Students Accessing Disabled Discussions Page

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Community Participant

I had something interesting happen today that I have never seen happen before. My online course just started today, and I had a student create a new discussion topic to introduce themselves, but the Discussion page is disabled from view in Course Navigation. I think what the student did is modify the URL in the browser to access the discussion topics page by doing the following.

From a welcome announcement with this type of URL:

the student deleted the discussion topic id and went directly to the discussion topics page:

Then, they were able to create a new discussion because the checkbox "Let students create new discussion topics" was on, but this shouldn't be an issue if the Discussion page is disabled. 

I verified this with Student View and was able to reproduce the behavior I am describing. I then checked to see if I would be able to access the Assignments or Quizzes page (which are also disabled) and got the behavior I was expecting with the "This page is disabled for this course" message on the screen. 

This is not related to the Discussions/Announcements Redesign. I tested this in two courses where one had the feature flag enabled and one without. Still got the some behavior.

Has anyone else run into this or know if this is something that is being worked on? 


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Community Coach
Community Coach

Thank you @erik_gustafson for posting this question. I did some testing in a class where students do not have the permission to create discussions and the Discussions link is not visible to them on the Course Navigation menu. My student user was able to change the URL and go to the list of discussions. They could only see the discussions that they could access based on their progression through the Modules page, which is comforting.

My guess is that this is by intent and that if you contact your Canvas help team the Instructure folks will say that as well. If you want this changed so that hiding the Discussions link also makes the /discussion_topics URL inaccessible to students, the next step will be to submit an idea to make this change. Information about how to do that is on the page How do Ideas and Themes work in the Instructure Community? 

Creating an idea does not provide an immediate solution to the problem you described, though it is a solution. I’m going to mark it as such and hope that our colleagues who have a similar challenge will find the best way to contribute. If you decide to create an idea, please link it here.

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