Preparing a course for a new term can involve balancing several tasks at once. Even with existing course content from a previous term, there could still be a need to customize and make changes to content, due dates and in some cases technology to keep the course relevant for a new group of students and a new term.  

Fortunately, there are a few techniques and tools to use to make updating a previous course for a new semester quicker, easier and less stressful. This Canvas Spotlight will cover some best practices and techniques to prepare an existing course for a new term. 

Best practices and featured tutorials 

  • Reference the Course Copy Guide for detailed steps on how to copy/migrate a course. 
  • Copy the previous course into one of the sandboxes before making updates rather than updating the previous course. That way, if there are any questions about the previous course, it’s still set up as it was when previously taught. 
    • Once changes have been made in the sandbox shell, copy it over to the new semester shell. 
    • To learn more about using sandboxes, visit the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design’s tutorial “Everything You Need to Know about Sandboxes.” 
  • Thoroughly review the previous course to identify what worked, what didn’t and what, if anything, needs a change.  
    • One idea is to make a note of any areas where due dates have been manually added. Anything manually entered will not be automatically updated for the new term through Canvas’ option to edit assignment dates.  
    • Visit the Ready, Set, Go section of the CTLD Ready Website or Virtual Drop-in Hours for additional ideas. 
  • Update all due dates in the course simultaneously by using the Adjust Assignment Due Dates page. This saves time and enables the option to view all of the course’s assignments and due dates on the same page to give a big-picture perspective of the course schedule and flow. 
  • If a faculty member is teaching a synchronous online course, classes and online lectures can be set up in Teams. For more detail on setting up Teams classes, visit the tutorials “Set Up a ‘Course Team’ in Teams” and “Schedule a Recurring Meeting in Teams.” 
  • If there are additional questions, please visit the Virtual Support Drop-in Hours.

Walking through it together

For complete written step-by-step instructions, visit the CTLD Ready Spotlight page. 


Have questions? 

Want help on this or other teaching and learning topics? Visit the CTLD for virtual drop-in support (10 a.m.-3 p.m., M-F) or try one of the self-help tutorials.