Discover new tools to help you teach in an online environment.

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

Best Practices for Large-Enrollment Online Courses, Part I: Managing student expectations, leveraging quizzes, and reducing grading load

Whenever student enrollment capacity dramatically increases for an instructor, there are a number of common questions and concerns: How will the increased grading load be managed?  How can instructors facilitate a discussion among 100+ students? How will students receive meaningful feedback? Here are some best practices and considerations for managing high-enrollment courses that have been successful in our ASU Online courses. Continue reading

Integrating Technology with Bloom’s Taxonomy

Creating authentic learning experiences for students is an essential element in online course delivery.  Through recent discussion instructors have inquired “How do we provide meaningful learning experiences for students using tools that are intrinsically motivating?” 2  Questions as such imply the need to provide instructors with “. . . innovative ways of integrating technology that encourage higher-order thinking skills.” 2  Research indicates that “Today’s students, regardless of demographics, have shown an interest in digital opportunities to learn, and the range of Web 2.0 tools that make collaboration, innovation, and individual exploration possible is incredible.” 2  Practitioners within the field of education have thought of unique ways to connect digital tools with the framework of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, which has led to the emergence of a Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy. Continue reading

10 Ways Subject Librarians Can Assist Faculty Teaching Online or On-ground

Subject librarians are connected to each academic program at ASU with the purpose of providing research and instructional support for faculty and students.

Ask a Librarian: help when you need it

There are a variety of ways that Subject Librarians can support faculty who teach online as well as students participating in online courses:

Ways Subject Librarians Assist Faculty:

  • Offer guidance on copyright and fair use
  • Identify relevant library material supporting course assignments including research databases, e-books, open education resources, primary sources, or unique resources from ASU libraries’ special collections
  • Provide assistance in developing permanent links to articles and e-books in Canvas
  • Connect you with services for making ASU Libraries video content available in Canvas
  • Recommend options for building and/or reinforcing research skills in assignments

Ways Subject Librarians Assist Students:

  • Recommend strategies and resources for promoting academic integrity and effective citation practices
  • Provide in-depth research assistance to students
  • Create and customize Library Guides to help students find relevant information on their topic
  • Provide guidance in use of citation management tools [e.g. RefWorks, Mendeley etc.]
  • Develop online tutorials and other learning materials to boost research skills and knowledge

Find your subject librarian at

Click here for a printable infographic of this article

Co-developed in partnership with ASU Libraries, Lisa Kammerlocher, and ASU Online

Four Instructor Tips for Incorporating New Technologies into your Online Course

Finding unique ways to implement and deliver student activities within an online course can be quite challenging to many instructors.  Most of the difficulty revolves around the concepts of translating on-ground course activities to the online environment and how to revitalize an old activity with new technologies.  This article provides four essential tips that will help to shed light on these common instructor dilemmas and provide effective ways on how to incorporate new and innovative technologies into your online course.

Continue reading

Five ways to utilize ASU Libraries in online courses

1. Provide a Back-Up Plan For Books That Ship Late

Have you come across the student who ordered a textbook, and through no fault of his own did not receive it in time to complete the first assigned reading? This is an unfortunate way for students to begin a course, and it can usually be avoided. Utilize the library’s reserve services to make the first chapter of a book available electronically. Generally, the library can digitize one chapter or 10% of a book for your course. To learn more about which materials are eligible and to find the online request form, see Reserve Service Guidelines.

2. Introduce Students to Resources to Help Them Succeed

ASU provides services that help students succeed, and the library is just one of them. With thousands of electronic resources available to students from any location, the library is a rich source of information for online students. Research guides on various topics, such as History and Nutrition are available. There are also research guides for specific courses, such as ENG 102/105/108 First-Year Composition. You can explore different guides by topic here. Did you know there is also a library page devoted to ASU Online students?

The 2015 Horizon report identifies “improving digital literacy” as a significant but solvable challenge. “With the proliferation of the Internet, mobile devices, and other technologies that are now pervasive in education, the traditional view of literacy as the ability to read and write has expanded to encompass understanding digital tools and information.”[1] Even in courses without research requirements or another obvious need for library services, introducing students to these resources is a nice way to support their overall academic endeavors. Work with your Instructional Designer to add the library link to a course menu, or consider mentioning it in your course introduction.

3. Embed Videos

Videos are a nice addition to other course materials in an online environment. ASU Libraries provide access to streaming videos through Academic Video Online Premium (aka Alexander Street Press) and Films on Demand. If your favorite YouTube or Vimeo content is no longer available, remember the library provides access to thousands of educational videos students can view online. For help adding videos to Blackboard, contact your Instructional Designer, or see Linking Videos in Course Management Shells.

4. Provide Instructional Materials on Citation Styles

Students are often required to use a citation style, such as APA or MLA, when writing course papers. Many first-year students are using a citation style for their first time, and the extra amount of time formatting takes can initially come as a big surprise. There is a growing consensus that online students need more self-discipline to succeed than those in on-ground courses.[2] Help students early on with a tip: if this is their first time using a style guide, they should allow themselves time to learn about the citation style before writing the paper. Supply links to the library’s resources, such as the Citation Styles guide, which includes examples of various citation styles, plus links to additional help resources.  If you prefer that students consult use a full, official style guide but are conscious of textbook expenses, the Chicago Manual of Style eBook is available fully online through ASU Libraries!

5. Fully Utilize ASU’s Resources to Promote Critical Thinking Skills

Findings of a recent study in which students and faculty ranked student preparedness on 58 e-learning competencies suggest that “while students may be reasonably prepared to deal with the technology of e-learning, for activities such as reading and writing, being clear and concise in responses, synthesizing ideas, planning strategies, making arguments, and working with others, students are not well prepared.”[3] Librarians are knowledgeable about resources and teaching strategies that promote critical thinking skills, and they have ideas to share that are especially helpful for courses with a research component. They can direct you to tutorials to add to your course, or they may suggest collaborating to create new ones. Identify your subject librarian!


  1. Johnson L, Adams Becker S, Estrada V, Freeman A. NMC horizon report: 2015 higher education edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. 2015. Accessed April 24, 2015.
  2. Allen IE, Seaman J. Grade Change: Tracking online education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. 2014. Accessed April 23, 2015.
  3. Parkes M, Stein S, Reading C. Student preparedness for university e-learning environments. Internet and Higher Education. 2015, 25, 1–10.