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Course Building Best Practices


Start of Semester Checklist



Whether you are building a course from scratch in Canvas, or moving materials from one course shell to another, use the Start of Semester Checklist provided below to aid in stepping you through the preparation for the semester ahead.  

Building from Scratch in Canvas


Building a course from scratch will allow you to organize your content more effectively, take advantage of the many features available in the Canvas LMS at TAMU, and improve the student learning experience. Using the template provided in every course shell, you  easily can build your syllabus, content, assessments, and much more.

 

Accessibility in the TAMU Template

The Office for Academic Innovation provides the best practices for implementing essential design components into your course. These design practices will help you to create an effective online learning environment for your students.

Course Design Checklist PDF
Mobile Course Design Checklist PDF

Texas A&M’s template has been pre-loaded into every Spring 2022 shell and is 100% accessible out-of-the-box. In conjunction with Ally, you can continue to add content to your course shell that can be reviewed for accessibility at any point in the semester. Course Teaching roles in Canvas (Teacher, Alternate Teacher) can access the Accessibility Report to identify the accessibility score for a course, as well as receive step-by-step instructions for how to improve existing content to keep courses as accessible as possible throughout the semester. 

Ally is a third-party tool that is integrated into our instance of Canvas at TAMU that supports accessibility by providing color-coded gauges that automatically rate the accessibility of course content. TAMU has enabled Ally globally in Canvas so all course content is rated for accessibility in real-time.  These ratings are visible to roles associated with instruction (Teacher, Alternative Teacher).

For additional resources on how to review the accessibility in your course, learn more on how to use Ally in Canvas.

Copying Canvas Materials Between Courses

If you have a course in Canvas from a prior semester or one that you have built in your Development shell, you may want to move all of the content into the live course shell for the upcoming semester. Use the table below to determine what route you should take for moving your content from one semester to another.


Course Export and Import vs Course Copy

 

Feature

Course Export 
and Import

Course Copy

Announcements Announcements don’t retain the name of the user who originally created the course content. After importing, instructors will also need to manually subscribe to or enable notifications for Announcements. It is instead recommended to NOT migrate announcements and re-build them.
Content
Export and Importing may sometimes cause cloud content links to no longer work and will need to be reconfigured.

Course Copy preserves cloud content and links stay intact.
Grades Canvas exports do not include backups of grades. Grades can be exported separately as a comma-separated values (CSV) file.
Accessibility (Ally)
When exporting and importing a course, alternative descriptions added through Ally will only be available in your new course. If you added descriptions within Canvas (i.e. using the Rich Content Editor), then the descriptions will migrate

Using the Canvas course copy means that no matter which way you added your alternative descriptions, Ally can display them for your students in your new course.
Grade Posting Policy  The grade posting policy from the original course will override the grade posting policy in the new course. Additionally, imported assignments will retain their assignment posting policy from the original course.
Third-Party Tools
While Import Course Content brings over much of the content developed in a previous version of the course, there are a number of external applications that need to be updated/reconfigured to work correctly in this new copy of your course. 
Assignments Groups Assignment groups don’t carry over. They are placed in an assignment group called Imported Assignments. You may also see duplicate Assignment Groups which do not contain any assignments. You can delete those empty Assignment Groups. 
New Quizzes/Item Banks
Currently, exporting New Quizzes is not an available functionality. That will change as soon as the seamless migration is in place.
Groups Group sets do not copy over as part of the import. If you have grouped assignments in your course and if there are existing group sets in the new course, it will be linked to the group set with the same name. If you have no group sets in your new course,  the assignment will be linked to a new Project Groups set.

Additional Resources

Course Design Checklist

The Office for Academic Innovation provides the best practices for implementing essential design components into your course. These design components will help you to create an effective online learning environment for your students.

Course Design Checklist PDF
Mobile Course Design Checklist PDF


Canvas Community

To navigate deeper into what Canvas can do, check out the Canvas Guides.
Canvas Instructor Guides
Canvas Video Guides


AI Special Topics YouTube Channel

The Academic Innovation Special Topics YouTube Channel provides viewers with videos about Canvas, LTI tools, and much more.  Viewers will find the Office for Academic Innovation team demoing specific Canvas features, best practices, and third-party tools supported by the University.