Canvas Getting Started for Faculty

This service is for faculty and academic staff.

Canvas is the university's learning management system (LMS) and can serve as the hub for academic activity. 

  • Every course offered by the university is automatically set up with a course site in Canvas 
  • Faculty can quickly and easily share their Canvas sites with other instructors, department chairs, or admins, in the event of their inability to teach due to illness or other reasons
  • Canvas is optimized for access by multiple devices and operating systems so students can use whatever computing device they have to access course content
  • Canvas makes it easy to manage your course Syllabus, Content, Assignments, and to provide access to Zoom or pre-recorded lectures, and students have stated their preference to have course resources in one place online
  • A centralized resource like Canvas facilitates access and collaboration, and archival possibilities (helpful for accreditation and assessment)

For a comprehensive Instructor Guide to Canvas, please visit the Canvas Commons. 

Build and Publish a Course

Sites are created for the next two terms and are opened to faculty after mid-term break in Fall and Spring semesters. (e.g. J-Term and Spring 2023 will be available at mid-term break of Fall 2022.)  If you want to work on your site earlier than that, contact the ITS Tech Desk and request early access. You can import all (or some) of your content into other courses. To import content, go to the course you want to copy into, then follow the importing course content into the next term tutorial from Canvas.

Canvas are "unpublished" by default.  Students cannot access site content until the instructor publishes the course. Learn how to Publish a course in Canvas.

Syllabus

Upload a copy of your Syllabus to your Canvas course site so that students know when assignments are due. 

Setup Course Modules

Setting up a module for each week is an easy way to ensure students know what is expected of them. Each module contains all the course content and assessments for the week. It could look something like this: 

Canvas module example

Learn more about Modules in Canvas

Create Content and Publish Your Course Site

You can work on your course content and wait to publish it until the right time. Make sure you publish the content AND the course site when you ready for students to access your materials.

Hide/Show Course Menu Items for Students

Review the left navigation menu of your course. Hide the links to features you are not using by going to Settings > Navigation, and drag the items that you're not using out of the navigation space.

Setup Notification Preferences

Choose how often you want to receive notifications from your canvas course, including discussion boards. The Canvas Instructor Guide to Notification Preferences provides a detailed description of notifications. 

Send Announcements to Students

If you need to contact your students, using the Canvas announcements is a great way to do so. Connect with them prior to first day of class, share helpful resources, send reminders, and notify them of course changes or updates. Learn how to use Announcements from the Canvas website. 

Integrate Library Resources to Canvas Site

The University Libraries provide a rich array of services and resources and content that can support online courses. Go to the Libraries website to learn how to leverage their resources within Canvas,  including the following:

  • How to add content from articles or chapters
  • How to link to streaming video/audio titles
  • How to link content via Resource Lists
  • How to link Research & Course guides
  • How to add a Library Help page
  • How to Add a Librarian to your course

Academic Accommodations

Learn about ways you can accommodate students within Canvas for online course materials and sessions in our Academic Accommodations article

Holding Online Class Sessions with Zoom

Canvas integrates well with our Zoom web conferencing tool. This allows you flexibility to have your class meet virtually and lecture to students online. Zoom offers breakout rooms for class discussions, simple polling features, screen sharing, chat options for additional engagement, and more. Learn more about Zoom for Canvas Courses. You may feel more comfortable with Zoom if you hold a practice meeting with a colleague for feedback and to see the experience students will have. 

Canvas Training and Support

Canvas offers webinars as well as self-paced online training courses. Find all the Canvas offerings by following these steps:

  1. Log in to Canvas.
  2. Click on Help in the purple menu at the far left.
  3. Choose Training Services Portal.

The university has a contract with Canvas for 24/7 help so please contact them anytime. The phone number is +1-833-668-1669 (toll-free) for faculty or you can access online chat with Canvas representatives by clicking on the question mark (?) icon in the left-hand purple navigation bar within your Canvas dashboard.

Additional Support

The St. Thomas e-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center, in partnership with Faculty Development, is your academic technology resource. STELAR offers open labs and consultation sessions for faculty who want help setting up their Canvas site and other online technologies  Sign-up for a STELAR training.

Check out the Course Design and Content Delivery via Canvas page in our Techfolio site for more information about Canvas and course design ideas.

To report a problem or receive additional troubleshooting, please contact the Tech Desk