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Basic Course Creation

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Never created a Canvas site? Below are the first ten steps to getting up and running (Students can visit First Steps for Students).

We recommend using the Chrome browser (See minimum system requirements). Instructor Canvas apps are available for iOS and Android.


A 17-minute overview of the content below

1. Log in and view Dashboard

After logging into Canvas, instructors will see their courses in the Dashboard. Unpublished course shells are created automatically in Canvas a few weeks before the start of each quarter and instructors, TAs, and students are added based on their affiliation in Axess. If you are an instructor and don’t see your course in the Canvas dashboard, verify you have been added in Axess, then contact the Canvas team for help. 

    Login to Canvas dashboard for an instructor

    2. Update Profile and Notifications settings

    Click Account and introduce yourself to students by updating your Profile. You can also change your account notification preferences and your course notification preferences (this doesn't affect students' notification preferences, just your own). 

    Account to Profile settings

    3. Import course content

    Select Settings > Import Course Content to import selected components of old courses if they exist, including Announcements, Files, and Assignments.

    Import existing content button

    4. Add and manage files

    Add files one by one or in bulk then set usage rights and publish them. You can also set access rights and visibility.


    5. Add Syllabus

    Adding your syllabus to the Syllabus tool in Canvas automatically publishes it to even if your Canvas course is currently unpublished.

    6. Get to know your students

    Your students are visible in Roster Photos, which can include their preferred pronouns and name pronunciation, if they've provided it (Students can select preferred pronouns and record name pronunciation in Axess). 

    Note: To print, choose the Name Only or Photo Only options, since pronouns can't be printed.

    Updated UI displaying student photo, name, pronouns and name recording button on the main screen. Users may toggle across different views.

    7. Choose a Home Page

    Set your Course Home Page to the style that matches your course:

    Modules and Pages – Front Page are also options you can learn more about in Next Steps.

    Choose Home Page located under Course Status

    Hide items in the Course Menu that you don’t intend to use (e.g., Chat) by going to the Navigation tab in Settings. There you can also add hidden tools to the Navigation. After changes, be sure to save at the bottom of the page. 

    Navigation can be changed in Settings

    9. Publish content

    Publish Files (along with ModulesAssignmentsQuizzesPages which you will learn about in Next Steps).

    Because your course is unpublished by default, students won't see these and no course notifications will be sent.

    Publish button

    10. Preview and publish course

    Use Student View to see how everything will look to students, then go to your Home page and click Publish Course to make your course available to students or see Next Steps for more you can do before publication. 

    Student View can be found on most pages

    Next Steps: Manage and organize your course

    Still need help?

    Visit the Instructors section of this site to learn about additional resources or Contact the Stanford Canvas Team.