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McGill's Learning Management System

myCourses tips for instructors


These tips should assist with creating, sharing, and curating course materials.

Replace a file in myCourses
If you need to update a file you have uploaded in Content, it is easier to Change the file than to delete it and upload a new one. To change a file, click on the drop-down menu next to a file name in Content and click on the Change File button.

Viewing Content Statistics
Interested to know which of your course materials in myCourses students are accessing most frequently? Find out by viewing content statistics. Consider using this information when deciding which materials to provide in future courses and how to organize your content.

Content Descriptions
When uploading content, you are able to add descriptions to your files. Descriptions can help focus student learning and serve as a study aid. Use descriptions to provide information on what the content items contain, include guiding questions, and indicate areas to which students should pay particular attention.

Add Existing Activities
When uploading Content to myCourses, you can link to “Existing Activities,” which can include links to tools such as Assignments, Discussions, Quizzes, and Surveys. Take advantage of this feature to build your course strategically and to create packages of course materials that integrate content and activities together.

Strategies for organizing your content
When uploading your course materials to myCourses, use modules and submodules to organize your content. One strategy for organization is to replicate the structure of your syllabus within the Content tool to ensure that it is intuitive for students to find what they need. Some other ways to organize your content are by week, by topic, and by type (such as powerpoints and readings). 

Using Text Boxes
Within myCourses, you can package links, videos and text together around a specific topic using the Text Box functionality. With the Text Box you can write descriptions for content and activities, write announcements and events, create HTML files, and more. Its formatting functionality, similar to Word, allows you to "Insert Stuff" such as embedded videos and images, as well as documents and HTML code. 

Adding Readings in myCourses
The Library can help you make course readings available to your students at no cost with myCourses. It’s easy to link to the Library’s millions of articles and ebooks or to scan and upload books and articles directly to myCourses.

Course Management

These tips should assist with organizing and managing your class.

Pin courses to your list in myCourses
In the course drop-down list, pin courses that you access frequently so they appear at the top of your course list. This will make it easier to flip between course sites. 

Tracking Student Progress
The Class (User) Progress tool in myCourses provides you with a quick snapshot of student performance in your class. The performance indicators on your dashboard, such as the number of Content items that your students have viewed and achievement on Assignments submitted through myCourses, can be customized. Click on a student’s name to drill-down and view their individual progress in the class.

Sending automatic notifications to students
You can use the Intelligent Agents tool to automatically send email notifications to students based on established conditions. For instance, you can create an agent that will send an email when a student has not logged into your course in a certain number of days. 

Creating Groups for your Teaching Assistants (TAs)
For a class with multiple TAs, use the Groups tool to put students into TA groups. Your TAs can focus on their group of students by filtering submissions, grades, and the Classlist. You can also compare grading statistics between TAs. 

Customizing your Navigation Bar
The Navigation Bar (“NavBar”) contains the most commonly used tools such as Content, Assignments, and Grades. Customize your NavBar by adding links to important tools such as Groups and Quizzes and to external resources. Streamline navigation by removing links to tools you are not using. You can even create drop-down menu “link groups.”

Exporting Grades from myCourses to Minerva
You can now export your students’ final grades from myCourses directly to Minerva. This involves preparing your grades in the Grades tool using a simple three-step process to ensure a quick and successful export. It is important to note that you must enter J and K grades directly in Minerva. If you prefer, you can still manually export your final grades from myCourses.

Exporting grades from myCourses to a spreadsheet
If you would like to enter grades on spreadsheet outside of myCourses, it is recommended to set up your grade items in myCourses and then export your grade book. The exported grade book file will have the required formatting, thus facilitating the importing of grades into myCourses.

Gradebook Categories
The Grades tool in myCourses allows you to set up columns called "Grade Items". It is possible to group several gradebook items into categories. Benefits of using categories include:

Automatically dropping gradebook items (e.g., excluding the lowest quiz grade from among 10 quizzes);

Organizing grades for assessments that have multiple components (e.g., proposal, first draft, final copy).

Course Overview Widget
A new Course Overview widget has been added to all default Course Homepages. This widget shows instructors how many students visited the course in the current week; there are links at the bottom of the widget to access additional reports. Learn more about tracking student progress in myCourses.

Releasing final grades in myCourses and exporting them to Minerva
At the end of the semester, you can release unofficial final grades to your students in myCourses. myCourses calculates the sum of all the grade items for each student into the “Final Calculated Grade” column. The “Final Adjusted Grade” column allows you to make any final adjustments. By default, myCourses hides both columns from students until you manually release them. Once your grades are finalized, you must enter them in Minerva.

Test your grade settings on yourself
A common question from instructors about myCourses is: “Why do my Teaching Assistants and I appear in the gradebook?” This feature allows you to use your TA’s and your name to verify that your grade calculation, formula, and visibility settings are correct without affecting student grades in any way.

Previewing a Student’s View of Grades
In myCourses, you can see what a specific student sees when they click on Grades. Depending on your grade book settings, this may include Points, Weight Achieved, Grade for each of the Grade Items, etc.

Entering Grades in the Grades tool
In myCourses, you can set up assignments, quizzes and discussions to automatically send grades to the grade book; however, you can also enter scores manually using the Grades tool. This works for Numeric Grade Items, Text Grade Items, Pass/Fail Grade Items, and the Final Adjusted Grade.


These tips should assist with assessing learning as well as receiving and providing feedback.

Survey students’ knowledge before class
Set-up a survey in myCourses with 3-5 questions on key parts of the pre-class materials. Set a submission deadline a day before class. This allows you time to review student misconceptions and help structure the lecture and class activities.

Regrading quiz questions
In Quizzes, you can modify the score on a specific question after students have taken a quiz. You can award points to all participants or all participants who answered the question a certain way.

Adjusting and releasing final grades in myCourses
In myCourses before you export final grades to Minerva, you can adjust and release final grades for students. You can also include overall feedback to the class and personal feedback to individual students.

Leaving Written Feedback for a Grade Item
When entering grades for a particular grade item in myCourses, you can leave written feedback for the whole class and/or for individual students. For example, you can provide general comments to the entire class about an assignment or exam. You can also add individual comments to a student’s grade to provide feedback for improvement and to explain grading decisions.

Long-Answer Questions in Quizzes
Quizzes in myCourses aren’t only for Multiple-Choice and True/False questions; it is possible to include open-ended Long Answer (LA) questions. You can enable the HTML Editor to accept pictures, formatted text, LaTeX, and MathType in answers. To facilitate grading, you can grade by question; this means that you can assess all students’ responses for a single question.  

Getting the facts on stats
After entering grades in the Grades tool, you can view statistics for any grade item or category. These statistics provide you with a summary of class grades and individual student grades, where you can view the mean, mode, median, standard deviation and distribution of grades. If you've used the Groups tool in myCourses, you can also view statistics by group.

Bulk Downloading Assignment Submissions
After students submit assignments on myCourses, you can download all submissions at the same time (bulk download) if you would like to grade offline. You may provide feedback in the files and save changes. All files will be renamed with a unique id number to allow bulk uploading of feedback, which will distribute assignments to students automatically.

Printing multiple versions of exams
You may need a PDF or paper copy of a Quiz created in myCourses. It is possible to create multiple, random versions of Quizzes and to print them from myCourses.

Use Rubrics in myCourses to Support Learning
By creating a rubric that students can view while completing their assignments, you provide students with a tool to improve the quality of their work. A rubric can help students self-assess their work against the criteria you provide. In myCourses, you can link a rubric to assignments, individual discussion topics, individual grade items, and quizzes to provide feedback to students. Rubrics can make grading more efficient and standardized among your graders.

Auto-grading open-ended quiz questions
You may want to grade open-ended quiz questions automatically for completion rather than for correctness. It is possible to do this so that anything a student enters in the answer box receives full points.

Grading Assignments in myCourses
myCourses offers instructors multiple ways to grade online assignments: entering a score, adding a file, leaving text or audio feedback directly on the submission. Instructors can also download submissions for offline grading and then upload marked up documents and release the scores simultaneously by using the “Publish Feedback” option.

Using the Discussions tool for student journals
Did you know that you can create a space for student journals in myCourses? Each student can have a private/restricted topic in the Discussions tool that can allow for individual journaling/reflection pieces. Only the student and instructor will be able to read and contribute. 

Grading discussion topics in myCourses
Did you know that you can create gradable discussion topics that transfer to the gradebook? You can grade students’ posts holistically by entering an overall topic score for each student. You can also grade each individual post and select a calculation method for the total score based on the average, maximum, minimum or mode of the combined scores.

Testing out your quiz before releasing it to students
Did you know that you can test your quiz before releasing it to students? Use the “Preview” option to answer quiz questions, save responses, submit the quiz, view the submission page and view report results. 

Track Participation using the Attendance Tool
The Attendance Tool in myCourses allows you to track student attendance and participation. While the default options for an attendance log are Present, Absent, and Excused, you can create a custom Attendance Scheme to assess quality of participation (for example: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor). You can also allow students access to their personal attendance log so they can view their progress throughout the course.

Using the Surveys Tool to Request Student Feedback
You can create Surveys in myCourses to obtain feedback from your students on any topic, such as course content, teaching strategies, and guest speakers. Using Surveys in myCourses allows you to collect data in the course space and allows you to maintain student anonymity. With access to multiple question formats, such as Likert-scale and branching questions, you have several options for collecting feedback.

Flagging Assignment Submissions
When reviewing assignments submitted through myCourses, you can "flag" particular submissions. Flags can be used to note files that may need further review or were noteworthy. You could ask your TAs to flag assignments that they would like a second opinion on. It is then possible to filter by flagged assignments. Students will not see that their submission has been flagged.


These tips should assist with enhancing engagement and collaboration.

Add your photo to myCourses
You can add your photo to your myCourses profile. Your photo can lend a personal touch when you participate in online discussions with your students. Encourage your students to add their photos, as well.

Add a signature to emails sent through myCourses
If you send emails to your students using myCourses, you can add a default email signature that applies to all emails sent via myCourses. Click the link above for instructions.


Support for instructors

While this web page is accessible worldwide, McGill University is on land which has served and continues to serve as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. Teaching and Learning Services acknowledges and thanks the diverse Indigenous peoples whose footsteps mark this territory on which peoples of the world now gather. This land acknowledgement is shared as a starting point to provide context for further learning and action.

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