Getting Started with the Semester

Getting your new Canvas site

One common question every semester is, “When will my Canvas site(s) be available?” Canvas sites for all semester-based credit-bearing courses are normally available to instructors on the following schedule. (This may be different for programs on a quarter system and the IU School of Medicine.)

Term Provisioning Date
Fall Semester Mid June
Spring Semester Early November
All Summer Terms Early April

Once your Canvas site is available, you can begin setting up your course for the semester.

Students will not be able to see anything you add to your course until you publish the entire course site by clicking the Publish button on the home page. It is on the top right of the course homepage. Note: If you don’t see it there, look at the very bottom of the page, as the right side tools will move to the bottom of the page if your window/screen is small, or if you have your browser magnification turned up.

It is best practice to publish your Canvas site to your students 1-2 weeks prior to the start of classes. This is especially important if students need to purchase any books, tools, programs, etc., before the start of the semester.

If you’re interested in saving your students money and avoiding the hassle of students not having their textbook the first week of class, check out the IU eText program which can provide eTexts to students at a much lower cost than the bookstore or the publisher. IU eTexts are billed through the bursar’s office so they count toward financial need and students have access to them as soon as you publish your course. Search the eText catalog to see if your book is already available. If not, request it through For more information, see the Canvas course IU eTexts: A Faculty and Staff Introduction.

If you would like to start work on your course before your Canvas site is created by the Registrar’s Office, you can create a practice course site. If you are in a teacher role in any Canvas site, you can create a practice course by clicking the Start a New Course button on the right side of your Canvas dashboard, or at the top right of your All Courses list. (If your screen is small, the button may be at the bottom of the dashboard.)

For instructions, please see Create a new Canvas course site in the IU Knowledge Base.


Questions? Talk to your campus teaching and learning center!

Click “Next” at the very bottom right in the red area to continue.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

A Canvas Semester Checklist Copyright © by Trustees of Indiana University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.