A&S Learning Design & Technology Knowledge Base

A&S UVACanvas Course Setup Tips

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These tips, though not meant to be exhaustive, will help instructors in setting up core functions in UVACanvas course sites.

Support resources are available via Canvas 24/7, and through UVA staff in Learning Technology Services (aka collab-support) and A&S Learning Design & Technology (A&S instructors & graduate TAs).

Essential Setup

Most A&S courses are likely to use UVACanvas essential tools for communication, file storage, and syllabus delivery.

  1. Access the course site by clicking on it in your Dashboard.
Canvas Dashboard displaying three unpublished course sites
  1. Rename the course under your settings (optional).
    1. Directions: How do I change a course name and course code? - Instructure Community (canvaslms.com)
  1. Copy migrated UVACollab Resources content into the Files tool of your UVACanvas course site (optional). This content has been migrated into a UVACanvas course with a title beginning with "UVACOLLAB". It will be located under Files.
    1. Directions: How do I import content from one UVACanvas site to another? - UVA Learning Technology Services
  1. Upload your syllabus. Directions for this are available on the Syllabus page of your site.
Canvas course navigation menu listing Home, Announcements, and Syllabus.
  1. Add relevant information, such as your contact information and office hours, to the Home page. 
    1. Directions: When you first open a course site, you will land on the Home page. Click the Edit button in the upper right of the Home page, modify text as needed, and click Save.
Top of Canvas Home page with Home link, course site name, and Edit button
  1. Publish the course. Click the Publish button on the upper right of your Course Home.
  1. Use the Inbox to send messages to your course(s), groups of students, or individual students. The Inbox is accessed via the left-most, navy global navigation menu of UVACanvas.
Canvas global navigation menu listing Dashboard, Courses, Groups, Calendar, and Inbox

Standard Activities Setup

Many UVACanvas course sites are also likely to involve activities, assessments, feedback, and grading. This section provides resources for organizing content via Modules and Pages, hiding unnecessary tools, creating assignments, and setting up Grades (aka the gradebook). 

Create Modules

Consider using Modules and Pages to organize and deliver your content and activities. These tools help to provide clarity, consistency, and organization for all course members.

Identify a structure that feels useful to your course (perhaps one module per week, per day, or per course topic).

Canvas Modules labeled Week 1 and Week 2
  1. Place content (files, links, activities, quizzes, etc) within your module. Organize it using text headers and indentation.
  1. Consider using Pages within your modules. Pages allow you to provide additional context and directions, as well as to embed videos, images, and much more. Explore an example of content organized in a Module using text headers and indentation, versus a Module with pages. 
  1. Hide tools to simplify navigation. If you use Modules to organize quizzes, assignments, resources, etc. available to your students, you can hide tools such as Files and Assignments to simplify course navigation.
  1. Publish your modules when you want students to access them, clicking the circle in the right of each Module title to green.

Items within Modules can be published or unpublished too. If your students can't access content in your Modules, make sure to check that both the Module and the content item are published.

Hide Tools Your Students Don’t Need

Navigate to SettingsNavigation and drag and drop tools to hide or display them to students.

Canvas course settings menu with Course Details, Sections, and Navigation tabs
Create Assignments

Any item that you want to add to the UVACanvas gradebook will need to have an associated Assignment. Access Canvas Help resources for creating and managing Assignments.

Add 3rd Party Tools

3rd party tools you are accustomed to using via UVACollab (Kaltura Media Gallery/My Media, Voicethread, Gradescope, etc) are available in UVACanvas either as tools to add to your course navigation menu (Settings → Navigation) or via Assignments (Assignment Type → External Tool).

Adding an external tool to the Canvas course navigation menu
Adding an external tool to a Canvas module
Set up Grades (aka the gradebook)

Items you want to appear in the UVACanvas gradebook will need to have an associated Assignment.

If your course employs weighted grade categories, create and assign weights to Assignment Groups and organize your Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, etc within these categories. If each graded activity in a single category ought to be weighted equally, be sure to assign the same number of points to each activity. 

By default, grades do not auto-publish in UVACanvas Grades. For students to see their grades, you will need to publish grades. This is similar to UVACollab. Grades can be published from inside the Grades tool.

If you prefer all grades be visible to students automatically, you can set the Grade Posting Policy to Automatically Post Grades. Note that automatically posting grades may generate notifications to students immediately when a grade is assigned to them. 

It is recommended to set your desired Grade Posting Policy before grading any assignments. Anything graded prior to changing grade posting from manual to automatic will still have to be posted manually.

Grading Schemes can be adjusted in Canvas settings. Please note: any changes made to the default grading scheme will NOT be reflected in the Export Grades to SIS tool in UVACanvas. If you change your grading schemes within Canvas settings, you should also update your grading schemes within the Export Grades to SIS tool. Learn much more about exporting grades to SIS via How do I update grading schemes for course grades? LTS-Help

For a comparison of UVACanvas features equivalent to UVACollab's Gradebook options, see this article by UVA Learning Technology Services.

Be sure to publish your course (see Essentials).


To make your course site accessible to all learners, consider the following resources:

Helpful Tips for UVACanvas Course Setup

Using UVACollab Content

Viewing Your Site

  • Use Student View to see what your students see in your course. 

Adding Users

  • Add TAs and co-instructors as needed via the People tool in your Course Navigation Menu.  Students are automatically added via SIS rosters (updates occur approximately every 2 hours).

Teaching Multiple Sections of the Same Course

  • The Manage SIS Sections tool allows you to combine multiple rosters under one UVACanvas course site. 

Accessing Support


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