Final Countdown: Get Your Spring Course Ready to Launch

As the term start date draws closer, you'll probably have completed lots of planning, building, and maybe even redesigning. Now, as we count down to the beginning of Spring 2021, you can take these steps for your course(s) to ensure a strong, successful start.

Contact your students

Communication with your students can start before your course begins. Many students new to online or hybrid learning come to it with diverse expectations in terms of their overall time commitment and the flexibility of the course, so an excellent practice is to send an introductory email to connect with them early on and align their expectations with your course's expectations. Since every course has different demands and different technical requirements, it's important to give students a heads-up on what they've committed to. 

If you haven't published your course yet, you can send an email from your Miami Gmail account (rather than your Canvas inbox). You can gather students' email addresses from your photo roster.

An introductory email to all students should:

  • Set expectations regarding rigor (hours per week, daily assignments due, etc.)
  • Identify specific technology requirements (webcam, microphone, etc.)
  • Detail potential scheduling concerns (required synchronous class sessions, exam dates/completion windows, etc.)
  • Provide textbook information

Once you publish the course, this critical information should be posted in the course as well—ideally as your first announcement.

Finalize details 

Complete the final prep of your online course. Give your course settings a final review for the following items:

Due dates. Review the available from dates, due dates, and until dates for all of your assignments and quizzes to make sure they'll open and close according to your course schedule.

Module and item publishing. Make sure your modules, items, and assessments are correctly published. Consider that modules and items need to be published for students to access them (even once your course is published).

Module prerequisites, requirements, and open dates. If you're using any timed or conditional release requirements for modules or items, make sure they are correctly set up.

Publish the course

Publishing your course before the official term start date is helpful for students. They won't see your course in their Canvas dashboard until it's published.

You publish your course by going to the course homepage and then clicking the right-side panel's Publish button.

Once you've published your course, you can send course announcements or emails from Canvas to your students. While the course is unpublished, students won't receive any notifications.

Send out a course announcement to welcome students. Include the information you previously sent via email, so newly enrolled students receive the information, and it stays in the course as a reference for students in the Announcements tab. Recommended content includes:

  • Welcoming students and informing them the course is published
  • Setting expectations regarding rigor (hours per week, daily assignments due, etc.)
  • Identifying specific technology requirements (webcam, microphone, etc.)
  • Detailing potential scheduling concerns (required synchronous class sessions, exam dates/completion windows, etc.)
  • Textbook information

Let students know they should make sure they'll receive Canvas notifications in their email inbox by sharing Canvas's How do I set my Canvas notification preferences? guide.