Brian Bennett

Duplicate Course Enrollments with Python

Blog Post created by Brian Bennett on May 14, 2020

While schools are closed, we've moved much of our long term staff development material into Canvas. We have one long-running course with all staff split into site-based sections that has worked as a model for others. We needed a way to essentially duplicate the template course enrollments into new training courses.

 

Ignorance is bliss (sometimes) and I didn't know of a good way to make this happen. I looked at some of the provisioning reports, but I couldn't select a single course to run a report on. So, I reached for Python and the UCF Open canvasapi library to make it happen.

 

At the end of this process, I ended with a brand new course, populated with teachers enrolled in their specific sections. I was also able to disable the new registration email and set their course status to active by default.

 

from config import PROD_KEY, PROD_URL
from canvasapi import Canvas # pip install canvasapi

# Define your course IDs. Be careful!
template_course_id = ''
new_course_id = ''

canvas = Canvas(PROD_URL, PROD_KEY)

template_course = canvas.get_course(template_course_id)
new_course = canvas.get_course(new_course_id)

# Open the template course section by section
template_sections = template_course.get_sections()

# Get any sections that may already exist in the new course
new_sections = [section.name for section in new_course.get_sections()]

# This whole loop could be improved a little.
for section in template_sections:
    # Get all the section enrollments
    enrollments = section.get_enrollments()

    # If it's a brand new course, this should always be false
    if not section.name in new_sections:
        print(f'Creating section {section.name}')
        new_sections.append(section.name)
        course_section = {
            "name": section.name,
        }
        new_section = new_course.create_course_section(course_section=course_section)
       
        count = 0 # start counting enrollments for quick quality checks
       
        for enrollment in enrollments:
            student = enrollment.user['id']
            print(f'Enrolling {enrollment.user["name"]}')
            count += 1
            args = {
                "course_section_id": new_section.id,
                "notify": False,
                "enrollment_state": "active"
            }
            try:
                new_course.enroll_user(student, "StudentEnrollment", enrollment=args)
            except Exception as e:
                print(e)
        print(f'Enrolled {count} users in {new_section.name}')

It's definitely brute force, but it saved us from having to copy and paste nearly 1,300 users into the new course by hand from a spreadsheet.

 

Why force enroll at all?

I think this highlights one of the barriers for really taking Canvas to the next level for staff support. There is no good way to enroll non-student users in courses for required development. In our case, it's to fulfill a required training for staff and using Canvas makes sense as a lot is done through application and reflection.

 

The public course index in Canvas could be used, but without a great way to expose the course to instructional staff only (I know we could use some JavaScript and edit the template, but that's just another thing to manage) it could lead to students joining courses either by accident or maliciously.

 

We've also toyed around with making a custom self-signup process on an internal website where staff are forwarded directly to the enroll page, but it's another system to manage and another site for teachers to use. The most hands-off approach for all involved is to do something like this in the background as needed to get people where they need to be effectively and efficiently.

Outcomes