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Course Preparation

Welcome! Please explore the tools and templates below to help get your course started this semester.

1. Know your mode of instruction

  • Know how the Academic Year 23/24 modes of instruction are defined for our campus. Fully In-person, Online Synchronous, Online Asynchronous, Hybrid, Blended, HyFlex, and HerkyFlex are among the possible options.
  • A detailed description of each of these modes can be found on the Course Modality page.

2. Utilize Canvas

Use Canvas to provide course content, grade assignments, and communicate with students.

Search in Canvas Commons for "CTL Canvas Template" to import a template to your existing course.Import the "CTL Canvas Template Course" (Login required) to an existing empty Canvas development course to begin creating your canvas course from scratch.

When you navigate to Canvas Commons, use the filter tool to choose "CSU Sacramento" and the template will be among the first few options to copy into one of your own Canvas courses (see also: need an empty development course? 👇🏽) or download.

Request an empty development course that contains no students to edit and build activities at your leisure.

3. Update/Review your syllabus

Use the guide and template below to either update an existing syllabus or start fresh with an empty template.

The following syllabus template has been updated for the AY 23-24 to:

  • Comply with the CSUS Syllabus Policy
  • Use inclusive and equitable language
  • Meet required accessibility standards and best practices

Need to download Microsoft Word? Visit the Software & Tools Catalog for your free copy!

Please provide us with your feedback regarding the syllabus template and guide by taking this short survey.

The Syllabus Template Guide provides:

  • Detailed steps and instructions on how to update the syllabus template with your required course information
  • Optional inclusive language wording that you may or may not choose to include
  • A quick checklist that can be used against an existing syllabus to ensure you have all the required syllabus language in accordance with the CSUS Syllabus Policy
Feel free to download the guide and copy and paste any sections you might want into an existing syllabus, but be sure to check for accessibility afterward.

In addition to the required components, it is recommended that faculty include the following components within their course syllabi:

  1. Faculty expectations of students related to communication, feedback, emergency information.
    1. Faculty may wish to announce to students or include a statement such as the following: "If a faculty member is not available during the semester, students will be contacted and advised how the course will proceed. This may include a change in instructor or modality."
  2. The approved Title IX language.
    "The University requires faculty and staff to report any personal disclosures of sexual misconduct including rape, dating/domestic violence and stalking to the Title IX Coordinator. Students who do not wish to report their experience to me or the Title IX Coordinator may speak to someone confidentially by contacting Student Health and Counseling Services."
  3. Links to campus policies related to student academics such as:
    1. Drop and Withdrawal Policy
    2. Grading Policy
  4. Links to campus resources, such as:
    1. Academic Advising
    2. Information Resources and Technology
    3. Support Centers and Programs
    4. Reading & Writing Center
    5. Student Rights and Responsibilities

Please ensure you have all the required syllabus language in accordance with the CSUS Syllabus Policy
Feel free to download the guide and explore examples of using inclusive language while including recommended elements into an existing syllabus, but be sure to check for accessibility afterward.

The Syllabus Template provides:

  • Brief instructions on how to update the template
  • Optional inclusive language wording that you may or may not choose to include
  • Required sections and language according to the CSUS Syllabus Policy
Feel free to download the guide and copy and paste any sections you might want into an existing syllabus, but be sure to check for accessibility afterward.

College students have diverse skills, abilities, and cultural or social backgrounds. The language presented to students in a syllabus at the start of a course may cause some students to feel disenfranchised or that they do not belong. An inclusive syllabus is a way to establish a first impression that you acknowledge the diversity of students’ backgrounds, needs, and abilities and that you are committed to creating an inclusive classroom that fosters a sense of belonging for all. This presentation will empower faculty members to make changes to their own syllabi and suggest a way to bring this powerful perspective back to their own teams for future consideration.

4. Set up a safe, accessible and equitable environment

Accessible Course Design Resources

Designing an Equitable Learning Experience

5. Communicate efficiently and often

  • Let your students know your course communication plan.
  • As soon as possible, inform your students about any changes in instruction, what those changes may be, and how you plan to manage those changes to optimize their learning path.
  • Be efficient and concise and avoid information overload.

6. Engage with your students

7. Assess learning and the learning process

  • Provide multiple opportunities and formats for students to demonstrate what they have learned and what they might need more help with.
  • Use Canvas “assignment” and “quiz” features to deliver both formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are quick checks for understanding that may not be graded (ex.“muddiest point,” “the one minute paper,” “ticket out the door”, writing drafts) Summative assessments are comprehensive exams or projects that evaluate learning and contribute to the course grade (ex. midterms, finals, term papers, capstone projects.)
  • Use “rubrics”, “speed grader”, and “grade book” features in Canvas to communicate clear grading criteria, provide feedback, and grade assessments.

8. Promote Academic Honesty

  • Review the Academic Misconduct Response Policy
    • Ensure you have included language regarding the policy in your Syllabus
    • Address how you will, or will not allow, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in your course, and be sure to outline it explicitly in your Syllabus. Determine the best policy for your course. Be sure to consult your department/program for further consideration.
    • It is highly encouraged, and in some cases required, for you to meet with students 1:1 to address suspected academic misconduct before reporting.
  • Provide frequent opportunities for students to demonstrate what they have learned, ex. weekly quizzes instead of one midterm and final exam or a series of writing drafts, graphic organizers, and annotated bibliographies, instead of only a thesis statement and final essay. Eliminating infrequent “high-stakes” assessments reduces the motivation to cheat.
  • Consider the use of alternative assessments such as oral exams, recorded presentations, group projects, artistic interpretations, etc.
  • Use “TurnitIn” similarity software available in Canvas to allow students to evaluate their writing before it comes to you for grading.
  • Visit “Chegg” to understand how easy it is for someone to post your exam problems and receive a solution from a tutor.
  • Use Respondus Lockdown browser to discourage students from using a computer to search the internet with the same device they are using to complete an assessment.
  • AI/ChatGPT resource and information compilation can be explored in the CTL's Padlet.

9. Ask for help and be flexible

  • Keep your Zoom session and Canvas module agendas simple and have a no-tech backup plan in case your Zoom or Canvas technology stops working. Contact an Instructional Technologist through IRT to help you with the nuts and bolts (settings, function, navigation, etc.) of your technology (Canvas, Zoom, Media site, etc.)
  • Consult with a CTL Teaching and Learning Mentor to discuss your instructional strategies, and assessment plans, or to troubleshoot teaching and learning challenges. Request a consultation here.
  • Consult with an Instructional Designer to troubleshoot or brainstorm solutions to unexpected challenges in your online course.
  • During synchronous Zoom sessions consider asking students to take turns facilitating or taking notes in breakout sessions, monitoring the chat, discussion, or other collaborative documents.

Who can help?

Keep checking back often for additional links to more help; and remember you can always just call 916.278.5945 or email if you need someone to talk to about our efforts to provide you with continuity in Teaching and Learning.

More Strategies, Tools, and Help:

Resource Links and Handouts

The following is a list of resources to help you teach online. Use what you need (don't try to read everything!) and seek help whenever possible.

Building Cohesion and Communication:

Online Equity and Inclusion:

Remote Labs:

Comprehensive Resources and Toolkits: