Whether you teach online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, there are a variety of ways you can leverage course design principles, educational technology, and pedagogical practices to support you in facilitating your course. The resources listed on this page can help you make quick adaptations or serve as a starting point for integrating Canvas and other available technology into your course design. Each DU course is already set up with a Canvas shell that you can activate at any time! Get started by looking through our commonly asked questions about teaching practices and educational technology.

Did you know that we have 24/7 Canvas support?

  • Canvas Support Hotline for Faculty: 1-833-291-3240
  • Canvas Support Hotline for Students: 1-855-712-9770
Online, real-time Canvas Chat

Getting Started

In this section we answer questions you may have about getting started with your Canvas course design for the new term. 

Check out our OTL blog Keep Using Canvas! that highlights the ways in which faculty could approach the minimum requirements for a Canvas container. 

Visit timestamp 1:11 in this video to see just how easy it can be to import existing course content.

This Canvas Community Guide provides step-by-step instructions.

The OTL has two official templates you can use to design your Canvas courses: The OTL Advanced Canvas Template and the OTL Basic Canvas Template. You can download either template from the Canvas Commons.

The OTL Advanced Canvas Template can be customized for either face-to-face (F2F) or online (synchronous and asynchronous) delivery, and contains templates for the:

  • Syllabus
  • Home page
  • Weekly modules
  • Assignments
  • Discussions
  • And more!

The OTL Canvas Basic Template also contains templates for the syllabus and home page but is more streamlined, focusing on essential course elements, such as assignments and instructional materials.

The Introducing the Basic and Advanced Canvas Template blog post offers a comparison chart that explains in more detail the differences of both.

Visit the Canvas Community Guide How do I use the Syllabus as an instructor to learn more about the functions and capability of Canvas’s syllabus tool. 

If you use one of the OTL’s Canvas Templates, you can move the content of your syllabus to the syllabus template pages.

Whether or not you use an OTL Template, using the Canvas syllabus tool ensures your syllabi are accessible to screen readers. If you still prefer uploading your syllabus to Canvas as a file (Word, PDF, Pages, etc.), make sure the file is accessible to screen readers.

Yes! On the OTL’s Sample Syllabus Statements page, we have compiled a variety of sample syllabus statements that address issues such as:

  • Audiovisual recordings
  • Canvas use
  • Students with medical issues and/or disabilities
  • Inclusive learning environments

While there is no university-wide deadline for publishing your Canvas course, students appreciate being able to access course material in advance, especially the syllabus. Consider publishing your Canvas course 5-7 days before the start of the quarter.

Bear in mind that once you publish a course, you can keep individual pages, assignments, discussions, media, and even whole modules unpublished if you want to continue working on them before releasing them to students.

Canvas Design and Functionality

Explore the functionality of course design options in Canvas through our commonly asked questions below. 

Both OTL Canvas Templates include a “Readings and Instructional Materials” template page. These template pages can be used to compile lists and links to all the required and relevant course materials.

You can also share files with your students using Canvas’s Files function, which you can learn more about here.

The Microsoft Office suite, specifically OneDrive and Teams, also have robust file sharing capabilities. Log in with your DU credentials to this IT page with more information about file sharing via Office 365.

If you’ve never created an assignment in Canvas before, it’s a good idea to visit the Canvas’s Instructor Guide section on Assignments, which addresses everything from assignment types, grouping, points, and more.

Many assignments benefit from using rubrics. A well-designed rubric clearly spells out expectations for students, and streamlines the grading process for instructors. You can visit the OTL’s Developing Rubrics page for further information and best practices.

Assignments can also be created and administered through Kaltura, DU’s video management system. This Knowledge Base article offers examples of video assignments that instructors have created using Kaltura.

There are a variety of ways to administer and facilitate exams through Canvas. Currently, you can create exams using either Classic Quizzes or New Quizzes. This Knowledge Base article compares the features of Classic and New Quizzes.

This blog post gives an overview of the pedagogical uses of New Quizzes.

If you need to administer exams and want to reduce the opportunities for cheating, you might consider using LockDown Browser, a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Canvas. Respondus Monitor is a related feature that builds upon the LockDown Browser integration, and uses a student’s webcam and video analytics to hinder cheating during non-proctored exams. Before using Respondus Monitor, though, you should familiarize yourself with its drawbacks, some of which are outlined in the OTL’s blog post Inclusive Use of Proctoring Technology: LockDown Browser & Respondus Monitor.

You can also administer quizzes through Kaltura, DU’s video management system. Visit this Knowledge Base article for instructions about creating Kaltura video quizzes.

You can facilitate discussion forums among an entire class, or within smaller groups, using Canvas’s Discussion feature.

Asynchronous online courses can use discussions to facilitate class discussions, group work, and more.

Face-to-face (F2F) courses can be use also discussions. For example, an F2F course could create discussion forums where students either prep for or debrief in-class activities. In-class group activities can also continue online using Canvas’s Group feature.

In order to be effective, discussions should feature clear prompts that pose a few specific questions that ask students to analyze, interpret, reflect on, and/or synthesize the subject matter of the course. Requiring students to respond to each other’s posts also ensures that discussions are productive and interactive. Instructors can facilitate productive discussions by chiming into the discussion board as well.

Canvas allows users to respond within discussions using media, such as images, gifs, and audio and video recordings.

If you’re interested in platforms outside of Canvas to facilitate online discussions, consider Flipgrid or Perusall.

 The Canvas gradebook will automatically sync with any assignments in your course; this includes discussions, quizzes, and general assignments. When creating any of these in your course, be sure to carefully read the settings in the setup menu, as there are many options available.

You will need to choose due dates, submission formats, points, or complete/incomplete, and number of allowed attempts. For more advanced Canvas users, you can also choose to embed a TurnItIn review, designate individual or group work, or implement peer reviews. To set up weighted grading in Canvas, utilize the steps in this helpful guide.

Consult our blog post Making the Grade: Choosing a Grading Scheme to Enhance Student Success for more information about weighting assignments, co-constructing grades, portfolios, and other grading approaches.


The following information addresses common questions with accessibility and educational technology. 

While the Disability Services Program (DSP) evaluates and determines reasonable accommodations associated with student disabilities and health conditions, faculty members are legally responsible for administering most of these accommodations within the classroom and beyond. Fortunately, the DSP office is here to support and facilitate this process. Call (303.871.3241), email (dsp@du.edu), or schedule to meet via Zoom for DSP support.

Here are additional asynchronous resources to learn more about supporting students with DSP accommodations:

All video and audio files uploaded to Kaltura My Media within Canvas or DU MediaSpace will have an auto-generated closed caption file. As the video owner or editor, you can edit the auto-generated closed captions to improve accuracy. Captions should be 95% accurate to meet ADA accessibility standards.

This OTL Knowledge Base article describes how to edit captions.

Pedagogical Questions

Here are a few commonly asked questions that may require some additional pedagogical decision making. 

The use of Canvas helps facilitate increased access to materials for all students, but also is particularly helpful in combatting the effects of unplanned absences. Check out our blog Using Canvas to Navigate Student Absences to learn more about your options for getting students caught up with course content after being absent.

Whether you are teaching online or face-to-face, communicating with students is very important and should be done early and frequently. Be sure to set up structures that allow for easy updates and communicate expectations. Let students know how you plan to communicate with them. Will you be using traditional email or Canvas announcements? How will you let them know if due dates or activities have changed?

Here are a few options for communicating with your students through Canvas:

Check out our OTL blog post Designing a Mid-Quarter Student Survey to learn more about the feedback cycle and how to design a helpful feedback survey in Canvas. 

If you need to hold a lecture from a distance, there are synchronous (live/interactive) and asynchronous (pre-recorded) options for doing so. Both options allow you to show your screen or lecture slides.

Additional Resources

Additional commonly asked questions about resources across campus. 

To request textbooks and course materials, visit the Online Adoptions to Course Materials website.

As with publishing your Canvas course, there is no university-wide deadline for when you need to submit your textbook orders. However, for reasons of accessibility, equity, and fairness, we recommend you submit your orders to the bookstore as soon as possible.

We recommend using the built-in Kaltura Embed tools, which you can read about in this Knowledge Base article. These tools help avoid the risk of videos not having the right permissions once they are copied from one course container to another.

If you’re looking to move a set of playlists from one Canvas Media Gallery to another, check-out these helpful instructions.

As of March 23, 2022, all future Zoom Cloud video recordings will be transferred automatically to the Zoom host’s DU MediaSpace and DU Canvas My Media. Read this article to learn more about this integration.

For images: the database ArtSTOR provides access to 1.6 million images, and includes a variety of pedagogically engaging features. Check out the following resources to learn more about how (and why) to use ArtSTOR:

For other media: DU’s library has access to dozens of streaming media databases, including 45 databases for streaming video alone. Check out the following resources to learn more about how (and why) to use these databases:

DU’s library offers a rich collection of books, journals, primary and secondary sources, and media. The following are a few of the resources the library provides faculty. 

  • Catalog and Databases

Over five million items are available through the library’s main collections. You can search these collections through the library’s catalog. The library also subscribes to over one thousand databases across a variety of disciplines.

  • Reserves

Email reserve@du.edu for either new reserves or reactivating previous reserves.

If you are reactivating previous reserves, please include the course number, code, and quarter in which your reserves were last used, as well as the course number, code, and quarter for which you wish them to be reactivated.

Reserves can take up to three weeks to process, so get your requests in as soon as possible.

  • Research Guides

DU’s librarians have put together hundreds of research guides across dozens of disciplines. If you are interested in creating a research guide for one of your courses, reach out to your liaison librarian.

  • Liaison librarians

Liaison librarians, also known as subject matter librarians, specialize in specific subjects and can assist you with locating resources for your courses, developing research guides, workshops for your students, and more. Click here to learn more about the liaison librarian for your department.

Need more assistance? Our Instructional Designers are ready to help, please feel free to schedule a 1:1 consultation.
  • Visit our OTL Event Calendar to check out upcoming events.
  • Check out our DU Teaching Toolkit for in-depth information about Canvas, Planning, Development and Delivery Methods for your course.