"How can I make my site great?" (or versions thereof) is one of the most commonly asked questions we receive.
Our answer is the following list of questions. We designed it to help you prepare your course according to current "best practices" in student learning and course design. Each is also grounded in the principles of Universal Design. You'll notice that there are many items here that you might consider addressing outside of Canvas - that's great too!
Many items include links for you to learn more about each particular topic. Please also feel free to contact your Instructional Designer to discuss any or all of these items!
Course Overview and Introduction
- Do you provide an introduction on how to get started, and how to navigate the site?
- Does your course includes an opportunity for both instructor and student introductions?
- Is all pre-requisite knowledge made clear as such?
- Are students introduced to both the purpose and structure of your course?
- Are students introduced to all relevant Dartmouth policies and services?
- Can students clearly see how they should communicate with the instructor and how the instructor will communicate with them? (e.g. email, in-class announcements, Canvas announcements)
- Is your Canvas homepage consistent with the course structure (e.g. divided by unit, module, lecture)?
- Are all items (assignments, files, dates, etc.) contextualized in your course, regardless of how or from whatever device your students access them?
Course Description and Information
- Are your course learning objectives described in a way that is measurable, clearly stated, and approachable from the learner’s perspective?
- Does your course include unit/class-level learning objectives that are consistent with the course objectives?
Assessments and Grading
- Does your course use an assessment strategy that measures the stated learning objectives?
- Are your course grading policy and its components explicitly stated, clear, and timely?
- Are the specific and descriptive criteria for evaluating student work articulated and consistent with the course grading policy?
- Are your course assessments frequent, varied, and scaffolded/sequenced?
- Have you made clear to students what feedback they will receive and when they will receive it?
Course Activities, Collaboration, and Engagement
- Are the activities in your course consistent with your stated learning objectives?
- Have you included strategies for collaboration, communication, and learner engagement to promote both student-student and student-teacher interactions?
- Are the expectations for student engagement clearly stated?
- Do discussions (in-class/online) both model a culture of inclusion and civility, and reflect stated learning objectives?
- Are all instructional materials aligned with the stated learning objectives?
- Are all instructional materials (PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoints, images, videos, etc.) created using methods that promote readability, accessibility, and multiple modes of access?
- Is the purpose of all instructional materials made clear?
- Have you made Fair Use determinations for copyrighted materials, and are all materials appropriately cited?
- Are all instructional materials up-to-date and represent a variety of perspectives?
- Are all materials labeled as required or optional, if applicable?
- Are all instructional materials easy to find and presented in a clear and organized way?
Course Technologies and Canvas Use
- Have you made available privacy statements and agreements for any 3rd party tools? Are students are given the opportunity to protect their privacy?
- Have you organized and named files, materials, and media are in ways that are descriptive, legible, and consistent?
- Does your Canvas navigation display the tools and materials used and hide anything not used in the course? Does your Canvas navigation promotes multiple ways to access materials?
- Does your Canvas navigation reflect and promote the course's content design? (e.g. use of Modules, Pages, Syllabus tool, etc.)
- Have you provided information and instructions for all technologies requiring an introduction?
Access, Usability, and Mobile
- Are both your Canvas site and course materials authored in a way that promote responsiveness, access, and readability for the diverse needs of learner? Refer to our guide on Creating Accessible Course Materials.
- Does your course site design facilitate readability and ease of use?
- Does your course site clearly direct students on how to access instructional materials
- Do course multimedia and multimedia facilitate ease of use and access including time-based transcripts and closed-captioning? Refer to our guide on Creating Accessible Course Materials.
- Is accessibility information included for all technologies used in the course?
- Does your Canvas site design promotes mobile-first and responsive design? Refer to Will Canvas work on my mobile device? Avoid the use of Flash content, tables used merely as a design or layout tool, and the use of fixed with when presenting tabular data or information.