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glparker
Community Champion

What's the expected behavior of the course checkbox "Restrict students from viewing course before start date"?

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Hi All,

Before the update that added these two checkboxes "Restrict students from viewing course before start date" and "Restrict students from viewing course after end date", if a course had the option

checked.

Prior to the start date of the course, students would see the course in their course list under Future Courses.    The link to the course was not clickable.

After the change, if the options

"Restrict students from viewing course before start date"

are both checked, the course is no longer visible in the "Future Courses" menu.   The student has no visible way to know they are enrolled in the course when both are checked.

Is this the new behavior correct, or is this a bug, and the original behavior the expected behavior when both are checked?

1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi Glen,

Great question. Smiley Happy The behavior you noted was intended. But not really. Let me explain.

In April 2015 Canvas released the Restrict students from viewing courses before start date/end date checkboxes as a way to restrict students from accessing courses before/after the course start/end date. Since then—as you noted—some admins had problems after selecting this checkbox because students weren't able to see they were enrolled in a future course. Fast-forward to November 2015 where Canvas created a bug fix relating to future enrollments, which essentially created a new read-only access role for all future enrollment courses, and caused another level of inadvertent confusion.

So here's how the checkbox works as of January 12, 2016 in your PRODUCTION environment (yes, we put it in there today just for you).

All students can view future enrollments in their Courses list. Gone are the days of students who don't know they are enrolled in a future course. The change we made was whether or not a future enrollment also includes a link to view the course. We've redefined the Restrict students from viewing courses before start date checkbox to do exactly what it says—if that checkbox is selected, the future enrollment course listing does not include a link to the course. They can see they are enrolled but that's it. (This is the exact behavior seen when a course is unpublished.) If you do not select that checkbox, students can view a link to the course and view anything they want, but they'll see a message at the top of the page saying they can't participate in the course until [enter start date here].

Account-Level Settings

Here's how the checkbox works filtered down from the account level. If you set the Restrict access checkbox at the account level, any new course you create will automatically have the course-level Restrict access checkbox selected. However, instructors can manually remove the checkbox if they prefer to have students view their course ahead of time.

Account SettingCourse Setting (new courses only)
account-setting-1.pngcourse-setting-not-locked.png

If you select the sub-option to Lock this setting for sub-accounts and courses checkbox, the Restrict access setting is locked for sub-accounts and courses. This change applies to both existing courses and new courses.

So if you have any existing courses that need to be restricted, open your Account Settings and select the Lock this setting for sub-accounts and courses checkbox, which will apply immediately to all sub-accounts and courses. However, if that option won't work for your institution this term, you’ll have to manually update the courses that you want to restrict using SIS or the Courses API.

Locked Account SettingLocked Course Setting
account-settings.pngcourse-settings-locked.png

Course Overrides

Obviously you can use the Restrict access checkbox in addition to the Users can only participate in the course between these dates checkbox. Again, the difference is just whether you want them to access the course before the specific course date or not. Note that you only need to set specific course dates if you want to override the student access date set by the term date.

Course in Future Term OnlyCourse in Active Term w/ Course Date Override
course-settings-future-term.pngcourse-settings-current-term.png

Here are some setup scenarios and their results (I tried them all):

  • A course set in future term dates: Students can access course but not participate until start date
  • A course set in future term dates + Restrict access checkbox: Students cannot view link to access course
  • A course set in future term dates + Restrict access checkbox + Users can only participate course checkbox: Students cannot view link to access course
  • A course set in active term dates + Users can only participate course checkbox: Students can access course but not participate until start date
  • A course set in active term dates + Restrict access checkbox + Users can only participate course checkbox: Students cannot view link to access course

Students cannot view link
students-cannot-view.png
Students can access but not participate until start date
students-can-access.png

Hope that helps!

Erin

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57 Replies
chofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @glparker ​...

I was going to give you a link to this Canvas Guide, How do I change student access for my course before or after the course dates?, but I see that you've already posted a similar question there, too.  I am hopeful that someone from the Canvas Docs team will chime in this week to give you some clarification on your question.  I am also interested to learn what the answer is.

Thanks Chris. I removed that comment from that lesson and will update the lesson with the information focused here. Smiley Happy

Erin

erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi Glen,

Thanks for the question. Let me see if I can help clarify this for everyone who reads this.

Basically the Users can only participate checkbox is sandwiched between the restriction date checkboxes, and the participation checkbox is what dictates the start and end dates for the date restrictions. A little more detail:

As you're aware, each course is controlled by term dates. For each course you can just set the associated term, or you can set specific dates that override the dates set for student access in the term dates. For instance, the term dates may allow students to access a course on January 4, but you may not want students to participate in your course until January 8. Setting the course-specific dates and checking the The Users can only participate in the course between these dates checkbox overrides January 4 date set in the term.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.38.22 AM.png

For the restriction checkboxes, their job is to keep students from not being able to view the courses before the start date or after the end date (or both). Some institutions do not want students to be able to see future enrollments or access concluded courses, so they use these settings options, which are under the Visibility heading.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.39.44 AM.png

In the above scenario, if you also check the Restrict students from viewing course before start date checkbox, Canvas uses the start date as set by the term date (or in this case, the course override). If students are restricted from viewing a course before the start date, students won't be able to see that they're even enrolled in the course until January 8, which is the course start date that you set. If you uncheck the Restriction checkbox, students still can't access the course but the name of the course does display in the Future Enrollments section when viewing the full list of courses. [EDIT: Students can access the course if it is published. To completely avoid course access, courses should not be published.]

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.25.14 AM.png

The same is for the Restrict students from viewing course after end date checkbox; let's say the end date as set by your course date override is April 23. The restriction checkbox uses the end date for the course/term to manage what the end date is and when to restrict student access. As the course end date is set for April 23, that's the date that students will no longer be able to see the course in their Past Courses list. If you uncheck the restriction checkbox, they'll still be able to access the course after April 23 but it's in a read-only state and they cannot interact with it anymore.

Hope that helps!

Erin

Hi erinhallmark

Thank you for the explanation.   It's important to note that this introduces a change to the behavior of settings from before the new options.   This change is undesirable for us.   The new settings broke what was for us a working system.

Previously, if I published a course, and checked the box "Users can Participate", students would see the course listed in Future Courses, but could not click to access the course.   This was the desired behavior.

Today, if I publish a course, check the box "Users can Participate", and leave unchecked "Restrict Students" (This is the default given our current settings and procedures), students can now access the course in a read-only mode.

If I instead publish the course, check the box "Users can Participate", and check the box"Restrict Students", the course is removed from the students list of Future Courses.    They cannot see that they are registered for the course.

This is a distinct change from our previous behavior.    We want our students to see they are enrolled in Future Courses, it provided a confirmation that they were properly registered for courses and were just waiting for the start of the course to begin.   

As it is, there is no longer a way to manipulate the available settings to produce our desired behavior.

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

erinhallmark​, I carefully read through what you wrote and you stated that, "If you uncheck the Restriction checkbox, students still can't access the course but the name of the course does display in the Future Enrollments section when viewing the full list of courses." From my testing (and  @glparker ​'s) this is not the case.

Students CAN ACCESS the course if it shows up in Future Enrollments and is published. They can't "participate" in the class until the first day of class (or start of the term - based on the information you provided), but they can definitely get in and see EVERYTHING in the course. The only way I found for the course to show up in future enrollments and students not be able to access/view it is if it isn't published. Then it shows up, but isn't clickable.

I share the same desire as Glen, to allow students to view future enrollments (this majorly cuts down on the number of confused student phone calls, emails, and walk-ins) but not able to view/access/participate in the course until the first day of class (or term - depending on how your institution has things set up).

Hi Kona,

The published part was a detail that I inadvertently omitted. Sorry about that! You're right that as long as the course is not published they won't be able to access it. But if the course is published they can see some limited information. [EDIT: I went back and added that clarifying bit in my original reply.]

Are there any current feature requests that relate to what you'd like?

Erin

curtain
Community Participant

Erin, we were told by Support today that "In looking through the terms, I found that the 'Student' area in the term dates is what will control student access in tandem with the 'Restrict Student from viewing course after end date' setting, not the 'Term Runs' field."

So this runs counter to what you have described as well and is confusing the heck out of me.

erinhallmark, No, but if it will help I can create one!

 @glparker ​ as an additional followup to this, I can't find any changes that were made to these settings recently. The settings to restrict course access were originally added in April 2015. As far as I tell from testing, the settings are working as intended. You may just have to not publish courses until the start date, as  @kona ​ mentioned.

Erin