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mterborg
New Member

New to Canvas - Elementary - Template Update Questions

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Good day, 

I hope this isn't a repeat question.. I'm relatively new to Canvas and  I'm just learning about a new template that our district is mandating us to use. I know I can go to Commons and grab the template and update my site but what happens when I do?

Does it update everything and over write everything with the new content? Does it leave the main document area with the old content? Is it a mix? 

I'm hesitant to do this through an automatic process as I've put in a significant amount of time here. It's not that I don't want to update (I have to) it's that I'm concerned with how much more work I'll have to do after the update goes through. I'll likely duplicate my beta site and try it out on one site before I update everything. 

Thank you for your assistance.e

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Chris_Hofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi @mterborg ...

One option for you...which you've sort of hinted at already...is to try this out on your own in your school's "test" environment.  This is an environment that is separate from your school's Canvas "production" environment which you sign in to on a daily basis.  In the "test" environment, you can do as much testing of things as you want, and you're not going to disturb anything in the "production" environment.  Here are a couple Guides for you that might help:

Another option might be to use a "sandbox" course in your "production" environment...where you have a course to play around with anything you want...putting content in there...then importing content from Commons to see what happens.

Do you think either of these options might help?  Keep us posted here in the Community.

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@mterborg ...

If your school is using a paid Canvas environment (not a Free-for-Teachers environment ... canvas.instructure.com), then you would have access to a "test" environment.  As described in the second link I had provided you, your "test" environment URL might look something like this:

  • SchoolName.test.instructure.com

Whereas your school's normal "production" environment looks something like this:

  • SchoolName.instructure.com

I know you didn't ask about this, but you also would have a "beta" environment where you can test out the new features and enhancements that Instructure pushes out each month...before they get moved to "production".  That URL is:

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Chris_Hofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi @mterborg ...

One option for you...which you've sort of hinted at already...is to try this out on your own in your school's "test" environment.  This is an environment that is separate from your school's Canvas "production" environment which you sign in to on a daily basis.  In the "test" environment, you can do as much testing of things as you want, and you're not going to disturb anything in the "production" environment.  Here are a couple Guides for you that might help:

Another option might be to use a "sandbox" course in your "production" environment...where you have a course to play around with anything you want...putting content in there...then importing content from Commons to see what happens.

Do you think either of these options might help?  Keep us posted here in the Community.

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mterborg
New Member

Thanks!

I'm not aware of a test environment so I assume I'll have to use the sandbox method. Currently all of my courses are in various stages of development with one now serving as  my alpha course. All of my edits are made here (I think)  except for the lessons which are course specific. So, my plan is to make a duplicate of the primary course and then apply the updated template to it and see what happens. I'll likely do this in August as the template just came out sometime last week and I don't want to be caught off guard again.  Thanks again for the suggestions. I'll try to keep you updated.

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@mterborg ...

If your school is using a paid Canvas environment (not a Free-for-Teachers environment ... canvas.instructure.com), then you would have access to a "test" environment.  As described in the second link I had provided you, your "test" environment URL might look something like this:

  • SchoolName.test.instructure.com

Whereas your school's normal "production" environment looks something like this:

  • SchoolName.instructure.com

I know you didn't ask about this, but you also would have a "beta" environment where you can test out the new features and enhancements that Instructure pushes out each month...before they get moved to "production".  That URL is:

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mterborg
New Member

Thank you. They're both present.  - Beta does.  Both have a stern warning that it will reset every week.  IT didn't release this information to us. 🙂 Based on that, I'm not sure why I'd want to use it. Though I'd prefer it over a live environment.

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Hi @mterborg ...

The "reset" (a.k.a. release schedule) for both the "test" and "beta" environments can be found in this Guide (the schedules are slightly different...compared to that warning you saw):

What is the Canvas release schedule for beta, prod... - Instructure Community (canvaslms.com)

  • "The beta environment is refreshed with data from the production environment every Saturday. Any work or content added to the beta environment will be overwritten."
  • "The test environment is updated on the same dates as the production environment. The test environment is overwritten with data from the production environment and allows users to test real data without compromising any user content."

Yeah, "test" and "beta" environments may not be widely broadcast to instructors at your school.  (It's the same at our school.)  But, they are available for testing out things and seeing new features that are available before they are moved to "production".

Hope this helps!

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mterborg
New Member

Thanks again. So basically  the beta server acts as a backup for production. Testing is a testing environment before things go into production. Published classes on the production server are live. Unpublished courses are either those that aren't being offered at the moment  or are being developed to go live. Is tat right?

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@mterborg ...

I would say "test" and "beta" could both essentially be used as a sort of "back-up" for "production".  For example, if you lost an assignment or a content page in your "production" course, you might be able to recover it in "test" or "beta" within the window of time.  But the documents I linked to earlier describe the main purposes for both of these environments.

The "beta" environment would contain the monthly updates/enhancements that you can try out before they get pushed to "production".  The Canvas Releases - Instructure Community (canvaslms.com) page documents the dates for Release Notes and Deploy Notes.  Once Release Notes are posted, you can generally log in to the "beta" environment to check out/try out the new features...and provide feedback.

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