We have traditionally given that access a week before classes, but I don't see why we shouldn't do that a semester before, as it would give students a chance to gather reading materials and even read a lot of them over the summer to prepare for some classes. What is your school policy for this, and what are the reasons behind it?
For our Institution students have access to their course on the first day of class unless the Instructor opens the course early, which many do, but that's normally a week or a few days early at most.
As for the why we don't open things up earlier, most of our faculty are still building and working on their courses up to the start of the semester so we wouldn't want to put something out there for students that wasn't ready or at least confirmed.
Setting my Admin hat aside, I'm also an adjunct (part-time) Instructor and am building a hybrid course that starts in 12 days (wow, mini heart-attack there at how quick it's coming). I'm not even remotely close to having the course ready for students to see and that includes the syllabus, which I'm also still working on. I like to change things up and adjust things every semester, so there's no way I'd have a course ready to go more than a week or so early (and that's a best case scenario).
We are supposed to have our textbook lists to the Bookstore several months ahead of the beginning of class, so some data could be available to students early. I'm often adding materials to my courses in progress, but I always have the base design ready a month or two ahead of time. Not everyone does that though, I'll admit.
One reason I just thought of is that most faculty are not on contract during the summer, especially the adjuncts, so they won't want to communicate with students before their class begins.
All of our book information is available online (outside of Canvas) way before the start of the semester and for fall it's available before the end of the spring semester.
And yes, faculty could have textbook information available in their Canvas course, but the downside to that is if you publish your course so students can see that one thing (and keep other things hidden), you and your students will still get notifications for EVERY change you make to your course. It's not cool as an instructor (I hate getting all those notifications when I'm building and adjusting things) and confusing for students who are getting a lot of notification about things changing in their course way before the start of the semester. We had this happen and our help desk was flooded with questions from students freaked out because they thought the notifications meant they needed to be in doing something in a course that didn't start for 2 months.
I like the way we operate within our Adult and Graduate Studies program, specifically for our distance ed courses.
We give access in Canvas a week before classes start. However, that access is only to the course layout and the syllabus. We do not give access to course assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc, this way students cannot submit anything before the course even begins. This is just one of the procedures that gives us much confidence in knowing that we truly are acting as a Distance Ed program and not a Correspondence Program (see link below).
We are able to do this with the use of modules. We put all of our course content in modules, disable other course navigation functions like assignments, discussions, etc. and then lock down our modules to automatically open on the first day of the term. This allows students to get a feel for Canvas (important for first-timers) and then also have access to the syllabus to plan for upcoming assignments. Like @kona , we use a different vehicle for providing textbook information, which is available much earlier for student access.
Check out this link to see why knowing the difference between Distance Ed and Correspondence is important.
Thanks to Everyone! I also asked this question on the POD Listserv. We've decided to open courses for students one week before classes start, and keep them open one week after classes end. We are not using term limits, and we are letting faculty know that they can open the course earlier if they want to do a pre-survey or contact students early. The main reason we went with one week before is to avoid having students in classes where faculty were not yet on contract.
We are giving the Canvas Admins area a little bit of love (especially questions that are really, really old) and just want to check in with you. This will also bring this question new attention.
Were you able to find an answer to your question? I am going to go ahead and mark this question as answered because there hasn't been any more activity in a while so I assume that you have the information that you need. If you still have a question about this or if you have information that you would like to share with the community, by all means, please do come back and leave a comment. Also, if this question has been answered by one of the previous replies, please feel free to mark that answer as correct.