Kona Jones

(A few more than) Five things I do to start the semester right!

Blog Post created by Kona Jones Champion on Sep 1, 2015

As a Canvas Administrator here are some things I do to ensure a healthy start to our Fall semester!


  1. Three months (or more) before the start of the semester we run a weekly report of which instructors are scheduled to teach online and hybrid courses for the current and next semester. We monitor this list and cross-reference it with our list of instructors who have already completed the appropriate level of training to teach hybrid and/or online courses. Any instructor who hasn’t completed the appropriate level of training is contacted and provided information about what they will need to do to complete training and the timeline for when training needs to be done. We then track and work with the faculty to make sure they (and their courses) are ready for the start of the semester.
  2. One month before the start of classes I double check the global announcements scheduled for that semester. We have a few that always show up at certain times of the semester and I make sure the wording and timing is accurate. These announcements relate to start of the semester information and end of the semester course feedback/evaluations.
  3. Ten days before classes even start I start monitoring our online students. I have a report that I run to get real time information about which online students have/haven’t completed the mandatory Canvas Student Orientation, this report also includes information about how many classes the students are taking, what type of classes (traditional, hybrid, and/or online), and the student’s adviser. I use this information to organize the students by those who haven’t completed the orientation and those who have. For those who haven’t complete the orientation I then organize them by adviser and send each adviser their list of online students who need to be contacted and reminded about completing the orientation before the start of class. I update this list daily until every online student has completed the orientation.
  4. One week before classes start I send a message to faculty who use Canvas reminding them of normal things they need to check in their courses (every semester) and reminders about new features (this is especially important for fall).
  5. One week before classes start we send a message to all students (traditional, hybrid, and/or online) who haven't completed the mandatory Canvas Student Orientation reminding them to get it done before classes start! It is a board policy that any student who uses our LMS has to complete this training before they get access to the course.
  6. Five days before the start of the semester I send an email to all faculty with information about our office and the services we provide. This is information for the Instructor and for the Instructor to share with their students and includes how to get help, how to activate new accounts, how to log into our different systems, and a reminder that we work on personal computers for free!
  7. The evening before classes start I run the unpublished courses report and contact any instructor teaching an online or hybrid course and remind them to make sure and publish their courses by the next day.
  8. The first week of class I send out an email to instructors about attendance. It really does cause a lot of confusion with the roll call showing up automatically in their gradebook and this cuts down on the confusion.
  9. The first week of class we send an email to students reminding them about our office and how to get technology help.
  10. End of the first week of class I send an email to faculty teaching online to reminding them about Dropout Detective, how amazing it is, how easy it is to use, and that they need to be checking it and monitoring their students.


During the semester we continue to send emails out to faculty reminding them of new and useful features (like Crocodoc/speedgrader, "message students who," etc). We also do this with students, the biggest reminder being about "what-if" grades.  And last, throughout the semester we monitor our online students and provide support as needed.