Canvas Setup Checklist

Written by Eric Hills

Last published at: August 18th, 2023

All secondary staff are required to utilize the course template. It is automatically installed upon creation of your course. You must complete the section titled "Required Setup" in order for your grades to calculate properly. Once you have completed the required setup, you can proceed to import content from a previous course. 

Step 1: Required Setup 

1. Edit the Home Page

Edit the home page by clicking on edit, typing in your course name, your name, email address (tap the space bar after typing it out to hyperlink it), and link a course syllabus if applicable. Please continue to use this home page throughout the year. You are more than welcome to add/customize your home page BELOW the course syllabus link.

2. Assignment categories: Set assignment group weighted categories

Do you use weighted categories (such as 80% summative, 20% formative)? In order for grades to calculate, create Assignment Groups, weight them, and make sure all assignments are included in the proper category.

Video: Assignment weights

Canvas Guide

3. Missing work policy

Teachers must set the missing policy in their gradebook in order for Canvas to award or deduct points based on whether an assignment is flagged as missing. By default, no points are deducted for missing work. Be sure to set the policy and then flag assignments as missing in the gradebook. If an assignment is not flagged as missing, it will not show up as missing in Grade Guardian. You can quickly mark missing work using the grade detail tray. For more information about using the Canvas Gradebook, check out the Canvas Guide.

Video: Missing Policy in Canvas

Written Guide: Canvas Guide - Missing Submission Policy

Grading in Canvas - Tips & Tricks

4. Publish your course

Students cannot see a course until it is published. On the first day of the quarter, click Publish in the upper-right hand corner. Do not publish your course ahead of time as this changes the dates for your course, allows students to access it, and displays the course in Grade Guardian.

Canvas Guide

5. Daily Announcements

Continue to post daily announcements in Canvas. They should be brief and to the point: What do I need/what did I miss today? Link directly to modules, assignments, quizzes. This is especially important for students in quarantine.

Video: Creating effective announcements

Slideshow: Examples

Optional - Sections: Create course sections for differentiation 

You can create Sections to assign different due dates (for SPED, EL, etc). If students have schedule changes, double-check they are in the right sections or removed from your course if they are no longer in it.

Video: Create Sections

Video: Edit Sections


Step 2: Import content from a previous course


Important Reminders

Importing all content from another course will wipe out the template and undo any of the settings that were set for you. Only "Select specific content" when importing and always remove due dates. It will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Import Course Content: 

  1. Go to Settings in your course
  2. Click on "Import Course Content" on the right
  3. Choose "Copy a Canvas Course" from the dropdown menu
  4. Choose the "Select specific content" button
  5. Check the box for "Adjust events and due dates" and "Remove Dates"
  6. Click "Import" and then "Select Content" when the button appears
  7. Choose from the list of Modules to import the content you need and click on "Import"



FYI: Setup completed by the template

These steps were completed by the template so you DO NOT need to do them unless you accidentally deleted content from the template. This is purely for informational purposes only.

1. Grading scale: Set the grading scheme for your course 

Set your grading scale to accurately reflect how your total overall grades will be set for your course. You can also use a grading scheme for individual assignments if you want to use descriptors like exemplary, proficient, etc. for individual assignments.

2. Settings: Uncheck “students can create discussion topics” and set 1+ Announcement(s) to display on your home page.

The default setting for every course is that students can create discussion topics. You might want to disable that if you didn’t use the IHD or Online course templates.


3. Navigation: Customize buttons 

  • Home
  • Grades
  • Modules
  • Announcements

Limiting the number of available options for students makes it easier to navigate your course. Importing the “Course Settings” from a previous course will eliminate your need to do this step. If you include everything in Modules, you do not need to publish buttons such as Assignments, Quizzes, or Pages (in fact, this can be confusing for students).


4. Home Page: Set up and edit

Your home page should include course name, teacher name and email, and important links. Leave the banner image and links at the top, change the course name, type your email address, and link a syllabus if you have one.

Optional: Gradebook Checkup

Want to ensure that your gradebook accurately reflects the work that students have accomplished? The most common issues we see are:

  • no missing or late policy: a student has completed 1 out of 12 assignments and has an A
  • graded assignments not in a weighted category: students have scores that are not counting in their total overall grade
  • assignment grades that are not posted: you can hide grades for an assignment while you finish grading, but need to remember to post when done!

Walk through these slides to make sure you have everything setup correctly. We have also included tips and tricks for navigating your Canvas gradebook. As always, connect with us if you have questions. Fill out a help desk ticket to get started.

FAQ and Rationale

Do I need to use the template?

Yes. The template ensure that we are consistent in the following things: grading scales, course settings, navigation buttons, and home page appearance. 

Can I publish more navigation buttons?

Yes, but keep them to a minimum. It is highly recommended that you DO NOT use the Assignments, Quizzes, or Pages navigation buttons because they are not easy to navigate or sort by students. All content should be placed in the proper order in Modules. Sometimes teachers have a duplicate of an assignment in Modules and Assignments so then students submit to the wrong place. 

Can I beautify the home page?

Yes! You are more than welcome to include additional images, buttons, or links on your Home Page. We ask that all personalization of your Home Page happen below the Course Syllabus. Your header image, links to school resources, course name, teacher name, email, and syllabus should all be formatted just like the template.