Canvas Inbox Messages – Fully Obey Course Participation Settings and Dates

Idea created by Joni Miller Expert on May 3, 2019
    Open for Voting


    This feature idea is twofold: 

    • Fully obey the course participation setting “Restrict students from accessing courses after end date” and do not allow replies to existing inbox messages (even for students to reply to their teacher) after the end date.
    • For replies to conversation notifications in outside email addresses, reply back with a message stating that the course has ended and that they need to contact the teacher through other methods (similar a reply to locked discussions).



    We have our courses set up to not be visible to students and to not allow course participation past the end date for the course, and when courses end they are not visible to students in the dashboard, or to compose a new inbox message. 


    However, there is a loophole that is causing quite a bit of problems for our institution.  Students can reply to an inbox message from their instructor after the course is unavailable in every other way. They can reply either from the inbox or from their outside email if they have a notification from a prior email. 


    We give our students access to Canvas courses for 48 hours past the time when grades are due, when our faculty are still on contract.  After that time, they should be unable to contact their instructor. 


    Students being able to reply to these messages outside of the course dates is a problem because: 

    • There is no vacation/out of the office rule feature in the inbox
    • Faculty are not on contract, and therefore not expected to be replying to messages while out of the office. They may be gone for the entire summer, or they may be adjuncts who teach sporadically, or who never return to the college at all.


    These messages therefore create a dilemma: 

    • they are either delivered to a black hole without a response, leading to potential student complaints
    • faculty feel they are obligated to login to check messages




    If the course participation settings and dates were obeyed by not allowing inbox replies when the course is unavailable, this would signal to students that they need to find another method of contacting their instructor outside of Canvas (email, phone).  Regular email can be set up to have a vacation rule and autoreply with alternate contact information for their department.  Phones can be set up to have a voicemail message with alternate contact information as well.  This would allow students to get a response in a timely manner and increase student and instructor satisfaction. 


    If a student replies to a message from their outside email to a discussion topic notification that has been locked, this is the auto-reply: 


    screenshot of notification 

     A reply after the end date of the course to a previous message should be similar to this. 


    Subject:  Undelivered message


    Body:  The message titled "Re: Assignment Questions" could not be delivered because the course end dates have passed and the course is concluded. If you are trying to contact someone through Canvas you should contact them through alternative methods.


    Thank you,

    Canvas Support


    If you have any other use cases please post them below.  We really want to help our students get help in a timely manner after the course has ended.