New to Canvas - Setting up an Instance

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Community Member

Good morning.  We are a community college new to Canvas.  We're moving from Moodle, and we'd like to hear some best practices for organizing courses.  In Moodle, we start by using categories for the 8 divisions we have.  We then give the respective Deans access to their categories, giving them access to all courses in that category.  The division categories are then broken down into departments and the departments then into sections, and the sections into semesters (example: Humanities/Social Sciences > Communication & Foreign Language > COM-130, COM-110, SPA-111 > 2021SU).  The appropriate division chairs, program administrators, and managers have access to what they need.  Is this the best way to do this in Canvas?  We would like to be able to give "editable" permissions to active courses and but view-only rights to courses that have passed without having to constantly make changes.  We are interested in any suggestions you may have.  Thank you much.

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there, @avmccoy ...

At our Technical College, we use the sub-account structure that is available within Canvas...which you can set up however you like.  It sounds like you might have a similar setup to what we have at our school.  Here is an example of what our sub-account structure looks like:

  • Applied Trades & Technologies (Dean #1 access)
    • Business & IT (Associate Dean #1 access)
    • Manufacturing (Associate Dean #2 access)
    • Trades (Associate Dean #3 access)
  • General Studies (Dean #2 access)
    • Adult Basic Education (Associate Dean #4 access)
    • General Education (Associate Dean #5 access)
  • Health & Human Services (Dean #3 access)
    • Health (Associate Dean #6 access)
    • Human Services (Associate Dean #7 access)
    • Nursing (Associate Dean #8 access)

As you can see, we have three Deans and eight Associate Deans.  The three Deans have access to their own programs (sub-accounts), and each of the eight Associate Deans only have access to their specific programs.  For example, Dean #3 has access to all of the three sub-accounts of Health, Human Services, and Nursing.  But, only Associate Dean #6 has access to the Health sub-account courses.

There are a handful of written Guides that I would recommend you look through on how to set up your sub-account structure.  Once you get your sub-account structure set up the way you want, you can then create one or more account-level roles where you set the permissions for that particular role (allowing or not allowing certain things like you've suggested).  Check out the "Roles and Permissions" documents.  Then, once you have the role(s) configured the way you want, you can then begin assigning individuals to the sub-accounts with those roles.  How do I add an admin to an account? - Canvas Community

You can put your courses into each of those sub-accounts.  For example, we don't put any courses into any of the sub-accounts that are at the Dean level.  Rather, all our course get added to what I would call the sub-sub-account level (at the Associate Dean level).

Also, you can still assign a Term to each of your courses...which is separate from Sub-Accounts.  So, for example, you might have Terms called Summer 2021, Fall 2021, and Spring 2022.  Each of these terms still house all of your courses for that particular semester, but the sub-account structure separates out the course by program area.

I'm not sure if any of this will be of help to you or not, but just thought I'd share how we do things at our school.  Sing out if you have any other questions about this...thanks! 

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