Basic guidelines for a remote Canvas course include:

  • A course syllabus
  • A course schedule
  • An ungraded discussion for questions or concerns
  • Threaded discussions (usually graded)
  • Submission areas for assignments
  • Quizzes and/or exams.  

Course content for your remote course should be finalized in Canvas, the university's learning management system, no later than one week before the course begins. Any synchronous portions of the course may be completed during the semester. If synchronous portions are recorded, the recordings should be added to the Canvas course shell so students can access them as needed.

Two weeks before your course starts, we recommend that you send a welcome email to students, attaching a copy of your syllabus with the textbook information, to help ensure they have the materials before the course begins.

Following are the basic components that we recommend faculty incorporate into their remote and online courses.


  • Simple homepage with information on how students start their remote courses.
  • Technical support information and links to support tutorials.
  • Include announcements on top of homepage so they are easily visible to students.
  • Instructor and TA contact information.


  • Welcome announcement with general information.
  • Post regular announcements.
  • Explain how students can get notifications set in Canvas.
  • If relevant, include articles, papers, videos about current events/research.

Course Syllabus

  • Include your preferred communication method. If you prefer email, let students know this and how they should email you.
  • Outline how you will provide online office hours and how students can sign up for them.
  • Give the exact time and day of the synchronous portion of class This should be the regular class time unless you get approval for a new time from every student in the class.
  • Make clear to students that the synchronous portion of the course is mandatory and is the same as whether they came to a face-to-face class. 
  • Outline for students how the synchronous portion will be organized. Make sure to let them know anything specific that they should have completed/considered before logging in. If you want students to participate, consider preparing some prompts to start discussion and working them into any lecture time.  


  • Ungraded discussion for questions and concerns.
  • If a discussion has points, instructors have to set it up so it is graded.
  • The default for discussions is unthreaded.  Change to threaded so students can easily see responses to discussions.
  • Label discussions to improve navigation. Pin some discussions if necessary.
  • Use group discussions to “break down” large groups into small groups.
  • Use Speed Grader to grade discussions.


  • Ungraded practice assignment so student can verify they know how to submit assignments.
  • Instructors can restrict the types of assignment docs that are submitted so students don’t submit something instructors can’t grade.
  • Give students the dates and times for assignment submissions. Note that they can set their own time zone in Canvas, but make sure to specify mountain time on any submission times you give. 
  • Use Turnitin to check for plagiarism.
  • Use Speed Grader to grade assignments.
  • Use annotation/highlighting to comment on papers.
  • Leave audio/video feedback instead of text.
  • Don’t “publish” grades until you are done with all assignments.


  • Include an ungraded practice quiz/exam so student can practice taking a quiz before they take the graded quizzes.
  • Decide if you want to show correct answers instantly or after certain date.
  • If you want your quiz to be autograded, only use MC/TF, and matching questions.
  • Keep quizzes as simple as possible especially if you are new to online quizzes.


  • Grade items in gradebook are automatically created when you create graded assignments, discussions, quizzes.
  • Unpublishing a assignment, discussion, or quiz does not remove it from Grades, you have to set the assignment/discussion/quiz to ungraded.
  • Assign zeros (0) for missed assignments.
  • Set your gradebook policy according to your syllabus (points or weight).
  • Double check your extra credit assignments and how they are being calculated towards the final grade.

General Recommendations

  • Over communicate (regular announcements and emails help).
  • Welcome email sent to students to let them know their course will be in the remote format approximately a week before course starts.
  • Online virtual office hours or time instructors will quickly respond to student questions. 
  • Publish your Canvas course shells so students can see them. 
  • Check for broken/expired links and ensure url paths link to the right content.
  • Clear step-by-step guidance on assignments involving tech tools that students may be unfamiliar with (i.e. students posting a picture to canvas).


Roadmaps for Course Development