As you prepare to teach your classes in Canvas, the following offers some guidance on what to do first and key items to check before your classes begin. This is general guidance and not an exhaustive list of actions to take to prepare your classes; moreover, your school or department may have custom guidelines for you to follow.

Account-Level Check (Global Navigation Menu on the far-left)


Most likely, when you enter Canvas, you will first see your Dashboard, which is on the Global Navigation Menu. The Dashboard is comprised of “course cards” which correspond to each of your classes. Make sure that all the classes you are scheduled to teach are on your Dashboard. Depending on when your school opens classes for students to view, you may notice that the courses are “unpublished,”  when the appropriate date arrives, IT will make them automatically available to your students.


The Global Navigation Menu also has an item, Account. This is where you can edit your profile, control notifications, and adjust your account settings (vs. course settings). Let’s look at a couple of items under Account, which may be helpful.


Your profile name cannot be changed (it comes from Banner), but there are some changes you can make. To make adjustments, click on Profile and then the three dots on the upper right and select “Edit Profile”: you can add a Biography and links to professional organizations. Another option using the three dots is Account Details; here, you can change your profile picture. Don’t forget to save your changes.


Under Settings, you can add email addresses and/or phone numbers as additional contact information (“Ways to Contact”). These additional contacts can be used under Notifications so that you can receive notifications through other means besides your Regent email. 


This is where you can control the type and frequency of notifications you receive regarding class activities. The notifications can be set by course activity type (e.g., announcements, 

discussions, conversations, etc.) and frequency (e.g., immediately, daily summary, weekly summary, or none). You can receive notifications by email or text. (Note: If you wish to receive text notifications, you must add a text phone number under Account ~ Settings ~ Ways to Contact.) Notifications can be set at the account level (all courses) or customized by course (See “Setting for” drop-down box).

Keep this menu item in mind as the session or semester progresses. You may want to adjust the notification setting as student activity increases.


The Inbox is also available on the far-left menu. This is Canvas’s internal messaging system through which you and your students can communicate. Check the Inbox to see if any of your students have sent you a message.

Course-Level Guidelines (Left navigation course menu)

Once you have selected a course, the left navigation course menu is displayed. This menu will appear in all courses. 

Review the Standard Course Template
After you select a course from the Dashboard, you will notice that the course has a standard “look and feel” or a template. The template includes items like “Navigation Tips” and “Quick Access” links to Announcements, Course Syllabus, Learning Modules, and Student Support. This is the standard Regent template and will appear in all your courses. Familiarize yourself with it. In general, the template should not be changed unless directed by your school/college.

Course Left Navigation
Note that the template also controls which items in the left navigation menu will be viewable by students. Currently, the standard items are as follows: Home, Announcements, Syllabus, Modules, Assignments, Discussions, Grades, Zoom, and Reading Lists. The other items (with the eye symbol next to them) are not by default visible to students, but they are visible to instructors. If there are items, you wish to make available to students, navigate to Settings ~ Navigation and make the appropriate edits. However, please do not remove student access to items that are accessible through the standard template. 

Check the Course Content

Click on Modules in the left-navigation menu and review the content. If you see anything that needs to be addressed, contact your program director, department chair, etc. For technical assistance, contact the Regent Helpdesk

Add an Announcement 

A good practice is to add an announcement to welcome students to the class and provide them with any additional information or guidance to help them with your course. Here is a step-by-step guide to add an announcement in a course.

Check the Class Roster
Check to see that there are students in your class by selecting Grades or People in the left navigation menu.

Check the Syllabus
Check the Syllabus and update and repost, as needed. If you do not want the students to see the Course Summary that lists all the assignments, select Edit and uncheck, “Show Course Summary.”

Check the Assignments
Navigate to Assignments and make sure they are all there. Ensure that there is a Due Date for each assignment as well as point allocations, as appropriate. Also, if the final grade is calculated through weighted assessments, make sure assignments are grouped appropriately and weights are properly allocated to each group and/or assignment (see instructions here.)

Check the Quizzes Link
Navigate to the Quizzes link and make sure they are all there, including all the individual quiz questions and point allocations. 

Review the Discussion Area
Many instructors use groups for discussions in order to make discussions more manageable. Canvas has a group function, but it works differently from Blackboard. If you will be using group discussions in your class, see this resource on how to set them up. 

Review the Gradebook
Click on Grades to review the gradebook. Make sure all of the assignments are in the Gradebook and in the order you wish them to be. Gradebook columns can be reordered by dragging and dropping them. 

Check Student Activity 
Canvas has tools to help the instructor monitor student activity. At the start of the class, it may be useful to see which students have logged in. You can use the People User Details function to determine when students last interacted with the course. You can also navigate to Settings (course settings), and in the right column, click on Course Statistics.

Check your Access to Zoom
For Canvas, Zoom will be the primary resource for synchronous interactions, replacing Bb Collaborate. Zoom is available in the left-navigation menu. If you click on Zoom and don’t have access, you will have to log into your Regent Zoom account first. You will only have to do this once. To log into your account, navigate to the Regent portal, select it from the drop-down menu, and under “Telework Resources” in the middle of the screen, click on Zoom and then Sign-in. Here are detailed instructions.

Panopto will be available through Canvas. Here is a resource that provides more information. For further details, you can contact the Regent Helpdesk. 

Please download the attached file as needed.