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. 

Publishing

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:

Canvas course Publishing button, on the course home page.

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

Dates

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

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 March 31
Fall terms start whenever and end June 30
Spring terms start whenever and end November 30
Summer terms start whenever and end November 30

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
Designers 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:

Winter terms
Term and Teacher end date March 31
Student, TA and Designer end date February 15
Fall terms
Term and Teacher end date June 30
Student, TA and Designer end date January 15
Spring terms
Term and Teacher end date November 30
Student, TA and Designer end date June 15
Summer terms
Term and Teacher end date November 30
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). 

Course Dates

Instructors can use course dates to restrict student access within the limits set by term dates (above). See the How do I change the start and end dates for a course guide.

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.

Course Settings for Start and End dates. Two boxes are checked: "Students can only participate in the course between these dates" and "Restrict students from viewing this course before 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

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:




Keywords:dle, date, session, semester, setup, course access, start date, end date   Doc ID:91181
Owner:Thomas A.Group:UW System Administration DLE
Created:2019-04-18 13:06 CDTUpdated:2019-06-19 11:15 CDT
Sites:UW Green Bay, UW Parkside, UW Platteville, UW Stout, UW System Administration DLE, UW-Extension and Colleges, UW-Milwaukee Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
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