The start of the semester is always hectic. No matter how much you plan. But for a while now the poor Support Team at my University has had to deal with the same issue over and over, day in and day out. It starts a few days before the semester starts and goes through the first week of classes.
It is the dreaded call of "my class isn't showing up, where is it?"
They receive hundreds of calls, emails, and online chats about the issue. If 3 out of 4 support tickets are on the issue and you have an enrollment of 66k+, that's a lot of tickets. So much so that we even ran the following Global Announcement for almost 2 weeks:
It helped a tiny bit. Not a little, but a tiny. Especially as more and more of our students move to using the mobile apps. [Side issue to all this, global announcements currently don't show in the mobile app. UPDATE: Global Announcements in the mobile apps was fixed in May 2018.]
The issue is almost always one of two things (and in some cases both):
The course has not yet been published. [Sometimes teachers forget this step.]
The teacher has set a date not the first day of classes for the university.
Now you might be asking why don't you:
Force publish all your courses. While we do require a teacher to provide an "Academic Engagement Activity" to students that needs to be recorded in Canvas we don't require our face-to-face faculty to use the system for anything else (meaning the students don't need access because there's no content--no quizzes, no modules, etc.) And some faculty may only use the course shell for the GradeBook to make uploading final grades to our SIS easier.
If you force publish a course that has nothing in it, that can generate more support calls as students call in asking "where's the content?"
Why do your courses have a different start date than the "first day of classes"? That one is easy. The first day of classes for the university might be Monday, January 8th but the first day a class that meets only on Wednesdays is Wednesday, January 10th. This does get a little complicated in our Summer Semester as we have 4 different terms with 2 different start dates and 3 different end dates.
What would help with this?
If the Course List (from the menu on the left) AND the Dashboard Course Cards could show some type of information on them about the start date and the publish status. This might even help teachers to remember to publish their courses. Yes, I know this means that the Course Cards might get a little more crowded, but maybe that information is only present if either the start date has not passed or the course has not published (though in some cases it might show both).
And Ha! Someone has Created an Idea for this!
If this is an issue for your school, join the conversation. Vote. Leave your use cases for (or against).