3 Most Common Course Development Mistakes

Woman biting yellow pencil in her mouth in front of a computer

The semester has started, and you are on your way to becoming a Canvas pro! In order to help you on this quest, we have put together a list of the three most common development mistakes instructors make while managing their course shells. Familiarize yourself with these development mistakes in order to avoid them!

#1 – Not Reviewing Due Dates

You’ve updated your syllabus and all should be well. So, why are your students emailing you about discrepancies with due dates?

Before the start of every term, it is recommended to carefully review and update all assignment dates/availability from the course “Assignments” tab, using the Bulk Update feature. Also, we suggest that you review the auto-populated “Course Summary” at the bottom of the syllabus as that will include dates from calendar events and nongraded items, too.

Man with hand over face sitting on couch in front of a computer

#2 – Not Updating Groups & Group Assignments

Your group assignments worked well last semester; what gives? Unfortunately, Canvas does not replicate groups during a course copy. I’m bummed about that too.

If you use groups in your course, you’ll need to (1) recreate the groups every semester (do this first!) and (2) reset the connection between groups and their associated assignment(s).

Whenever possible, wait until after the add/drop period to create your course groups (check the academic calendar for specific dates). This will minimize any changes to the groups after they’re created.


#3 – Broken Links Everywhere

There are many reasons links might break in your course, but here is the biggest culprit:

  • You copied & pasted content from one course shell to another. Copied links and images may not work for your new students.

If you need to import a certain item from one course to another, do not copy and paste (it’s tempting, we know). Instead, use Canvas’ Direct Share in the course from which you want to copy. See the guides below. 

Canvas Secret Game Portal: "Whoops... Looks like nothing is here! We couldn't find that Page! Page Not Found"

When in doubt, just run the Link Validator. It will let you know if any links are pointing to deleted content, unpublished content, or content in a different course. It’s an awesome tool and you should be using it frequently!

Additionally, you can catch broken links quickly by enabling notifications for “Content Link Errors.” This will inform you via email when students are clicking on a broken link.


As a bonus, I’ll mention one final mistake to avoid: Not Asking for Help

No question, issue, or concern is too small. If there’s anything you’re unsure of or need help with, don’t hesitate to reach out! You can submit a request for support at any time via canvas.FIU.edu.

If you enjoyed reading this, dig into some of our other valuable articles below.

Nina has been a proud Golden Panther since 2007, and a member of FIU Online since 2014. She takes pride in her ability to be patient, meticulous, and organized, and strives to enrich Florida International University’s online community. As a member of the Learning Design Team at FIU Online, it is her goal to assist FIU's faculty members with creating quality online courses that are engaging and rewarding for both students and instructors. Her aim is to be proactive, rigorous, innovative, and resourceful in order to help faculty achieve their goals for their online and certified hybrid courses. She believes that in higher education and instructional design, success relies heavily on positive collaboration, and she strives to provide that kind of experience to everyone she works with! Nina is truly excited about all the possibilities that online learning has to offer both students and faculty, and she is eager to see where this ever-evolving field takes us!

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