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erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

2021-03-20: Course Settings: Course Availability Date Enhancements

Looking to discuss this feature from the 2021-03-20 Release Notes? Post a reply and start a conversation!

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  • This topic is for feature discussion only—please share use cases, best practices, etc. regarding this feature
  • Please thread replies as much as possible to keep posts organized
  • Feedback to product managers about idea enhancements should be submitted in ideas.canvaslms.com (though linking to the idea here so others can find it is welcome)
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31 Replies
chriscas
Adventurer II

Thanks*1,000,000 for the "Course Availability Date Restriction" option coming with the 4/14/2021 Deploy!  We've been waiting years for this and will hopefully now be able to retire some of our custom javascript that disabled the date settings for our teachers.  I really appreciate the work that went into making this possible.

-Chris

michelle_powell
Surveyor II

Thank you so much for adding this to Beta.  I have one question about this change.  Will admin still have the ability to change the dates in individual courses so that we can open individual courses up outside of the term dates?  We need to be able to open some courses for individuals to work on incompletes after the end of the course.

@michelle_powell If you are only opening the course for a limited set of students, it'd probably make sense to create a section in the course with specific dates. That should override the dates listed in the course settings (whether they are term or course dates), at least it has in the past. Are you doing it a different way currently?

@meinhoka I became aware of that option about a year ago.  It is my understanding that we would have to setup the sections in our SIS application because there are scripts that run to update Canvas.  We would have to work with the registrar's office to get that setup.  It was postponed due to other pressing matters related to all the COVID issues. We are also migrating to a new SIS this year so I hope it will be addressed then as well.  Thank you for offering suggestions!!!

Hi, Michelle,

As the notes indicate, admins always have control of dates within courses, even if the account setting is locked. 

Thanks!

Erin

Jeff_F
Adventurer II

We do not use Terms and instead rely on the Course dates.  The current default of this setting to Term means the dates are not immediately visible when viewing the Settings page.  One must change the Participation drop down from Terms to Courses to see the dates for the course.

A few observations:

  • I do not see a means via the API or otherwise to automate a change to the default view from Term to Course.
  • The new setting 'Don't let teachers modify course availability dates' is at the root account.

And a question:

If we were to check off the new setting 'Don't let teachers modify course availability dates' at the root account and find a way to update the Participation setting to Course for all our templates and courses, is it the intention of this update for the teacher to be able to come to the course settings page and view the Course dates in that scenario? 

I am asking I've tested this a few times and have mixed results with the latest being yes, the Teacher can view the course dates and the drop down is disabled, which is desirable.

participation-course-setting.jpg

 

Thank you, Jeff

Edit...

@erinhmcmillan  ^^ Above I have a question about this feature.

Tags (2)

Hi, Jeff,

Yes, instructors will always see the dates so they're aware, whether they are term dates or course dates. 

As for the Courses API, that functionality has not changed; you'll need to set the course[restrict_enrollments_to_course_dates] parameter to true to use course dates.

Are those the questions you were specifically looking to resolve?

Thanks,

Erin

Thanks for adding clarity, @erinhmcmillan .   I had a support ticket open (Case #07510152) and it seems the reply was that it was not possible to use the API to merely switch from Terms to Courses.  We do not wish to check off any of the associated settings to restrict student access to the course.  We just want the dates visible.

 

kirsten_ryall
Explorer III

I like the addition of Course Availability Date Restriction in the 14 April deploy notes. Just checking that it can only be disabled at root account level, and not sub account level. Release notes are not 100% clear on that although the image does indicate root account only in the Deploy notes. My testing tells me the same thing. The April 17 release notes gave me slight hope that it may be at sub-account level - see below grab. Would anyone else be interested in seeing this at sub-account level? We have some user groups (sub-accounts) who manage dates slightly differently to others. Just checking the waters on this.....

Also, love the term visibility. Thank you for that 🙂

Participation Restrictions and Term Visibility

'Instructors can view term dates within the Courses page. In addition, admins are able to disable the course Participation menu for instructors at the account level. Explore these feature additions in the Canvas Deploy Notes (2021-04-14).'

 

Hi, Kirsten,

If you do decide to create an idea for changing the permission to support subaccounts, would you mind linking it here so others can find it as well? 

Thanks,

Erin

dbrace
Explorer III

Thank you for this deploy on 4/14/2021.  We, like others, have been using JavaScript to disable this functionality and also used the temporary "New Course Availability UI" feature option that will be going away since it was a temporary stop-gap.

While removing the deploy notes I do see...

Note: Currently this setting only applies to course dates and does not apply to section dates.

Was that note made because the ability to edit sections (and their dates) is a permission?

Canvas permissions -- sections.png

Continuing along the lines or permissions, to me it would seem more appropriate (and consistent) for there to be a group of permissions for managing course settings.  One of those permissions could be the ability to adjust course availability (and dates).  For this specific situation, doing it as an account setting seems to not be the best of interest depending on plans for future development as new features/options/ect are released but may need to be either enabled or disabled based on a customer's needs.

For example, one teacher-based role might have this specific permission enabled (allowed to adjust course availability and dates) and another teacher-based role would have the permission disabled (not allowed to adjust course availability and dates).

Doing an all-or-none account setting might not be the best path.

Just a thought for consistency, more flexibility, and looking towards the future.

The functionality that we have introduced here wasn't specifically coded in Course Sections. That's why it doesn't apply just yet. Our product manager is aware and is scoping that change.

Thanks,

Erin

spipitone
Surveyor II

Thank you!!!! A much needed change.

mpfaff1
Learner

Question: does this affect when Teachers can change student grades, or just when students can participate? We have faculty who grade students after the official Term dates end (because grades aren't due until after the course is over). 

Hi there, we did quite a bit of testing on both teacher and student access that may be impacted by those participation settings. And I suspect it will depend on how your institution manages enrolments. At our institution for example, student access is generally managed by section dates and teacher access is generally managed by course dates. That means that in theory, our students would not be impacted as section dates over-ride course and term dates. But teachers may find themselves in a spot of grading bother if term was selected in that participation menu, especially if the term finished and they wanted to grade after that. So we have inserted a little tooltip next to that participation menu advising teachers of the impact should they touch that setting (we have not restricted their access to it). 

creighton
Surveyor II

I’d appreciate clarification on WHICH term start and end dates are used. Our SIS Import includes course start/end dates. We have 9 colleges and schools using the same term identifier, so we do not set term dates for any specific roles, as each college/school has slightly different start and end dates. The documentation in the April release notes refer to dates for "the term," not "student dates for the term" as the Deploy notes indicate. We just specify Term Runs dates for each term, and the end date is anywhere from 2-3 weeks after the end date for courses, to allow time for late submissions, but mostly to give faculty time to wrap up the courses and push grades to the SIS. So defaulting Participation to Term is not a good choice for us.

 

Course Availability Date Enhancements

Affected Users Roles section:

When an instructor views the Participation section in the Course Settings page, the Participation section displays a menu that defaults to Term dates for new courses. This option sets student course participation to the start and end dates defined for the term.

 

Canvas Deploy notes

Affected User Roles section:

If dates have been created for the term, the term start and end dates for student access display in the page.

 

So does term start/end dates refer to term Student start/end dates in all cases?

 

Thanks!

Hello, yes it is the student dates in either case. A lot of institutions won't set specific dates for students, which means the dates for students default to the dates set for the entire term.

Thanks,

Erin

This is very good to know. Thank you!

spipitone
Surveyor II

If an instructor importing existing content into a new course uses the “Adjust events and due dates” feature, and selects a date before or  after the term date set by the SIS, will the SIS term date be overridden as has happened in the past?

This behavior hasn't changed. Yes, any changes in the UI will override changes set via the SIS. If the SIS is updated, it will later override what is in the UI. 

If you're concerned about instructors being able to change dates as part of course copies, that may be a good candidate for a discussion in our Idea Conversations space for our product team to consider.

Thanks!

Erin

kirsten_ryall
Explorer III

Hi there, the 12 May 2021 deploy notes mention that course dates will be cleared when participation dates are set to term and saved. I've just tested this and that seems to be the case. What if an Instructor (or equivalent) is playing around with this menu without an understanding that they may clear course dates if they select term and save, and then realise the error in their ways and decide they need those course dates back? I say this because we automate course dates for the majority of our courses and an Instructor is unlikely to be aware of correct course dates, all the 'rules' around them as well as the impact of changing them. Has there been any consideration to place a little warning note when playing around with the participation menu?

Hi, Kirsten,

As you noted, the page won't save until the Update Course Details button is selected. When changing the dates from Course to Term, the dates clear automatically, which is a visual indicator of that change. If you're worried about dates being changed, you're welcome to lock down the setting so instructors can't change them.

Thanks,

Erin

I have this same concern. If the teacher toggles between term and course dates and decides they want course dates they should not disappear! I can somewhat justify that behavior if they choose term and save, but really do not understand why they need to disappear at all.  We also use the course dates in several reports. In those situations, it has nothing to do with how faculty choose to allow participation. The fact that the course dates disappear when term is selected will create new challenges when running these reports, especially when as admins we are trying to track down classes that should be active (based on the dates) but haven't been published. 

I continue to struggle to understand why some of these changes are in deploy notes and not part of regular releases, where more users have time to explore these changes and can share feedback.  

100% agree on the challenge of having to respond to an update in the deploy notes and only having two weeks to prepare our instance of Canvas for the impacts. We've raised this with our CSM using Participation Dates and the subsequent bug fixes and/or enhancements in the deploy notes as an example. May seem like a small update for some, but can have a major impact for others. 

jsowalsk
Community Advocate
Community Advocate

@erinhmcmillan When I have been testing in beta for the https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Deploys/Canvas-Deploy-Notes-2021-05-12/ta-p/460731#toc-hId-163499... it is still showing up empty. Is there no way to test this in beta?

Hi, Jessica,

I can verify that the feature is working in beta, so it can be tested there, yes.

Thanks,

Erin

Thanks, because when I am testing it and switching back and forth between term and course it is still showing blank dates or removing dates that I had as a course date. Is this because we do not have any terms set in our instance? @erinhmcmillan 

Sounds like it. If you have no term dates set, switching to term dates won't display dates. And if you have course dates set, they'll be removed when you switch to term. 

Erin

Hi Erin @erinhmcmillan,

That is what is happening. So, is there no way to test in beta the date deploy mentioned here to fix this? In production and beta? https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Deploys/Canvas-Deploy-Notes-2021-05-12/ta-p/460731

Jessica

Jessica,
You can add term dates in beta if you want to watch them be removed.

You indicated "or removing dates that I had as a course date". That is the exact functionality that is mentioned in the notes. Course dates are removed when you switch to Term. Therefore you've been testing it in beta and it's working great. 🙂

Thanks,
Erin

Thank you, @erinhmcmillan