What resources are available for Canvas non-credit courses?

Last Updated: Fri July 30, 2021

With hundreds of courses offered annually to thousands of learners, non-credit courses constitute some of the largest courses offered by the university. The purpose of non-credit courses can vary – they might be used to deliver compliance training for employees, continuing education for internal or external learners, special topics for enrolled students such as alcohol awareness, and so on. Learn@UW–Madison provides a wide array of support, from consultation and training, to assistance with enrollments and course access.

What learning technologies are available?

Many of the same technologies available to for-credit courses are also available for non-credit courses. The Canvas learning management system (LMS) is one of the most used technologies for non-credit courses, but it has some limitations and considerations, especially for non-UW–Madison affiliated learners. G suite is a common alternative to Canvas and is more accessible to non-UW–Madison affiliated learners.

For more information, refer to our list of centrally supported learning technologies

Can Canvas courses be accessed by learners not part of UW–Madison?

Canvas is intended to be used by UW–Madison students, faculty and staff. It uses Shibboleth authentication and requires UW–Madison NetID credentials to log on. However, some learners in non-credit courses are often not formally affiliated with this university and do not have UW–Madison NetIDs. If the owner of a non-credit course intends on using Canvas and tracking learner attendance and participation of learners not affiliated with UW–Madison, then they will need to use Manifest to provision NetIDs to those learners. Once learners have NetIDs, the instructor will be able to enroll them in the Canvas course. If there is a need to deliver content in Canvas to a large number of learners throughout UW System, it may be preferable to use the UW System instance of Canvas rather than the UW–Madison instance because it supports access to users with different types of UW System credentials. If you would like information on using the UW System instance of Canvas, please contact the DoIT Help Desk and someone from Learn@UW–Madison will assist with your request.

If there isn’t a need to track learner activities and enrollments, an instructor can make their Canvas course public and add it to the Public Course Index. Learners will not need a NetID to access the course, but instructors will be unable to track any learner activity. 

What resources are available to help in course creation?

The first step to creating a non-credit course in Canvas is to request a new course shell. Those building courses from scratch, can work with either Learn@UW–Madison learning technology consultants to help answer questions and discuss build options. In addition, many schools and colleges offer consulting and support services to their instructors and staff.  

Learn@UW–Madison has also created several Canvas templates that can be used as models for a course. 

Is help available with enrollments?

There are several resources available to help instructors enroll students in non-credit courses. Contact the DoIT Help Desk to work with Learn@UW-Madison to coordinate any of the following options.

For smaller courses:

For larger courses:

  • Life-Long Learning courses process
  • Processing regular learner enrollments and drops through an ongoing .csv file feed from a source such as the Student Information System (SIS) or from another data source. (This requires assistance from a developer resource who can obtain the data, construct the .csv file, and transfer the file to an FTP location where it can be consumed by Canvas.)
  • The Learn@UW–Madison team can do a one-time manual load of a .csv file directly into the Canvas course.

Other options:

Are individual consultations available?

The learning technology consultants on the Learn@UW–Madison team are a resource for non-credit instructors and can help answer any questions regarding enrollments, completion tracking, course build, learning technologies and course access. To request a consultation, please contact the DoIT Help Desk

Is there training available to help instructors make the most out of the Learn@UW learning technologies?

Learn@UW–Madison offers a variety of training options to help instructors use the full Learn@UW suite of learning technologies. Live training workshops are available primarily in August, January and May to help instructors prepare for a new semester. In addition, many have been offered previously and recordings are available on-demand in the Kaltura MediaSpace channel, Learn@UW–Madison Training. For those looking for self-paced training, Learn@UW–Madison offers a variety of online resources including webpages for each tool and the Learn@UW KnowledgeBase. The Learn@UW training course in Canvas offers another opportunity for users to learn on their own within the LMS.

There are also many resources available through LinkedIn Learning and the Instructure Canvas Community. For more information, check out our Training Resources document