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Course Management

Digital Learning Environment Reminders


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Best Practices for the Semester

As you navigate the semester with Canvas, take a look at these curated videos that address some of the top questions we are receiving through our Service Desk and Office Hours.



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Canvas Third-Party Tools

Several third-party tools will be available to use in Canvas at the enterprise and subaccount level by School and College. Stay up to date with all third-party tools in Canvas by browsing our Status page. 



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Section Merging

Course sections may be merged via ORCA. We have implemented a merge deadline for each semester to ensure student data integrity. Please see the Course Visibility in Canvas table for the merge deadlines for each semester.


All About Canvas Shells

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Canvas Shells at a Glance

Shell Type



File Storage Quota

Visibility Duration

Student Enrollments

Associate Roles

Deliver Content

Request Process

Practice Shells PRAC_ Yes 1 GB TBD None None No Upon Request (

Eventually via ORCA
Development Shells DEV_ No (by default); can be added upon request 1 GB TBD None Upon Request ( No Upon Request (

Eventually via ORCA
Storage Shells* ZSTOR_ No 1 GB Through August 2022 None None No See Storage Shell FAQs
Live Shells   Yes 1 GB Last late grading date of each semester Yes Added via ORCA Yes Provisioned for Summer 2021 and Fall 2021
*For purposes of eCampus Exit only. Not available past August 26, 2021.

Canvas Shell Typology

TAMU Course Definitions 


Minimum Syllabus Requirements included in the Canvas Template

The Canvas implementation team has worked closely with the Faculty Senate to include the Minimum Syllabus Requirements into the Syllabus page of the Canvas template.
  • Content on the Syllabus page is formatted for course instructors to enhance and add to as needed.
  • ​The Faculty Senate has consolidated all minimum syllabus requirements into one document, no longer necessitating separate versions for College Station, Galveston, and Qatar.
  • Please consult the Faculty Senate website for the most up-to-date announcements about Minimum Syllabus Requirements.

Exporting your Syllabus from Canvas

Once you have customized your Syllabus page, we encourage you to use the following steps to download your syllabus from Canvas and upload as a PDF to Howdy.
  • Navigate to your completed syllabus page in Canvas
  • Go to the print option in your web browser (shortcut is Ctrl + P for Windows, Command + P for Mac)
  • Select "Save as PDF" or “Open as PDF” in the print box
  • Download and/or save the page to your desktop 
  • Upload saved PDF syllabus into Howdy

Course Visibility in Canvas


Available in Banner

Date Loaded into Canvas

IOR Course Merge End Date

Absolute Course Merge End Date

Course Start Date

Course End Date

Course Available Until* 

Spring 2021 Available 11/17/2020 1/11/2021 1/18/2021 1/19/2021 4/29/2021 6/4/2021
Summer 1 2021 Available 4/6/2021 5/24/2021 5/27/2021 6/1/2021 7/2/2021 9/3/2021
Summer 10 Week 2021 Available 4/6/2021 5/24/2021 5/27/2021 6/1/2021 8/9/2021 9/3/2021
Summer 2 2021 Available 4/6/2021 6/28/2021 7/2/2021 7/6/2021 8/9/2021 9/3/2021
Fall 2021 Available 5/3/2021 8/23/2021 8/27/2021 8/30/2021 12/18/2021 1/21/2022
*After Course Available Until date have passed, course will be removed from Canvas dashboard for faculty, TAs, and students. These courses will still be available under All Courses section as a Read only course.

The above dates are for the main part of term at TAMU; there are unique part of term start dates are not reflected in the table. Instructors have until one week prior to the start of their course to combine sections and the Office for Academic Innovation and Academic Liaisons can combine up to the day before the start of the course.

Student Visibility of a Course

When a course instructor publishes their course, the published content is visible to students who are enrolled in the course. However, the course remains in a Read Only state until the first day of the term (set by the part of term start date), at which time students are able to interact with the course content, including posting on Discussions, submitting Assignments, and taking a Quiz. Please note that courses are NOT automatically Published. This needs to be done by the course instructor.

How to Star Courses in the Canvas Dashboard



ORCA at a Glance

Combine Course Sections in ORCA

 Fall Course Merge Reminders

Course Intructors will be able to use ORCA to combine sections for Fall until 11:59 PM on Monday, August 23. After that, requests need to route through until 5:00 PM on Friday, August 27. Courses will not be merged after 5:00 PM on August 27.

Course Combination Types

Course Merge Deadline 

There are two deadlines associated with each term: The first is the last date that Instructors of Record can combine sections using the self-service option in ORCA. The second date is the final date that the Office for Academic Innovation can accept requests to merge course sections ahead of a given term.

When course sections are merged after students interact with a course, those interactions are lost and cannot be recovered. For this reason, we will not merge courses after the second deadline, which will always fall before the start of the term to ensure student data is not lost. We appreciate your understanding of why we need to maintain this sequence of dates, and we can support your merge request needs ahead of the start of the term.

Please visit the Course Visibility page for the full list of course merge deadlines for each semester.

Duplicate Sections

ORCA now has the ability to create duplicate sections of Live Shells. These are meant to be used for sections that need two sets of content.
Example: a combined course with multiple sections and a duplicate course is needed for only lab or section specific content.

Procedures for Non-Employee Training in TrainTraq

Course associate roles in Canvas require training on FERPA and Information Security Awareness. This training is obtained via TrainTraq after Instructors of Record have requested the training. Non-employees must access the site from an alternate path to take required TrainTraq courses. The non-employee’s certification of training will not be stored on TrainTraq and must be submitted back to the Instructor of Record who initially requested the training be completed.

Procedures for Non-Employee Training in TrainTraq PDF


How To Fill Out the CSV File


Add Course Associate Roles in ORCA

All individuals associated with a course in Canvas are required to have completed FERPA and Information Security Awareness training in TrainTraq. This includes Canvas course associate roles (Lead TA, TA, Designer, Grader, Grade Submitter).

FERPA training will need to be recertified every four years. Information Security Awareness training will need to be recertified every year.
Those who have not completed these trainings will be listed as "Training Required" when added through ORCA. Upon completion of the required trainings, the individual will be added to the section(s) in the respective course associate role. 

Please see our Texas A&M Course Role Definitions section for further details on these roles.


Grade Submission to Howdy from Canvas

Use the seamless integration for submitting grades directly from Canvas into Howdy using the steps outlined below. Instructors will first want to review their Canvas course and gradebook setup prior to performing the grade submission in Howdy. The grade submission process will pull grades into Howdy from Canvas. Grades can be submitted for final grades and midterm grades (if applicable). 

Canvas Course


Howdy Grade Submission

Once the Gradebook in Canvas is set up correctly and reviewed for accuracy, the Instructor of Record or Grade Submitter roles can submit grades to Howdy by pulling Midterm or Final grades from Canvas. If you have multiple sections, you will have to complete these steps for every course section, even if the course is merged in Canvas.

Office of the Registrar Online Grading Instructions for Howdy

What is a Canvas Grade Scheme? 

In Canvas, a grade scheme is a way of organizing student performance into levels of achievement. Grade schemes can include any number of achievement levels. Each achievement level has its own range, and a grade (e.g., A, B, C) or performance indicator (e.g., Excellent, Good, Fair) to represent it. Once the scheme is applied, the achievement level will appear after the numerical grade in the Canvas Gradebook Total column.

Please refer to these Canvas Community resources for step-by-step instructions on how to add a grading scheme in a coursehow to enable a grading scheme for a course, or contact the Office for Academic Innovation for additional support.

Resolving Incompletes Outside of LMS

Course instructors needing to resolve an incomplete have the ability to do so outside of Canvas. Below are suggested strategies and resources depending on the scenario necessitating the “Incomplete.” Please note that “Incomplete” grades assigned in eCampus that are not resolved before August 26, 2021 will need to use these same strategies.

Resolving Incompletes in Canvas

Course instructors can request an incomplete section in Canvas. Please follow the step-by-step guide below:

Canvas Communities

Overview of Communities

Communities are non-academic course shells in Canvas designed for activities that fall outside of academic courses, yet that still align with teaching and learning mission at TAMU. Communities are not associated with course sections maintained by the Office of the Registrar and do not have a connection to Compass, so the process for managing enrollments will be carried out through ORCA.  Communities should be used within the scope of the typology selected. Please note that grades associated with a Community are not considered official academic grades as determined by the Office of the Registrar and cannot be uploaded to Howdy. 

What are the Alternatives to Communities?

If your organization or use case is outside of the scope of current typologies, you should consider the following options:
  • One Drive: To store and/or share files with participants
  • Google Drive: To store and/or share files with participants
  • Microsoft Teams: To share files, interact and collaborate with members

Community Typologies

Five typologies have been identified based on the most common use cases for non-academic courses at TAMU.


Orientation (CORT)

Academic Augment (CAAG)

Placement Exams (PEXM)

Faculty Training (FACT)

Certifications (CERT)

Orientation Communities are used to deliver orientation materials to TAMU participants. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. The Orientation Community will only be visible for the length of time needed to complete the orientation. New Orientation Communities can be created as needed or Community sections may be leveraged to reuse current content.  Academic Augment Communities are used to deliver additional program content or instructional design resources. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. Academic Augment Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms. Placement Exams Communities are used to test students before placing them in a program or testing out of a course or program. Enrollments are pre-determined by academic programs based on the need of the program. Placement Exam Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms.  Faculty Training Communities are used to deliver faculty training. Faculty may be organized in a cohort and/or individually enrolled to complete training independently of others. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. Faculty Training Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms.  Certification Communities are used for student certifications for non-academic credit. Enrollments may be organized into groups or Community sections, if needed. Certification Communities are available to be used across individual terms or can span multiple terms. 

How to Request a Canvas Community

Community requests will route through Academic Liaisons, who are individuals associated with a School, College, or Branch campus. Academic Liaisons can submit a request for a Community via ORCA. The list of registered Academic Liaisons is found on our website. Academic Liaisons will log into ORCA and fill out a request form that will route through an approval process. Once the request is approved, the requested Community will be created in Canvas. 
Note: If your unit does not have an associated Academic Liaison, please contact to request a Community. 

Community Section and Enrollment Management

Sections and enrollments can be added or removed through ORCA to help manage access to Canvas Communities

Please Note (Fall 2021): At this time, Academic Liaisons have access in ORCA to manage Community enrollments. If your department does not have an Academic Liaison and you are listed as the Person Responsible for the Community, please contact for assistance.

Community Roles

See the table below to learn more about Community roles and permissions in Canvas. 

Permissions by Community Role

Participant: Individual enrolled and who engages with content and activities in the Community.
Leader: Individual who facilitates activities in a Community. Leaders are responsible for enrolling participants, creating content, promoting/communicating about the Community to Participants, and facilitating the Participant experience.
Co-Leader: Individual acting as an assistant working with the leader within a community and responsible for content, features, tools, and/or grades.
Evaluator: Individual who provides grading of specific assignments, assessments, and other projects within the Community.






Analytics - view pages   X X  
Announcements - view X X X  
Assignments and Quizzes - add / edit / delete   X X  
Conversations - send messages to entire class   X X  
Conversations - send messages to individual course members X X X  
CommunityCalendar - add / edit / delete events   X X  
Community Content - add / edit / delete   X X  
Community State - manage   X X  
Community - view usage reports   X X  
Discussions - create X X X  
Discussions - moderate   X X  
Discussions - post X X X  
Discussions - view X X X X
Grades - edit   X X X
Grades - select final grade for moderation   X X  
Grades - view all grades   X X  
Grades - view audit trail   X    
Groups - add / edit / delete   X X  
Groups - view all Participant groups X X X X
Learning Outcomes - import   X    
Manage Community Files - add   X X  
Manage Community Files - delete   X    
Manage Community Files - edit    X    
Manage Community Sections - add   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Manage Community Sections - delete   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Users - view primary email address   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Manage Community Pages - create   X X X
Manage Community Pages - delete   X X X
Manage Community Pages - update   X X X
Question banks - view and link   X X  
Rubrics - add / edit / delete   X X  
Participant Collaborations - create X X    
Users - Add Participants to Communities   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Users - Remove Participants from Communities   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Users - Add Co-leaders to Communities   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Users - Remove Co-leaders from Communities   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Users - Add Leaders to Communities   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Users - Remove Leaders from Communities   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons    
Users - view list X X X X
Users - view primary email address   Via ORCA/ Contact Academic Liaisons