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Community Member

BETA Best Practices - Institutional Visible Courses and LTIs

I noticed some odd behaviour today in our beta instance in regards to a course with visibility is set to institution. Multiple accounts who can view the course in PROD could not in BETA and were given the error "Students are not allowed to access test installations."

I can rationalise this as any user viewing the institution visible course who doesn't have account or course level access is basically considered a student with view only access. Students are not allowed in beta, therefore you cannot view anything about this institution visible course in BETA without specific account/course level access.

While I think this is likely the reason, this is also frustrating as this is another component of our setup that we cannot fully test/try things out on in beta. We have the same complication with LTIs, particularly SCORM packages, as we cannot test those in beta.

How is your institution using the BETA and TEST environments?

We have a hard time understanding when we can rely on testing something in BETA or TEST as we often come across scenarios where we cannot use it fully. We are considering perhaps getting a second environment as a true test environment, but that presents it's own challenges as well.

I am a Canvas administrator for our institution and we have been using Canvas for a little over a year.

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Community Champion

@KathyPalm I understand your frustration and have run into limitations with the Beta and Test environments since you can't really log in as a student in them.  You can "act as" as student but depending on what you are testing such as an LTI, this may not work.  Here are some guides that help explain the purposes of both.

What is the Canvas beta environment? - Instructure Community

What is the Canvas test environment? - Instructure Community

While I am sure each institution has their own reasons for using each, we use Beta purely for testing new features that have not been released into production yet.  This helps us see how our users are potentially going to use the new feature as well as prepare documentation ahead of time.  This is also a great opportunity to find limitations in the new feature(s) based on how your institution would use it.

For the Test environment, this is where we can test pretty much anything without breaking production.  We have custom javascript, and I almost always apply it to Test first to see if I will break anything.  We can also see how things may behave without notifications or anything going out to students.  The other thing we use Test for is looking back if an instructor makes a big mistake in a live course and we want to see if we can pull a backup from Test of how it looked the last time everything synced.  Beta can sometimes be used for this as well.  

Hope that helps!


Thanks @nwilson7  for the reply!

It is helpful to hear how others are using the different environments as we figure out how we want to manage our testing and overall use of the environments.