Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
New Member

Use Cases for Managing Independent Study

At my school, many students have individualized start dates and assignment due dates. Sometimes students take leaves of absence which require me to adjust due dates for those particular students. Although Canvas seems great at managing groups of students, it is not yet world-class with regard to managing students engaged in independent study. I'd like to change that. My plan involves two initiatives. First, I'd like to collect from the community use cases related to managing independent study students, so I invite you to share your use cases below. Thank you for sharing! Second, I am writing an open-source web application called Easel that supplements Canvas with features related to independent study. I am hoping that Instructure engineers see features in Easel that they can incorporate directly into Canvas.

Below are four short videos showcasing Easel features that I have implemented for use at my school. Currently, Easel is only a prototype. It is not ready for prime time. It should not be pointed at a production instance. It changes constantly. I intend to write installation directions and draw an architectural map when I have time.

This video shows how to generate a set of assignment due dates:

This video is currently being processed. Please try again in a few minutes.
(view in My Videos)

This video shows how to modify a set of assignment due dates:

This video is currently being processed. Please try again in a few minutes.
(view in My Videos)

This video shows how to generate elapsed times for a course:

This video is currently being processed. Please try again in a few minutes.
(view in My Videos)

This video shows how to use Easel Sets to create programs:

This video is currently being processed. Please try again in a few minutes.
(view in My Videos)

Thank you for sharing your use cases related to independent study!

Matt Hagen

16 Replies
Community Member

This looks really great, and I hope you continue development on it.

One thing we would find useful in my building is to be able to manipulate the available from/until dates as well as the due dates.

I often don't change the due dates for students who get extended time on assignments, I just give them a later "available until" date but keep the same due date. This is mostly because it makes it clearer to them that I am giving them their specified extra time (since they can see the original due date) and gives them a clearer idea where in the semester the class is right now. (This is particularly important for students with an accommodation like "can turn in all assignments until the last day in the term" - they probably will do better with the structure of suggested due dates rather than no due dates at all until the last day and then a giant list of things due.) 

I don't personally use the "available from" feature at all - if I don't want students in something yet I lock it at the Module level if it's already published. I don't know if other people would find it helpful to be able to manipulate that part as well.

Thanks, Linnea, for describing your use case for "available until." I will add this to my use case list.

New Member


This is wonderful!  my school has rolling enrollment and we are year round.  We have struggled with due dates and this could be a fantastic answer for us.  



Thanks, Jen.

New Member

The idea of "relative" dates for courses (start and end) as well as assignment availability and due dates would make a huge impact on our open enrollment, self paced courses. I really appreciate where your development seems to be heading.
Maybe Canvas will incorporate something like this in the future, too.

Thanks, Tom. We are just beginning to use Easel now which means I am starting to make modifications. I still consider Easel a POC.

New Member

Hi Matt-

I stumbled onto your discussion because I'm struggling with how do deal with professional learning that is self-directed.  We create several modules of content for students (well they are teachers in the real world but we are using the student role in Canvas), and we want them to choose the areas in which they know they need to study.  We don't have due dates at all......and what I'm struggling with is trying to help them track where they are in modules as they come/go from the course.  If they start a module and can only go 1/3 of the way do they find their way back in Canvas?  We use mostly Content pages and don't make them graded it's tough to track.

I will keep watching your work with Easel!

Community Member

For that use case, I'd recommend setting up each Module with Completion Requirements to View each page. That way, they'll get a green check-mark next to each page they've read and can see where they've left off. The only downside is that they have no way to mark them "unread" if they opened a page but didn't have time to get through the whole thing.

Great point about marking "unread".

We've also had folks ask if there is a way to continue where they left off, especially in sequence enforced courses.