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Community Participant

Policies for creating non-academic courses for areas?


I was wondering if anyone had a policy they could share on requests from groups/organizations (affiliated with your university or not) to use your canvas instance? We have an instance that has non-academic courses, and we're trying to create a policy for accepting/rejecting requests for use. 

Any help would be appreciated!


14 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

zowada-a, for our College we will create a course for any official club or group - so has to be College approved. Otherwise the course has to serve an academic need of some sort. We don't have an official form or procedure for this. Just more of an informal policy. 

To help get more responses I'm going to share this with the Canvas Admins‌ group in the Community to see if they can share their experiences/information.

Community Contributor

Hi Sam:

One thing to consider when adding clubs is how you use the calendar feature. We require all classes to use calendar  events for their course meeting times to include readings, links to PDF's,  etc.. So, the whole student experience is based on the calendar view. If you exceed the 15 course limit in the calendar view the students will potentially miss assignments because they signed up for say 10 clubs or groups. That may not be a factor, but it is at our school. We unfortunately learned the hard way when Outdoor Club bumped Busi101 for some students...

Community Champion

hallmans, crazy question here, but you sound like you might know the answer (at least much closer to knowing it than I am). If you have more than 15 assignments and complete some of them so that it crosses them off the calendar, does it then show additional, uncompleted ones or does it just stick with the original 15 and the others are lost forever?

I did a presentation last week sharing feedback from students saying that those who used the calendar were less frustrated than other groups (like those who relied on the To Do list). But this didn't come up.

Community Champion

At my college all users are created by our SIS system, and we had to navigate several bumps to make sure that all the people who need Canvas user accounts have them. Students and faculty are there, obviously, but as new requests for access come in we have also added all employees, all temporary employees, and all interns enrolled in our faculty diversity internship program. To catch valid requests from outsiders we also have a process for non-employees to get access to district systems (including Canvas) that has to be initiated by an employee, signed by a manager, and approved by our information security officers group.

What all this means is that we do not have anyone on our Canvas system that should not be there, which makes approving non-instructional uses of the system easier. We have a sub-account called Clubs and Orgs and I create courses there by request. All I ask is what they want to call the course and then I create it and enroll the requester in as an instructor. In that sub-account instructors are allowed to manually enroll students and courses can be set up for self-enrollment (but only to users within our system).

Though Canvas is the only approved LMS at our institution we do not mandate its use, so I approve any request for a non-instructional course. I support adoption by attraction and expect that being exposed to Canvas as a committee member, student club adviser, etc. will encourage faculty to use Canvas for their "real" courses once they realize all the potential it has for supporting student success.

Community Champion

Hi James Jones,

Our students experience similar problems as Steve describes because many of our courses are quarter-term courses and our classes also use Groups pretty heavily. Last year we increased our Calendar limit from 10 courses to 15 courses, which helped, but the calendar limit is an ongoing problem and concern -- for that reason we do not give student groups Canvas sites. We pretty strictly control non-course Canvas sites and evaluate requests on a case-by-case basis -- usually looking for a clear academic justification.

If I'm understanding your question correctly, though, there's a difference between what appears on someone's Canvas Calendar and on their to-do lists:

  • To do lists show (basically) everything with a due date (though not Calendar events) and grading that needs to be done. There's a limit to how many individual to-do items are visible on Canvas Dashboard or on a course homepage, with a link available to show more items.
  • The Canvas Calendar, in contrast, will show all the calendar events, assignments, etc. for the selected calendars at any point in time. (See How do I filter the Calendar view by course as a student?) And every Canvas site and group gets a separate calendar -- with the Canvas sites at the top of the list and the groups at the bottom. If someone has more than the maximum number of supported calendars -- which is 10 calendars by default, but this can be raised by contacting your CSM, then Canvas will automatically filter out (that is, turn off or hide) the rest. And people often don't realize that a course they're looking for has been essentially "turned off" on the Canvas Calendar. (So the limit for what you see is the number of Canvas courses and groups, not assignments.)

I hope this helps!



Community Contributor

Thanks Linda:

Excellent explanation....can I refer all questions to you from now on?  Smiley Happy

Community Champion

Sure! My pleasure!

Community Champion

Thanks,  @lindalee . A very detailed response.

I think it answered the question, although what you thought I was asking wasn't what I wanted to know. I have to read between the lines to make sure. You're saying that it is based off the number of calendars that you have selected and it will show everything from those calendars no matter how many items there are?

I think I misread Steve's comments to be that it only displayed 15 items, rather than 15 calendars worth of items. If that's the case, then the answer to my question is no, it doesn't show additional items once they're crossed off the calendar list.

At one time, the To Do list did not show everything and I wasn't aware of a change. Feedback from my students was that using the calendar was a much better way to see everything than the To Do list, so when I read that the calendar wasn't perfect either, it caused me to question if I was giving the right advice to students.

Community Champion

Hi James,

I had thought that you might have mixed up the 15 items/15 calendars from Steve's explanation. That's, in part, why I went into so much detail about how the Canvas Calendar behaves. (And I feel like I should mention again that the default limit for Canvas Calendar is 10 calendars, not 15 -- many business schools have increased the calendar limit to 15 for the reasons I noted above -- in case folks are like "wait, why can't I see 15 calendars?!")

Yes, the calendar view will show everything in course calendar, provided that the course/group calendar is filtered to be shown rather than hidden. Past (or completed) assignments may be crossed out, but still visible. The only constraint is which calendars are shown at any any point, and this is easily controlled by the user (See How do I filter the Calendar view by course as a student?).

There's a limit to how many items appear on the to do and upcoming lists for students (for instance, the Coming Up section can display up to 20 items by date), and some rules governing when they appear and disappear (see How do I use the To Do list and sidebar in the Dashboard as a student?).

This is probably why your students who used the calendar were less frustrated.