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Getting Started with Canvas: First Steps and Tips

Before You Begin

Have content you’d like to migrate from CourseWork?
Before January 23, 2017, email us at with the names of the courses in CourseWork and which quarter you’ll be teaching them in Canvas. Note: Only one version of each course will be migrated. The Canvas team will migrate the most recent version unless you designate another version for  migration. Also, migrated content will not include student work/data (e.g., forum posts).

First Steps

  1. Have migrated materials? You’ll find them under “Files
  2. Add your Syllabus

Note: Adding your syllabus to the Syllabus tool in Canvas automatically publishes it to Stanford Syllabus (even if your Canvas course is currently unpublished.)

  1. Recreate the dropbox, if you used it (for students to upload files)

Note: “Assignments” is the dropbox tool in Canvas. Create a “File Uploads” type of  Assignment to receive files from students

  1. Set your Course Home Page to the style that makes most sense for your content

– Posting a lot of Announcements? Course Activity Stream might work best
– Uploading a Syllabus and making robust use of Due Dates? Syllabus would be best
– Organizing course content with Modules? Set Course Modules as the Home Page

  1. Hide items in the Course Menu that you don’t intend to use (e.g., Chat)
  2. Need help? Go to for help resources (e.g., Stanford Canvas QuickStart Guide and CourseWork vs Canvas Feature Comparison Chart) or contact us for a one-on-one consultation.


  • Use the Chrome web browser.
  • Check out the Course Setup Checklist.
  • Add People (Note: Students and TA’s will automatically show up in your Canvas course if they’re listed in Axess. If not in Axess, you will need to add them manually.)
  • Use “Pages” or “Modules” for URLs (They can’t be placed in “Files” for student access.)
  • Set your Notifications and remind students to do so (under Account in the global menu.)
  • Set due dates for Assignments – without due dates, the Canvas Calendar and Notifications will not be as useful for students.
  • Mute Assignments (this will allow you to grade and provide feedback for all assignments and then send everything out at once to all students when you Unmute.)
  • Delay posting Announcements if you’d like work on a draft version. (NOTE: Clicking Save actually posts/sends announcements.)
  • Use “Student View” to see how everything will look for students before publishing.
  • Make sure everything is published: Files, Assignments, Quizzes, Pages, the Course.
  • Download Canvas Mobile Apps (Canvas App for iPhone and iPad, Android Canvas App, SpeedGrader App for iPad, SpeedGrader App for Android )

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