Start-of-Term Guidance for Instructors of Online Courses

Modified on Sat, 10 Dec 2022 at 10:58 AM



Section 2

Pennkey Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR)

PennKey Self-Service Password Reset (SSPR) has recently been introduced at the University. This is a modern, secure, way to help quickly reset your password if it is forgotten. We strongly recommend signing up for this service now by following the instructions below. 

  • To enroll you must register your preferred personal contact information  –a (non-Penn) email address and cell phone number (both are required to use SSPR). 
  • To Enroll in SSPR: 
  • Those who choose not to enroll in SSPR will continue to contact the PennKey Support office if they need to reset forgotten PennKey passwords. Please note that the PennKey Support office does not offer help on evenings or weekends, so you will be helped on the next business day if you request support. 
  • Please Note: Use of password managers and other browser extensions may cause errors with PennKey Self-Service. If you encounter an error, try again with a different browser.  If trying another browser does not work, please contact PennKey Support. 
  • Not sure if you’re signed up for SSPR? Go to this page and follow the prompts:  If you cannot access, please contact the PennKey Support office 

Canvas Course Site Checklist

Canvas is the primary space for your online course, so it is recommended that you complete these steps in your Canvas site ASAP:

  • Update the document file for your syllabus and upload it to the Syllabus area in your Canvas site. Make sure all dates (class meetings, assignments, presentations, etc.) are for the upcoming session and not an older session.  
  • Please update due dates for assignments, quizzes, exams, discussions, etc. in your Canvas site. (one by one or in bulk) Also, make sure Canvas modules and assignments align with dates in your updated syllabus.  
  • Submit readings and other materials ordered through Course Materials @ Penn Libraries in past terms. DO THIS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  
  • Review the homepage for any outdated references, old zoom information, etc. and remove as needed. 
  • Add any required textbooks to the course description on your Canvas site’s homepage.  
  • Check for bad or broken links by using the Canvas Link Validator and update links as needed. Learn more: Canvas Link Validator Tips for Instructors
  • Enable any tools* you will be using, such as VoiceThread (*Ed Discussion is the exception to this rule; please activate only on the first day of class).
  • Canvas announcements from your past Canvas site have not been copied, but we can copy these upon request.  
  • Please publish your Canvas course site on or before the first day of classes.

Communicating with Students

  • The best way to message students before the start of your course is through a class listserv. Complete directions can be found through the following link: Class Mailing Lists
  • After your course starts, you can use Canvas announcements or messages, as well as your class listserv, to contact students. 
  • Students may miss your Canvas messages if they have not set up their Canvas notifications, so please encourage your students to set their Canvas notifications to receive all email. You can share instructions with students on updating Canvas notifications by using the following link: How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as a student? 

Using Zoom

SAS Online Learning courses use the Canvas-Zoom integration.  To use the integration, you will simply enable the Zoom navigation button in Canvas and log in with your PennKey Zoom account. Then, you will set up all of your Zoom meetings for your course through your individual canvas course page.

If this is your first-time using Zoom to teach for a SAS course at Penn, please follow these steps ASAP:

  • Please set up your PennKey Zoom account if you have not already done so:
  • Once your PennKey Zoom account is ready, please follow these directions to enable Zoom in your Canvas site: Zoom for Faculty, Staff, and TAs
  • Important:
    1. Please consult our documentation as soon as possible on the new Zoom for instructions and tips:
    2. The “Zoom Information for Instructors (Canvas-Zoom Integration)” page in your Canvas site (in your “Faculty Resource Module”) also has instructions and tips.

Tech Support

We have a 24/7 technical support model that includes calls, emails, and chat. We have updated all Canvas course sites to reflect these options.

  • 24/7 Helpline number for faculty or students: 1-833-283-2987. Please direct students in need of immediate help to this phone number.
  • Faculty and students can consult a self-service guide located in our Knowledge Base.
  • As always, tech support questions can also be sent to with a guaranteed response within 24 hours.
  • If you need immediate help during your live class meetings, please call the Faculty Support Line: 215-898-6274. This line is staffed by support staff who have worked with us for several years and with whom you may have interacted before. They can help with Zoom, some issues in Canvas, and more. The Faculty Support Line is available from the first day of classes to the last day of classes in a term.  

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