Convert real-time classroom activities into asynchronous (not real-time) activities to ease scheduling challenges and, in case of network disruptions, make sure new asynchronous activity promotes the same learning outcomes and stored in Canvas ahead of time for later viewing (such as readings or lectures).

Consult with a colleague in the Center for Teaching and Learning or with an instructional designer from the eLearning group to most efficiently design your content and activities for delivery in Canvas. 

Keeta Holmes  Director, CTL
Jen McKanry  Assistant Director, CTL
Erin Whitteck  Assistant Director, CTL
Emily Goldstein  Interim Director, Office of eLearning
Gretchen Haskell  Instructional Designer
Dasha Kochuk  Instructional Designer
Pearl Xie  Instructional Designer

Frequently Asked Questions

I don't regularly use Canvas and am not sure what to do. How can I quickly get my Canvas course site ready for my materials and instruction?

The Center for Teaching and Learning and Office of eLearning staff have assembled a ready-to-use Canvas template you can import into your existing Canvas site. It has messaging, modules, discussion forums, and assignments ready for you to adapt as you need to make pivoting to online a simpler task.

CommonsIcon Log into Canvas at and choose the Commons link on the left navigation menu. 
search-icon.png In the search by title box, type Keep Teaching at UMSL to locate the Canvas resource you will next import.

Explore the content preview as you wish, and when you're ready, click the blue Import/Download button on the right.

Next, choose which course(s) you'd like to import this course site into (click the box to the left of the name of each course). Choose Import into Course.

If you prefer, you can add materials and activities as you need them by following the instructions shared below.

How can I pre-record asynchronous lectures and videos for my students?

Badri Adhikari UMSL Assistant Professor in Computer Science created this wonderful video with tips about how to record a lecture and what to do if your computer is slow when recording a lecture.

There are many pre-existing videos that cover a wide range of topics and subject matter. YouTube and TedTalks are just a couple of examples. You don’t have to recreate the wheel. If a video already exists in the public domain, use it. Here’s how to add a link to an online video in Canvas.

If you need to record your own video, UMSL provides several options for pre-recording lectures to put into Canvas. Consult this matrix that outlines the features of each tool to help guide your choice.


Panopto is a lecture and screen-recording tool that you can use to record your voice over slides or while recording what you’re doing on your screen. *Integrates with Canvas for easy sharing with your students.
Panopto Resources for Faculty



Voicethread allows you to have an asynchronous conversation with your students while also viewing content - slides, images, documents, video, and more. You can record one slide at a time. *Integrates with Canvas for easy sharing with your students.

VoiceThread Resources for Faculty
How to Set Up, Create, and Share a VoiceThread in Your Online Course (pdf document)
Setting Up VoiceThread in Your Online Course 
How to Add Comments to An Existing VoiceThread (pdf document)

Tips for Recording Instructional Videos:

  • Keep your lecture short (no longer than 10 minutes). It is okay to have multiple videos for one lecture.

  • Watch and listen to your first video to make sure that images and audio are clear and easy to see and understand.

  • If you are in the recording, find a location that is well-lit. However, you do not want the primary light source to be behind you.

  • Keep your videos short, 5-10 minutes at the most.

  • Use a headset or earbuds, or a stand-alone microphone, to increase sound quality.

  • Some instructors draft scripts before recording. If you do draft a script, consider providing it to the students as a supplement.

  • Students don’t generally mind if the production values aren’t perfect! If you occasionally say “um” or repeat a word, don’t feel you need to re-record.

How can I collect student assignments digitally?

  • Canvas has an Assignments tool that allows you to collect assignments digitally, provide students feedback, and share student grades. How to Create an Assignment in Canvas (watch video)

  • Focus on fundamentals of course design and learning objectives even if you need to adjust the specific activities that contribute to reaching those objectives. Keep students moving toward your general course goals aligned to specific learning objectives. Avoid “busy work.”

  • Prioritize course activities and focus on delivering the ones with the most significant impact on learning outcomes, and be realistic! What can really be done during school closures that keeps the course moving, meets learning objectives, but also considers the factors behind the closure? That is, if there are a series of pre-determined course activities students can complete to stay current during an emergency, which ones should they do first and are most aligned to the overall course goals and objectives? Make sure your instructions specify those.

A few important notes about assignments in Canvas:

  • Canvas requires all assignments to have a point value.

  • Students can either upload files or use a textbox within the Assignmenttool to submit assignments. Canvas allows either of these submission types to be graded through the SpeedGrader.

  • SpeedGrader is an internal grading tool you can use to provide comments, feedback and grades for assignments within Canvas so you do not have to download submitted files and re-upload graded assignment files.

How can I share student grades confidentially and digitally?

Canvas allows you to communicate individual grades, category grades, and total grades with students through the Canvas Grades area.

How can I communicate updates, changes, and other relevant information to my students?

Use the Canvas Announcements or Inbox tools when you need to communicate with your class as a group. You can push the announcement to students’ emails, and a copy of the announcement will also appear on your course site.

How can I set up a discussion board for my students, such as a Frequently Asked Questions board or a discussion area about a specific topic?

A discussion board in Canvas is an asynchronous, text-based tool for conversing in an online environment. In a discussion, an original participant makes a post to the discussion forum (based on the selected topic) for other participants to read. Other participants can then leave a reply on that original posting, leaving both the original post and the reply visible for future participants. This series of posts and replies is called a discussion thread. For more information about how to use a Discussion in your course, use the resources below
Discussion Board Resources for Faculty
How to Create a Discussion (video)
How to Create a Discussion

How can I facilitate exams, quizzes, or tests digitally with my students?

Canvas has a Quiz tool that allows instructors to create exams with multiple types of questions. You can create “pools” of questions to reuse, or you can randomly pull a subset of questions to create a different quiz for each student. You can control when each test is available and what is released to students. You can also analyze how students perform by question and see general information about a student's performance on the assessment (time to complete, etc.).

Quiz Resources for Faculty
How to Create a Quiz in Canvas (video)
How to Set Up a Quiz in Canvas (video)