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Explorer II

No Course ID in Copy course list, difficult to differentiate

Hi All,

We have got an issue here that we are about to take some drastic action on. Basically are migrating to Canvas this summer from Blackboard. We have multiple versions of our courses '16-17's for the migrated ones, and '17-18' one's for the next academic year. The course titles basically consist of the name of the course. And the Course IS is our unit code followed by year. We do not make use of Terms and at the moment note End Dates.

Trouble is that staff cannot differentiate between the different courses in a number of key places. The Dashboard will show both course name and ID fields. But the Courses>All Courses area only show's the course name. Also when copying courses within Settings here too only the Name field is shown. So in a nut shell we may have duplicate Course Names and when the ID is not also shown there is a problem

Our solution at the moment will be to Prefix a year and semester at the beginning of every Course Name. This will help too with several integrations such as Panopto which take the course name and use it. It needs to be pre-fixed because our course titles (HE) can be quite long and in some places the name get's abbreviated by the system. It does look a bit ugly (see last screenshot)

Has anybody else had the same issue, is it a regular occurrence, has anybody got any views of our proposed solution?

Thanks, Will (Liverpool John Moores University)

problem dashboard

problem course list

problem All courses

problem course copy

Our solution so far (yuk):

suggested solution

10 Replies
Community Member

My primary recommendation is to think carefully (which I'm sure you've already done) as the display you choose now will become familiar to your users. Not that you can't change it later, but another change in a short while can be painful. 

Here's how our courses display to users, just to give you another perspective to consider. We use a SIS import so the fields are pre-populated, not manually configured. Hope this helps and good luck!


Explorer II

Thanks Kris for the pic and the advice, it gives us some confidence that others have tackled this issue in a similar way. Best, Will

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @willmoin 

Rest assured, you are not alone! Canvas displays the course names as they are displayed in whatever information system you use to populate courses and enrollments in Canvas through integration; or however you have chosen to name the course when you manually create them. The cause of the problem is a combination of your naming conventions, and how Canvas truncates longer names.

When we first migrated to Canvas five years ago as a state system this is one of the first concerns identified by our brave pilot schools. Luckily, as a state system, our State board also managed our Student Information System (SIS), and quickly made the decision to modify our naming conventions. Our course names are very similar to Kris' above, and it has helped so much.


I am guessing that for you, William, the challenge will be convincing the Most Holy Keepers of the  naming conventions! This is not always as easy a thing as one would like, because these conventions are applied to data-base fields and we never know what other systems and users depend on the currently configured data.

I hope this helps,

Agent K

Community Coach
Community Coach

Here's an example of how ours look. We tweaked it a little here and there before doing our full roll-out (4 years ago) and it seems to work good for our faculty and students. 


Thanks Kelley, luckily we are in part harbinger of naming convention changes, so we can look at this with out IT department and get it changed to suit. One other approach that I didn't mention on my original post was that we also looked asking instructors to apply nicknames to courses but due to possible increased support issues with colleagues having different names for the same course we dropped that one. Thanks for the screenshot! Will

Thanks Kona - glad to hear it seems to be working well!

Community Team
Community Team

 @willmoin  Welcome (somewhat belatedly, I know) to the Canvas Community! I'd like to link you to a resource that, while not directly relevant to the question you've posed here, has proved to be gold for Bb-to-Canvas migrations: QC99.tsilvius‌'s creatively titled Naming Conventions, Repurposing Draft State Icons, and Using BbLearn Pop-out Class Menu to Create an...  Perhaps his experience will help guide yours. Smiley Happy

Thanks Stefanie, and thanks for the badge and welcome! I think that's digital badge number 2 for me!

Might be of interest to others: We had a bit of a new problem this morning that has ended up giving us a solution to the first problem in this thread. We realised that with our intended schema '201617-Sem1 Course Title' for the name field, we'd have multiple courses with exactly the same name e.g. '201718-Sem1 Research Methods'. So that seems to have forced our hand to putting in our internal unit code at the start, and then we rationalised this and are now looking at the approach for reversing the Course Name and Course Code fields like the below. We were worried about the whether the code has to be unique but apparently it does not.


Learner II

Our naming convention (carried over from the previous LMS, because it worked well for both systems) is TERM DEPT COURSE# SHORT TITLE (SIS CODE) or more informatively, SU17 Engl 3456 Write Stuff (87654).  For the course code, we drop the short title and re-arrange the elements.  The term and SIS code together make a unique combination.

People who teach multiple iterations of the same course tend to identify them by the SIS code, so keeping that visible was important for us.

Our users like the longer title within the course, but we made sure to keep the really key information for the card, breadcrumbs, and other locations.

image of OSU course card