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Community Member

Term Management

Is there an example of a school that handles terms in Canvas well; either policy driven or through Canvas mechanisms?

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5 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach


We use the Term settings (Start and End Dates) and have worked with our Academic Dean's Council to give permission to Canvas courses to students one week before the start of class until one week after the semester ends.  Everyone else has access to the courses the day that we load them from our SIS.


Community Coach
Community Coach

 @JACOBSEN_C ​, TermExample.pngwe use the term settings mostly for student access. Students get access to their courses on the first day of class and lose access at the end of the semester. Teachers, TA's, & Designers who have completed Canvas training have access to their course(s) as soon as the course is created, but open access ends at the end of the term. Teachers are able to choose whether or not to allow students early access or extend access to the course after the end of the term.

As a side-note, if you want we can move this question over to the Canvas Admins​ group and you might get more information/responses on best practices there. 🙂

Community Member

 @JACOBSEN_C  We have our terms setup with no term dates so the term is not in control of people being completed, we are.

Students gain access a week before classes start but keep access via term dates until the end of the next term.

This allows us to set all our students who successfully completed the course to the enrollment status of 'completed' and end their access.  We do not send a completed status for students with an incomplete so they remain active and since the term did not end, they keep access longer.

Same goes for the instructor.  Because Canvas puts instructors into a read-only completed state similar to students (and they lose access to key features of the course and their ability to interact with it) and we need them to keep full access to deal with incompletes and grade reviews and a few other cases, we also keep their access dates open into the next term and don't let the term conclude them.  Instead they conclude with these dates.


I am certainly hoping, as I suspect you are based on your question, that you will get a variety of answers like this and you can build a 'best of breed' version of what people are doing.  I am certainly interested in feedback on my setup.  What am I missing that this does or does not do for me?  Am I creating a problem with this setup that I won't know about until we are past our first year of use?

Community Member

We use terms purely for organizational purposes and controlling the SIS batch imports.  We don't set any dates at the term level and have elected to leave the dates in the hand of the instructors​.  In fact, we don't even set dates at the course level either, we just set them at the section level to provide the most granular control to our instructors if they want to change them from the defaults.  We do this in case students come back to finish an incomplete in a previous term or if instructors need to look up old data and make any grade appeal revisions.

Our term codes are made up of the year and term number (10 = spring, 20 = summer, etc) like 201510.  When our SIS administrator runs the nightly enrollment updates in batch mode, that job is run against each specific term only.  Also, terms are very useful for navigating through the course analytics.  For example, if I want to see how many people have been using their summer course already, I just pick the 201520 term from the Analytics drop-down menu.

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @JACOBSEN_C , this is a great discussion, but not really a question with a right or wrong answer. I'm going to go ahead and change it to a discussion instead of a question. That way it doesn't look like it's unanswered, but people can continue the conversation!