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Allow Admin to Set Default Course Settings for courses

Allow Admin to Set Default Course Settings for courses

It would be hugely helpful to district-level Canvas Admins to be able to modify and establish default course settings for course shells created for sections assigned to teacher users.


For example, if a teacher technology advisory committee, school principal, and/or tech department in the school or district determines that all courses published in Canvas for students and observers have settings that differ from the current defaults, then this requires a manual change to each course by the teacher and/or admin depending upon the district's user permissions.

e.g., setting grading schemes, or students rights to view, attach, etc.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.53.02 AM.png

e.g., modifying default course navigation menu items to be viewable to students...

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.53.50 AM.png


I suggest that Canvas develop a feature that would allow an admin to simply set the course settings defaults prior to the creation of courses within subaccounts, manually or via SIS integration.


This feature could be available in one or more of the following locations of the Admin navigation menu:

(a) Courses

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(b) Add a New Course

171598_Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 11.10.35 AM.pngScreen Shot 2016-02-23 at 11.10.35 AM.png

(c) Settings

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(d) Subaccounts

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Community Champion


This is so badly needed!  Thank you for the thorough writeup!


Community Team
Community Team

Hi Chris,

Thank you for contributing this feature idea.  It will open for vote on March 2nd.

Community Champion

This idea has moved to the next stage and will be open for voting among the Canvas Community, from Wed. March 2, 2016 - Wed. June 1, 2016.

Check out this doc for additional details about how the voting process works!

Community Coach
Community Coach

I doubt if I personally would ever use this level of control at our school - or rather be permitted to do so by our school administration, but I see it's potential usefulness for many schools, districts and systems.

I'll support this.


Community Member

This is very much needed here.  Too many times instructors do not customize their course navigation resulting in lost and confused students who miss important information.  Questions like "Is the Exam X link in the Quizzes section the same exam that's in the Assignments section?" etc.

We'd like our instructors to use the Modules section to organize and present content to students, but many do not, even after going through training that covers the benefits to doing so. And it's not usually because they are renegades. They either forget, or whatever, but it impacts students negatively. If each Canvas course shell could have a default set up that mirrors what we recommend in the training, it would be awesome. And, if something needed to change beyond that, an instructor could still have the ability to do so. But a visual consistency in our online courses would be wonderful to start off with.

We also have course shells we use for virtual office hours as well as virtual support labs. These require less navigation options as courses do. Again, the ability to create a default for these as well would be awesome. 

Community Member

i can see why there is a need this - however, for me allowing admins to set what appears in GROUP pages wihtout having to resort to techy backend options is more important than controlling course navigation

New Member

I could see where this option would be very helpful. Setting a default navigation or grading scheme would be beneficial to us.

Community Member

Absolutely.  As a dean I need to occasionally prod faculty to include Canvas features or functions they may not use.  It is not Big Brother talking, it is fostering accountability and a common culture and standards. Institutions may choose not to use it--fine, but I would like that option.

Community Champion

I like this idea. We create all courses from templates with the settings we look for, but occasionally need a quick fix for navigation, etc. before we can reach all the necessary templates.

New Member

I'd like to advocate for this idea not from the perspective of micromanaging teacher setups by school administration, but as a way of giving admins access to settings that are arbitrarily set one way, but could be set another way just as reasonably. In short: where a school has a philosophical difference from Canvas, we'd like to be able to create default courses that reflect our school's sensibilities (and we're not terribly interesting in locking people into those settings, just in adjusting defaults to match our needs).

Our current approach, which worked pretty well this year, is a custom CSV import that allows us to specify everything about a course that we would normally specify… as well as a template course on which to model the new course.

Having this built into Canvas, or providing us API access to the course navigation and other "straggler" settings that we can't quite reach through our current approach would be great.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 4.31.21 PM.png

New Member

Added a vote.


Stephen B. Hebert

St. Mark's School

Southborough, MA

On Thu, Mar 03, 2016 at 4:34 PM ""



Community Champion


But seriously, I'm all for anything that makes it easier on us admins.

New Member

*Please* yes. Currently we use a different grading system, which I have defined at the account level, but that doesn't implement it in the individual courses. So I still have to go into every course my program offers and re-set the grading to my predefined system. Oh, I would love to able to set this at the account level for every course.

New Member

This would be perfect for sub-accounts! This is especially important for standardizing course navigation in each of our colleges.

Community Champion

We have the same needs.  Today we are running APIs to preset some items in all courses.  Some of our APIs are a 'run once' to set it, but the let teachers change the settings.  Others are run weekly to ensure that it stays in the setting that the district requires.  This could be done daily as well, but it is too computer resource intensive and really not necessary.

Community Member

Here is another example of how the ability to create a course template at the sub-account level would be beneficial. We are making a push for all instructors to have one Canvas course shell (each semester) dedicated to conducting online office hours, and we would like consistency in these shells. Students from all the instructor's courses would be enrolled.  We have created an "Office Hours" permission at the account level which allows only the ability to modify the course calendar, publish a course, create conferences, see and message the list of users, and view the analytic and usage reports for the course. Instructors are enrolled with this permission in their office hours course shell.

We would like to enforce a course template at the sub-account level for all the office hours courses, not only for consistency sake, but so that course navigation is limited to just the Conferences link.

New Member

This is really important for us as well.  We do not use Collaborations (it hasn't been approved by our Legal dept) and with our custom JS file, we have to hide it from our instructors/design teams.  However, we just realized that it appears on the mobile apps.  We will now have to create a custom js for that as well.  As you all know, custom js can be complex and will need to have everything tested with each update. 

If we have the ability to set the navigation item as "disabled" by default on all courses, the custom js in the regular browser version will suffice because it would pick up the hiding of it and instructors would not see it to set it to active.  This would prevent it from showing up in the mobile device.

Default settings by the institution for new courses would be greatly appreciated.

Community Contributor

I agree, that the accounts/sub account should be able to have some settings set to a default.  This includes the grade book.  Kaye-Ailsa have you made this suggestion?  I would support.

Community Member

I agree

We should also be able to disable navigation items in group areas too

Community Coach
Community Coach

 @lmd5adm  :

I am curious, why is your Legal Dept. concerned with Collaborations? There is no FERPA issue, and group and collaborate work are proven best practices in education.

Just curious in case I ever need to address this elsewhere.