Canvas - Managing Course Access with Publishing and Dates
In Canvas, instructors determine when students can access courses through a combination of 1) publishing status and 2) term, course, and section dates.
For a good overview of the subject, see the What are the different states of a Canvas course and How do term dates, course dates, and section dates work in Canvas guides.
Instructors must publish a Canvas course
before students can access it. This is true no matter how the term, course, and section dates (below) are set. On the course homepage, the instructor should click Publish
If an instructor publishes a course before the course or section start date, students "can view course content but cannot participate (such as submitting an assignment or contributing to a discussion topic). On the start date, students can fully participate in the course. This behavior also applies to course date overrides" (from the Terms
guide). There is an option in the Course Dates (below) which instructors can use to prevent students from accessing a course before its start date.
Instructors can also control access to specific parts of courses by publishing or setting dates for individual Modules
or content items such as Assignments
In Canvas, every course has three levels of start and end dates:
- Term dates set the default start dates and the final end dates for all courses in an academic period
- Course dates can override the start dates set for the term, but not the end date
- Section dates override course start and end dates, but not term dates
Campus Canvas Admins should review the following documentation on the UWSA DLE Sharepoint site (restricted access; login required):
Term dates set default start dates and final end dates for all courses related to the term.
Root level Canvas administrators set up term dates long before an academic term begins. Term dates in Canvas differ from the dates in the campus student information system (PeopleSoft) so that students and instructors have time to wrap up whatever they need to do with the course. When the term reaches the end date, all course enrollments, including instructors, will be set to Completed which makes the course read only.
The term dates in Canvas are set up to accommodate most of the needs identified. If there is a reason that more time is needed for students to access a course for a term due to an incomplete, the term dates can be updated by a root level admin using the change request process.
Term Setup in Canvas
Root level Canvas admins set term dates. The term dates are set to start whenever the course is published by the instructor and end several months after the date indicated in PeopleSoft. Again, when the term reaches the end date, all course enrollments, including instructors, will be set to Completed which makes the course read only.
Winter terms start whenever and end July 31
Fall terms start whenever and end June 30
Spring terms start whenever and end November 30
Summer terms start whenever and end February 28
The term dates set read/write access to courses by role. Course or section dates have to be within the overall term date limits:
Students can access from term start (term start is whenever) to approximately 3 weeks after the PeopleSoft term end date
Teachers can access from whenever to term end
TAs can access from whenever to approximately 3 weeks after the PeopleSoft term end date
In general, the term dates will follow this pattern for the roles:
Designers can access from whenever to approximately 3 weeks after the PeopleSoft term end date
Term and Teacher end date July 31
Student, TA and Designer end date February 15
Term and Teacher end date June 30
Student, TA and Designer end date January 15
Term and Teacher end date November 30
Student, TA and Designer end date June 15
Term and Teacher end date February 28
Student, TA and Designer end date September 15
Canvas uses term dates to determine student and instructor access to a course if no other dates are entered on the course or course section. Because terms are set to begin "whenever," students will be able to access courses as soon as instructors Publish them
, unless the instructor sets course or section dates (below).
To set course start and end dates, go to the course Settings page, set a course start and end date, and choose whether or not to check two boxes: Students can only participate in the course between these dates and Restrict students from viewing this course before the start date.
Students may have full access or read-only access to a course if it is Published before the section start date, depending on the settings chosen by the instructor.
PeopleSoft doesn't send course dates in the integration, so these dates will be left blank in new courses unless instructors set them. If section dates are set, they override course dates.
Section dates allow instructors to set different start and end dates for different sections of a course while maintaining a common set of content and assignments.
Section dates override course dates and restrict student access within the limits set by term dates (above). Course sections can be moved from term to term and course to course. Different sections within each course can have different start and end dates.
Section date default to the course start and end dates, if those are set. If an instructor wants to set section dates, they must enter them manually.
As discussed in Courses (above), no matter what section dates are set, students don't have access to the course materials until an instructor Publishes the course. Students may have full access or read-only access to a course if it is Published before the section start date, depending on the settings chosen by the instructor (above).
How it all Fits Together
For a good example of why instructors might set course and section dates in Canvas, and how those dates interact, see the following Canvas guide: