MSU campus spring

Start of Semester Checklist

As you prepare for the coming semester, take note of our semester-specific support resources, tips for setting up your Canvas course, and some steps for success in your courses!

Key Dates for Spring 2024

  • First day of classes: Tuesday, January 16, 2024
  • Full Spring semester: January 16 – May 7, 2024
  • All Canvas courses will be published automatically on January 10, 2024
  • Review the Academic Calendar for all session dates.

Please note that online programs may follow different dates!

Special Events

The Spring 2024 Teaching Symposium

  • Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2024
  • Time: 9:00am – 3:00pm
  • Location: Online

Instructional Technology and Design Services invites you to our faculty development event to help you get ready for the Spring semester. This event will include sessions focused on course design best practices, how to set up and design your course in Canvas, AI and other generative technologies, as well as strategies for effective assessment and student engagement. These sessions are applicable to teaching in-person, online or hybrid. Visit the event page to register!

Spring Online Support and Consultations

The ITDS team will be available for teaching support to start the Spring 2024 semester. This support will be available January 2 – January 12 from 10am – 3pm (excluding weekends and January 9). 

New to Teaching at Montclair State?

Join us for a quick overview of the instructional technology resources available to you at MSU. We will share tips for setting up your course in Canvas and other tools to enhance teaching and learning. Register for our “New to Montclair State: Resources for Teaching Your First Semester” workshop.

A Checklist for Setting Up Your Canvas Course

  • Are you teaching a course you have previously taught? Import a course (or some materials) from a previous semester. It is easy to incorporate materials from previous semesters by importing or copying your course components.
  • Are you teaching a course for the first time? Import our modifiable course template from Canvas Course Commons! This will give you a head start on using modules to structure your course, making it user-friendly for students. The template may be modified for multiple weeks by adding or removing modules as you see fit. You can also view a public version of the Course Template.
  • Update the Canvas Syllabus page. Although you may have your syllabus formatted as a Word document or PDF, the Canvas Syllabus page will also need to be updated. It appears in every course with some important information. It’s based on the Montclair State Canvas Syllabus Template already imported into all courses. In addition to the Canvas Syllabus Page, faculty have the option to work with Simple Syllabus. Simple Syllabus is a centralized, template-driven platform that enables faculty to quickly personalize and publish interactive class syllabi. Simple Syllabus is available in Canvas as “Montclair Syllabus” and can be enabled in Canvas course(s).
  • Set up a course homepage (either a Canvas page or Canvas modules) that orients students to the course as a whole and clearly indicates where and how to get started.
  • Use modules that are logically organized (e.g., weekly, thematically) and consistently structured.
  • Design your course with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in mind, use the Canvas Accessibility Checker and Ally to help ensure your course content is accessible.
  • Familiarize yourself with your gradebook and ensure your assignment group weights match the grading scheme from your syllabus correctly.
  • Create assignments to allow students to submit their work (documents, media files, links to online work, etc.) and set up discussions to facilitate academic discourse, share course logistics, build community, collaborate, etc.
  • Add the course calendar, in order to help students keep track of assignments and due dates.
  • Review your course before publishing it! Use the link validator and student view tools, and double-check your assignment due dates.
  • Publish your course. Courses will be automatically published according to the dates listed above, but it is recommended that you publish your course earlier.
  • Post an announcement to inform students of the course modality and your requirements for the first class. Courses must be published for announcements to be visible to students. An announcement that is posted while your course is unpublished will not send an email to your students!
  • For more recommendations, please visit our Designing Your Canvas Course page.
  • At the start of the semester, ask your students to complete the “Academic Engagement Verification Activity”! It can be accessed via Assignments or Modules in each course and will be automatically important into all Canvas courses. Your students should not complete the activity until the first day of the class meeting.

One-on-One Consultations with ITDS

The ITDS team is available for teaching support year-round to help you prepare for the upcoming semester. Select a topic and time slot and you will be paired with an ITDS team member for one-on-one support via Zoom.

Book an Appointment Now

ITDS is happy to announce our new workshop offerings to help you prepare for the semester!

Simple Syllabus: Getting Started for Faculty: Simple Syllabus offers a suite of new features for faculty and students which streamline the production and distribution of syllabi each semester, create a consistent student pathway for syllabus access, and enhance its layout and navigability for all. This workshop introduces the tool, its features, and how to integrate your content into the syllabus template. Visit our Simple Syllabus webpage for additional information.

Course Design for Maximum Impact and Student Success: Learn about effective course design approaches that will help you to ensure your students are meeting learning objectives. This workshop will guide you through the process of starting with your desired outcomes or goals and then working backward to develop assessments and learning activities that will help your students achieve those goals. We will also provide examples and a course design toolkit to assist you in designing your course, as well as hands-on activities that allow you to practice using course design principles.

Adobe Express & the Education Exchange: Designing for the Future Online: Sleek, professional, and easy to use, Adobe Express is a browser-based design tool from Adobe featuring a streamlined interface capable of handling quick visual design projects.

In this workshop, we will go over how you can use Adobe Express  for teaching and learning. You’ll learn how to enhance your students’ creativity through visual storytelling and how you can engage your students with essential creative and digital skills. Lastly, you’ll learn how to help your students get more out of their learning by designing, creating and presenting powerful visual stories with clarity and ease!

Keeping Up With AI Technologies: As artificial intelligence technologies rapidly evolve and become more commonplace in our classrooms, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up-to-date with the latest developments. Within the past few months, ChatGPT has already implemented updates to its technology while competing companies launch their own products. This session explores the latest updates to ChatGPT and overviews other relevant AI technology such as Google Bard, Microsoft Bing, Canva, and more.

Achieving AI Literacy: Frameworks to Effectively Use AI in Teaching Online: With the inevitably increasing presence of artificial intelligence in education, attaining AI literacy prepares faculty to more effectively understand its potential role in teaching and learning. This workshop strives to demystify AI technologies by providing multiple frameworks on how to most effectively incorporate and use artificial intelligence in the classroom. Varied perspectives on developing your own AI syllabus policy are also explored, from fully banning AI usage to allowing unrestricted use.

Responding to ChatGPT with Effective Instructional Design: The use of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) able to produce written work that sounds convincingly human-produced, exploded in popularity in late 2022 and poses many questions in higher education related to academic integrity and the authenticity of work produced by our students. This workshop empowers faculty with a hands-on demonstration of the tool, opportunities to explore it within your own subject matter, strategies and approaches for responding to it in your classroom, and considerations on leveraging the tool and its potential benefits.

Image Generation with AI: Exploring Creativity Responsibly Online: The possibilities of generative AI extend beyond plain text and ChatGPT. Artificial intelligence can also be used to create new images, edit photos by adding or removing elements, and more. This workshop explores how to ethically use these technologies, and provides hands-on demonstrations of how to use the most popular applications at present to generate and edit images with AI. Ideas on how to incorporate these technologies in your courses’ activities and assessments are also shared.

For a full view of all of our upcoming workshops, please visit our Workshop Registration page!

Faculty Development Courses

ITDS offers a number of facilitated courses throughout the year offered in an online asynchronous format. The purpose of these courses is to enrich faculty pedagogy strategies and to promote student engagement across various modalities. This Spring we are going to offer:

The Innovative Design for Effective Assessments (IDEA) 

  • Dates:  February 12 to March 3, 2024
  • Description: IDEA is a three-week online, asynchronous course intended to provide faculty with a variety of innovative assessment strategies to improve student learning outcomes in online, hybrid or in-person classes. This course introduces strategies and emerging technologies to help you build or improve how you evaluate student learning. You will have an opportunity to refine or develop assessment plans for your course(s) or focus on enhancing specific activities and assignments.

Technical Support

Make sure your devices are registered on the campus network (see the Connect to Wireless page). If you need technical support, please contact the IT Service Desk by calling 973-655-7971 (on campus x7971) or emailing, or your academic technology team. You may also review information on classroom technology on the Audio-Visual Services website, check NEST for modality, room, and other details.