Faculty Toolkit

Leveraging Canvas

Leveraging the Learning Management System (LMS) is a proactive way to maintain academic continuity when meeting face-to-face is not an option. USF's LMS, Canvas, provides a variety of solutions for establishing communication with your students, organizing your course materials, delivering media-rich content, promoting interaction between you and your students, and assessing your students' learning.

For more quick reference guides, just-in-time training and workshops, visit:

Learn a New Tool section on the Innovative Education, Digital Learning team's website.

Below you will find six actionable steps that you can take immediately to leverage Canvas for academic continuity. 

Step 1: Canvas Access, Syllabus & Minimum Technology Requirements

All courses at USF have an associated Canvas course site. If you are listed as the instructor of record in Banner, you automatically have access to the course shell and your students are automatically populated within this course site. 

  1. Verify that your syllabus is uploaded to the Syllabus section of your course. How to use the syllabus in Canvas.
  2. Update your syllabus face-to-face or online syllabus in Canvas to include the following statement:
    "In this class, software will be used to record live class lectures and discussions. As a student in this class, your participation in live class discussions will be recorded. These recordings will be made available only to students enrolled in the class, to assist those who cannot attend the live session or to serve as a resource for those who would like to review content that was presented. Students who prefer to participate via audio only will be allowed to disable their video camera so only audio will be captured. Please discuss this option with your instructor."

  3. Download the Canvas App for Instructors, which can be used with mobile devices. How to download the Canvas App for Instructors.
  4. Ensure you have the minimum technology requirements for using Canvas and reliable Internet access. Identify your available tools, such as a microphone or headphone and/or webcam, which will expand your options in leveraging Canvas.
  5. Bookmark the Canvas Basics Guide and use it as a reference as you add content to your Canvas course. Canvas Basics Guide
  6. For an overview of tools and strategies for optimizing academic integrity within your course please click here.

Step 2: Establishing Communication

Establish a communication plan with your students now. Canvas offers a number of communication tools to ensure that you maintain a connection with your students. Here are some items for consideration:

Step 3: Organizing Your Materials

Using Canvas you can structure your course content in a clear, organized manner. Learning objectives from your in-class sessions should guide your online content. A simple read/view/do format is a good place to start. 

Step 4: Delivering Your Content

Before you decide to develop content for academic continuity, here are a few things to consider:

  • Check online to see if there are comparable resources that you can use in place of your lecture. 
  • Search the USF Libraries collection of high-quality digital learning objects suitable for inclusion in courses. 
  • If your course was previously taught, check to see if those materials can be copied over.
  • Where possible, try to include materials that are accessible. For more information see USF Policy 10.506, and the USF SDS Accessibility Guide.

If you do need to modify or create content for the Canvas environment, please review the following table, which provides recommendations for content delivery and technologies to facilitate your efforts.

Content Delivery Strategies Short-Term Solutions
Adding text-based information (files, articles, links)
Record a lecture (asynchronously)
Host a live lecture or office hours (synchronously)
Add or embed videos

Step 5: Interacting with Your Students

In the absence of face-to-face interaction, it is important for students to have a sense of connection with the instructor and the learning community. Some courses rely on classroom discussions to enhance student engagement. Using Canvas discussion boards, you can move the conversations online to simulate a discussion in a digital environment. Create questions and prompts that require complex thinking and application of ideas to avoid repetitive student responses.

Step 6: Assessing Student Learning

Canvas supports online quizzes and the submission of online assignments. Here are several resources for moving your assessments to Canvas:

  • Assignments - Use the Canvas assignment tool if you need your students to submit a paper, PowerPoint, or any type of file that you will review and grade. How to create a Canvas Assignment.
  • Quizzes – Use the Canvas quiz tool to create online tests and quizzes. It allows various questions types including multiple choice, short answer, essay, matching, and others. How to create Canvas Quizzes.
  • Grades – The Canvas gradebook is where you will post grades and provide assignment feedback to your students. How to use the Canvas Gradebook.
  • Proctorio - Proctorio is an online proctoring solution to secure online Canvas exams. Students can only take Proctorio exams from a computer (PC or Mac) with the Chrome browser and Proctorio extension. Mobile devices such as phones or iPads are not supported. Before deploying Proctorio please visit our Proctorio page to copy the required syllabus statement and review the instructor FAQ. Our self-paced, fully online workshop, Online Proctoring with Proctorio, will provide you with all the setup steps and resources to ensure successful online proctoring. There you can download the required Proctorio pre-test module providing your students with all the setup steps and practice test. IMPORTANT - THIS PRE-TEST MODULE & PRACTICE TEST WILL PREVENT OVER 95% OF ALL POTENTIAL ISSUES SO PLEASE MAKE SURE THIS IS SETUP WITHIN YOUR COURSE PRIOR TO DEPLOYING PROCTORIO. Instructions for copying this into your are provided within the workshop but you can also email facultysupport@usf.edu and request to have it loaded into your course. 
  • Respondus Lockdown Browser - Respondus lockdown browser is another option for locking down the browser window while students take a Canvas exam. Due to the setup requirements for the students and browser limitations, Respondus is recommended as an "on campus" solution. If instructors need a lockdown browser for off-campus exams Proctorio can be used.