Use the Instructor’s Quarterly Checklist to Prep for Launch

Before Your Course Starts

  1. ALWAYS review your contract and be sure to note your course start date and end date.  At least four weeks before the official start date of your course, please ensure that all the required and supplementary elements are prepared and integrated into your course(s) in Canvas.

  2. Remember that students will be able to access all published course content two (2) calendar days before the official start date of the course.
    • We recommend keeping content areas (beyond the first week of content) “unpublished” if content is still under development at the time of student access.
    • After all course content is uploaded, view your course as a student to ensure all intended content is visible to students.

Course Preparation Checklist

Via the “Course Syllabus” menu item, develop a syllabus that includes:

  • A Full Course Description (matching the UCLA Extension course catalog/website)
  • Instructor Contact Information and Online Office Hours
  • UCLA Extension Contact Information and Hours (placed by UCLA Extension – do not remove)
  • Course Objectives
  • Expected Learning Outcomes
  • Correct list of Required and Optional Materials (ensure that optional materials are labeled as such)
  • Full Course Schedule (using the Schedule section of the syllabus tool)
  • A breakdown of total point distribution by assignment type and/or week
  • Grading Scheme (e.g., A+ through F, A through F, Pass/Fail, etc.)
  • Course Policies: Grading, Incomplete & Late Work Policies
  • Additional Information (as needed, such as instructor expectations or tips for student success)

Complete Canvas Instructor Profile (in addition to Syllabus information):

  • Photo
  • Biography (250 word target)
  • Contact Information (email, phone)

Post or Schedule a Weekly Announcement

Post Weekly Course Content (e.g., lectures, summaries, readings, assignments, activities, etc.)

  • Weekly modules (Weeks 1-2 must be available; ideally have all content prepared in advance of the course start)
  • Content Pages with rich content (clear and easy-to-read text, appropriately incorporated images and media relevant to the material)

Post Discussions (Optional for Web-Enhanced):

  • Introductory forum (strongly recommended)
  • Topical/Weekly discussion forums
  • General Question forum (strongly recommended)

Build Major Assignments with Correct Settings

  • Ensure each assignment displays in Grades (published with correct title)
  • Ensure assignment settings and due dates are correct

Complete a final quality check to ensure course readiness before student access date

  • Update dates to reflect the current quarter
  • Ensure all text is grammatically correct and error-free
  • Ensure content is placed into assignments and pages in a way that students can easily view and/or navigate
  • Check hyperlinks to ensure that they are functioning correctly (update/remove broken links)
  • Ensure that all embedded documents and media are accessible to students via Canvas
  • Update any files that contain outdated information

After Your Course Starts

Once students begin accessing your course, establish and maintain your presence in your online course(s). One of the most common student complaints is that their instructor is unresponsive or absent from the online environment. Staying active in the class, remaining current and responsive in grading, and posting new content and responding to student discussions and messages is an expectation of your role as an instructor at UCLA Extension.

Course Interaction Checklist

  • Introduce yourself to the class via an announcement, a Welcome/Introduction post on the discussion board, and/or a live Zoom session
  • Post weekly announcements to help students stay focused and up-to-date on all course-related information
  • Respond to all student messages within 24-48 hours
  • Respond to assignments within 7 days of the due date—or sooner
  • Host weekly office hours (recommended, refer to departmental policy)
  • Host weekly webinars (optional)
  • Log in to Canvas on a regular basis (every 24-48 hours) and check the following areas for new activity:
    • Inbox (Messages)
    • Grades
    • Discussions
    • Assignment comments/SpeedGrader comments
  • Offer supportive, constructive feedback and comments via Grades
  • Monitor and follow-up on missing/late assignments in Grades

If you will be unavailable for more than 48 hours…

  • Communicate with your students and your department if you will be unavailable for 48 hours or longer
  • Post an announcement letting students know when you will be unavailable and provide contact information for support

2 Weeks Prior to Course End Date:

Post Announcement providing end-of-course details:

  • Final Dates
  • Any Final Exams
  • Due Dates for All Work to be completed and turned in

Make sure all grading is as current as possible:

  • Grade late assignments
  • Alert students to any missing assignments
  • Provide students an early warning if they are not expected to pass course (for more on “Incompletes” check the Grading section of your course in the Instructor Portal.

On the Final Week

  • Send a final announcement wrapping up the course to thank students for their participation

1-2 Weeks after the Final Course Date

  • Review and update final grades in the Instructor Portal  – double check grades before submitting


For questions or general course development assistance, please email:


Please sign in to leave a comment.