Canvas Course Setup

Setting up your course in Canvas ahead of each new semester does not have to be complicated. This guide calls out a number of important steps with short video tutorials included, to guide you on your way to creating a rich online learning experience for your students. Links to more detailed guidance and online resources are signposted along the way.

Link to the Canvas Course Development GuideBut before you start to build your course in Canvas, we highly recommend that you take a look at the QUB Canvas Course Development Guide which supports the creation of blended and fully online courses and is underpinned by Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles to ensure inclusive pedagogical practices that enhance the learner experience.

We recommend taking the opportunity to reflect on how the guide can support your Canvas course development and help you to identify existing module activities that may require further development or enhancements. Guidance on all of the topics referenced in the Guide are contained in the Connected Learning at Queen’s online course.

4 Steps from Preparation to Publishing

◼ Reset your Module Development Area:

Use Module Development Areas (MDAs) as a safe place to prepare content and activities as this is a space which is not visible to students.  Watch the video below to understand why you would reset your MDA for the purpose of module development. [3:02min]



◼  Copy Content from this year’s Academic Module into your MDA:

Next step is to import the content from this year’s academic module into your blank MDA to create a starting point for the development of next year’s academic module, ahead of the new semester. This short video will show you how to do it. [3:42 min]


◼   Import New QUB Templates

Review the QUB Template(s)  and decide if you would like to import any of the useful page templates into your MDA to fast track your course development (e.g. Welcome Page, The Week Ahead, Recommended Readings, etc.). This video will show you how to quickly locate, preview and import QUB Templates. [4:41 min]


◼ Create/Update Your Welcome Page:

The Welcome page of your course includes key information that your students will need to be aware of.  The following video will take you through simple steps involved with creating a new (or updating an existing) Welcome page in your course. [5:40 min]


◼  Create a Learner Journey:

Build a framework for your course content so students can easily navigate through the learning materials in a meaningful way (e.g. weeks, units, themes or topics). This video will show you how organise your canvas course using the ‘Canvas Modules’ feature. [6:38 min]


◼  Guide Learning with Requirements and Prerequisites:

Decide how you want to release content and activities to guide learners through your course material.  To understand how the Requirements and Prerequisites features can be used (independently) to help guide learning, watch the following video.  [8:28 min]


◼  Copyright:

If you need help with understanding the various complexities related to what content you can use, share, modify in an educational context, particularly for online teaching, please review the Copyright guidance contained in the Connected Learning at Queen’s Course.

🔗 Copyright, Creative Commons & OER

◼ Accessibility:

To understand why accessibility is so important and to become more knowledgeable about digital accessibility, its positive impact on inclusion and the learner experience, link to the online Accessibility Toolkit.  The Toolkit is a new online self-paced course where you can work independently through the content, at a time that suits you.  There are numerous resources to inform and build awareness around Accessibility for all staff who engage with students and develop content. Below you can view a short course welcome video from CED Education Developer, Tracy Galvin [2:42]

🔗 Link to The Accessibility Toolkit course



◼   Import Content and Review your Course:

Once you have developed your course content in the Module Development Area (MDA), you will need to import this content into the new Academic Module that has active student enrolments, ahead of the new semester.

An important step before you publish is to check your course against the Go Live Checklist. The Checklist outlines 10 steps that are recommended in preparation for publishing your course before the start of each term. Note that there are a few additional items covered in the Checklist, (such as Assignment Groups & Weighting and Setting your Gradebook/Course Policies). You can follow the steps in the checklist which link to more detailed guidance should you need it.

Canvas can also check your course for broken links using the Canvas Link Checker. Any embedded resources must be checked manually. It is important to validate the links in your course are working as expected before you publish you course.

◼ Publish your new Academic Module:

The final step is to make your Canvas course visible to students. Publish your new Academic Module so your students can access the content and activities. Remember there are 3 levels to publishing your content/course. This short video will show you how Import and Publish so that students can access your canvas course. [3:31 min]


Need Help?

If you would like some guided support with course design, why not schedule a 1-2-1 consultation ? We also offer a number of helpful training courses throughout the year. Check out the Canvas Training page for upcoming sessions in AY2020/21.

💻 You can also watch a 60min video recording of the Building Your Course in Canvas training workshop which covers all of the steps included in this guide.