University of Wisconsin–Madison

Preparing Students for the Beginning of the Semester

Student using a laptop with Canvas on the screen

Preparing Students

    • How do we prepare students for the start of the semester?

-give students access to a semester calender/overlook if possible(syllabus or elsewhere)

-Have proper communication from administrators so all professors can be on the same page and be able to have a consistent answer for students

-If there are assignments or readings due prior to the first day of class, the Canvas page should be open multiple days prior to classes starting. Additionally, if this is the case, professors should reach out to students with an email letting them know that the Canvas page is open, and that students need to read through it for assignments due the first day.

  • Planning Communication

-choose 1 route to give students updates (whether that email, announcements, canvas inbox etc.) notify students which you will use and remind them to make sure their notifications are on for that method.

  • Using Campus Resources
    • What do many instructors overlook?
      • Time zone differences of students in different parts of the country and around the world.
      • Not having typical study area access
    • Will students have access to Grainger for interviews and software?
    • Draft compelling headlines
    • What is the fastest way to do things/save time?
    • Accommodations for Student who have Disabilities

      It is recommended that if you need to request disability-related accommodations or have specific accessibility requirements for participating in this online course you become a McBurney Disability Resource Center client and meet with your online course instructor as far in advance of the start of class as possible. Accommodation service plans can be tailored for students taking online courses, and early meetings with faculty can be used to discuss the structure of the course and the delivery of the course content to identify accommodations and accessibility features that you may need.

-keep information streamlined and in one place.  It is good to utilize many different canvas features, but try to have one main way/place students can get their information.(If there are too many avenues to receive info(disc posts, Piazza, announcements etc, some vital information may not reach students there are too many places to look for it)


  • What makes your course different from others?
  • Different lecture formats (BB recorded lectures, podcasts, audio PowerPoint slides, live lectures) 
  • Each module contains different information 
  • Some create modules based on weekly lectures 
  • Some create modules based on a 2 week unit course based 
  • Some have modules by each categories (readings module, lecture modules, lecture slides module) 
  • Some using BBCollaborative for Discussion, some using Zoom (having trouble finding zoom links sometimes, encourage faculty to put zoomlinks in canvas modules) 
  • Have introduction videos for each unit to summarize the contents 
  • Classes that created deadlines on Canvas calendar (help me keep track of deadlines- discussion posts, small hw, papers, exams); while other classes did not having any deadlines on canvas (hard to navigate deadlines and due dates)

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