Troubleshooting Checklist for Online Instructors

Authors: Matthew Robinson and DeAnna Soth

Troubleshooting skills are critical for online instructors. Although ASU has 24/7 Help Desk support, being able to troubleshoot common LMS issues will save you and your students time and frustration. When asking for technical support, it’s helpful to be prepared to answer, “what have you tried so far?

Student Impact

Is the issue impacting one student or many students? If the issue is impacting only one student, it could mean that the issue is specific to the student’s computer, and is not an LMS issue. In these cases, direct students to the Help Desk. In the Canvas LMS, students may click on  Help on the Universal Navigation Bar to access Live Chat and other resources.


Always have at least 2 browsers open and available (Chrome and Firefox are preferred for Canvas). When experiencing an issue, see if you can replicate the issue on a second browser (and ask your students to do the same). Whether you can replicate the same error will determine if it’s an LMS issue or a browser issue.


Try searching for information on Google or a site specific to your LMS like the Canvas Guides. Try to find out if others have had the same problem, and what they did to solve it. If using Canvas, a simple keyword search in Google such as “Canvas LMS + your specific issue” will quickly return results in the Canvas Guides.


When experiencing an issue, take a screenshot or video to document what you are experiencing. (Ask students to take screenshots as well.) This will keep a record of the issue even after it gets resolved and can help if you need to escalate your issue to the Help Desk. To take a screenshot on a Mac, Press ⌘ + Shift + 4 or Windows key + PrtScn for Windows computers.

Cookies and Cache

If you escalate your issue to the Help Desk, they may ask you to clear your browser cache and cookies. It may save some time if this is tried before you call. Each time you access a file through your web browser, the browser caches (stores) it so it doesn’t have to keep retrieving the same files or images from the website each time you click Back or Forward. Clearing out the cache periodically will allow your browser to function more efficiently. See How to Clear Temporary Internet Files, Browser History, and Cache


Of course, restarting or rebooting your computer can often clear out any issues you might be experiencing.

Process of Elimination

Use your critical thinking skills and the process of elimination to figure out what the problem might be. Describe your expected outcome, and test different scenarios in your course to match that outcome. Be curious about how your LMS works and spend time exploring the possible outcomes.  


Trying each of these tips before escalating your issue to the Help Desk will help the representative isolate and resolve your issue more efficiently, helping you help yourself!

Troubleshooting Checklist (Download the checklist here)

Before reaching out for help

  1. Is this issue impacting more than one student?
  2. Were you able to replicate the issue on more than one browser?
  3. Were you unable to find an answer after searching for information about the issue?
  4. Do you have a screenshot of the issue?
  5. Have you cleared your cookies and cache?
  6. Have you restarted your computer?

If you answered yes to the above questions and your issue is still not resolved, reach out for help. ASU UTO 24/7 Canvas & Tech Support is available at (1-855-278-5080). Be prepared to answer the following before contacting the Help Desk:

  • What is your course Section Line Number (5-digit SLN)?
  • Are you on a Mac or PC?
  • Which browsers have you tried? (Chrome, Firefox, etc)

Special thanks to Geoffrey Gunter and Rachel Lee, Learning Technologists at EdPlus for contributing their excellent ideas

2016 Innovating Pedagogy Report

The 2016 Innovating Pedagogy Report proposes ten new innovations that explore ways of teaching, learning, and assessment for an interactive and engaged world. The report is produced in collaboration with SRI International and The Open University. The full document details several examples and studies to support these innovations. Below is a summary of those innovations. Which innovation might you tackle in the upcoming semester? Continue reading

Ten Teaching Trends from the Innovating Pedagogy Report

How are today’s most innovative educators engaging with their students? The 2015 Innovating Pedagogy Report proposes ten innovations that explore ways of teaching, learning, and assessment for an interactive, engaged world.  The report is the fourth of its kind, produced in collaboration with SRI International and The Open University. The full document details several examples and studies to support these innovations. Below is a summary of those innovations:

Infographic summarizing innovating pedagogy 2015
Image credit: Stephen Valdivia

  1. Crossover Learning: Learning in informal settings, such as museums or meetups. Such settings can spark further interest and motivation to learn.
  2. Learning Through Argumentation: Learning by establishing and refuting claims, in ways similar to professional scientists and mathematicians.
  3. Incidental Learning: Unplanned or unintentional learning that contributes to longer term learning paths, often via technology, especially mobile.
  4. Context-based Learning: Learning from experience by interpreting new information and relating it to what we already know. For example, students interacting with surroundings other than a lecture hall, that relate to the given topic.
  5. Computational Thinking: Learning that breaks large problems down into smaller ones, uses pattern recognition, algorithms, abstraction, and debugging for problems that aren’t even related to math or science necessarily.
  6. Learning by Doing: Learning with authentic tools and practices. The traditional example is the science labratory. New, technology-enabled examples have emerged involving remote labs, and adaptive simulations.
  7. Embodied Learning: Learning that involves self-awareness of the body interacting with the real or simulated world, in a way that the mind and body work together so that physical feedback and actions reinforce the learning process. Think interactive surfaces with multi-touch screens or wearable devices like Google Glass.
  8. Adaptive Teaching: Uses data about a specific learner’s previous learning to create personalized paths.
  9. Analytics of Emotions: Understanding student mindsets in cognitive and non-cognitive aspects, including frustrations, distractions, even eye tracking.
  10. Stealth Assessment: Automatic data collection techniques (such as in games like World of Warcraft) in which actions are continually collected to make inferences about the particular student’s goals and strategies, to then present new, appropriate challenges.

Are any of these innovations present in your course? Which innovation might you tackle in the upcoming semester?



Sharples, M., Adams, A., Alozie, N., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Means, B., Remold, J., Rienties, B., Roschelle, J., Vogt, K., Whitelock, D. & Yarnall, L. (2015). Innovating Pedagogy 2015: Open University Innovation Report 4. Milton Keynes: The Open University.


Extra Credit Quandaries

Should an instructor offer extra credit? There are many opinions regarding extra credit. Some education professionals hold the notion that giving extra credit is unfair and inflates grades. Others insist that students should earn their grades based only on expected work. The decision to offer extra credit can be difficult and ultimately comes down to the instructor’s personal education philosophy, the expectations set by the institution, and how the extra credit contributes to the value of the educational experience.

Continue reading