module the source(s) should be listed.
  • Note for instructors teaching multiple sections, including merged sections:

    You must request the reserves be added for each section of the course, eReserves are not "merged" like Canvas courses, so be sure to list all course sections required (81, 82, etc).

2-4 Weeks Prior to Start of Semester


Syllabus & Course Information Module

  • On the course menu, click Course Syllabus (HelioCampus Syllabus tool) to review the current syllabus and update the content as needed.
  • Review content in the Course Overview (within the Course Information module) and update any information that has changed since the previous semester.
  • Review Course Outline and update with new semester dates.
  • Review Instructor Biography and update if desired.

Course Modules

Review each course module for the following:

  • Modules
    • All Modules that you want to be visible to students have been Published and/or lock dates have been applied to release them.
    • Date releases for prerequisites and requirements have been updated.
    • Any Pages that have been set to Publish on a scheduled date have been updated to the new release date. (Note: Page release dates are the only dates that do not update when the course copies over and will all need to be manually updated every semester)
  • Lectures/Videos Folder:
    • All videos/lectures are present, and links are working.
      • All course videos are uploaded through the Panopto tool - not directly to the Files area in Canvas.
    • All PDF slides are attached, and the links are working.
  • Assignments:
    • All documents are attached, and links are working.
    • Due dates and points possible have been set/updated for all assignments.
  • Quizzes/Tests:
    • Link to all quizzes/tests are working.
    • Due dates and points possible have been set/updated.
  • Other Content/Tools (Voicethread, Wikis, Blogs, Flipgrid, etc.)
    • Ensure the content/tool is updated (if necessary) and working as expected.
    • Any related documents are attached and updated, as needed, and links are working.
    • Due dates and points possible have been set/updated, if applicable.
    • If release dates were set to further restrict student access to any files directly in the Files area, they have been updated to future dates for the upcoming term.


  • Delete any student posts that remain from the previous semester in each forum and/or group forum (if applicable).
  • Set due dates and/or start and end dates for each discussion forum (if applicable).
  • If you use MS Teams for discussion, please see our article Setting up Microsoft Teams for more information.


  • Verify that the due dates for all of your quizzes, assignments, and discussions appear in the Canvas Calendar (setting the due dates for these items in each module will automatically populate the calendar, there is no need to edit dates in the calendar directly).

Office Hours

  • It is expected that instructors hold at least one hour of office hours per section per week. If you teach multiple sections of the same course, it is expected that each section has its own weekly office hour — course sections cannot be combined into one session. For more information, visit Office Hours Options and Expectations.
  • Use the Zoom LTI tool to set up your recurring Office Hours meetings, or create them manually from your account at and provide the link to students on a Page within the Course Information module.


  • Ensure that the gradebook is set up properly and that a column displays for every graded assignment in the course.
  • If your course uses weighted grading (i.e., different percentages are assigned to different categories of assignments), ensure that an appropriate weighted column is set up via the Assignment Groups.

Student Preview (Recommended)

Once you have reviewed your course, click the “Student Preview” button to see how your course appears from a student’s perspective. This will help ensure that your students will “see” the course the way you want them to see it and help identify any last items that may need to be edited or updated.


1 Week Prior to Start of Semester

Setup Groups

Groups do not copy from semester-to-semester because they are dependent on having users enrolled in the course to put in to groups. For that reason, it is best to wait until the week before classes begin (or after the course has started, depending on when the Groups are needed) to set them up, as you may still be experiencing adjustments to student enrollments. Thankfully, setting up groups in Canvas is a simple process. If any Assignments or Discussions require a Group effort, you'll need to set them up for Group submission after creating the Groups.

Email Students

Send a Welcome Email to your students welcoming them to the course using SIS. While you may be able to use the Inbox in Canvas to send a message to all students, they have the ability to change their permissions and may not get the message as an email to their Outlook inbox if they have opted-out.

Publish Your Course

SIS sets the term and the corresponding Start dates for the term in your course, and should not be changed in the Canvas course settings. In most cases, this date will be several weeks before the start of term according to our academic calendar. Because of this, the Publish button should not be clicked until you are ready for the course to be available to students. The Publish button is available to you on the Course Home page when you login. Courses must be manually Published at the time you want them available to students.

Once the course is Published, it cannot be Unpublished if a student has completed an assignment.


If you want to Publish your course early, it can only be released as early as the Start date listed in the Participation area of the Course Details area. This date cannot/should not be changed. We do not recommend Publishing the course much earlier than the term start date stated in the academic calendar, unless it is important for students to have early access to course content.


PLEASE NOTE: All online courses will be Published to students by FIRST day of the semester if the instructor has not already made them available. Courses cannot be Unpublished once students have begun completing assignments.

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