Chapter 3: Getting Ready to Launch Your Course
Now that you have created the content for your course within Canvas, we can proceed to organizing your content and choosing the most effective means of presenting content to your students. We'll also explore how to use other organizational tools, add participants, and publish your course. In this chapter, we will cover how to do the following:
- Choose a Course Home Page layout
- Select links to make visible on the left a Course Navigation Menu that will be most useful to your students during the course
- Add course calendar events
- Preview and proofread your course using Student View
- Add and manage participants for your course
- Publish your course
By the end of this chapter, you will have totally built, organized, designed, and published your course in order to begin teaching your course in Chapter 4, Teaching Your Canvas Course.
To complete this chapter, you will need the following:
- A computer with internet access
- A Canvas account (see Chapter 1, Getting Started with Canvas)
- A Canvas course with course content created (see Chapter 2, Building Your Canvas Course)
- A course roster
Choosing a Course Home Page layout
The home page for your course is the first thing your students will see when they log in. Even the most well-prepared courses can stall at the beginning if the directions for accessing the course content are not clear; therefore, choosing the best home page layout for your course is an important task. To accommodate a variety of student needs and teaching styles, Canvas has made it possible to choose from five different Course Home Page layouts. To select from these options, complete the following steps:
- Go to the home page (of your course), then click the Choose Home Page option on the right Sidebar menu, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.1 – Choose Home Page option of the right Sidebar menu
- After you click on the Choose Home Page option, you will see a pop-up window with options for you to choose one of the five layouts. Note that the Pages Front Page option may not be available if you have not yet created any custom content pages; we will discuss this option in the upcoming The Pages Front Page layout section. The following screenshot shows the five options that appear in the pop-up window:
Figure 3.2 – List of the five Course Home Page options
- Select your desired layout, then click the Save button to update your Course Home Page.
We will discuss these five options in more detail in the upcoming sections, but keep in mind that whichever home page layout you choose should clearly guide your students to the content you've posted to foster success in your course. As we learn about each home page layout type, keep your students and your specific teaching situation in mind to ensure your content organization decisions are student-centered.
Keep your own teaching style and skill sets in mind as well, as each layout offers different levels of involvement and customization. We'll now take a look at each of the layouts and discuss when each layout might be most beneficial to your students and you.
The Course Activity Stream layout
The Course Activity Stream layout will show users everything that has happened within your course that they might have missed; for example, new assignments, discussions, or grades that have been posted recently. The following considerations may help you decide whether this layout would be most helpful for your course:
- You might consider using this Course Home Page layout if you plan to add/publish content chronologically as you teach your course. This layout could also work well if you plan to use Canvas predominantly for having students complete and submit work to Canvas after information is presented in class, as opposed to having students work through content posted on Canvas on their own.
- You might consider using this Course Home Page layout with students who you know have taken online courses before and are familiar with accessing course content online.
- If you are working with technologically savvy students, the Course Activity Stream may work well due to its similarity to the update feeds on social media sites such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. The similarities to these sites can help more some students feel at ease with accessing your course and keeping up with their responsibilities in more of a do now fashion.
- If you have students in your class with less experience in online learning, you might want to consider one of the other Course Home Page layouts that offer a more consistent presentation of material.
For the Course Activity Stream home page layout, you do not need to do anything once you select that option as your home page. This home page layout will automatically display recent events once the course begins. Your students will need to access to the course content using the navigation links you will choose for the left Course Navigation Menu, which we will discuss in the Selecting navigation links section shortly, and the course content displayed will change depending on the recent activity of your course when students open the home page.
While the Course Activity Stream layout updates automatically, let's now take a look at the customizable Pages Front Page layout option.
The Pages Front Page layout
The next option, Pages Front Page, will allow you to create a custom content page that includes any information you would like to include and designate it as the front page for your course. You can design this page in the same way you would design the welcome page of a website, and Canvas allows you to do so by using the Rich Content Editor to create your content page.
Most often, the content of a custom-designed front page would contain welcome information, instructions, and links to course content. If you have not yet created any content pages (which we will discuss how to do in this section), you should click the Front Page must be set first link from the Choose Home Page pop-up menu as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.3 – The Front Page must be set first link from the home page layout pop-up menu
Once you click this link, it will take you to the Pages feature of Canvas, which can also be accessed by clicking on Pages from the left Course Navigation Menu. To create and edit your custom home page, complete the following steps:
- On the Pages feature, click the + Page button in the top-right corner of the screen, as shown here:
Figure 3.4 – Click the + Page button to create a new content page
- From there, a screen will open up that allows you to use the Rich Content Editor (which we discussed in depth during Chapter 2, Building Your Canvas Course) in order to build your front page. You can add as much information and content as you would like, but it's generally best to keep the front page simple, concise, and visually appealing with the most relevant information and instructions presented clearly.
- After you have finished created and editing your Front Page, click Save & Publish at the bottom of the screen. Make sure to publish your page if you want to use it as your home page – you're not able to set an unpublished page as your home page.
- After you have saved and published your page, you will see your content page displayed. To set this page as your course's front page, click on the icon with three vertical dots in the top-right corner, then select Use as Front Page as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.5 – Select Use as Front Page to make your content page the home page of your course
- Next, you will need to return to the Course Home Page on the left Course Navigation Menu then click on Choose Home Page on the right Sidebar menu again. Pages Front Page will now be available as an option in the pop-up menu that appears, and the name of your custom page will appear as the front page option as shown here:
Figure 3.6 – Select the Pages Front Page option once you have created your custom front page
Once you have created and set your front page, you can always go back to edit your page by clicking the Pages link on the left Course Navigation Menu. You will see the front page of your course with options at the top to View All Pages, see the published status of your course, Edit your front page, or adjust the settings of your front page. These options are pictured in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.7 – Pages feature menu
At this point, the only content page that has been created is the page you created as your front page. You might also wish to set up other content pages with further instructions and content; this type of course design allows you to basically create a completely customized course that students work through just like any other website on the internet. To create a new page, click on View All Pages, which will take you to a list of all of the content pages that have been created. You can use the + Page button in the top right to create new content pages to use for instruction. Once you have created a page, it will show up when you click the Pages navigation link on the left side menu. From the Pages page, you will be able to view, edit, and delete any content pages you have created. In deciding whether this layout would work best for you, you might consider the following ideas:
- Using a custom-designed content page as your Course Home Page layout is great for teachers who are comfortable using the Rich Content Editor.
- This allows students to experience a personalized, unique welcome to the course when they log in that can offer clear instructions for how to participate in the course.
- You can easily embed important content that students will need for success in the course directly on the home page with the Rich Content Editor, and you may choose to design your course using other content pages that will allow students to explore and experiment with the course content at their own pace.
While you certainly do not have to create multiple content pages, you might wish to use pages in conjunction with materials and assignments in the next type of home page layout we will discuss, the Course Modules layout.
The Course Modules layout
The Course Modules layout allows you to sequence various types of content on Canvas clearly on the Course Home Page so students can begin participating immediately when they first log in and work their way through the content of the course sequentially. To create a module, complete the following steps:
- When you select this option from the Choose Home Page pop-up menu then click Save, you will see a graphic with an option to Create a new Module appear in the center of your Course Home Page as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.8 – Create a new Module option
- Click the Create a new Module button or the + Module button and a pop-up window will appear that allows you to name the module and to choose to lock the module until a certain date. Locking a module will hide the content of the module from participants in your course until the date you specify. The following screenshot shows an example of what the first course module settings might look like:
Figure 3.9 – Sample module settings
- When you have adjusted the module name and lock settings to your liking, click Add Module to create your first module. The pop-up window will close and reveal your new home page with an empty first module.
- To add content you have already created in Canvas to the module, you can click the plus icon to the top right of the module title bar, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.10 – Add content from Canvas to your module using the plus icon
- Clicking the plus icon in the top-right corner will allow you to choose content that already exists on Canvas, such as assignments, quizzes, discussions, or content pages to add to your module. You can also create new, blank items from this menu that you can update with more details after you add them to the module. When you click the plus icon, a pop-up window will open, allowing you to select the type of content you would like to add from a drop-down menu, as shown in the following screenshot. You can also choose to indent the item in the module for aesthetic clarity using the Indentation drop-down menu. Choose the type of content you want to add, select the desired indent option, then click Add Item:
Figure 3.11 – Content drop-down menu to add content to module
- Once you click the Add Item button, you will see the item appear in the module on the home page. You can add as many items as you would like to each module, and you can create new modules by clicking the + Module button at the top of the home page.
- If you have files you'd like to upload directly to the module from your computer, you can drag and drop files onto the module directly to upload the files to Canvas and allow students to view or download them from the module.
- To rearrange items within a module, click and drag the dots that appear to the left of the item name, as pictured in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.12 – Click and drag the dots to the right of a module item to reorder the module content
- Once you have added content and arranged your module, make sure to publish your module by clicking the grey cancel icon next to the plus sign icon, which is shown in the previous screenshot to the right of the module name. When your course is published, the cancel icon will turn into a green check icon as shown here:
Figure 3.13 – Publish your module when you have added and arranged your content
By creating course modules, you are able to organize content sequentially, and you can set prerequisites that ensure students move through the content in order. As you add content to modules, the options to edit will expand and allow you to set requirements for each item within the module. To adjust the restrictions and prerequisites for each module, complete the following steps:
- Click the icon with three vertical dots in the top-right corner of the module, then click Edit.
- Once you have added content to the module, you will see a new option, Add Requirement, which students will need to complete in order to move past the module in the course. You can add requirements for as many items as you like, or you can allow students to move through the modules at their own pace. The following screenshot displays sample requirements for a module:
Figure 3.14 – Customize the requirements and prerequisites of a module
- For additional modules you create, you'll see the option instead to Add Prerequisite before seeing additional content.
- When you have adjusted the settings to your liking, click Update Module.
When you organize content into modules and open the page for an item, Next or Previous arrows appear at the bottom of each item's page that allow students to move to the next item in the module sequentially. For example, if you have placed an assignment between two other items within a module, arrows will appear at the bottom of the assignment page that will allow you to navigate to the preceding and subsequent items in the module with one easy click as shown here:
Figure 3.15 – Content within a module will allow students to click through content sequentially
You may wish to only reveal content one week at a time or to make it all available from the first day so students can move as quickly or slowly as they wish. You may also wish to add content pages to each module that explain the instructions for the module. The combinations and options are numerous, and you have the freedom to utilize as many or as few of the options made available to you depending on your needs and comfort level.
The Course Modules home page layout offers a clear, concise sequence through which your students can move, while allowing you to incorporate your own teaching style by adjusting the settings. You may wish to allow students to move through each module at their own pace or require them to move through the content sequentially.
The following considerations may help you decide whether the Course Modules home page layout would work well for your course:
- If students will be using Canvas to access and interact with your course content, the Course Modules layout is a great way to organize a variety of content and activities in a straightforward way for students to access.
- If your course is easily broken into units of study with sequential materials and activities, then the Course Modules layout may work well for you. For example, you may choose to create a module for each unit of study in your course and place all of the materials and activities for that unit of study into the module in the desired sequence.
- If your course meets less frequently, for example weekly instead of daily, and the content is easily divided into periods of time, you could label each module with the corresponding period of time so students know what activities they should be completing and generally when they should be completing them. This would be particularly helpful for courses with asynchronous learners or courses where students are required to complete many activities outside of a synchronous class time or lesson.
The Course Modules layout allows you to arrange various types content however you would like, whereas the next layout, the Assignment List layout, automatically organizes activities sequentially by due date for your students.
The Assignment List layout
The Assignment List layout allows your students to see a clear list of the assignments you have created for the course in chronological order by due date. When you select this Course Home Page layout option and click Save, you will see the list of assignments appear as the new home page for your course as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.16 – Example of the Assignment List layout
As you consider whether this layout would work well for you, the following suggestions may help in your decision:
- This Course Home Page layout would be an excellent idea for a live course with online expectations; students would be able to log in and see the exact assignments they would need to complete with the due date and point value clearly listed in one place. Content delivered during the live class would allow students to successfully complete the assignments by logging in to Canvas then completing and submitting their work for you to grade. Of course, this layout would also be suitable for the other types of classes you may be teaching, and you may choose to use this layout depending on the needs of your students and your teaching style.
- This Course Home Page layout would work well for classes that include many assignments and activities. Students would be able to learn content from synchronous class meetings or through other features of Canvas such as content pages, and their attention would be drawn to the activities that would be assessed or graded each time they visit your course's home page.
Similar to the Assignment List layout, the Syllabus layout organizes your activities by due date and provides more room for customized information for students.
The Syllabus layout
The Syllabus Course Home Page layout is similar to the Assignment List layout but allows you to add a custom syllabus description above the Course Summary as well as a course calendar and grading information added to the bottom of the right Sidebar menu of the home page. Once you select this option as your Course Home Page and click Save, you can create a custom description for your course, which could act just as the welcome page you might design if you were to choose the Pages Front Page layout. To customize your syllabus description, complete the following steps:
- Click the Edit button in the top right of the screen as pictured in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.17 – Edit your course syllabus description
- From there, a page will open with the Rich Content Editor, and you will be able to add a welcome message, write a syllabus description, and embed any content you might wish to include.
- Click Update Syllabus to save your course description, and it will appear above the assignment list on your new Course Home Page.
This Course Home Page layout is very well suited to any kind of course you may be teaching; it requires minimal work on your part in entering the syllabus description, and the course layout comes across very clearly to students at all levels of technological experience.
The following considerations may help you decide whether this layout would work well for you and your students:
- If you would like students to have ready access to a broad overview of your course as well as a sequential view of the content they will complete, this layout would work well as students would frequently see the course description and all content laid out clearly.
- If you are planning to use the various features of Canvas to create activities with set due dates consistently, this layout will display those activities clearly and will update automatically as you publish each activity.
Now that we have explored all five of the home page layouts available for your course, you can choose the layout that you believe will best help your students to succeed in your course. Once you have chosen the home page layout, it will be very helpful to determine which navigation links you want participants to be able to see on the left Course Navigation Menu.
Selecting navigation links
Choosing which course navigation links your students will see can help to direct them to through your course content logically and can help to avoid overwhelming students with features they may not need to use. As the instructor, you will be able to see all navigation links and access the features of each link as needed. The navigation links appear on the left Course Navigation Menu, and you can decide which of those links your students see when they log in to participate.
Canvas automatically hides links to features with no content present for students, but you see all links and can manually adjust which links students see. To change the navigation links that participants will see, complete the following steps:
- Click on Settings at the bottom of the left Course Navigation Menu, then click on the Navigation tab at the top of the Settings page.
- When you have reached the Navigation tab of the Settings page, you will see a list of the available navigation links you have the option of displaying for your course. You can reorder the links by clicking and dragging them, or you can disable and hide certain links from students by dragging the links to the bottom half of the screen. The following example has several of the links hidden or disabled to simplify the presentation of the course:
Figure 3.18 – Simplify your Course Navigation Menu for students
- When you have finished arranging the navigation links and have decided which links you would like students to see, click the Save button at the bottom of the screen.
Once you have saved your preferences, you will notice that you can still see all of the navigation links on the left Course Navigation Menu, but the links you have hidden or disabled appear with an icon to their right indicating they are not visible to students, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.19 – Hidden navigation links icon
When deciding on which links to display to your students and which links to hide, consider what types of content you have made available to your students and the ways in which you have organized your course. For example, if you have decided against using the discussions feature of Canvas altogether and have not created any discussion posts or discussion assignments, you might consider hiding the discussion navigation link to simplify where students can go while exploring your course.
While we have now covered how to add most types of content to your course, let's explore one more feature, the calendar, before moving on to adding participants and publishing your course.
Adding course calendar events
Once you have picked a Course Home Page layout and finished organizing the content of your course accordingly, you may wish to add other events to your course calendar that do not already appear as activities or content within your course. Examples of events you may wish to add to your course calendar might include the following:
- Live class meetings
- Synchronous online meetings
- Field trips
- Special events (for example, lectures, performances, student birthdays, holidays)
To add events to your calendar, complete the following steps:
- Click the Calendar icon on the left Global Navigation menu.
- You will see your calendar for Canvas, which will display calendar items such as due dates for all courses you are involved with as well as a personal calendar you can use for yourself.
- To add a new calendar event, click the plus sign icon at the top-right corner of the calendar page. A pop-up window will open that will allow you to create a new calendar event.
- Notice the tabs at the top of the pop-up window allow you to create an Event or create a new Assignment should you choose to do so using this feature.
- To add an event, stay on the Event tab and enter the title of the event in the Title field, the Date settings of the event, the times from which the event will run in the From and to fields, the Location name, and to which Calendar you would like to add the event. These options are pictured in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.20 – Sample calendar event
- If you would like to add more information to the event, you can click the More Options button to view a page with the Rich Content Editor that will allow you to embed content for the event you are creating.
- Once you are finished entering the information for your new event, click the Submit button. The pop-up window will close, and your new event will appear on the calendar you selected.
Notice that you have the option to change the calendar you are viewing. Your name will appear with a colored checkbox, as will the names of the courses you are teaching, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.21 – View different calendars on the right Sidebar menu
You can check or uncheck each calendar to see what items appear for each calendar. Students enrolled in a course will be able to see the calendar for that course, whereas only you will be able to see your personal calendar.
Once you have finished adding any calendar events, you are now ready to review and proof your course using the Student View feature.
Testing your course with Student View
Congratulations! You've made it through building your Canvas course. Before we move on to publishing, it is always a good idea to start on the home page of your course and work your way through the entire course the same way one of your students would. Canvas has designed a Student View feature that allows you to see exactly what your course will look like to students. To access your course through Student View, complete the following steps:
- Click on the Home link on the left Course Navigation Menu.
- On the Home page, click the Student View button above the right Sidebar menu as pictured in the following screenshot. This button also appears in the top-right corner of several other features throughout Canvas. Any time you see this button or the eyeglasses icon on Canvas, you can click it to access Student View:
Figure 3.22 – Student View option
- From there, you will see your Course Home Page in Student View. Notice the message at the bottom of your screen that lets you know You are currently logged into Student View.
- While you are in Student View, you can view all of the areas of your course that your students are able to see. You can even view and submit assignments as a test student, which will show up privately in your Gradebook as a Test Student but will not impact the overall real grade calculations for your course. However, keep in mind that anything you post publicly within the course, such as a reply on a discussion post, will be visible to real students under the name Test Student.
- When you have worked your way through your entire course, you are able to reset the test student feature by clicking the Reset Student button at the bottom of the screen. This will delete any mock assignments you may have submitted while in Student View and will allow you to view the course fresh as if you were a new student.
- Once you are finished checking your course in Student View, click the Leave Student View button at the bottom of your screen. The screenshot shows the Reset Student button and the Leave Student View buttons that appear at the bottom of your screen while in Student View:
Figure 3.23 – Student View notice and options
Before you publish your course, it is a very good idea to go through your course one final time, either in Student View or in regular view, to make sure your course is totally ready to go live. The following suggestions can be very helpful before publishing your course:
- Double-check that everything is organized in a way that will be most helpful to your students and you during your course and confirm that all of the content your students will need is embedded and ready to go.
- Proofread all of your instructions and double-check all of your due dates and calendar items.
Once you are satisfied that everything in your course is set up accurately and correctly, you are ready to add participants to your course.
Adding participants to the course
Now that the content of your course is created, we can add participants to the course. As we work our way through the process of adding participants to your course, keep in mind that students and observers will not receive anything from you via Canvas until you have published the course. Other types of participants, which we will discuss shortly, may or may not be able to see the course before it is published, depending on the role you assign them within the course. By adding students to the course at this point, you are simply placing their contact information in a queue, which Canvas will use to send out email invitations for the course once you have completed the course design and published it. You can think of this stage of building your course simply as creating your roster before you actually meet your students.
This section deals with manually adding participants to your course, which you may or may not have to do depending on the way your institution has integrated Canvas with its registration systems and technology departments. If your institution has integrated Canvas with its registration system, students and other participants may automatically be placed into your course upon its initial creation. However, if you have manually created the course or if your institution does not automatically create courses and add participants for you, you will need to follow the guidelines in this section to add people to your course.
To add participants to your course, complete these steps:
- Click on the People link of the left Course Navigation Menu.
- Once you are on the People page for your course, you will see a list of individuals already participating in your course. At this point, you will most likely only see yourself listed, unless your institution has automatically added your students for you.
- Above the list of participants, you will see a search bar to search for individuals, a drop-down menu to limit the types of individuals you would like to view, and a + People button as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.24 – The + People button to add participants
- Click the + People button and you will see a pop-up window with a textbox where you can paste the information for the students you would like to add to your course. You can choose to add students by Email Address, Login ID, or SIS ID (meaning Student Information System ID).
- As you add students' contact information, separate each student with a comma or a line break.
- Once you have entered all of the contact information for people you wish to add to the course, you can select what type of users they will be once they are added to the course. The drop-down menu below the textbox will allow you to add people to the course as a Student, a Teacher, a TA (teacher's assistant), a Designer, or an Observer. Each of these distinctions will allow participants to function within their designated role for the duration of the course. The standard five roles are discussed here, but keep in mind your institution may have other, customized roles that may be available at your school.
These role distinctions allow participants to see and do different things within your course, either before or after the course is published:
Students: Participants added to the course as students will not be able to see the course content until the course is published. Once you publish the course, they will be able to see all of the course content you have made available to them and will be able to submit assignments. They will have a line within the Gradebook (to be discussed in Chapter 4, Teaching Your Canvas Course). In general, students cannot edit the course content unless you alter the settings to allow them to do so.
Teachers: Participants added to the course as teachers have all of the same abilities that you do within your course and are able to see the course before and after it is published. They can add and change course content, adjust settings, add or remove users, and grade assignments.
TAs: Participants added to the course as teacher's assistants, referred to within Canvas as TAs, are largely able to see and do the same things as teachers within the course, but with the distinction of being the TA for the course. They can add and change course content, adjust settings, add or remove users, and grade assignments. There are, however, a few things that TAs cannot do, such as publishing the course.
Designers: Participants added to the course as designers are able to see the course before it is published. In most cases, someone would be added as a designer to build the course for you, so they are able to add and change course content, adjust settings, and organize the course. They are not able to see assignment submissions or grade students' work.
Observers: Participants added to the course as observers are not able to see the course until it is published. Observers have most of the same privileges as students, except they cannot submit assignments and they do not receive a line in the Gradebook. You can link observers to specific students, and the observer will be able to see the work for a specific student. An example of when you might add someone to the course as an observer might be an administrator or parent who wants to see how a student is doing in a course, or a prospective student who wants to see what life in an online course at your institution looks like.
- You should add participants to your course in groups or as individuals based on their role within your course. As such, it would make sense to add all of your students at one time or all of your observers at one time. You can certainly add people individually, as will probably be the case when adding any TAs or designers to your course.
- Once you have added the contact information and designated the role that the new participants will fulfill in the course, you can click on Next at the bottom of the pop-up window.
For now, you can ignore the drop-down option next to Section, since we have not yet covered how to set up sections within a Canvas course. We will cover this is in Chapter 5, Exploring Special Features, when we discuss some of the more unique and specialized features of Canvas.
- Once you click on Next, you should see a message that informs you that the email address you entered have been validated and you are now ready to add those users to the course.
- Double-check to make sure everyone you intended to add to the course is on the list of validated participants, then click the Add Users button at the bottom right of the pop-up window as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.25 – Add Users option
When you have clicked Add Users, the pop-up window will close, and you will see the list of new participants appear on the People page of your course. You will notice a bubble that reads Pending next to all of the new participants' names. Students and observers will not receive an invitation to join the course until you have published it; however, teachers, TAs, and designers will receive an email invitation after you click Add Users.
Their status in the course will remain Pending until they follow the link in the email to accept their invitation to the course. Once someone has accepted their invitation to join the course, you will see their name on the People page without the Pending status.
Next, let's discuss managing participants within Canvas and creating user groups once you have added participants to the course.
You may find that you need to resend an invitation, edit the sections a participant is involved with, view the details of an individual's participation, or remove a user from the course. To accomplish any of these tasks, complete these steps:
- Click the People button on the left Course Navigation Menu.
- To manage a participant in your course, click the icon with three vertical dots, and you will see the following menu appear:
Figure 3.26 – Manage User drop-down menu
- When you click on Resend Invitation, Edit Sections, Edit Role, Deactivate User, or Remove From Course, you will see an instructional pop-up window appear that allows you to accomplish the desired task. Keep in mind that if you are using an institutional instance of Canvas that automatically enrolls students, some of these features may not be available to you or may be overridden by your institution's settings.
- If you would like to know more about a specific participant, click on User Details to see information about and adjust settings for individual users. You will be taken to the participant's details page, where you can view their course memberships, manage their privileges, and see their login information.
If you add a participant as an observer, they will be able to see the public course content such as assignment pages or discussions, but they will not be able to see any private content such as assignment submissions or grades. In some situations, you may be adding a participant as an observer to monitor a specific student, for example, a parent, administrator, or tutor. You can link an observer to a specific student, which will allow the observer to see the student's grades and interactions within the course. To link an observer to a student, complete the following steps:
- Click the People button on the left Course Navigation Menu.
- Find the observer you wish to link to a student and click the icon with three vertical dots, then click Link to Students from the drop-down menu that appears, as pictured in the following screenshot:
Figure 3.27 – Link to Students option
- In the pop-up window that appears, type the name of the student to whom you wish to link the observer, and click on the student's name when it appears below the search bar.
- Once you have selected the student that the observer will be linked to, click Update. The observer will now be able to see the student's interactions in the course as well as their assignment submissions and grades. You can remove or adjust the observer's linked student by following the previous steps and changing the student selection in the pop-up window.
Now that you have added users and learned how to manage their roles, let's talk about how you can organize your users into groups if you are planning to incorporate group assignments and collaborations into your course.
Creating user groups
As you are adding users, you may wish to create user groups that organize participants and provide space within the course for collaboration between participants who are grouped together. Creating user groups also makes it easy to select groups for group assignments or to message groups of users all at once. This option is not mandatory, so you may skip ahead to the next section if you do not plan on organizing users into groups at any point during your course. To create user groups, follow these steps:
- Click on the People link on the left Course Navigation Menu.
- On the People page, click the Groups tab at the top. The page that appears explains what you can do after creating student user groups. Read the explanation, then click the + Group Set button that appears in the top-right corner of the page.
- A pop-up window will appear that allows you to designate the Group Set Name, Self Sign-Up permission, and Group Structure. When deciding on these preferences, think about the way user groups will function within your course. You may choose to create a group set that you can utilize for a specific group assignment, or you may choose to have certain students work with each other for the entire duration of your course.
For the Group Set Name, choose a name that describes how the user groups will be used. For example, if you will use the groups for a group assignment, consider including the assignment name in the Group Set Name.
If you would like to allow student to sign up for their groups themselves, check the box next to Allow self sign-up. Notice that the options for the Group Structure in the section below change if you allow self sign-up. You can also choose to Require group members to be in the same section if you have different sections of the same course.
In determining the Group Structure, you can have Canvas automatically split students into a certain number of groups, or you can create the groups manually after you have created the group set. If you are allowing self sign-up, you can designate the number of groups within the set as well as how many students can join each group.
- Click Save to create your new group set.
If you elected for Canvas to automatically split students into groups, this will happen now, and you will see the groups once the pop-up window closes. If you elected to create groups manually, you will see a list of unassigned students and an empty group set. To manually create groups within the group set, complete the following steps:
- Click the grey + Group button in the top-right corner as shown here:
Figure 3.28 – Add Group button
- In the pop-up window that appears, enter the Group Name and the Group Membership Limit then click Save.
- To add students to the group, find a student you would like to add to the group on the list of Unassigned Students on the left side of the page. To add them to the group, you can click the dots to the left of the student's name then drag them into the group. You can also click the + symbol to the right of the student's name and select the group from the pop-up menu that appears.
- You can continue to add users to the group in the same manner, then create new user groups within the set depending on your needs.
Now that you have added participants and explored how to manage users within your course, we're ready to publish your course.
Publishing your course
Once you've added all of your content, previewed and proofed your course, and added participants, you are ready to publish your course! This is the final step to make your course live before you start teaching your course. To publish your course, complete the following steps:
- Click on Home on the left Course Navigation Menu.
- At the top of the right Sidebar menu, you will see the Course Status indicating in red that your course is Unpublished, as shown here:
Figure 3.29 – Unpublished course status
- To publish your course, click on Publish. You will see that option turn green and it now reads Published, as shown here:
Figure 3.30 – Published course status
Your course is now live! All of the students and observers who have not already received invitations to join the course will receive emails instructing them to join the course. You are now ready to begin teaching your course!
In this chapter, we completed the construction of your course and prepared it to be published. We began by exploring the various types of home page layouts available to you based on your needs, including the Course Activity Stream, the Pages Front Page layout, the Course Modules layout, the Assignment List layout, and the Syllabus layout. Next, we learned how to reorganize the appearance of your course by selecting which navigation links your students will see on the left Course Navigation Menu.
After that, we learned about the calendar feature as well as the Student View option to preview your course. We then learned about adding participants to the course and discussed the various roles participants can fulfill within your course: students, teachers, TAs, designers, and observers. We discussed managing participants and creating groups, then we ended with how to publish your course.
In Chapter 4, Teaching Your Canvas Course, we will explore the features of Canvas you will use as you teach your course. We will cover topics including how to communicate with participants in your course through Canvas, how to use the Gradebook, and how to create and facilitate synchronous video meetings.