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How do I prepare for Canvas?

markers in a container and notebook in background

Switching to a new learning management system can be a daunting process, especially without a game plan in place. So where should you start?  Follow the four-step checklist below to get you ready for the move.

Step 1: Access your sandbox

Information Technology Services (ITS) is working hard to prepare Canvas for use. If you are interested in getting an early start, you can access your practice course via the Canvas dashboard. Don't see a practice course in your Canvas account? Request one by emailing at The practice course will let you familiarize yourself with Canvas while you build and store your content until your official course is ready.

Step 2: Get acquainted with the Canvas tools

UC San Diego’s Canvas instance has all the common LMS features, such as assignments, discussion forums, quizzes, file sharing, grading, and announcements. To learn about any of these features, refer to the how-to resources available at:

Step 3: Curate course media

Whether setting up your course materials for an in-person, online, or hybrid course; you will want to consider cost, access, copyright and licenses.

Course Material Options

Open Educational Resources (OER)
Consider using an open educational resource: all are open access and Creative Commons licensed so that you can post the actual content immediately. You may link   to library licensed content such as journal articles or do a fair use assessment if you want to post the actual content. Remind the students that they need to have their computer configured for off-campus access and use the VPN if they want to be able to access the content remotely. In addition, you may consult with a librarian to help you find the resources you need by using this list of librarians by subject.


Want to learn more about Open Educational Resources?  Introduction to OER (on Canvas) is a publicly available Canvas course about OERs. This resource includes a syllabus, modules, and quizzes to help instructors understand issues and opportunities to reuse, remix, or create OER in Canvas. The UC San Diego Library has more in depth resources regarding OERs on their website. For specific questions about your discipline or course , please reach out to

Bookstore Course Materials

The bookstore offers a variety of textbook resources from print, to ebooks, to inclusive access options. If you choose to use use the bookstore for course media, below are a few helpful links to get you started:
Notify UC San Diego Bookstore

In order to comply with HEOA provisions and help our students be prepared for their course work, please promptly

submit any course materials or supplies you are requiring/assigning for the course(s) you are teaching this quarter.

Submit your request by any of the following methods:

  • Email or call us at 858-534-4557
  • Go to, then go to Textbooks/Faculty/Order Course Materials
  • Use personalized Verba Adoption link emailed directly to you from UC San Diego Bookstore

Interested in creating custom or open educational resources? Email:

Step 4: Design your students' course experience

Canvas offers its module structure to assist instructors in building the student experience. So what are modules? According to Canvas:

“Modules allow you to organize your content to help control the flow of your course. They are used to organize course content by weeks, units, [chapters, themes, projects,] or a different organizational structure that works for your course. With modules, you are essentially creating a [list view] of what you would like your students to do.

Each module can contain files, discussions, assignments, quizzes, and other learning materials that you would like to use."

Before building your course in Canvas, ask yourself what kind of module setup will be used? Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc? Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-6, etc? Not sure? Explore some of the sample courses below to see how the instructors set up their modules.

Still unsure what module setup to use? The Teaching + Learning Commons staff is available to help you determine the best module structure for your course.

Step 5: Contact your Canvas support team

The EdTech team is ready to help and support you in making the transition to Canvas. You can contact the EdTech Services office at 858-822-3315 |