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Reviewing & Submitting Course Materials – Instructional Design, Technology, and Support

Working with the Course Support Team (CST) to prepare course materials typically centers around five major deliverables and deadlines:

  1. Submitting textbook information to the bookstore

  2. Submitting e-Reserve information to the library

  3. Copying and preparing the Canvas course shell

  4. Finalizing and submitting the course syllabus

  5. Finalizing course module content and QAing prior to granting student access

In order for the CST to support a growing number of courses in our degree programs, the deadlines set for these deliverables should be considered final and there should be no substantial revisions made to materials after submission. It is also expected that all materials will be QAed by faculty prior to submission, as the CST do not have the capacity to provide an in-depth review of every single course site, especially in cases where content is revised and re-revised.


Textbooks can be a very costly expense for students, so it is important to ensure that the material that we provide to them is both timely and accurate. There is a federal regulation that exists for this reason, which requires that we have textbook information available to students by or before the time that registration opens for the semester.

Desk Copies and Finalizing Textbook Selection

It is expected that faculty will research their own texts and work with co-faculty or track coordinators/program directors when either selecting a new textbook as part of a course development or redesign, or updating to the most recent edition of a textbook that will continue to be used in the course. This includes providing updated page numbers and chapter titles to CST so that they can update course content in Canvas as necessary.

Additionally, faculty are in most cases responsible for requesting their own desk copies of textbooks. One reason for this is that it is increasingly common for publishers to only provide electronic access to the text, which requires the faculty to set up an account on the publisher’s website and make the request themselves. It is typically easy to find the web page that describes the publisher’s directions for ordering desk copies by conducting an online search for “[publisher’s name] desk copies.” Often the section on the publisher’s website that tells you how to order desk copies is under “academic services,” “academic resources,” “desk and exam copies,” or something similar. Please note that you may be asked to create an account so that you can be verified as a faculty member at SON before you will be allowed to request a desk copy.

In rare cases, the book may need to be purchased, in which case the faculty would need to contact [email protected], as well as the program director (budget approval) to request the book(s) to be purchased. Please include the course number/name, semester being taught, book title and publisher name. This request should be in sufficient time to fill the request 3-4 weeks, ideally.

Submitting Textbook Information to CST

Approximately one or two weeks before the course shells create in Canvas for the upcoming semester, the faculty who are listed on the posted course schedule will be contacted by their assigned course support person. This initial email will include all of the upcoming deadlines and due dates, and (when applicable) the textbook information from the last time the course ran. At that time, faculty will be required to either confirm moving forward with the previous texts, or provide the CST with the new textbook information. Again, this deadline exists to satisfy a federal requirement, and is considered final and immovable.

Important note: due to Fall registration typically opening right after Summer registration closes, Fall textbook information is due significantly earlier than textbook information for other semesters. This should be taken in to account when preparing to teach for Fall courses specifically.

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e-Reserves are the electronic articles, textbook chapters, etc. that we provide students access to directly in the Canvas classroom. Providing materials as e-Reserves ensures additional protection when using copyrighted materials and helps SON and the library ensure that faculty are not using materials in their course without the appropriate permission. Because it can take substantial time for them to find and secure clearance for these materials, the library requires that we submit all e-Reserve requests for the entire course a minimum of 5 weeks before students are given access to the course in Canvas.

It is expected that any material we provide electronic access to in the classroom that is intended to be used for a major course assignment or as an assigned reading in future semesters will be submitted in the e-Reserve request. Faculty may only post PDFs of copyrighted material in the classroom if it is a one-time use of the document, and it must be removed when the course is copied to the next semester.

Submission of e-Reserves to the CST generally occurs one to two weeks after the textbook information is submitted. If the faculty would like e-Reserves copied over from a previous semester, this can be requested at the same time the textbook information is confirmed or submitted. If additional e-Reserves are being requested, or the faculty would like to remove some e-Reserves that were copied from the previous semester, those requests should be made via email to the assigned course support person by/before the assigned deadline.  

Important Note: At the end of each semester or term, all copyrighted material in electronic reserves will be generally unavailable.

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Canvas Course Shells

The Canvas Course Shells populate in the system approximately 8-10 weeks before the semester begins. When they initially create, the shells have only the standard items in them that exist across all courses. Occasionally updates are made to the Master shell by the CST supervisor, based on feedback from faculty, students, and staff about how to improve standard instructions or areas such as Welcome – Start Here, Syllabus & Course Info, Learning/Writing Resources, Technical Support, and Faculty Resources. All major template revisions for both the Syllabus template and the Canvas Course Shell template must be requested through and approved by the All School Curriculum Committee.

When faculty are initially contacted about textbook information for their course, they will also be asked where content should be copied from in order to populate content for the upcoming semester. Faculty should be absolutely sure that the correct information is provided, as a number of issues can arise in the course if the content is copied from multiple sources. Additionally, the more a course is copied, the more likely it is that all or most links to course documents that have been uploaded will be broken and inaccessible by students until fixed by CST.

To ensure that all course content is updated and QAed well before students are granted access, we recommend that faculty begin coordinating materials for their course as soon as they are notified that the shell has been prepared and content has been copied over. 

If a faculty member would like to prepare their Canvas site for a future semester sooner than the course shells will be created, we can create a separate space to copy their course to and allow them to begin working on their course revisions at any time. The updated content can be copied from that alternate revision space to the course shell when it becomes available. To request assistance with this, please email [email protected].

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We consider the course syllabus to be a contract between the faculty and students; it should provide all the information they need with regards to the textbook information, course assignments, course policies, and course schedule. To help ensure this information is provided in accordance with SON standards, we utilize a Course Syllabus Template which is required to be used for all courses offered at the school. For the most recent semester version or template version of any course syllabus, look in the corresponding course folder in the Approved Syllabi folder on the R drive.

The Approved Syllabi folder is where the CST will go to find the most recently used version of the Syllabus, which they will then forward to faculty to begin preparing for the next semester. The version that is sent by the CST is the exact copy that should be edited and updated by the course faculty (except in the rare case that an alternative current version exists with major changes not included in the one provided). If a different version of the syllabus is provided than what was sent for review and revisions, the CST will respond and request that the changes be made to the appropriate version. The CST will not make updates to or post any Syllabi that are provided on an outdated syllabus template.

Important Note: The course syllabus should be fully reviewed and QAed by all faculty responsible for the course before the course opens to students. No revisions or updates should be made to the syllabus after it is made available to students. Any major revisions requested after students are provided access to the course site will be tracked and escalated to the Program Director or Track Coordinator for additional review, in an effort to minimize similar requests in the future by addressing them earlier and more proactively.

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Module Content & QA

The Term Start Timeline notes that when course sites open to students one week before the course begins, a minimum of two modules (or the first two weeks’ worth of content) should be available to them in Canvas. While these earlier materials are all that are required to be open to students with finalized content at that time, the remainder of the course content should also be finalized by the time the course begins. All plans for updates to content should be submitted to the CST as early as possible so that they can prioritize revisions accordingly and easily keep track of any necessary updates to make to content before it becomes available to the students.

If all previous deadlines for materials are met (including decisions about e-Reserves and finalizing the course syllabus & schedule), there should be ample time to prepare all assignment details, rubrics, discussion boards, and learning resources in the course site in the 8-10 weeks before courses open. If deadlines are not met or content is revised multiple times throughout the process, there will likely be delays in the opening of the course site. Any delays in the opening of course sites will be tracked and escalated to the Program Director or Track Coordinator for additional review, in an effort to determine how to improve the term start preparation process for those courses that do not open on time.

More information about the QA process and how to prepare the course Syllabus and Canvas Course Site for term start can be found on the Quality Assurance & Course Readiness page.

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