Will you help me vet my Start of Semester email to faculty?

Discussion created by awilliams on Aug 18, 2016
Latest reply on Aug 12, 2018 by Lyndsey Martin

Hey community friends,


At the beginning of the spring and fall semesters I send out a Start of Semester email to faculty giving them an updated list of useful Canvas reminders, and news about what has changed since my last email. This semester I thought it would be interesting to vet this email here in the community. Feel free to nitpick the grammar or punctuation, call out glaring errors or omissions, or any pass along any other random thoughts you have. I have no idea how Jive is going to handle the links to community content, so just know in the email they appear normally. Without further ado....


Greetings Faculty,


We want to make sure you get your semester off to a successful start. Below is some news from the summer break and useful Canvas reminders. Please take a moment to read this entire email.




24/7/365 Support for Canvas

We are thrilled to announce that we now offer Canvas support anytime, day or night!

  • This support is for you and your students.
  • This support is not only for problems but also how-to questions. Take advantage of it!
  • You can reach this support in 3 ways:
    • Phone: Click “Help” in Canvas, and look for “Canvas Support Hotline”
    • Chat: Click “Help” in Canvas, and then “Live Chat”
    • Web form: Click “Help” in Canvas, and then “Report a Problem”


New Canvas Look

At the end of the spring semester, we enabled the new Canvas look. You can find out more about the new look in the Resource Center for Faculty. We also have a similar page for students in the Resource Center for Students.


New Canvas Features

There are just too many to talk about in this email. Stay tuned for another email from me in the coming weeks that will go over the new features in more detail.




Finding your fall courses

Head on over to our Start of Semester Resources page and click on “Finding your new course shells” for information on finding your courses and adding them to your course drop-down menu.


Finding your fall students

Students do not get added to your Canvas course until the first day of class. Please use Web4 to check your roster.


Select Specific Content When Importing

If you had announcements or calendar events in the course you are importing from, use “Select Specific Content” when importing and do not check “Calendar Events” or “Announcements.” More information here.



Put zeroes in your grade book for any work students fail to complete. Canvas disregards an ungraded assignment in the total grade calculation for a student so it is imperative that you give students a grade for each assignment. You can change the zero at any time once the work is completed.


Link Validator

There is a feature in Canvas that can help eliminate one of the most common issues, broken links and links to content students can’t access (unpublished or in a different course). We highly encourage that you utilize this tool before the first day of class. More information here.


Student View

Take advantage of Student View, a feature in Canvas that allows you to view your course as your students will see it. This is a great way to catch unpublished content and view the layout of your course from a student perspective. More information here.



Feel free to keep attendance in whatever way works best for you. If you choose to use the attendance feature in Canvas, know that by default it includes a graded assignment worth 100 points. You should adjust the point value of that assignment to whatever you deem appropriate for your course before taking attendance or delete it all together. More information here.

Note: Your department may have attendance guidelines.


Files - By default, any files you upload to a course will be visible to students. Check out this guide on restricting access to files and folders.


Quiz Security

If you are giving online quizzes, make sure you know how all the quiz settings affect the security of your quizzes. More information here.


Syllabus Statements and Required Footer

If you have the old “required footer” on your homepage or an older version of the syllabus statements in your syllabus, you are encouraged to remove them. They may contain out of date information. More information here.


Finding Awesome Content (Don’t reinvent the wheel)

Canvas has a Learning Object Repository (LOR) called “Commons” where you can find all sorts of content up to and including full courses. If you’re designing for the first time or looking for new ideas, start with Commons. Here’s an overview video of Canvas Commons.

Creating Awesome and Accessible Content

There is a wonderful webinar from Canvas on creating content that is not only easy for students to use but also accessible for our users who may rely on assistive technology. View the video here.


Training for Faculty

Trainings are one-on-one and done in person by appointment. We also have many online training resources if you work remotely or find it difficult to visit the Lone Tree campus during business hours. You may find a list of those in the Resource Center for Faculty. Don’t forget that the 24/7 Canvas support hotline is also happy to assist with how-to questions.

Training for Students

Want to make sure your students are prepared for the awesomeness you’ve created in Canvas? Encourage them to attend a S.T.A.R.T. program training. Details can be found on the website. If you want to incentivize students attending one of these sessions, have them let me know and I will keep track and email you a list of who attended.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like assistance with Canvas or other instructional technology, please let us know and we will be happy to help! We can be reached by phone at (our phone number) or in person in room #458 on the Lone Tree campus. You may also email us at (our email address).


Did you make it to the end? You rock!


Have a great semester!